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

Pop/Rock / Reed Taps Poe for Musical Inspiration

Rock musician Lou Reed, who gained fame writing about drugs and the seedy underbelly of New York, has a kindred spirit in Edgar Allan Poe.

Today, in collaboration with avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson, Reed, 59, will usher in a new song cycle based on Poe’s works. He has written the play and 13 songs for “POEtry,” which runs through Dec. 8 at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music.

“POEtry” was inspired by famous Poe works such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” but Reed reinterprets them for a modern audience. “For the truly obsessive, they can get the original Poe,” he told the New York Daily News. “I amplify it. I think it’s more understandable.”

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KROQ Announces Christmas Lineup

Two bands whose current albums have sold in the 4-million range, Staind and Linkin Park, will be the main attractions on both nights of the 12th annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, Dec. 8 and 9 at the Universal Amphitheatre.

The harder-rocking first night will also feature System of a Down, Blink-182, Bad Religion, P.O.D., Puddle of Mudd, Sum-41 and Alien Ant Farm, while Sunday’s lineup is completed by Nickelback, Coldplay, Travis, Bush, 311, Remy Zero and Pete Yorn.

Tickets for Dec. 8 go on sale Saturday, and for Dec. 9 on Sunday, with proceeds benefiting three local charities.

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Theater / ‘Mousetrap’ Entering 50th Year in London

“The Mousetrap” launched into its 50th anniversary year on Monday--making it the world’s longest-running play. The Agatha Christie classic whodunit opened in London in 1952, when Winston Churchill was prime minister.

Since then, it has defied critics, attracting 8.25 million fans. Productions of the play have been presented in 44 countries and translated into 24 languages. The rights belong to Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard--a gift on his 9th birthday.

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"['Mousetrap’] shows no sign of losing its impact,” said David Turner, director of the play for the last 15 years. Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough (“Gandhi”) was part of the original cast, which is changed annually to keep the play fresh.

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Television / Battle of the Morning Shows Heats Up

NBC’s “Today” show won the morning TV ratings race for the week of Nov. 12-18, drawing an average 6 million viewers and slightly widening its previous margin of victory over second-place “Good Morning America” on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released Monday.

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The ABC show, which has been nipping at the heels of perennial leader “Today” for the past several weeks, averaged 4.97 million viewers for the week. CBS’ “The Early Show” was third with 2.76 million viewers. Compared to a year earlier, NBC was down 10%, ABC was up 1% and CBS was up 21%.

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Dangerfield Being Treated at Cedars

Rodney Dangerfield (“Caddy- shack,” “Little Nicky”), who suffered a mild heart attack on Thanksgiving Day--his 80th birthday--was due to undergo an angiogram Monday at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

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The comedian, who had been honored by colleagues and host Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” last Wednesday, was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit, according to his publicist, Warren Cowan.

“As he entered the hospital, Rodney said to the nurse who admitted him, ‘Who gave me this present?’” Cowan told The Times.

Dangerfield had heart bypass surgery in March 2000, and had surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a life-threatening condition affecting the main heart artery, in 1992.

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Movies / Hollywood Waves Flag in Cinematic Montage

“The Spirit of America,” a three-minute montage of more than 130 patriotic scenes from American movies, will be shown in theaters nationwide between Dec. 15 and 20.

Clips from films such as 1939’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood” and last summer’s “The Patriot” were compiled by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chuck Workman (“Precious Images”).

USA Today reports that the $60,000 for the project was raised in a matter of days by Emmy-winning producer-director Michael Rhodes. Technicolor, Deluxe, Kodak, Universal, DreamWorks, Sony and the National Assn. of Theatre Owners were among those volunteering to make prints and deliver them to theaters.

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Quick Takes

Kate Winslet (“Titanic”) released her first single on Monday in England. “What If” is taken from the soundtrack to an animated version of “A Christmas Carol” for which she did one of the voices.... ABC has picked up the first-year drama “Philly” for the full season.... Dennis Franz (“NYPD Blue”), who served in the army, will be honored as veteran of the year Friday at the American Veteran Awards ceremony to be held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Elaine Dutka

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