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MOVIESCopycat Crime?: In a statement Monday, Columbia...

Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

MOVIES

Copycat Crime?: In a statement Monday, Columbia Pictures said it “is appalled and dismayed” by a virtual replay of scenes from the new movie “Money Train,” in which two men squeezed a flammable liquid into a Brooklyn subway token booth and ignited it, blowing up the booth and critically burning the clerk early Sunday. Harry Kaufman, 50, was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over 75% of his body and internal damage from inhaling fire. “A horrendous crime,” Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called it as he announced rewards totaling $21,000 for the suspects in the apparent failed robbery. Kaufman told investigators that one assailant used a soda bottle to squirt a flammable liquid through the change tray in the booth and the other lighted it. The movie “Money Train,” starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, twice depicts a pyromaniac squirting a flammable liquid into a token booth and igniting it. In the movie, however, the clerks escape without injury. Said Transit Authority President Alan Kiepper: “We know from experience that when you get movie and television depictions of criminal activity, it is often copycatted.” The studio said the incident “is an isolated act of senseless violence and should be condemned, as it is unequivocally by the producers and director of this film and the employees of this studio.” In another reaction, Republican presidential hopeful Bob Dole condemned the movie, saying in a statement on the Senate floor that “the American people have a right to voice their outrage . . . by derailing ‘The Money Train’ at the box office.”

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De Niro Defended: That traffic ticket issued to Robert De Niro for driving around a railroad crossing gate while making a film in San Francisco earlier this month wasn’t his fault, according to director Tony Scott. What’s more, “it was really more a comedy of errors and stemmed from our belief that we were allowed to film at the site as long as we remained 15 feet from the railroad track.” It turned out anything inside the lowered crossing gate was not sanctioned, Scott said. While the crew of “The Fan” and a Caltrans officer exchanged pleasantries on the subject, De Niro, unaware of the situation, drove a Humvee onto the disputed turf to report for filming. The result: a $104 citation from Caltrans. “Like all good actors, he was simply following the director’s instructions,” Scott said. “If anyone should have been ticketed, it should have been me.” He added that at no time was any crew member endangered. An official of the movie company said the ticket will be contested.

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ART

Bad Beginnings: Yoko Ono’s latest works of art, on display in New York, include bronze high-heeled pumps, a splintered bronze baseball cap and a bullet-shaped mirror--all splattered with red paint. Some viewers linked Ono’s “Blood Objects From Family Album” exhibition to the murder of her husband, John Lennon, in 1980. But the artist said the nine sculptures were actually inspired by her birth. “All of us have a very bloody beginning,” she says in the Dec. 4 issue of the New Yorker magazine. “That is the first violence we experience.” Accompanying Ono at the recent opening of the exhibition, which runs through mid-December at Manhattan’s Ubu Gallery, was her 20-year-old son Sean Lennon. “I’m not so presumptuous as to give her criticism,” Lennon said. “She makes art on another level than most of us plebians.”

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Combatting Art Theft: Interpol, which links police forces from 176 countries, is setting up a worldwide database of stolen artworks to combat a crime wave now worth an estimated $1 billion a year. Interpol detectives, who announced the project at a recent art-theft conference in London, said more global cooperation is needed from everyone from auction houses to insurers to outwit thieves.

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STAGE

‘Show Boat’ Heading Here: Harold Prince’s 73-actor revival of “Show Boat,” currently on Broadway, will open at the Ahmanson Theatre on Nov. 17, with a company that includes Ned Beatty and Cloris Leachman. It will mark the second show at the Ahmanson next year to be produced by Garth Drabinsky’s Livent Inc. and directed by Prince, joining “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” previously announced for next spring. The next Prince/Drabinsky collaboration, Prince said Monday, will be a new musical, “I Love a Parade,” about the 1913 murder of a 13-year-old Georgia factory worker and the subsequent, anti-Semitic lynching of her boss, Leo Frank. The new musical, slated for 1997 at an undetermined venue, is by Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”) and young composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown, who was heralded by Prince as “maybe a Gershwin.”

QUICK TAKES

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Wiltern Theatre concerts Sunday and Monday, the operators of the old Boss Club--a dance club featuring Bruce-related music--are reviving the event tonight at 8 at the Sanctuary, 180 N. Robertson Blvd., in Beverly Hills. . . . KTLA-TV entertainment reporter Sam Rubin and his KTTV-TV rival Dorothy Lucey are teaming up for a daily variety talk show, “Scoop With Sam & Dorothy,” being offered in national syndication by Los Angeles-based ACI for next fall. The show will feature reports from the Hollywood Reporter trade paper.

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