Entertainment News from September 1997

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
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The 1997 summer movie season ends with a record-breaking $2.22 billion in box-office receipts, but a closer look reveals the numbers aren't much to cheer about. Though this summer's take was 2 percent higher than 1996's, the number of tickets sold declined by 1 percent.
Beck wins big — again — at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, nabbing five trophies, including Best Male Video (“Devil's Haircut”), and Best Direction in a Video (“The New Pollution”). British soul-funk band Jamiroquai walks away with three awards for their hit “Virtual Insanity,” including Best Video and Breakthrough Video.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox Group reaches an agreement with Peter O'Malley to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers for a reported $350 million. The deal includes the team, Dodger Stadium, the Dodgertown Spring Training Facility and a Dominican Republic baseball complex. Three-quarters of National League owners and a majority of American League owners must approve the sale. It should be interesting to see how Murdoch's archrival, Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves, votes. The sale reflects a trend in professional sports that has shifted ownership away from family-run businesses to media conglomerates.
Joan Lunden ends her 18-year, record-breaking run as co-host of ABC's Good Morning America. President Clinton, Demi Moore and Tim Allen wish her well in taped messages. Lisa McRee replaces Lunden, who will contribute to ABC's evening newsmagazines.
CNN talk-show host Larry King and infomercial queen Shawn Southwick tie the knot in a quiet ceremony at UCLA Medical Center. A splashy wedding was planned, but King needed heart surgery, so the couple settled for quicky nuptials. This is King's seventh (a conservative figure) walk down the aisle.
The world pays its last respects to Princess Diana. More than six million people lined the streets of London to watch as the beloved Princess made her final journey. Two thousand mourners attended the Westminster Abbey ceremony and an estimated two billion people watched the solemn event on television. In his eulogy, Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, lambasted the media and the royal family. “I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media,” he said. He said his sister was “someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.” Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind,” replacing the opening line with “Goodbye English Rose.”
In a complex, three-way deal, America Online agrees to buy CompuServe's subscription service from Worldcom, which has agreed to buy CompuServe Corp. for $1.2 billion in stock. As part of the deal, Worldcom, the nation's fourth-largest long-distance phone company, will retain CompuServe's telecommunications lines and Internet gateways, and America Online gets the company's subscribers for the equivalent of $250 million. AOL, which has been dogged by jammed phone lines and customer ire, has no immediate plans to merge the two services or to change the research-driven focus of CompuServe.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announces that for the second year in a row, New York City's Madison Square Garden will host the 1997 Grammy Awards on February 25, 1998.
The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces the winners of its annual awards. Recipients include soprano Jessye Norman, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, Charlton Heston and dancer Edward Villella. The awards will be handed out at a December gala.
Elton John's revised version of “Candle in the Wind,” which he sang at Princess Diana's funeral, sells out in its first day available in Britain. More than 600,000 copies of the tribute to Diana flew from the shelves. John plans to donate all profits from the song to the Princess Diana Memorial Fund.
The Emmy Awards are handed out — yawn — with few surprises, and even fewer laughs from host Bryant Gumbel. Frasier wins the nod for best comedy, 3rd Rock From the Sun's John Lithgow wins best actor in a comedy and Helen Hunt takes best actress in a comedy for Mad About You. A refreshing surprise comes in the drama category when Law & Order grabs the best drama award. Gillian Anderson and Dennis Franz bring home the best acting awards in a drama.
The Hanging Garden, L.A. Confidential and Boogie Nights win top honors at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Hanging Garden nabs the people's choice award and shared the Toronto City award for best Canadian feature film with The Sweet Hereafter. Boogie Nights and L.A. Confidential took the Metro Media award.
Oprah Winfrey announces she will host The Oprah Winfrey Show for two more seasons, ending speculation that she would call it quits after this season, her twelfth. It's good news for King World Productions, which syndicates the show, as Oprah's talkfest generated $265 million in revenue for King World in 1996.
Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Mark Knopfler band together for a benefit concert to raise money for volcano-ravaged Montserrat. More than $1 million was raised at the sold-out show.
The venerable Metropolitan Opera enlists Valery Gergiyev, director of St. Petersburg's Marinsky Theater, as its first guest principal conductor. As part of his five-year contract, Gergiyev will serve as second regular conductor to James Levine and conduct at least eight Met premieres.
Never one to shun the spotlight, Ted Turner pledges $1 billion to the United Nations. He will give $100 million in stock each year, for the next 10 years, to a foundation that helps UN charities. Turner said the gift was not much of a sacrifice, with the $1 billion representing the increase in his net worth from January to September. He has 58 million shares of Time Warner, which recently merged with his Turner Broadcasting Systems.
Seagram Corp. and Viacom finally work out a deal that has Seagram buying the 50 percent of USA Network that it doesn't already own and the Sci-Fi Network from Viacom for $1.7 billion. The two companies have been sparring for the past two years over the deal. Seagram, which owns Universal Studios, needed a presence in television to distribute more of its films and television programs.
Photographers strike back at George Clooney, refusing to take his picture at the premiere of The Peacemaker. The actor has a history of lashing out at the media. Last year, he led a boycott of Hard Copy over the show's pesty videographers, and more recently, he spoke out again against tabloid journalists after Princess Diana's death.
The Rolling Stones kick off their Bridges of Babylon tour at Chicago's Soldier Field with a rocking two-and-half-hour set. The band only played two songs from the new album, giving fans a taste of the good-old-days with classic hits including “Satisfaction,” “Brown Sugar” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”
As the Stones wow Chicago, U2 lifts the spirits of war-torn Sarajevo, playing to 50,000 ecstatic fans. U2 plans to help rebuild Sarajevo hospitals with profits from the concert. The show closed with the debut of “Miss Sarajevo,” a tribute to the suffering the city endured during the three-and-a-half-year war.
Garth Brooks wins the Entertainer of the Year award, his third, at the 31st Annual Country Music Association Awards. (Kix) Brooks & Dunn took home the Duo of the Year award for the sixth consecutive year. Teen sensation LeAnn Rimes earns the Horizon Award for career progress.
For the first time in history, a prime-time drama airs live. ER starts the 1997–1998 season with a live broadcast, not just once, but twice for East and West coast audiences. The show attracts a record 43 million viewers.
Marv Albert, who apparently exclaimed, “Yessssss,” about things other than basketball, pleads guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault and battery, after embarrassing and revealing testimony about his unusual sexual propensities. NBC fired him hours after the plea. In February, a woman accused him of biting her in the back and forcing her to perform oral sex. Another woman testified at the trial with a similar story.
American Isuzu Motors and Weight Watchers International pull out their sponsorship of ABC's controversial Nothing Sacred. The drama focuses on a young, hip priest who faces moral quandaries when it comes to abortion and celibacy.
Bob Dylan entertains 300,000 people at a Catholic youth rally in Italy, with one of the guests being Pope John Paul II. Dylan opened the show with the fitting “Knockin' on Heaven's Door. ”Looking for redemption?
The Recording Industry Association of America certifies Elton John's “Candle in the Wind '97” as the highest-selling single of all time, ousting Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You” from the top spot.
President Clinton bestows National Medals of Arts to Angela Lansbury, percussionist Tito Puente, talk-show host Studs Terkel, Jason Robards, conductor James Levine, jazz singer Betty Carter, dancer Edward Villella and others for their outstanding contributions to the arts.

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