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ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT REPORTS FROM THE TIMES, NEWS SERVICES AND THE NATION’S PRESS.

ART

Spreading the Wealth: The San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego each will receive $30 million from the estate of Lela and Rea Axline. The Rancho Santa Fe couple, who were childless, were longtime patrons of both institutions and had previously donated more than $1 million to the Museum of Art and $5.5 million to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Rea Axline, who sold his company, Mountain Metallugic, in 1971 and died in 1992, joined the board of the SDMA in 1975, the year his wife, Lela (Jackie), joined the board at MCA. Jackie, a painter, died Dec. 24. The bequest constitutes the largest single monetary gift either institution has received. Both museums are required to add the funds to their endowments, which previously stood at $47.25 million for the SDMA, and $4 million for the MCA.

OSCAR WATCH

Academy Award No. 3: Director Elia Kazan will receive an honorary Oscar during the March 21 Academy Awards telecast. Academy President Robert Rehme called Kazan--a two-time best director winner for “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947) and “On the Waterfront” (1954)--"one of the most extraordinary directors of this century,” adding: “Both on the stage and on film, he made pronounced and lasting changes in the nature of our dramatic forms.” Past honorees include Kirk Douglas and Stanley Donen.

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A One-Network Affair: Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis will host an official half-hour pre-Oscar show on ABC immediately preceding the network’s awards telecast. During the program, other networks will be barred from televising the stars’ arrivals. “We wanted to be in control of this kind of material and programming,” said academy President Rehme. . . . Meanwhile, in a possible indicator of films likely to score nominations in the technical categories, the academy has announced the films under consideration for this year’s sound effects editing Oscar: “Armageddon,” “Godzilla,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “The Mask of Zorro,” “Ronin,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Thin Red Line.”

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Looking Ahead: Starting with next year’s telecast, two fewer Oscars will be awarded. The academy’s board of governors has voted to merge the documentary feature and documentary short film awards into a single best documentary category because of relatively few nominees in the shorts category; the group also voted to recombine the original musical score category, which was split into separate dramatic and musical/comedy scores awards in 1994. Meanwhile, proposals were voted down for new Oscar categories recognizing casting, stunt coordination and title design.

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TELEVISION

It’s Like, a New Lineup: ABC will shuffle its Wednesday comedy lineup on March 24, introducing the sitcoms “It’s like, you know . . . "--about New Yorkers living in L.A.--and “The Norm Show,” starring “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Norm Macdonald. The former replaces “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place,” which will return in May, at 8:30 p.m., while Macdonald’s show (co-starring “Roseanne’s” Laurie Metcalf) bumps “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” from its 9:30 p.m. slot for the remainder of this season. Meanwhile, ABC also confirmed that the long-in-development comedy that would have reunited Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper reprising their roles from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” has been scrapped.

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That’s All, Folks: “Home Improvement” star Tim Allen made it official Sunday that this will be the last season of his hit ABC show. While accepting his eighth straight People’s Choice Award for favorite TV actor, Allen told the audience that he wanted to end the series on a high note, and was ready to concentrate on movies. Other People’s Choice winners included Bill Cosby (favorite all-time TV star), Harrison Ford (all-time movie star), Elton John (all-time musical performer), “ER” (drama series), “Frasier” and “Seinfeld” (a tie, for favorite comedy series), Helen Hunt (TV actress), Garth Brooks and Celine Dion (musical performers) and “Titanic” (favorite motion picture).

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CLASSICAL MUSIC

Hamlisch Headed to Washington: Pulitzer Prize-winning pianist and composer Marvin Hamlisch has been named principal pops conductor for Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, effective with the 2000-2001 season. Hamlisch--the winner of three Academy Awards, two Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes--will be the first principal pops conductor in the orchestra’s 68-year history. Hamlisch will give up his principal pops conductor job at the Baltimore Symphony in 2000, but will remain in the same post with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

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Next Stop, Detroit: The Three Tenors are coming to Motown. Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras will perform July 17 in Detroit at a concert sponsored by Ford Motor Co., the Detroit Free Press reported. Details about the site and ticket prices are not yet available.

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QUICK TAKES

“The PJs"--Fox’s new Eddie Murphy clay-animated series that had drawn some protests for its depiction of African Americans in a housing project--premiered with strong ratings Sunday, drawing an estimated 22 million viewers, and surpassing both its lead-in (“The Simpsons”) and its follow-up program (“The X-Files”). The series airs again tonight at 8:30 in its regular time slot, following “King of the Hill.” . . . Music Center Chairman Andrea Van de Kamp will join her various artistic directors--Gordon Davidson (Center Theatre Group), Willem Wijnbergen (L.A. Philharmonic), Peter Hemmings (L.A. Opera) and Paul Salamunovich (L.A. Master Chorale)--in delivering the third annual State of the Arts discussion about the Music Center’s direction and goals, today at 10 a.m. in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.


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