WORLD MUSIC NEWSHelping the Phoenix Rise: The...

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


Helping the Phoenix Rise: The Italian government pledged $12.5 million Tuesday and tenor Luciano Pavarotti offered to hold a fund-raising concert to rebuild Venice’s world-famous La Fenice opera house, which was destroyed by fire Monday night. The theater had been closed for restoration and news reports said a short-circuit may have started the blaze. Early estimates put the damage at between $190 million and $310 million. La Fenice, which literally means “the phoenix,” has been haunted by fire for 200 years. Built in 1792 on the site of another building wrecked by fire, it burned to the ground in 1836. Its archives were moved last century shortly before another blaze gutted the municipal building where they had been housed.


Russian Recordings: Thousands of cherished but long-lost classical recordings are finally free for world markets, as Los Angeles producer Tristan Del has settled a three-year legal fight with the Russian Culture Ministry. He said Tuesday in Moscow that he plans to release the materials via Britain’s Telstar Records. The 300,000 recordings are from concerts broadcast in the former Soviet Union. Highlights include composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev playing their own music and Mstislav Rostropovich in the world premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Cello Symphony.


The Show Will Go On: Actor Kevin Spacey’s public appeals for the return of 10 rolls of movie footage stolen from the baggage claim area at LAX last Friday have apparently paid off. Spacey was alerted Monday that the missing cans of 35-mm film had been anonymously returned to the airport’s lost-and-found area, his publicist said Tuesday. The film was shot for “Albino Alligator,” starring Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway and Gary Sinise. Spacey (“The Usual Suspects”) is making his directorial debut on the movie, which will be released by Miramax.


New Kids’ Lineup: ABC will revamp its Saturday morning children’s schedule next fall with five new half-hour series, including three animated programs from the network’s new owner, the Walt Disney Co. Starting Sept. 7, the new lineup will kick off at 8 a.m. with Disney’s “The Jungle Book’s Jungle Cubs,” followed at 8:30 by “All New Doug,” a non-Disney animated program based on the cartoon hero of the same name. The 9-10 a.m. hour will house two Disney products--"The Mighty Ducks” and “Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles,” followed from 10 to 11 by two live-action series: “Hypernauts” (another new series that will premiere March 2) and “Bone Chillers,” based on the books by Betsy Haynes. “The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show” at 11 a.m. and an expanded “ABC Weekend Special” from noon to 1 p.m. are the only Saturday morning series that will return.


‘60 Minutes’ Subpoenas: The Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. has received permission to seek sworn depositions from “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace, former CBS News President Eric Ober and others who interviewed whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand for a much-publicized “60 Minutes” interview that the network pulled in November over fear of a lawsuit (the full interview is now scheduled to air this Sunday). CBS executives had no immediate comment on the deposition ruling but may attempt to quash the motion or to limit the subpoenas. Otherwise, Wallace and the others would be obliged to testify under oath on what they know about Wigand. Brown & Williamson, which fired Wigand in 1993, is suing him over alleged violations of a confidentiality agreement he signed with the company.



Comedian Ellen DeGeneres will host the 38th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 28 at the Shrine Auditorium. The awards air on CBS. . . . Veteran producer Jonathan Klein has been named executive vice president of CBS News, where he will oversee both “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.” . . . ABC will bring back “Maybe This Time,” the half-hour comedy starring Marie Osmond and Betty White, starting Feb. 3. The series will air Saturdays at 8:30 p.m., in a slot that had been earmarked for “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.” ABC says the latter program will return in the spring. . . . The London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” became the world’s longest-running musical Monday with 6,138 performances. The previous record of 6,137 shows was held by Broadway’s “A Chorus Line.”