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


Imus on TV: Controversial radio host Don Imus will be signed to do his nationally syndicated show on MSNBC, the new cable channel operated by NBC and Microsoft, NBC sources said Tuesday. The plan is for the New York-based Imus, who features a mix of interviews, humor and commentary, to perform the weekday morning program before TV cameras and air live on both MSNBC and the radio. NBC is expected to make the announcement today.

Joining 'Homicide,' 'Law & Order': NBC has tapped Carey Lowell, who had roles in "Leaving Las Vegas," "Sleepless in Seattle" and "License to Kill," as the latest actor to enter "Law & Order's" revolving-door cast. Lowell will join the show in the fall playing Asst. Dist. Atty. Jamie Ross, a divorcee and mother in her early 30s. She fills the void left by Jill Hennessy, who vacated her role as Claire Kincaid at the end of the season. . . . In other casting news, Michelle Forbes ("Kalifornia," "Swimming With Sharks," "Star Trek: The Next Generation") will join another NBC drama, "Homicide: Life on the Street," in November. She will play Chief Medical Examiner Julianna Cox, who will work closely with the homicide detectives.

Morton Downey Jr. in 'Good Spirits': Former talk-show host Morton Downey Jr. was discharged from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in good condition on Tuesday, four days after surgery to remove a 1 1/2-inch cancerous tumor and part of his right lung. Doctors said there was no evidence that the cancer had spread, and Downey, 63, was said to be in "good spirits" as he left the hospital with friends and family members. The tumor was diagnosed last month while Downey was hospitalized for pneumonia. Downey, who will now have to undergo blood tests and X-rays twice a year, blamed the tumor on 50 years of heavy smoking and has made a series of public service announcements advising young people to stay away from cigarettes.

Olympic Programming Notes: "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will offer his own spin to the network's Olympics coverage. "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno: Special Edition," a 5 1/2-minute offering of jokes, sketches and Olympic-themed taped bits, will air weeknights at 9:35, starting Monday. . . . Cable's Lifetime Television will try to lure viewers away from the quadrennial sporting event with a "Joan Collins Minithon" featuring--count 'em--26 "steamy" miniseries from the 1980s and early '90s. The actress will host and provide commentary before and during each screening, Friday through Aug. 4.

Al Bundy's Dream Come True: So you've always wanted to judge the Miss America pageant? Say you have, anyway, because for the first time this year, viewers nationwide will be able to call in votes to help narrow the field from 10 semi-finalists to five finalists (last year, viewers were able to vote only on the pageant's swimsuit competition). Special 900 numbers will be set up for each contestant, with proceeds from the 50-cent calls going to charity and the Miss America Scholarship Fund; one vote from each phone number will be counted. The pageant airs on NBC on Sept. 14, hosted by Regis Philbin.


Cirque Going to Disney World: On the heels of news about the Disney empire's expansion in Anaheim with the planned California Adventure theme park, Florida's Disney World resort has announced plans for a permanent, 70,000-square-foot theater to showcase a Cirque du Soleil troupe. The 1,650-seat theater, which would offer performances by an arm of the Montreal-based company twice daily, five days a week, is scheduled for completion in 1997. The complex will also include a House of Blues nightclub and a Wolfgang Puck's Cafe, Disney World officials said.


Discussing 'Killer': Actor James Woods and director Oliver Stone will participate in a panel discussion following a special benefit premiere of the film, "Killer: A Journal of Murder," on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Directors Guild of America. The film, starring Woods and co-executive produced by Stone, explores the life of America's first serial killer. Woods, Stone, ACLU Executive Director Ramona Ripston and others will discuss points raised by the movie, including the death penalty and the correctional system's effectiveness. The screening and discussion, to be moderated by L.A. Times Contributing Editor Robert Scheer, benefits the ACLU. Tickets are $75 and $125.


Burt Reynolds, who resurrected his film career with a well-received turn in "Striptease," and magician Ricky Jay, who drew rave reviews for a recent sold-out stand at the Tiffany Theatre, have both joined the ensemble cast of New Line Cinema's dark comedy "Boogie Nights." The movie follows an extended family of filmmakers who struggle to revolutionize the adult entertainment industry. An April release is expected. . . . Actor Danny Glover will executive produce and star in "Buffalo Soldiers," a movie for cable's Turner Network Television detailing the true story of African American U.S. cavalry members who won respect for their work as exceptional soldiers and horsemen in the American West. A 1997 premiere is scheduled.

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