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Quick Takes: Jim Lehrer defends debate

Jim Lehrer says he accomplished precisely what he wanted while moderating the first presidential debate: He got Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to talk to one another.

The former PBS anchor took heavy flak on social media for his light hand during Wednesday’s debate. He asked general, open-ended questions and let the candidates go at it.

Lehrer said in an interview that it was a conscious effort to encourage a different kind of debate, one he said Monday will be looked back upon as a watershed. He said his only regret was not getting to more subjects, but he didn’t want to do that at the price of ending good discussions.

—Associated Press

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Romney says no to Nickelodeon

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney skipped the chance to take part in Nickelodeon’s “Kids Pick the President” special that includes President Obama, said Linda Ellerbee, the show’s host and executive producer.

“Kids Pick the President: The Candidates,” with videotaped questions for the candidates from youngsters nationwide, premieres Oct. 15 on the children’s channel. Afterward, an online poll asks kids to make their pick.

Romney’s campaign said “he simply didn’t have time. He couldn’t fit it in his schedule,” Ellerbee said Monday.

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Since 1992, when Nickelodeon began airing the Q&As;, only two other candidates have declined to take part, Ellerbee said: Democratic contender John Kerry said no in 2004, which prompted President George W. Bush to withdraw.

—Associated Press

Man says he did Rothko graffiti

A Russian man has claimed responsibility for scrawling graffiti on a mural by modern American master Mark Rothko at London’s Tate Modern museum, saying he never intended to decrease the work’s value.

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Scotland Yard has launched an investigation after the mural, one of Rothko’s Seagram series, was defaced Sunday with what appears to be the words “Vladimir” and “a potential piece of yellowism.”

Vladimir Umanets, who identifies himself as the co-founder of an artistic movement he calls “Yellowism” said he is behind the graffiti. Britain’s Press Assn. news agency reported on Monday that he wants to draw people’s attention to his movement, which he describes as “an element of contemporary visual culture.”

—Associated Press

Lena Dunham lands book deal

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Lena Dunham, the 26-year-old creator of the HBO series “Girls,” has a seven-figure book deal with Random House.

Dunham, who received Emmy nominations as producer, director, writer and actor for the cable comedy, has an agreement for the essay collection “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned.”

Random House spokeswoman Theresa Zoro said Monday that no publication date has been set.

Numerous publishers bid for the book. Random House declined to offer financial details, but several competitors have said bidding exceeded $3.5 million.

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—Associated Press

Finally

Ratings: Lifetime said its all-black remake of “Steel Magnolias” attracted 6.5 million viewers Sunday night to become the third most-watched original telecast in the channel’s 28-year history.

Renewals: Fox has given full-season orders to freshman comedies “Ben and Kate” and “The Mindy Project.”

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Oscar race: A record 71 countries have submitted films for consideration in the foreign language category for the 85th Academy Awards. Missing, however, is this year’s winner. Despite capturing the Oscar in February for the family drama “A Separation,” Iran opted to boycott the event as a response to the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” that has sparked violence in much of the Middle East.

Split: Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are breaking up after 30 years of marriage. The couple married in 1982 and have three adult children.

In the works: NBC has ordered a reality competition series to be hosted by Bear Grylls, the hard-charging adventurer host of Discovery’s “Man vs. Wild.” The show, tentatively called “Get Out Alive,” is scheduled to air next summer.


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