Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation’s press.
‘Space’ Theft: “Space Jam,” the Warner Bros. movie featuring basketball star Michael Jordan cavorting with Looney Tunes characters including Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil, Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck, doesn’t open for 11 weeks, but it should be a big hit if enthusiasm for the movie’s early “teaser” posters is any indication. On Aug. 9, Warner Bros. put up 250 Los Angeles bus shelter posters--each featuring a black-on-red silhouette of either Jordan or one of the animated characters, along with the words “Get Ready to Jam” and the movie’s Nov. 15 opening date. To date, 209 of the 250 images have been stolen, prompting Outdoor Systems, which manages the bus shelter ads, to install surveillance cameras at random sites. The company--which notes that the posters’ removal has been accompanied by broken glass and damaged frames--has also embossed the remaining images with a stamp indicating that sale of the poster is prohibited. “We’re glad that these characters are so popular and that people like the images on the posters, but we wish they’d save their enthusiasm for ‘Space Jam’ itself,” said a Warner Bros. spokesman. “Damaging bus shelters to steal these posters is a crime.” While the stolen “teaser” images will not be replaced, posters bearing more information about the movie will be erected in October.
Taking His Medicine: A red-faced Adam Arkin apologized to the cast and writers of CBS’ “Chicago Hope” this week, saying his comments in the Sept. 2 issue of People magazine that he might leave the medical drama were dated and taken out of context. The magazine quoted Arkin as saying: “This may be my last year on the show. The hours are too long, the role is too constricting.” He also complained about the quality of last season’s scripts. Arkin plays neurosurgeon Aaron Shutt on the drama, which last year weathered the departure of Arkin’s original co-lead in the series, Mandy Patinkin. “The characters became generic,” Arkin is quoted as saying in the magazine, adding that if his diagnosis gets him in trouble, “they can fire me.” One production source described Arkin as being “very embarrassed” by the published comments.
‘King’ of Sales?: In its second week in release, Walt Disney Home Video’s “Aladdin and the King of Thieves,” featuring the voice of Robin Williams, has hit No. 1 on the Billboard video sales chart. Disney is spending $70 million to market the second made-for-video sequel to 1992’s “Aladdin.” Though “King of Thieves” is reportedly outselling the 1994 “Aladdin” sequel, “The Return of Jafar,” which sold 10 million copies, Disney has so far declined to disclose actual sales figures for the new release. A Disney spokesperson said only that the company is thrilled with the performance of “King of Thieves,” adding that Disney may release sales figures after the video has “done all of its business.”
One More Morissette Win: Canadian rocker Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” which has hovered at or near the top of the charts for 64 weeks, remained the nation’s top-selling album last week, selling another 115,000 copies, according to SoundScan. But this may be her last week at No. 1: She’s almost certain to be dethroned next week by Pearl Jam’s “No Code,” which went on sale Tuesday. Meanwhile, the rest of the current Top 5: Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” (111,000 copies sold), Nas’ “It Was Written” (83,000), No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom” (82,000) and LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” (76,000). The nation’s top-selling single for the fifth straight week was Los del Rio’s “Macarena.”
Internet Concerts: The House of Blues New Media’s new “Internet-based music channel,” at https://www.liveconcerts.com, kicks into high gear tonight when it broadcasts the fifth annual H.O.R.D.E. Festival, featuring Blues Traveler, Lenny Kravitz and Rusted Root, from Charlotte, N.C., beginning at 1:30 p.m. Then on Friday, the Internet site broadcasts live from L.A.'s House of Blues, where the group Royal Crown Revue performs at 11 p.m. Other upcoming concerts on the site include the Smokin’ Grooves Tour, on Monday at 6 p.m., featuring Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre performances by Cypress Hill, the Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers and others.
Grant Sues WABC: Talk-show host Bob Grant has sued his former radio station, which he said tried to blacklist him after he made controversial remarks about deceased Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Grant, known for his acid tongue and conservative bend, was fired in April by New York’s WABC-AM amid protests over a remark he made April 3 during early reports about the crash of Brown’s plane in Bosnia, when it was believed that one person had survived. “My hunch is that he [Brown] is the one survivor. . . . Maybe it’s because at heart I’m a pessimist,” Grant said at the time. Grant, 67, claims in his federal court suit that WABC-AM, which gave no reason for his firing, failed to make payments required by his contract. He also claims the station and its parent companies, Capital Cities/ABC Inc. and the Walt Disney Co., worked to keep him from getting another radio job and damaged his reputation. Grant now has an evening show at New York’s WOR-AM. A spokesman at Capital Cities/ABC’s New York office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
ABC News’ Diane Sawyer has landed the first in-depth interview with actor Robert Urich since his diagnosis with synovial sarcoma earlier this month. It airs next Wednesday on “PrimeTime Live.” . . . Actor Bronson Pinchot (“Perfect Strangers”) will join the cast of “Step by Step” when the ABC show returns as a midseason replacement. Meanwhile, gone from the cast is Sasha Mitchell (Cody) who was arrested earlier this week in Tennessee for violating probation in connection with his recent wife-beating conviction. . . . Actors Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson welcomed their second son, Daniel Jack Neeson, who was born in New York early Tuesday. Their elder son Michael is 14 months old.