Turkey and Comedy: The Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard is once again offering a free Christmas Day dinner to struggling members of the entertainment community, many of whom have families out of state. The comedy club--which also welcomes the homeless--will have three seatings for the turkey dinner and on-stage comedy show: 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Reservations are required: (213) 656-1336.
More Options: For the first time ever, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens will be open this year on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The holiday hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. . . . A special Christmas Eve concert by keyboard virtuoso George Winston will air on radio station KUSC-FM (91.5) on Sunday from 3-5 p.m. "The George Winston Christmas Special" was recorded live at New York's Avery Fisher Hall. . . . Other Christmas Eve radio options include CBS Radio's Charles Osgood, who hosts a special holiday program on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on KNX-AM (10.70).
A $100-Million Deal?: Janet Jackson is close to signing a four-album deal with Virgin Records worth an estimated $100 million--nearly twice the fee commanded by her brother Michael Jackson in a 1992 precedent- setting superstar pact, sources said. The pop diva has been the subject of a high-profile bidding war since her contract with Virgin expired last year. Sources said executives at Sony, PolyGram and DreamWorks dropped out recently because they believed their companies couldn't make enough money on the terms sought by Jackson. Virgin is also seeking to sign singer Don Henley, and its parent company, Thorn-EMI, wants to invest in controversial Interscope Records, which Time Warner dumped after a political uproar regarding its connection to explicit songs released by Death Row and Nothing/TVT Records.
Under the Taxman: The Drifters--in a reconfigured version of the 1960s musical group that recorded the hits "Up on the Roof" and "Under the Boardwalk"--walked the streets in Georgetown, Guyana, on Wednesday asking passersby for money. No, they weren't raising funds for charity--they were attempting to raise enough to settle their tax debt with Guyana's government so they could return home to the States for the holidays. The singers have been stranded in the South American country for more than a week, barred from leaving until they pay nearly $4,000 in entertainment taxes on several recent shows performed there. Four of the group's first seven shows here were flops, and attempts to stage additional shows failed. Guyana takes 25% of the earnings of international artists performing in the country.
So Long, 'Danny!': In what its president called a "commentary on the state of the talk-show genre," Buena Vista Television on Friday canceled "Danny!," its talk show hosted by former "Partridge Family" child star Danny Bonaduce. Referring to criticism by former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett and others, Buena Vista's Mort Marcus said that "this season's backlash against 'trash talk' has unfortunately . . . swept 'Danny!' with it. It's particularly ironic since . . . Danny and the producers have taken great pains to avoid sleaze and produce an upbeat, entertaining program." Bonaduce, with whom Buena Vista says it has a "mutual commitment" to develop another TV project in the future, taped his final program on Friday. Repeats will air through Feb. 2.
A Model for Los Angeles?: The Annenberg Foundation is helping bring arts education back to New York City's public schools through a $36-million, five-year grant program that aims to create a network of partnerships between individual schools and arts organizations. The plan, focused on kindergarten through high school classrooms, proposes unions such as linking a middle school to an art museum, chamber music ensemble and local dance group, the New York Times reported Friday. With help from a proposed new city arts agency to supervise the program, the partnership would develop a curriculum for the school, train teachers and help design methods for assisting students. Matching funds for the Annenberg grant still need to be raised, however. Like many public systems nationwide, New York schools have increasingly neglected the arts due to budget cuts.
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince announced Friday that he has "officially given notice" to Warner Bros. Records of his desire to end his nearly two decade recording deal with the company. He cited "irreconcilable differences" and charged that the company's "unstable and ever-changing management structure" has hampered promotion of its artists. . . . CBS will move Angela Lansbury's "Murder, She Wrote" back to its longtime successful 8 p.m. Sunday night time slot on Jan. 7. The move is, so far, for one night only. However, nothing seems certain about the schedule at CBS, which will undoubtedly be shuffled in the new year in an effort to shore up dismal ratings. . . . Gian Carlo Menotti, the 84-year-old founder of the Charleston, S.C., Spoleto Festival USA, will spend Christmas in an Italian hospital in Terni. Doctors operated on Menotti Monday night to remove a hematoma, a tumor-like lump of clotted blood that resulted from a fall in his home.