Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation’s press.
On the Yellow Brick Road: KLOS-FM’s (95.5) “Mark and Brian Show” will reenact a classic radio-theater presentation of “The Wizard of Oz” in a live broadcast today from the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills. The broadcast will air on the nationally syndicated show from approximately 8:30 to 10 a.m. The morning show’s hosts, Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps, will play the Tin Man and Scarecrow, respectively, with Sheena Easton as Dorothy, Dwight Yoakam as the Cowardly Lion, Peter Scolari as both Aunt Em and Glinda the Good Witch, and Jess Harnell in a variety of roles, including Uncle Henry, the Munchkins and the narrator. Adapted from the beloved 1939 film, the original “Wizard of Oz” radio drama, starring Judy Garland, was broadcast on Christmas Day 1950 on the Lux Radio Theatre program.
TV & MOVIES
More News: KCBS-TV Channel 2 this weekend will launch two new half-hour Sunday newscasts aimed at expanding the station’s news and sports coverage. Gretchen Carr and Jonathan Elias will host “30 Minutes of Special Assignment,” showcasing stories from Channel 2’s investigative unit, on Sundays at 6:30 p.m., preceding the CBS Network’s “60 Minutes.” Carr, along with Kyle Kraska, will also host a new 5 p.m. Sunday newscast, as well as the existing 6 p.m. news, with the two local broadcasts bookending the 5:30 p.m. “CBS Evening News.” Also starting this weekend, KCBS will expand its Sunday afternoon “Sports Central” show by one hour, airing it from 3-5 p.m.
Dethroned: Despite being touted by its distributor as the highest-rated new syndicated talk show this season, “The Gayle King Show"--seen locally at 2:30 p.m. weekdays on KCBS-TV Channel 2--will be canceled in September. Ed Wilson, president of CBS’ Eyemark Entertainment--which produces the show with King, a Connecticut anchorwoman and close friend of Oprah Winfrey--said it was a difficult decision. Eyemark had said recently that the show was cleared for broadcast next season in 85% of the country, but sources said it was not doing well on CBS-owned outlets.
ABCs of Scheduling: ABC’s “Ellen” will air its one-hour season (and, most likely, series) finale on May 13 at 9 p.m. ABC has yet to rule officially on the show’s fate, but it is not expected to return. Meanwhile, the network has pulled the new drama “Push” after two low-rated telecasts, but says the series will be brought back this summer. Meanwhile, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” returns next week to the 8 p.m. Monday slot. Finally, ABC will air the Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood movie, “Unforgiven,” on May 14, against NBC’s much trumpeted “Seinfeld” finale.
‘Mod Squad’ in Court: MGM’s planned film “The Mod Squad,” starring Claire Danes and others in an update of the 1968-73 TV series, is at the center of a court battle. A federal lawsuit claims that the movie’s producer, Aaron Spelling, doesn’t really own the movie rights because he paid less than the required union wage to the show’s creator, the late Buddy Ruskin, back in the 1960s. MGM declined comment on the suit, filed by Ruskin’s heirs.
Performance Today Honors: Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has won National Public Radio’s New Horizon Award for broadening the appeal of classical music through his symphonic poem “Standing Stone,” which spent 11 weeks at the top of the classical music album chart. Other winners of NPR’s Performance Today Awards, billed as the only honors devoted exclusively to classical music, included the New York Philharmonic (Heritage Award) and National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin (player of the year). Winners of critics’ choice awards for the “most significant or artistically meritorious recordings of 1997" were the Emerson String Quartet (“Ludwig van Beethoven: The String Quartets”); the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra with Owain Arwell Hughes, conductor (“Vagn Holmboe: Symphony No. 2; Sinfonia in Memoriam”), and Angela Gheorghiu, Roberta Alagna, the London Voices and the London Symphony Orchestra with Antonio Pappano, conductor (“Giacomo Puccini: La Rondine”).
This year’s incarnation of the the Lilith Fair will play at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on June 27. Event founder Sarah McLachlan will be joined by main-stage performers Natalie Merchant, Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, the Indigo Girls and Shawn Colvin. The tour, with 57 dates, starts June 19 in Portland, Ore. . . . Actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, expecting a baby in July, were spotted in line Wednesday for a New York marriage license. Their publicists confirmed Thursday that the couple got the license but have not set a date. . . . “Chicago Hope” star Christine Lahti will play the lead in USA Network’s cable movie, “The Ellie Nesler Story,” based on the true story of a mother sent to prison after shooting to death a Sunday school teacher charged with molesting her 7-year-old son. . . . Dan Aykroyd and wife Donna Dixon have added a third daughter to their family. Stella Irene Augustus Aykroyd was born April 5 in New York. The couple’s other daughters are 8 and 4.