Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation’s press.
Grammy Viewership Dips: Despite a much-trumpeted move to New York’s Madison Square Garden, ratings for Wednesday’s Grammy Awards telecast dropped 8% compared to last year--the second-lowest viewership in the show’s history. The program still ranked first for the night, however, with CBS estimating that 42 million people--a 22% share of the available audience--watched all or part of the three-hour broadcast.
Stepping ‘Backward’: Director Spike Lee apparently supports recent criticism by the NAACP’s Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch and by the Brotherhood Crusade against television dramas that the groups have said portray black characters as “buffoonish.” “I would rather see ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy.’ At least they were just straight up Uncle Tommin’. We’ve gone backward,” Lee said this week. Lee, speaking at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., was referring to some comedies on the Warner Bros. and United Paramount networks that he said feed stereotypes about black people.
Ennis Cosby Case Update: Two more detectives were assigned to the Ennis Cosby murder investigation this week, an LAPD spokesman said, although he declined to give the total number of officers on the case. About 10 tips a day are still trickling in about the Jan. 16 slaying of actor Bill Cosby’s son, but police say they still lack solid leads despite a $300,000 reward.
Yet Another Awards Show: For those who can’t get enough of celebrity-filled awards shows, cable’s TNT this year will broadcast for the first time the ShoWest Awards, from the annual motion picture convention in Las Vegas. The awards air live at 7 p.m. on Thursday, hosted by comedian Sinbad. Honorees include Denzel Washington (actor of the year), Winona Ryder (actress of the year) and Will Smith (international box-office achievement).
Amid the Ruins: Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti plans to perform for an estimated 17,000 fans in April on an outdoor patio between two pyramids at the famed Chichen Itza ruins in southeastern Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Archeological experts planning the shows say the ruins will be fully protected, with entry and access routes for concert-goers located outside the archeological zone, which occupies several dozen acres. The National Archaeology Council has also said that the stage and audience seating will not be allowed to touch any of the buildings, and that no holes will be dug for footings. Archeologists believe the entire area of Chichen Itza--built by the Maya between AD 800 and 1200--is filled with ruins of artifacts near the soil’s surface. Pavarotti’s fellow tenor, Placido Domingo, recently performed at the Teotihuacan pyramids near Mexico City.
Kennedy Center Freebies: Beginning Saturday, Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will hold free concerts 364 days a year--with the program going dark only on Christmas Day. The 6 p.m. events, to be held on a new stage in the center’s main lobby, will showcase up-and-coming professional performers including concert pianists, jazz bands, folk groups and dance companies. The program aims to encourage tourists who balk at the price of regular Kennedy Center programs--which can run up to $65 a seat--to take in the center’s offerings. Currently, about half of the Kennedy Center’s yearly 4 million to 5 million visitors fail to stay for a performance, said board Chairman James A. Johnson, adding, “for them, it’s just a visit to a presidential memorial.”
Arts Council Planning Meeting: The California Arts Council will hold a strategic planning meeting for the Los Angeles-area arts community on Monday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the City Centre Building in downtown Long Beach (200 Pine Ave.). The meeting will allow the public to voice their views on the future direction of the agency, the state’s primary arts funding organization. All state agencies must submit a strategic plan for the 1997-98 fiscal year by July 1.
Soul singer Maxwell has canceled his March 8-10 engagement at Sunset Boulevard’s House of Blues. A club spokeswoman said the cancellation was caused by the departure of one of his band members, and that the shows will be rescheduled. . . . “Friends” star Matthew Perry, currently in the feature film “Fools Rush In,” will hold an Internet chat today at 4 p.m. at https://et.msn.com. . . . Christopher Reeve’s wife, Dana, has landed a recurring role in the new CBS drama “Feds,” which premieres Wednesday. Although she has previously been known as Dana Morosini, CBS says that she will be billed on the show as Dana Reeve. . . . “Star Wars’ ” Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, will be at Disneyland today for 10 a.m. ceremonies launching the park’s “Star Wars Days” (through April 6), celebrating both the film trilogy’s 20th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of Disneyland’s Star Tours attraction. . . . Actor Ashley Hamilton filed for divorce Wednesday from model Angie Everhart after less than three months of marriage. Hamilton, who separated from Everhart four weeks ago, according to court papers, separated from his first wife, actress Shannen Doherty, after less than six months of marriage. . . . CBS Chief White House correspondent Rita Braver will receive this year’s media award for television in Washington today from the National Foundation for Women Legislators. NPR’s Nina Totenberg will receive the radio award.