Quick Takes: HBO's Faulkner project

David Milch and HBO have renewed their commitment, with Milch signing a multiyear deal with the pay-cable channel that would include culling the works of William Faulkner.

Milch's Redboard Productions will produce TV series and original movies based on books by the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner under an agreement made with the iconic American writer's literary estate. The deal comprises all of the 19 novels and 125 short stories in the estate, as well as other works (with the exception of those currently under contract with other parties).

Milch, who co-created the long-running cop drama "NYPD Blue," has a steady relationship with HBO, serving as creator or co-creator to three series: "Deadwood," "John From Cincinnati" and the upcoming horse-racing drama "Luck."

"I'm delighted to expand my longstanding relationship with HBO to encompass the adaptation of some of the most important literary works by any American writer into television films and series," Milch said in a statement. "As we embark on this ambitious project, our first commitment is to serve the material, and we look forward to identifying and collaborating with the best screenwriters and filmmakers to help each of the pieces find its ideal form onscreen."

—Yvonne Villarreal

Courage under fire alarm

Brian Williams was cool under fire — or at least under a fire alarm Tuesday night when an alarm sounded during the East Coast broadcast of the "NBC Nightly News" at the new studio in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Williams was just kicking off the broadcast with a story about American Airlines filing for bankruptcy when the alarm sounded, followed by an announcement over loudspeakers in the studio. Williams did not miss a beat in saying, "You'll forgive us, we have a fire alarm announcement going on here in the studio."

Williams soldiered on through the report, only cracking a smile when the fire alarm beeps turned into whooping sirens. As he threw to correspondent Tom Costello, Williams said, "We should advise our viewers there's no danger to us. We'd love to make this stop."

Costello, reporting from NBC's Washington bureau, seemed equally amused, giggling, "I'm glad you're OK. That's a first for me."

NBC spokeswoman Erika Masonhall told the Associated Press the fire alarm was a drill, but technicians could not immediately turn off the speakers in the nightly newscast's new studio.

The alarm was fixed before Williams recorded the West Coast edition of the news.

—Patrick Kevin Day

'Baker's Wife' put on shelf

The Reprise Theatre Company said Wednesday that it has pulled the plug on its February production of the musical "The Baker's Wife," citing weak overall ticket sales and donations. The company said it is contacting ticket holders to arrange for refunds.

"The Baker's Wife" had been scheduled to run Feb. 14-26 and was supposed to be the second show of the 2011-12 season. Reprise said that its production of "The Apple Tree," the third show of the season, will be performed April 17-29 as originally announced.

Christine Bernardi Weil, managing director of Reprise, said in a phone interview Wednesday that donations and ticket sales are weak for the company, especially coming off its recent production of "Cabaret," which had lower box-office revenue than expected, she said.

"The Baker's Wife" is a Stephen Schwartz musical that has seen many revisions since it was first staged in Los Angeles in 1976. Based on the 1938 French, it tells the story of a small French town where Denise, the wife of the baker, observes the daily life of her neighbors.

—David Ng

Autism event with McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan and rock photographer Rob Shanahan are the featured guests Thursday at the inaugural Blue-Tie Blue Jean Ball fundraiser hosted by the autism advocacy group Autism Speaks at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

The event aimed at increasing public awareness about autism. Other musicians are also expected to play during the evening that also will honor Shanahan on the publication of his first book of his photos of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, McLachlan, Keith Richards, Elton John, Sting, Jeff Beck, Dave Matthews, Avril Lavigne, Barry Manilow, Quincy Jones, Christina Aguilera and other rock and pop musicians.

Tickets for Thursday's event are $200. Information: events.autismspeaks.org/bluetie.

—Randy Lewis

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