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


Holy Crossover!: Joel Schumacher, who is directing George Clooney in “Batman and Robin,” also will work with Clooney on the actor’s day job--by directing an episode of NBC’s “ER.” The show will be shot next month and televised in May. Clooney has been hopping back and forth on the Warner Bros. lot between the “ER” and “Batman” sets, requiring ongoing coordination between the two productions. Schumacher (whose credits include “Batman Forever” and the John Grisham adaptations “The Client” and “A Time to Kill”) asked how he could thank the TV show’s producers, who suggested he direct an episode.

NAACP Fallout: NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume said Tuesday that his organization would launch an internal investigation of its Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch, which last week criticized several situation comedies with predominantly black casts. “The national position is not far off from the position that this branch took,” Mfume said. “We want to be supportive of this branch. But we are not going to allow our internal policies to be ignored.” Mfume said the branch failed to inform national or state NAACP officials of its plans to go public with the protest--a joint effort with the Brotherhood Crusade and the Mothers in Action. Leaders of the branch had said they planned to ask for meetings with executives at Fox and the WB and UPN networks to discuss the shows, which they called offensive to African Americans. Officials for the branch could not be reached Tuesday.

‘Homicide’ Spinoff: NBC is launching a “spinoff series” of its Friday night drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.” But the new show, “Homicide: Second Shift,” won’t be seen on TV screens: It debuts Friday at 9 a.m. on the World Wide Web at The network says the show will detail the “other side” of “Homicide"--a crew of detectives, sergeants and lieutenants who work different hours from the TV characters, using the same desks and squad room. And NBC promises that the online show--with a new episode every Friday--will be interactive, allowing viewers to investigate the crime scene alongside the detectives.


Coloring in Kids’ Fare: CBS is joining forces with Hallmark Entertainment and the makers of Crayola crayons to produce three hourlong prime-time programs for children. The “Crayola Kids Adventures Specials” will be new live-action versions of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “The Trojan Horse” and “Gulliver’s Travels,” aimed at ages 6 and up. The specials will air in August during “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’s” 8 p.m. Saturday time slot, and will be introduced by Livingston the Literacy Lion, an animatronic character created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Officials said more installments may follow if the first three are successful.


Party Time: Now that the nominations are out, it’s time to start thinking about those Oscar night parties! The first to be announced is the fifth annual “Night of 100 Stars,” a black-tie benefit at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the nonprofit Film and Performing Artists Foundation. Among those expected: Tom Arnold, Sid Caesar, Judd Nelson, Elliott Gould, Ed Begley Jr., Maria Conchita Alonso, Joely Fisher and Milton Berle. Tickets are $500 a pop.

Counting Sheep: A judge in Los Angeles apparently didn’t find best picture nominee “Jerry Maguire” nearly as riveting as Oscar balloters have. In fact, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson, who is overseeing sports manufacturer Reebok International’s suit against the film, said he fell asleep while attempting to watch it Sunday night. However, the judge saw enough to set a May 6 trial date for Reebok’s breach of contract claim against TriStar Pictures. Wilson plans to give the film another shot before deciding on other claims in the suit, but indicated he expects to dismiss allegations of trade disparagement and lack of good faith. Reebok--which claims it invested $1.5 million to promote “Jerry Maguire” in exchange for exposure in a scene that ended up on the cutting room floor--is seeking a minimum of $70 million.



Coleman Takes On Enquirer: Actor Dabney Coleman has sued the National Enquirer over a Feb. 13, 1996, article headlined “Dabney Coleman Beat Up Ex-Girlfriend.” Coleman maintains the story was untrue and libelous. An Enquirer spokesman could not be reached for comment. Sharlyn Brooner, who claims to be Coleman’s ex-girlfriend, sued the actor in Santa Monica shortly before the article came out, asserting that he battered her outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Coleman later filed a cross-complaint against Brooner, charging libel and invasion of privacy.


NBC’s special-effects crew will launch a mock asteroid in Burbank today to draw attention to its TV miniseries “Asteroid,” being shown Sunday and Monday. The rock is scheduled to “hit” the side of NBC Studios between 6 and 7 p.m., as part of “Asteroid’s” movie-style premiere. . . . The AIDS charity L.A. Shanti will stage a tribute to the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during its annual Shanti Spirit Awards Gala April 24 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Other honorees include “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander, and Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, co-creators of the series “Friends.” . . . Gospel recording artist Ronald Winans, 40, is recuperating in a Detroit hospital from a 14-hour operation Saturday to repair a defective heart valve.