Entertainment News from February 1997
Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
- Bill Cosby performs a standup routine in West Palm Beach, Florida, his first since his son, Ennis, was murdered in January. He opened his show by saying, “This is a very strange situation, but it's not going to be a maudlin one. I don't want to do that. I'm not running from anything.”
- The Boston Ballet announces that artistic director Bruce Marks will resign at the end of the season. Anne-Marie Holmes, associate artistic director, will assume Marks's position.
- The New York Times reports that theatergoer Evelyn Amato filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court, claiming that Rum Tum Tugger (a feline character portrayed by David Hibbard) attacked her as part of the show during a January 1996 performance of Cats.
- Brad Pitt tells Newsweek that his latest film, The Devil's Own, is “the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking — if you can even call it that — that I've ever seen.” The film also stars Harrison Ford.
- The re-release of Star Wars takes in $36 million its opening weekend.
- After deliberating for six days, a civil trial jury finds O.J. Simpson responsible for murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. The jury orders Simpson to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages to Goldman's family. The timing of the decision wreaked havoc with network television executives, who had to decide whether to continue as planned with the live broadcast of President Clinton's State of the Union address or cut to live coverage of the verdict. The big three networks compromised and either used crawls (showing the President with text relating to the Simpson case running at the bottom of the screen) or a split-screen image of both events.
- Elizabeth Taylor's publicist announces the actress has been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Taylor is scheduled to have surgery on February 17.
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation announces that the 12th annual induction ceremony has been moved from the recently opened Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to Cleveland's Renaissance Hotel because the rock shrine could not accommodate the event.
- John Malone steps down as president of Tele-Communications, Inc. but will continue on as chairman and chief executive officer. Leo Hindery, managing general partner and chief executive of InterMedia Partners, a cable company partly owned by TCI, assumes the presidency.
- A daughter, Bailey Jean Cypher, is born to Julie Cypher and Melissa Etheridge.
- O.J. Simpson doesn't have to worry about wearing Bruno Magli shoes any longer; he won't be able to afford them. The jury that ordered him to pay $8.5 million to Ron Goldman's family hands down an award of $12.5 million in punitive damages to Goldman's family and Nicole Brown Simpson's estate.
- Les Misérables producer Cameron Mackintosh and director John Caird announce the lineup for the 10th anniversary company. Robert Marien will make his Broadway debut in the lead role as Jean Valjean. He played the lead in the Paris and Montreal productions. The entire cast was fired in October.
- Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, offers to return to O.J. Simpson the $21 million awarded to him by a jury if Simpson confesses to killing his son and Nicole Brown Simpson. Simpson refuses the offer and maintains his innocence.
- CBS announces that Murphy Brown will return for a season. The news surprises CBS executives who were not sure if Candice Bergen would renew her contract.
- The Prince of Pop is born to proud parents Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe. The child's parents have not decided on a name.
- A grand jury indicts Autumn Jackson and Jose Medina on charges of extortion and conspiracy. Jackson, who claims to be Bill Cosby's daughter, tried to extort $40 million from the entertainer.
- Star Wars becomes the highest-grossing film of all time and the first film to break the $400-million mark, overcoming E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which boasts an all-time $399.8-million domestic gross.
- A thief makes off with a signed script of the last Cheers episode. The script was part of an auction to raise money for Boston-area students.
- Ted Harbert, who recently resigned as president of ABC's entertainment division, signs a deal with DreamWorks SKG to develop and produce television shows.
- There may be trouble in Gotham City. Joel Schumacher steps on George Clooney's bat toes, allowing Entertainment Tonight to run an exclusive two-minute trailer of the upcoming Batman and Robin. Clooney, who plays Batman, is leading a boycott of the program in protest of the pesty videographers of ET's sister show, Hard Copy.
- Surgeons remove a benign, golf-ball-sized tumor from Elizabeth Taylor's brain. A complete recovery is expected.
- Watch out Cherry Garcia, there's a new groovy flavor in town. Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc. debuts Phish Food, which consists of chocolate ice cream, marshmallow nougat, caramel swirl and fish-shaped fudge.
- Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian TV network, drops Pat Boone's gospel show after the release of his mock heavy-metal album, Pat Boone in a Metal Mood, and his appearance on the American Music Awards where the usually clean-cut crooner sported black leather and fake tattoos. Boone's reply: “They didn't get the joke!”
- Perhaps the adage should be “Hollywood makes strange bedfellows.” The latest rumors have punky Courtney Love and preppy Edward Norton engaged, with Love sporting a diamond ring the size of a tennis ball. The pair starred together in The People vs. Larry Flynt. Both refuse to comment.
- More than 65 million people watch NBC's broadcast of Schindler's List, only slightly edited, without commercial interruptions. Ford sponsored the broadcast of the Academy Award-winning Holocaust film. It is the first program to receive the controversial TV-M rating, which indicates a program is for mature audiences.
- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and EchoStar announce they have formed a direct broadcast satellite company that promises to compete with cable television. The new company, which will use Murdoch's Sky name, will beam 500 channels, including local channels, to subscribers. Other satellite companies do not offer local programming. EchoStar shareholders will own 50 percent of the $2-billion company, News Corp. 40 percent and MCI Communications, a shareholder in News Corp., 10 percent.
- Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation Studios announce a 10-year, five-film deal, in which the two companies will share costs, credits and profits on upcoming animated films, as well as profits from tie-ins and home-video sales. The contract reflects the demand for animated movies and Disney's need for creativity.
- The People vs. Larry Flynt wins top honors, the Golden Bear, at the Berlin Film Festival. Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Binoche win Silver Bears for their performances in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and The English Patient, respectively.
- Twelve-year-old Joanna Pacitti is fired from the lead role in Broadway's $5-million revival of Annie. Producers claim Pacitti and the role were not “coming together.” (Pacitti is replaced by 8-year-old understudy Brittny Kissinger.) Despite the devastating news, a smiling, giggling Pacitti charms the nation when she appears on several TV shows, including The Rosie O'Donnell Show.
- In a long-winded state-of-the-mouse speech, Disney chief Michael Eisner acknowledges that hiring Michael Ovitz as president of the company was a mistake in judgment. A $90-million mistake at that.
- The nominations held promise, but Grammy remained mainstream, awarding statuettes to familiar faces. Eric Clapton's ballad “Change the World” wins Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds takes home three trophies, including Producer of the Year, and Sheryl Crow's Sheryl Crow takes Best Rock Album.
- The February sweeps are officially over, and NBC comes out on top again, thanks in part to the broadcast premiere of Schindler's List. Following the peacock are ABC, CBS and Fox, respectively.
- Death Row records head Marion “Suge” Knight is sentenced to nine years in jail for violating probation from an assault conviction. Knight drove the car Tupac Shakur was riding in when he was shot in Las Vegas.
Here are the facts and trivia that people are buzzing about.