‘Happy Days Are Here Again': So declared Christie’s spokesman Christopher Burge following a Wednesday night sale in which Willem de Kooning’s 1949 painting “Woman” sold for a record $15.6 million, far above the auction house’s $8-million to $10-million pre-sale estimate. “It’s the first time in living memory that a contemporary work has sold for more than an Impressionist or Modern work,” Burge said, noting that the De Kooning brought the highest price paid for any work at auction this year and the third-highest price ever paid for a contemporary painting at auction. In addition, Burge said, the night’s total take--nearly $34 million--posted an all-time record for a contemporary art sale at Christie’s, even topping the market’s heyday in 1989. Among other highlights of the sale, in which 53 of the 61 lots offered found buyers, Roy Lichtenstein’s 1962 painting “Tex!” went for nearly $4 million and his “The Forest” commanded $2.1 million. Records were also set for works by Philip Guston ($1.7 million for “Beggar’s Joys”), Hans Hoffman ($750,500 for “Gloria in Excelsis”) and Josef Albers ($662,500 for “Study for Homage to the Square: Despite Mist”).
A ‘Politically’ Correct Date: “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” which last weekend picked up the CableACE Award for best talk show, makes its move to the networks when it premieres Jan. 6 on ABC. The program, which previously aired on Comedy Central, will air from 12:05-12:35 a.m. weeknights, following “Nightline.” It will tape in Los Angeles each day in front of a live studio audience, for broadcast the same night.
Membership Required: Quentin Tarantino is in line to direct an episode of Fox’s “The X-Files” that would air following the Super Bowl broadcast in January, however, his lack of Directors Guild of America membership could prevent him from doing so. Sources say the “Pulp Fiction” director is currently negotiating with the DGA for a waiver allowing him to direct the “X-Files” episode, and both sides hope to resolve the matter. However, because the DGA granted Tarantino a similar waiver last year to direct an episode of NBC’s “ER"--and assumed that he would join the guild soon after--the DGA might be less permissive this time. Tarantino declined comment, but a spokeswoman said Thursday that he does intend to join the DGA at some point and is “not making a political statement” by delaying membership. A DGA spokesman declined to comment on the waiver, but said the guild looks forward to Tarantino joining its ranks.
Too Cold for the Beach: Cable’s MTV, which has established a warm-weather party identity by taking over beach houses to produce its original summer programming, is taking a cold-weather turn with “MTV’s Winter Lodge,” in which the network’s crews will move into a 9,700-feet-above-sea-level ski lodge in Steamboat Springs, Colo. From Dec. 2-15, the network will produce more than 200 hours of original programming from the lodge, which is said to be accessible only by snowboard, ski or snowmobile.
Remembering AIDS Deaths: A West Hollywood-based company called CommuniTV will honor those who have lost the battle against AIDS by airing “AIDS Watch,” a 24-hour display of victims’ names, as part of the Dec. 1 international observance of World AIDS Day. During the programming, which will air over both Continental (Channel 43) and Century (Channel 28) cable systems, CommuniTV will air a different name on a black screen every two seconds. The group aims to remember 42,000 people lost to AIDS, and is requesting that friends and relatives submit names of loved ones for inclusion. Names will be accepted through Monday, and can be sent either to CommuniTV, P.O. Box 69991, West Hollywood, CA 90069-0991, or by e-mail to AIDS-WATCH1@aol.com.
The Children’s Tribute: Children from the Scottish village of Dunblane--site of last March’s tragedy in which 16 schoolchildren and their teacher were slain by a loner on a shotgun rampage--have recorded their own version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” as a tribute to the dead. The children, some of whom lost brothers and sisters in the massacre, recorded the song at London’s Abbey Road studios (made famous by the Beatles), accompanied by the Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler on lead guitar. The record’s sleeve will carry a drawing by one of the children killed, and proceeds will go to various children’s charities.
The Fox network has ordered nine additional episodes of Chris Carter’s “Millennium,” starring Lance Henriksen as a former FBI agent who tracks serial killers. Although the show premiered Oct. 25 with the highest ratings of any new series in Fox’s history, viewership has dipped in subsequent weeks. . . . Defense attorney Leslie Abramson, who represented Erik Menendez, joins the syndicated TV show “American Journal” today as a commentator on the O.J. Simpson civil trial. . . . The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has filed a federal trademark and infringement lawsuit against CBS, citing a promotional clip for the network’s series “Ink,” in which actress Mary Steenburgen--an Academy Award winner in 1980 for “Melvin and Howard"--held an Oscar as a gag. CBS had no comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages. . . . “The Daffy Duck Show,” a new series featuring the timeless toon, will lead off a new Kids WB cartoon lineup beginning Saturday at 8 a.m. on Channel 5.