Entertainment News from June 1997
Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
- Broadway musicals Titanic and Chicago dominate the 1997 Tony Awards. Titanic captures five awards, including best musical and book of a musical. Chicago runs away with six trophies, including best play, best actor and actress in a musical and best choreographer. Host Rosie O'Donnell is credited with a 48 percent television ratings increase over the 1996 ceremony.
- Jonathan Levin, the son of Time Warner's chief executive Gerald Levin, is found dead in his Manhattan apartment. He died of a gunshot wound to the head and had multiple stab wounds in his chest. Jonathan Levin was a teacher at one of the roughest schools in New York.
- Jeff Buckley's body is found in a Memphis harbor near the Mississippi River. The 30-year-old musician disappeared last week while swimming nearby.
- Oprah Winfrey publicly denies rumors she is gay. “I've decided to address this rumor because, for the past couple of days, our offices have received several phone calls about this from the legitimate press, so it appears to be picking up steam,” Winfrey said. The rumor started after Winfrey appeared on the coming-out episode of Ellen.
- Scream wins Best Movie at the offbeat MTV Movie Awards. Will Smith and Viveca A. Fox take home an award for best smooch in Independence Day and Jim Carrey wins Best Villain for his role as a disturbing stalker in The Cable Guy.
- Police arrest 19-year-old Corey Arthur and charge him with the murder of his former teacher, Jonathan Levin. Arthur allegedly tortured Jonathan for his ATM code and then withdrew $800 from the teacher's bank account.
- Julie Andrews takes her final bows as a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman in Victor/Victoria. The cast and Barrymore star Christopher Plummer serenade a teary Andrews with “Edelweiss.” Fiesty actress Raquel Welch is taking over for Andrews.
- Twenty-eight-year-old teacher Jon Nakamatsu wins the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the world's premier piano prize, which carries a $200,000 purse. Nakamatsu said he will quit his day job as a teacher to pursue music full time.
- Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns and operates five Broadway theaters, and Pace Theatrical Group, an outfit that launches national theatrical tours, announce a groundbreaking, collaborative agreement to create, present and distribute shows in North America and England.
- Microsoft announces plans to invest $1 billion for 11.5 percent ownership of Comcast Corporation, the country's fourth-largest cable operator. The investment brings Microsoft chairman Bill Gates one step closer to becoming the true king of all media and signals Gates's confidence in the convergence of the cable television and computer industries.
- Bryant Gumbel signs on to host the September 14, 1997 Emmy Awards. No need to worry, Gumbel won't try to be funny. “I'm not going to do anything out of character,” he said. “There will be other people on who will sing and dance and do comedy.”
- HBO announces it will offer digital high-definition cable programming by the summer of 1998. HBO is the first cable channel to commit to the new format.
- Hootie & the Blowfish drummer Soni Sonnenfeld and New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco announce the indictment of ticket scalper Joseph Nekola. Nekola, who ran the ticket office at the Jones Beach Theatre, bought 400 premium seats at face value— $25 — and then sold the tickets to scalpers for up to $50. The scalpers in turn sold them on the street for as much as $150 each. Hootie's manager stumbled upon the scam when he asked for receipts from ticket sales.
- Microsoft and Netscape, bitter rivals on Internet technology, agree on a standard for privacy software. Microsoft will adopt Netscape's software standard, called the open profiling standard.
- Will Al Bundy someday host The 700 Club? Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, agrees to buy Pat Robertson's Family Channel for $1.9 billion. Murdoch also announces that he is no longer pursuing deals in the direct-broadcast satellite market.
- NBC confirms that Melissa Leo and Max Perlich have been dumped from the cast of Homicide: Life on the Street. Leo played the no-nonsense Sgt. Kay Howard and Perlich the beaten-by-life crime videographer Brodie.
- Broadway turns off its neon in deference to Hercules. After the New York City premiere of Disney's summer event, the animated feature Hercules at the newly renovated New Amsterdam Theater, one million people line the streets to watch a mile-long, dazzling, plugged-in parade. Businesses along the route turned off their lights to maximize the effect of the floats.
- Picador publishes Ulysses: A Reader's Edition by Danis Rose. The edited version of the James Joyce classic causes a stir in literary circles, with some Ulysses purists calling the book a “mutilation.” Rose defended his work, saying “I have produced a text that, from an academic point of view, is closer to Joyce's meaning than anything that has come before.”
- Broadway's Circle in the Square goes dark after continued financial problems. The Circle declared bankruptcy in 1996, and theater operators tried an innovative pricing program to attract a new audience. Though the new structure was somewhat successful, donations have dried up.
- Brad Pitt's publicist confirms that the couple of the year, Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, are no longer an item. The formerly inseparable pair were due to marry later this year.
- DreamWorks gets a much-needed shot in the arm with a five-year deal with director Robert Zemeckis's new film production company, ImageMovers.
- A House Appropriations Subcommittee votes to give the National Endowment for the Arts only $10 million for 1998, down from $99.5 million in 1997. NEA officials said $10 million is the amount needed to close down the agency. The full House of Representatives still has to vote on the issue.
- Cats overtakes A Chorus Line as the longest-running show in Broadway history. The musical opened October 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theater and has grossed $329 million on Broadway and $2.2 billion worldwide.
- The National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America end talks with children's programming advocates about adding V (violence), S (sex) and L (language) codes to the existing television ratings system after Vice President Al Gore endorses the additional codes. The advocacy groups, who are pushing for more specific ratings, earlier promised the television-industry groups that they would not seek support of public officials.
- Batman & Robin's opening weekend brings in a disappointing $44 million. That would be boffo for most films, but it was the third best opening of the four Batman movies. Batman Forever debuted in 1995 with a $52.8 million premiere weekend.
- ABC names Stuart Bloomberg chairman of ABC Entertainment. He will oversee 33-year-old Jamie Tarses, president of the division. Tarses, who earned a reputation as programming wunderkind at NBC, was immediately under fire after joining ABC in 1996.
- Things continue to get brighter for Will Smith. Variety reports that the rapper-turned-TV-star-turned-movie-phenom has signed a recording contract with Columbia records.
- The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a federal law that bans the dissemination of indecent material over the Internet to anyone under age 18. President Clinton signed the law in 1996 as part of the Telecommunications Bill.
- ABC nabs LA anchorwoman Lisa McRee for the Good Morning America co-host slot vacated by Joan Lunden. Many expected GMA newsreader Elizabeth Vargas to replace Lunden, but ABC announces she will become a correspondent for 20/20 and a Saturday evening news anchor.
- A slew of A-list Hollywood stars, including Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Edward Norton, Courtney Love and Val Kilmer, are on hand at Las Vegas's MGM Grand to watch Mike Tyson make a snack of Evander Holyfield's ear.
- Disney's Hercules gets out-muscled by Face/Off in its opening weekend. The animated film featuring the mythological hero of the title brings in $21.4 million and the Nicolas Cage–John Travolta action thriller does $2 million better.
Here are the facts and trivia that people are buzzing about.