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Entertainment Today

By DICK KELSEY, United Press International   |   July 16, 2002 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

REPUBLICANS IRKED BY HIV-POSITIVE MUPPET

The idea of an HIV-positive muppet on Sesame Street is not sitting well with conservative Republicans, according to Variety.

In a letter to the Public Broadcasting System, five members of the House Commerce Committee expressed dismay that the new character is scheduled to be included in South Africa broadcasts of the show this fall.

"We look forward to working with you to ensure that only age and culturally appropriate programs air on PBS," the letter said, reminding the network the panel makes funding decisions for PBS.

Sesame Street executive producer Joel Schneider disclosed at an AIDS conference last week PBS plans to add a 5-year-old muppet with human immunodeficiency virus to its South Africa cast.

He said the new character will interact with other muppets in hopes of dispelling myths attached to HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome in a country with a 10 percent infection rate.


PLAYBOY SEEKS WORLDCOM, ANDERSEN WOMEN

Playboy's "Women Of Enron" photo feature has led the magazine to invite women who work for two other falling corporate giants to pose for an upcoming pictorial.

Calling the project "Asset Relocation," the mag has launched a search for the "Women of WorldCom and Arthur Andersen" to pose -- and not in business suits.

The Enron spread in Playboy's August issue shows photos of nude or scantily clad women who currently or once worked for Enron, the Houston energy company.

As soon as the issue went on sale, Playboy said women who work for WorldCom and Arthur Andersen started calling, asking they be given a chance to pose for a similar pictorial.


WINONA'S SHOPLIFTING CASE STAYS WITH D.A.

Actress Winona Ryder has lost her bid to move her shoplifting case to the California Attorney General's Office.

Ryder lawyer Mark Geragos argued in court Monday that Los Angeles County prosecutors have tried to "humiliate" the movie star, who is accused of stealing $6,000 in goods from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Geragos said the D.A.'s office news spokeswoman, Sandi Gibbons, wrongly told reporters an in-store video showed Ryder snipping security tags from merchandise. He said there is no such video.

The judge didn't buy the argument, ruling the scheduled Aug. 13 pretrial hearing will stand and the D.A.'s office will keep the case.


CUBAN BUYS INTO MOVIE BIZ

Billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has plunked down more than $5 million for a piece of the movie business.

A recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows Cuban bought 2.5 million shares of independent producer and financier Lions Gate Entertainment Group.

Cuban's nearly 6 percent stake makes him the third-largest shareholder in Vancouver-based Lions Gate.

While Cuban is expected to be a passive investor in the company, there may be some dealings between his new high-definition TV channel and Lions Gate's film and video library.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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