Entertainment News from May 1997
Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
- News Corp.'s Preston Padden resigns. Padden orchestrated the $1-billion direct-broadcast satellite merger between News Corp. and EchoStar that is beginning to show strain. The new entity promises subscribers up to 500 channels of local and national programming and has sent shivers through the cable industry, which dubbed it the “deathstar.”
- Los Angeles police stop Eddie Murphy and arrest his passenger, a 21-year-old transsexual prostitute, on an outstanding warrant. Murphy's publicist said the star was out for an early-morning drive when a beautiful woman approached his car. He offered her a ride home because she “looked tired.”
- After 11 seasons of low-brow, blue-collar humor, Married . . . With Children's Bundys say farewell. The Fox show had been prime-time's longest-running comedy on the current schedule.
- The American Theatre Wing announces nominees for the 1997 Tony Awards. The Life and Steel Pier fare best, earning 12 and 11 nods respectively.
- Charlton Heston is elected vice president of the National Rifle Association.
- David Duchovny and Téa Leoni marry in a hush-hush New York ceremony. A romantic dinner at Gascogne, a Hell's Kitchen bistro, follows the nuptials.
- Only in Hollywood. Director Arthur Hiller, who is also president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, removes his name from An Alan Smithee Film because of “creative differences” with the film's writer and producer, Joe Eszterhas. The film is about British filmmaker Alan Smithee who tries to remove his name from a fabulously over budget movie but can't because the pseudonym would be Alan Smithee. You see, when directors pull their name from the credit list, the Directors Guild of America traditionally credits “Alan Smithee.” So, An Alan Smithee Film will indeed be an Alan Smithee film.
- The 50th Cannes Film Festival kicks off with the premiere of The Fifth Element, a futuristic thriller starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich.
- A judge rules that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority cannot prevent Marilyn Manson from performing at June 15's OzzFest at the Meadowlands.
- Jackson Five, the Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell, Parliament-Funkadelic, Buffalo Springfield, the Rascals, Mahalia Jackson, Bill Monroe and Syd Nathan are the newest members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Neil Young boycotts the Cleveland ceremony, which VH-1 rebroadcast May 9, because, he said, performers “are forced to be on a TV show, for which they are not paid, and whatever comments they would like to make, dirty laundry they would like to air, thanks they would like to give, are all subject to the VH-1 editor.”
- Talk-show host Jerry Springer resigns from his post as news commentator on Chicago's WMAQ-TV, an affiliate of NBC. He resigned after only one appearance on the news show amid a flurry of controversy. Carol Marin, veteran news anchor of WMAQ-TV, quit after the station failed to act on her protests about Springer's appointment.
- Things go from bad to worse on the Marilyn Manson tour. A crew member falls from a wall on the stage and dies. Could the tour be cursed?
- Must-see TV fans can breath a sigh of relief. NBC announces that Seinfeld cast members Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards agree to a contract that has them earning $600,000 per show, a $450,000 raise. They originally asked for $1 million per episode, which is what Jerry Seinfeld makes.
- ABC debuts ABCnews.com. The news site, a joint venture of ABC's news division and Starwave, is modeled after America Online. When ABC scrapped plans for a 24-hour cable channel because of costs, network executives decided to give the Web a try.
- Internet bookseller Amazon.com goes public, with shares rising 31 percent in the first day of trading. Amazon.com boasts a list of one million books, which the company sells at a considerable discount.
- Peter Lund, president of the CBS television network, resigns after learning about reorganization plans that would shift control of CBS's 14 television stations away from him and into the hands of Mel Karmazin, head of Westinghouse Electric's radio division. Karmazin was president and chief executive of radio broadcaster Infinity until Westinghouse bought it in 1996. Michael Jordan, chief executive of Westinghouse, will oversee all other divisions of CBS, which include news, entertainment, sports and cable.
- Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin marry in a secret ceremony on the roof of London's Dorchester Hotel. They have an 8-month-old daughter and are expecting number two in December.
- The 50th Cannes Film Festival awards the Palm d'Or to Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherries and Shohei Imamura's Unagi (The Eel).
- Rosie O'Donnell appears on the Oprah Winfrey Show to plug her book, Kids Are Punny. It's an odd pairing considering Rosie has been on Oprah's heels in the ratings since her show debuted in 1996.
- New York City's New Amsterdam Theater reopens to much glitz and fanfare with the premiere of Alan Menken and Tim Rice's King David. The Walt Disney Company restored the 1903 landmark, a centerpiece of New York's Times Square revitalization.
- On Entertainment Tonight, James Brolin announces that he and Barbra Streisand have been engaged since January. No wedding date has been set.
- Another May bride. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick wed in a New York ceremony.
- NBC sportscaster Merv Albert categorically denies charges that he threw an acquaintance on a bed, bit her several times and forced her to perform oral sex. The incident allegedly occurred on February 12, 1997 in an Arlington, Virginia, hotel room.
- After nine controversial seasons, Roseanne bids farewell to prime-time television. But this is not the last we'll see of Roseanne on the small screen. She also announces plans to host a daytime talk show, which will be syndicated by King World, the same outfit that distributes Oprah.
- CNN confirms that it has offered Tom Brokaw more than $7 million a year to become the station's prime personality. He currently earns between $4 million and $5 million a year at NBC.
- The tabloid the Globe reports that a private investigator caught Frank Gifford with a flight attendant at a New York hotel. After Kathie Lee Gifford indignantly denies her hubby is sleeping around, the Globe runs photos taken from a videotape of Gifford and the flight attendant, Suzen Johnson, embracing in a hotel room. The tabloid also releases a tell-all, R-rated audio tape recorded during the pair's assignation.
- The 1996–1997 television season ends and 60 Minutes sets a record as the only show to rank in the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings for 20 consecutive years.
- Kathie Lee Gifford signs on to co-host Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee for another year and another $3 million. There were rumors she would not return to the show because of the scandal surrounding her husband's affair.
- Indie label Trauma takes on the big boys, filing a $100 million suit against Interscope for rights to ska/punk band No Doubt. Trauma claims that Interscope gave the label rights to the band but then renegotiated with No Doubt after their Tragic Kingdom sold 10 million copies.
- The Lost World smashes several box-office records, with an opening-weekend gross of $92.7 million. The dino flick beat Independence Day, which took in $84.9 million in its 1996 five-day debut weekend. The sequel to Jurassic Park also surpassed Mission: Impossible as the highest grossing Memorial Day opener and Batman Forever as the biggest one-day and three-day premiere.
- Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden announces she will step down after 20 years on the show. She will continue to work with ABC on other news projects. The network did not name a replacement.
- Paramount Pictures confirms that Titanic, by far the most expensive movie ever made, will not hit theaters until December. The $250-million–$300-million film was scheduled to crash into theaters July 2.
- Columbia Records announces that Bob Dylan is hospitalized for a potentially life-threatening illness, pericarditis, which causes a swelling in the sac that surrounds the heart.
- Singer Jeff Buckley disappears while swimming near the Mississippi River. Buckley's father, Tim, was a popular folk singer who died of a drug overdose at age 28.
- Neil Young puts a European tour on hold after slicing off the tip of a finger while cutting a sandwich. Young still plans to headline the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, which kicks off in July.
- The search is over. Saban Entertainment names John McDonough the new Captain Kangaroo. The All New Captain Kangaroo is scheduled to hit the airwaves in September.
- As if things aren't bad enough for Kathie Lee Gifford. The New York Post reports that CBS has plans to pit Martha Stewart against Kathie Lee and Reg beginning this fall.
Here are the facts and trivia that people are buzzing about.