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Ash Grove in Chapter 11: The Ash Grove music club on the Santa Monica Pier has filed for bankruptcy protection after piling up debts that forced the nightspot to close its doors two months ago. The city of Santa Monica initiated eviction proceedings in July, maintaining the club owed $65,000 in back rent and other fees. "Of course I'm disappointed," longtime owner Ed Pearl said Wednesday. "I've spent years trying to put this thing together." After restructuring, Pearl said he hopes to reopen the club in the same location but will seek a new home if necessary. The Ash Grove--the center of L.A.'s highly influential folk music scene until a fire closed its previous West Hollywood location in 1973--reopened at the Santa Monica Pier last year and has been widely acclaimed for its eclectic performance roster.


Emmy Grumbling: New York's National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is continuing its fight against the North Hollywood-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences over the latter group's awarding last weekend of a Primetime Emmy for commercials. The East Coast group--which lost a previous arbitration bid to stop the award--is claiming that because the winning ad, HBO's "Chimps," initially was shown in daytime, it is outside of the Primetime Emmys' jurisdiction. The West Coast group, meanwhile, said Wednesday that "all of the issues on this question were thoroughly explored during the [first] binding arbitration. . . . ATAS is shocked and dismayed that NATAS continues to try to block the recognition of the excellence of . . . commercials."


Open Line?: Phoenix Pictures co-founder Mike Medavoy, speaking at the third annual Latino Entertainment Industry Conference Wednesday in Burbank, said that inside the studio system "nobody is thinking about diversity, they don't understand it." Beginning his speech in Spanish, Medavoy challenged attendees to "break down the walls." Later, Medavoy was asked if attendees could call him; he replied: "I actually return every call, although I stop when the privilege is abused."


Rock star Sting, who drew attention last week for his pairing with producer-rapper Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs in a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards, will segue to yet another genre when he performs Sept. 24 on CBS' Country Music Assn. Awards. Sting will be joined by country singer Toby Keith in the first televised performance of their duet, "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying." . . . The hit musical "Ragtime" has been extended to Jan. 18 at the Shubert Theatre. Some Wednesday matinee performances will also be added, starting Sept. 24. Tickets go on sale Sunday.

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