Without a Trace: The cable cult hit "Mystery Science Theater 3000" got a reprieve when the Sci-Fi Channel ordered 13 new episodes after the show was dropped by Comedy Central. But now it faces a new crisis: the loss of actor Trace Beaulieu, who is leaving after seven seasons of playing the mad scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester, and working the Crow T. Robot puppet. "MST3K," as fans know it, features a space-stranded human and his homemade robots making fun of cheesy movies that Dr. Forrester forces them to watch as part of an evil experiment. Beaulieu had been with "Mystery Science Theater" since its debut on a Minneapolis station in 1988. "It's kind of bittersweet, but it was time for me to go," he said.
Billboard Opener: Tony Bennett and the Gin Blossoms have been booked to perform at the Aug. 4 opening of the Billboard Live club on the Sunset Strip, with MTV's Jenny McCarthy set as host. Police will close the stretch of Sunset from San Vicente to Doheny for the invitation-only event launching the new music facility on the former site of Gazzarri's, with the performances from inside being shown on the outside Jumbo Tron screens that will be a permanent feature of the club. Public performances will begin Aug. 6 with the Ramones in what is being billed as the punk band's final appearance following its farewell stint on Lollapalooza '96. Other shows scheduled include Norman Brown (Aug. 7), Everclear (Aug. 9), Stanley Clarke (Aug. 10) and Todd Snider (Aug. 15).
Gastronomical Timing: A Pittsburgh restaurant on Thursday cooked up a 300-pound meatloaf to honor Meat Loaf's scheduled concert performance in the city that night. But the gastronomically named singer had to cancel the show--because of food poisoning. The edible meatloaf, which will be included in the next Guinness Book of World Records, was to have been unveiled just before the singer's concert. The dish--which nonetheless made it to a designated food bank--was made with 228 pounds of ground beef, plus another 72 pounds of spices, tomato puree and onions.
Voicing the Stars: L.A. Theatre Works, which produces star-studded live dramas for public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9), went national this week with the first taping of "Washington Theatres on the Air," a series of four live radio dramas produced by L.A. Theatre Works in Washington for future broadcast over Voice of America and NPR affiliates nationwide. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates, the program this week taped Ed Schmidt's "Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting," starring Edward Asner and Paul Winfield. The productions, each directed by an artistic director from one of four Washington theaters, are all being taped before a live audience at Voice of America's Washington headquarters. Future tapings include D.L. Coburn's "The Gin Game," starring Julie Harris and Robert Prosky; George Bernard Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple," with Richard Dreyfuss, Pat Carroll and Kelly McGillis; and John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves," starring Stockard Channing and Glenne Headly.
New York's 'Waiting': Lisa Loomer's "The Waiting Room," which drew critical raves when it premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in 1994 (and during a later run in Washington), is going to New York in the fall. The play--about four women from different cultures and times who wind up together in a doctor's office--is set to open the Vineyard Theatre's fall season on Oct. 10, with David Schweizer directing. Management at the Taper, which developed the play in its early days, say they are "thrilled" about the New York engagement, but have no direct involvement. Doug Aibel, the Vineyard's artistic director, told the New York Times that "it's unusual for us to produce a play that's had other productions. But this play just spoke to me."
Hope Sets the Standard: Entertainer Bob Hope will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the first Family Film Awards, to be presented by the World Film Institute and broadcast Aug. 22 on CBS. Hope, lauded for bringing laughter to "more than six generations of families," is scheduled to be on hand to receive the award, which in future years will be dubbed the Bob Hope Lifetime Achievement Award. Meanwhile, Internet users can vote on the remaining awards honoring family-friendly films and TV programs in 15 categories. Voting will take place through Aug. 5 at http://www.cbs.com or http://www.msn.com.
Honored for His 'True Grit': The late John Wayne is among those set to receive this year's Golden Boot Awards honoring work in western films and TV programs, presented annually by the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Members of Wayne's family will accept the award during ceremonies Aug. 27 at the Century Plaza Hotel. Additional honorees are Lloyd Bridges, Charles Bronson, Carroll Baker, Bill Campbell, Joe Canutt and Herb Jeffries. Roy Rogers will receive the Founders Award, presented annually in recognition of "significant professional and humanitarian contributions to both the western genre and the community at large."