Entertainment News from October 1997

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Tim Allen
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The major networks, except NBC, add the labels D (suggestive dialogue), L (coarse language), S (sex) and V (violence) to the existing television ratings. Though NBC has refused to use the new labels, the network has added parental warnings to some shows.
George Clooney isn't feeling too sexy these days. He balks at the honor bestowed on him by People magazine as “The Sexiest Man Alive.”
Beck, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, the Dave Matthews Band and others join Willie Nelson at the 10th Farm Aid concert. The show took in more than $1 million in gate receipts, which will be donated to family farmers.
After a 35-hour, grueling labor, Heather Locklear gives birth to her first child, Ava Elizabeth Sambora. Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is the proud dad.
Move over Seinfeld, there's another million-dollar (plus) man in town. Home Improvement's Tim Allen agrees to return to the sitcom next year for his eighth season and $1.25 million an episode, up from his current $750,000 per show.
Touched By An Angel co-star Della Reese blasts CBS for offering her a skimpy pay raise, citing “disrespectful treatment.” Reese said CBS offered her a 12 1/2 percent pay hike, while co-star Roma Downey got a 100 percent raise. CBS responded, “For the record, we have continued to honor her requests to reduce the number of hours she works, enabling her to rest and devote more time to her ministry on the weekends. We have also responded to her demand to renegotiate with an offer to raise her salary by a significant amount.”
The Signature Theatre Company opens its new doors at Manhattan's 555 W. 42d Street, with playwright-in-residence Arthur Miller and Signature founder James Houghton presiding over the festivities.
Film producers Martin Poll and Christian Seidel buy the rights to Andrew Morton's just-published Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words. The film, with stars yet to be named, is due out in late 1998.
Ellen DeGeneres threatens to quit Ellen after ABC executives add an on-screen parental advisory to the TV-14 rating of an episode in which Ellen and co-star Joely Fisher jokingly lock lips. “How can I go forward?” DeGeneres said in an interview with the New York Times. “This is blatant discrimination. This advisory is telling kids something's wrong with being gay.” ABC said the network is responsible for providing parents with as much programming information as possible.
Italian playwright-performer Dario Fo, known for his barbed social and political satire, wins the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Country singer/songwriter, environmentalist and actor John Denver dies when the single-engine experimental plane he was flying crashes into the Pacific Ocean, just off Monterey Bay.
Sony Pictures Entertainment announces it has signed an agreement with producer Kevin McClory to produce a new series of James Bond movies. McClory made the Bond films Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. MGM/UA, which has made several Bond movies, claims it owns the rights to the franchise as well as the Bond character and promises legal action. McClory has said that his collaboration with novelist Ian Fleming and screenwriter Jack Whittingham led to Fleming's book Thunderball. Will the worldwide search for Bond No. 6 be underway?
The Rolling Stones cancel their appearance on MTV's Live From the 10 Spot because of leadman Mick Jagger's sore throat. Fellow aging rocker David Bowie steps in. The Stones reschedule their live performance for October 25.
Indian writer Arundhati Roy wins the Booker Prize, Britain's top literary award, for her novel, The God of Small Things.
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James Michener dies of renal failure at age 90. A week before his death, Michener ordered doctors to disconnect him from kidney dialysis. He wrote more than 40 historical-geographic novels, including the Pulitzer-winning South Pacific, which became a Broadway musical and a movie, Hawaii and Texas.
Ditzy Friend Lisa Kudrow announces she's pregnant (in real life). Friends producers plan to write the pregnancy into the show.
A Malibu judge revokes Robert Downey, Jr.'s probation after the actor's drug counselor testifies that Downey went on a five-day drinking and drug binge in September. Judge Lawrence Mira will decide on December 8 if Downey will serve jail time or be confined to a rehab center. The probation stems from several 1996 drug-related arrests.
The Justice Department asks a Federal judge to order Microsoft to stop forcing personal computer makers to bundle Microsoft's Internet Explorer on every computer they manufacture (with Windows 95) and seeks a $1 million fine for each day Microsoft fails to revamp its policy. Attorney General Janet Reno said Microsoft has been violating a 1995 agreement in which the software giant said it would not tie the licensing of one product to another. Microsoft's lawyers said the company would challenge the petition, claiming the Justice Department had misinterpreted the earlier agreement. The outcome of the dispute will determine who dominates access to the World Wide Web. Netscape is currently the browser of choice, but Explorer is making steady gains because of the arrangement Microsoft has with computer makers.
Barry Diller's HSN Inc. agrees to buy the USA network and the Sci-Fi channel from Seagram's Universal Studios for $4.1 billion in cash and stock. HSN owns part or all of 18 television stations, the Home Shopping Network and Savoy Pictures Entertainment. The purchase potentially gives Diller the opportunity to create a television network capable of competing with the big four by running programs on his stations as well as on USA. Diller is credited with masterminding the Fox Network.
B.B. King receives the Blues Foundation third annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Blues artists Bonnie Raitt, Ruth Brown, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker turn out to celebrate with King at Hollywood's Palace Theater.
Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind '97” becomes the world's biggest-selling single, with 31.8 million copies in distribution worldwide. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Candle” outsells Bing Crosby's “White Christmas,” which has sold 30 million copies around the globe.
The Bee Gees, Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, announce plans to launch a London stage production of 1977's Saturday Night Fever.
Marv Albert escapes jail time and receives a 12-month suspended sentence for biting a woman in a Virginia hotel room.
Johnny Cash announces he has Parkinson's disease and cancels live performances and a book-signing tour indefinitely. Cash hopes medication will relieve symptoms of the degenerative brain disorder, which causes slow movement, muscle tremors and weakness.
For the first time in its history, an original episode of Frasier beats Home Improvement in the Nielsen ratings. More than 20.7 million people tune into the Halloween-themed Kelsey Grammer comedy, while 19.2 million viewers watch the haunted Home.
Richard Gere hosts a “stateless” dinner at Hotel Washington that coincides with the White House's state dinner honoring Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Gere, an outspoken advocate of Tibetan autonomy, holds the event to protest China's human-rights abuses.
R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry announces he has quit the band after 17 years, saying he's “ready to move on to a different phase of my life.” The remaining members of the Athens, Georgia outfit will continue to write, record and tour and hire drummers as needed on a freelance basis.
Whitney Houston calls in sick to The Rosie O'Donnell Show a mere 45 minutes before the show airs live. O'Donnell does not hide her irritation. “Whitney's not here — she's ill,” the hostess said. “I hope she's very ill.” Apparently, the diva was not all that under the weather. She accompanied her hubby, Bobby Brown, to a taping of The Late Show With David Letterman later in the day.
The New York Post reports that 23-year-old Jewel has inked a $2 million deal with HarperCollins to write her memoir.
A Star Wars exhibit opens at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. More than 900,000 people are expected to visit the show, which will run for a year. The exhibition includes original artwork, costumes and models of R2D2.

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