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

ENTERTAINMENT

Campaigning for Peace: Actor Michael Douglas was named Thursday as a U.N. messenger of peace and said he would actively campaign for nuclear disarmament, worldwide weapons control and payment of the $1.5-billion debt owed by the U.S. to the world body. “This probably means as much to me as any of the two Oscars that I got,” Douglas told a U.N. news conference after being introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “I hope to use the entertainment communications ability we have around the world to talk a little less about movies and hopefully a lot more about some of the issues pertaining to the United Nations.” Douglas won his first Academy Award in 1975 for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and received a best actor Oscar in 1987 for “Wall Street.” Douglas--who said he was not recruited but “auditioned” for the job--joins four other U.N. peace messengers chosen by Annan: French-Algerian singer Enrico Macias, opera star Luciano Pavarotti, author Elie Wiesel and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

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Singin’ the DWP Blues: Misdemeanor charges were filed Thursday against the operators of West Hollywood’s House of Blues nightclub for the alleged illegal posting of promotional signs on Department of Water and Power utility poles in the San Fernando Valley and elsewhere. HOB Entertainment Inc. promotions manager Mark Jason and talent buyer assistant Kevin Smith were scheduled for arraignment Sept. 16 in Van Nuys Municipal Court on 12 counts of illegally posting signs and four counts of failing to remove them in compliance with a building and safety order. An L.A. city attorney’s spokesman said inspectors first noticed and photographed the signs on June 24 and that they remained--with some apparently replaced by new signs--even after HOB officials were notified both by phone and by written order that the signs were illegally posted. House of Blues officials had no immediate comment Thursday.

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THE ARTS

MOCA’s Next Emerging Artist: Los Angeles-based video artist Jessica Bronson has won the Museum of Contemporary Art’s second annual Emerging Artist Award, an honor created by MOCA and Citibank Private Bank to recognize emerging Southern California artists who have not had previous solo museum exhibitions. As part of the award, MOCA will mount a “Focus Series” exhibition of Bronson’s work (Dec. 6 through March 7), including a new video installation exploring the phenomenon of the freeway chase in Los Angeles. She will also receive a cash award, a portion of which will allow MOCA to purchase one of her works for its permanent collection. The initial Citibank Private Bank Emerging Artist Award went to L.A. photographer Catherine Opie.

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‘Sisterella’ Ruling: An L.A. Superior Court jury ruled Thursday in favor of playwright Larry Hart and Michael Jackson’s MJJ Music Productions, denying a man’s claim that it was his idea to adapt the Cinderella story to an African American milieu for the play “Sisterella,” which premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1996. Vaughn Kincey, described in court documents as a movie and video producer, had been seeking $1 million. “I am delighted that the jury realized I was the sole author of ‘Sisterella,’ and their faith in me is something I will always cherish,” Hart said after the ruling.

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QUICK TAKES

KCAL-TV Channel 9 and radio stations KNX-AM (1070), KCRW-FM (89.9) and KPCC-FM (89.3) will provide live broadcasts of today’s gubernatorial debate between Democrat Gray Davis and Republican Dan Lungren at 6 p.m. The event marks the first gubernatorial debate of the general election campaign. Meanwhile, KCET-TV Channel 28 will show the debate Saturday at 2 p.m., KCBS-TV Channel 2 will air it Saturday at 3 p.m. and KNBC-TV Channel 4 will run it on Sunday at 9 a.m. . . . Terrence McNally’s controversial new play about a gay Christ-like figure, “Corpus Christi,” will begin previews at New York’s Manhattan Theater Club on Sept. 22, with the official opening scheduled for Oct. 13. The theater had removed the play--which has been the target of protests from Roman Catholic groups--from its schedule earlier this year after receiving bomb threats; it was reinstated, however, after a public outcry from artists accusing the theater of self-censorship.


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