Anna Deavere Smith Heads to Ford: The Ford Foundation has named playwright Anna Deavere Smith as its first artist-in-residence in "an effort to strengthen the role of artists and cultural leaders in public dialogue on contemporary civic issues." During the seven-month residency, which begins in January, Smith will help plan a "new initiative on the civic role of the arts" and help the New York-based foundation "integrate artistic and cultural perspectives across its program areas." She will also continue work on her own projects, including an upcoming stage show about the press and the presidency, being co-produced by Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum and scheduled to premiere in Washington next fall. Smith is best known locally for her multi-character, one-woman show "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," which examined the riots following the Rodney King verdict.
Remembering Mastroianni: The body of film star Marcello Mastroianni, who died at his Paris home of cancer on Thursday, was to be returned to his native Italy on Friday where it was to lie in state at Rome's City Hall over the weekend. In tribute to the star, Rome's Trevi Fountain, the setting for one of Mastroianni's most memorable scenes in Federico Fellini's 1960 classic "La Dolce Vita," Thursday was swathed in black material and stopped from flowing. Here in the United States, meanwhile, cable's Bravo Channel will remember Mastroianni by playing "La Dolce Vita" and another of his collaborations with Fellini, "Intervista" (1987), Dec. 30. The double bill begins with "Intervista" at 5 p.m.
Blockbuster Nominees: "The First Wives Club" trio of Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler made the list of nominees for "favorite" female in a comedy for the third annual "Blockbuster Entertainment Awards," taking place March 11 at Hollywood's Pantages Theater and airing the same night on UPN. Among the other movie performer nominees--divided into a whopping 16 categories covering sometimes overlapping genres--are Will Smith ("Independence Day"), Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek: First Contact") and Bruce Willis ("12 Monkeys") for favorite male in a science-fiction movie; Kurt Russell ("Executive Decision"), Sylvester Stallone ("Daylight") and Denzel Washington ("Courage Under Fire"), favorite male in an adventure/drama; and George Clooney ("One Fine Day"), Tom Cruise ("Jerry Maguire") and Washington ("The Preacher's Wife"), favorite male in a comedy/romance. Among the 16-category music nominees, the Beatles, Van Halen and Journey will vie for favorite classic rock group; Toni Braxton, Celine Dion and Gloria Estefan are nominated for favorite pop female; and the Fugees, No Doubt and 311 are up for favorite new group. The public can vote for the awards from Dec. 27-Jan. 10 at all Blockbuster and Planet Hollywood locations, and over the Internet through Jan. 17 at www.blockbuster.com.
Houston Loses Baby: Whitney Houston has suffered her second miscarriage in 2 1/2 years. Houston, 33, star of the movie "The Preacher's Wife," miscarried on Thursday and was recovering at her New Jersey home, her publicist said Friday. The baby was due in July. Houston and her husband, singer Bobby Brown, have one daughter, born in 1993. Houston's previous miscarriage was in mid-1994.
Torme to Remain Hospitalized for Christmas: Mel Torme, who suffered a stroke in August and was rehospitalized last week with minor respiratory problems, has been moved to a rehabilitation wing where he will remain until after Christmas. His spokesman said Friday that the Velvet Fog was "up and walking with the aid of a physical therapist and a rail on the wall." He said that Torme was buoyed by the news that "An Evening With Mel Torme," an album the crooner recorded just two weeks before his stroke, entered Billboard's jazz charts at No. 25 this week.
Shakur Merchandise on Hold: Death Row Records agreed in L.A. Federal Court Friday to stop selling Tupac Shakur merchandise from inserts included in the late rapper's compact discs. His mother had sued the company, alleging it sold the hats, T-shirts and other gear without permission. The preliminary injunction will remain in place until Afeni Shakur's lawsuit is resolved. In addition, the two companies that had been manufacturing the gear will provide an accounting of their sales, deposit any potential royalties in a court-monitored account and stop filling orders to stores.
Gramercy Pictures' dark comedy "Fargo" got another boost in its pre-Oscar campaign Thursday when it picked up best picture and best actress honors (for Frances McDormand) from the Society of Texas Film Critics. The group named Geoffrey Rush of "Shine" best actor and picked "Lone Star's" John Sayles as best director. . . . NBC News is expected to make it official Monday by announcing that news reader Matt Lauer will replace Bryant Gumbel as Katie Couric's co-anchor on the "Today" show. Gumbel's last day is Jan. 3. . . . Actors Debra Winger ("Terms of Endearment," "An Officer and a Gentleman") and Arliss Howard ("Full Metal Jacket," "For the Boys") were married over the Thanksgiving holiday and are expecting a baby in June, Winger's spokesman said Friday. The couple met while filming "Wilder Napalm" in 1993.