Humanitas Prizes: "October Sky," Universal Pictures' true story of a NASA engineer and his 1950s teen experiments in rocketry, has won the $25,000 feature film category of the Humanitas Prize, which recognizes entertainment projects that help viewers "grow and develop and become fulfilled human beings." Also receiving $25,000 was ABC's "NYPD Blue," which won the 90-minute or longer network TV category for an extended episode dealing with the heart-wrenching demise of Jimmy Smits' character. Additional winners included Showtime's "Thanks of a Grateful Nation" ($25,000, long-form PBS or cable program); NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street" ($15,000, 60-minute TV drama); ABC's "Sports Night" ($10,000, 30-minute TV program); HBO's "The Artists' Specials: Degas and the Dancer" ($10,000, live-action children's TV); and Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" ($10,000, children's TV animation).


Serving Up 'Pie': L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has written to Universal Pictures' top executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., chastising him for the marketing campaign for the new movie "American Pie" (see review, F1). Despite an R-rating disallowing those under 17 to attend without a parent, the movie about high schoolers who make a pact to lose their virginity is being advertised in magazines aimed at 12- to 17-year-olds, Antonovich said, citing a Wall Street Journal report. Antonovich also criticized Universal's involvement in a contest where prizes include a month's supply of condoms. Universal officials said the movie's target audience is 15- to 24-year-olds, and that parents should decide if it's appropriate for their children. . . . Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Don McLean, whose "American Pie" is a pop music classic, has released a statement through his attorney noting that "neither Mr. McLean or his song are related in any way" to the movie. However, the attorney noted that the songwriter did sign an agreement allowing use of the title. . . . And in a final "Pie" note, several members of the film's cast will guest on Monday's "Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher." ABC said the show will be devoted to discussion of the "controversial issues" addressed in the film.


No Broadway Reveling?: New Yorkers--fearing problems from too many Times Square revelers ringing in the year 2000--are debating whether Broadway theaters should shut down on New Year's Eve. Due to safety concerns, the New York Police Department--which estimates that 2 million people may pack Times Square that night--had recommended that the theaters, which could add another 40,000 to the crowd, shut down. And theater owners, despite potential losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket revenue, had quickly agreed to the request. However, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said late Wednesday that "the signature entertainment for New York--Broadway" should be allowed to take place. Instead, Giuliani said he favors limiting the number of revelers allowed into Times Square. Several theater owners, however, said they are still likely to follow the police suggestion.


Cornerstone Grants: The James Irvine Foundation, under its Cornerstone Arts Organizations grants program, has awarded a total of more than $2 million to four California arts organizations. The grants, to be distributed over the next three years, include $700,000 to Valencia's California Institute of the Arts; $600,000 to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; $475,000 to the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and $350,000 to San Francisco Performances. The Cornerstone program provides core support for established arts organizations with proven track records.


MSNBC is axing John Hockenberry's talk show after just six months on the air. "It's a little bit mystifying," Hockenberry said Wednesday, adding that a network executive had told him that MSNBC wanted "to move in a different direction." . . . Rapper Coolio, 35, was sentenced to 10 days in jail, plus 40 hours of community service and two years probation, after pleading guilty Wednesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The rapper, convicted in 1994 for carrying a concealed firearm, had volunteered information about the gun to officers who stopped him for traffic violations in Lawndale last September. . . . Turner Classic Movies will salute blacklisted director Edward Dmytryk, who died July 1 at the age of 90, on Sunday. The cable channel will air three of his movies--"So Well Remembered" (1947), "Anzio" (1954) and "Murder My Sweet" (1944)--starting at 9 a.m. "Murder, My Sweet" will re-air on July 17 at 7 p.m. . . . Sean "Puffy" Combs, Nas, Master P and DMX are among the performers set for the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, taking place Aug. 18 at the Pantages Theatre and airing Aug. 20 on UPN. . . . Barbara Hershey has been added to the cast of CBS' "Chicago Hope," joining other new additions Lauren Holly and Carla Gugino.

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