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    FIRST LOOK: The News in Brief, March 27, 1997

    TOP OF THE NEWS: Arraignment is set for Mikail Markhasev Friday morning. Markhasev is charged with the murder of Ennis Cosby.

    SPLITSVILLE: Kirstie Alley's husband has filed for divorce from the former Cheers star. Actor Parker Stevenson has been married to Alley since 1983. He cited irreconcilable differences as his reason for divorce and is seeking spousal support. The couple has been separated since November.

    B.I.G. NEWS: Los Angeles police released a composite sketch of the suspect in the Notorious B.I.G. murder case this afternoon...The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president Michael Greene is calling for a closed door summit of rap industry leaders in the wake of the violent deaths of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

    NO SHOW: Chrysler pulled its ads from the upcoming Ellen episode in which Ellen DeGeneres' character announces she's gay.

    GIVE IT UP: The court ordered O.J. Simpson to surrender his golf clubs, Heisman trophy and other personal items to the Goldman family.

    TYPE CASTING: Retired Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun played a cameo role as a Supreme Court justice in Amistad, Steven Spielberg's historic epic about a slave revolt, now shooting in Connecticut.

    LAWSUIT: Don Johnson says he's being extorted by two women who claim the actor sexually harrassed him. The Nash Bridges star filed a lawsuit against the women this week in Los Angeles.

    CHILD CHILLER: Scare-masters Clive Barker and Bernard Rose are joining dark forces to make a film version of The Thief of Always, a supernatural children's fantasy fable. The two last worked together on the film Candyman.

    BAD GUY: Sean Connery is in negotiations to star in the film version of The Avengers, as arch-enemy of Emma Peel (Uma Thurman) and Jonathan Steed (Ralph Fiennes). For all the casting news, check out The Dotted Line.

    UPHEAVAL: The set of Miramax's A Price Below Rubies was shut down by a group of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, N.Y. Tuesday. The group, close to 100-strong, feared the film might present their religious community in a negative light.

    MURDER: Actor Jack Nance's death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. The actor, who was found dead in his apartment last December, died of "a blood clot caused by blunt force head trauma."

    ROYAL PAIN: Sophia Loren was given the equivalent of a knighthood by Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, but not everyone is happy about it. Italian consumer group CODACONS says Loren's tax evasion jail sentence back in 1982 is not behavior worthy of knighthood.

    RETRO REVIVAL: Looks like The Patridge Family is following fellow '70s sitcom The Brady Bunch to the big screen. No word yet, however, on whether any of the original stars will re-create their rock 'n' roll roles of a family traveling cross-country by psychedelic bus.

    DOLBY DIGITS: Latest count in the competition among the digital movie theater sound systems: Dolby Labs reports it has 8,200 installations worldwide, while Digital Theater Systems tallies more than 8,700 installations and Sony Cinema Products reports 3,600.

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