TOP OF THE NEWS: The Bahamas named Sidney Poitier ambassador to Japan. He holds a dual Bahamian-American citizenship. Poitier won't live in Japan, however.

RATINGS RACE: ABC scored some of the lowest ratings by a Big Three network in decades last week. It's new Saturday-night shows Gun and Leaving L.A. scored paltry 3.1 and 2.7 household ratings respectively. The week's most-watched show: the first original ER in weeks on NBC, the network which dominated viewing for the week.

ACCUSED: Billy Bob Thornton's wife was granted a temporary restraining order yesterday to protect herself from her Oscar-winning husband. Pietra Thornton filed for divorce Friday, and claims that Billy Bob had abused her and threatened to kill her. She reportedly said he became violent after he stopped taking medication for manic depression.

GREEN WAR: A disparate group of Hollywood tree-huggers, including Jane Seymour and Daniel Baldwin, turned out today to protest the arrest in the Netherlands of eco-warrior Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and the man behind the Save-the-Whales movement.

O.J. UPDATE: Ice-T's band Body Count has made a video for their song "I Used to Love Her" that uses a bloody knife and leather gloves to suggest that O.J. Simpson got away with murder...A company that provided "litigation support services" for O.J.'s criminal trial sued him for $60,000, claiming he hasn't paid his bill for rented equipment...Dove Entertainment said today it lost nearly $6.7 million, or $1.31 a share, last year, partly due to flat sales of books associated with the O.J. and Menendez brothers trials.

WILD MEN: Rocker and bow-hunter Ted Nugent joined Indy racer and snowmobiler Bobby Unser on Capitol Hill today, testifying before House panels. Both want the feds to open wilderness areas to outdoor enthusiasts like them.

NO SALE: King World Productions, the TV syndicator of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! announced Tuesday that it is no longer for sale.

GRINCHED: Canadian theatrical producer Livent Inc. said Tuesday it has acquired rights to the classic children's stories of Dr. Seuss and planned to develop a Broadway musical called The Seussical in 1999.

DOCKED: Paramount denies a Daily Variety report that director James Cameron won't make the July 2 release date for Titanic, which he's been shooting in Mexico at an estimated cost of $200 million.

TRIBUTE: Christopher Reeve was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, thanks to money raised by devotees of his Somewhere in Time. Although considered forgettable by critics, the 1980 movie has its own dues-paying fan club.

HEIRS: Stella McCartney, Paul's 25-year-old daughter, will take over from Karl Lagerfeld as the designer for the Cloe fashion line...Eugene Chaplin, Charlie's 43-year-old son, wants to develop a multimedia theme park as a tribute to his father in Switzerland.

ALL-STAR: Ten of America's greatest playwrights accepted an invitation from ABC to contribute to a series called The Millennium Project, to air in 1999. Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Neil Simon, Wendy Wasserstein, David Mamet, Larry Gelbart, John Guare, Terrence McNally, Elaine May and Steve Martin will write plays about the meaning of the turn of the century.

MOLTEN: Tonght is the world premiere of Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones in the story of the mountain that ate Los Angeles.

FIFTH WEDDING: Hugh Grant will develop The Reluctant Groom as a possible star vehicle for himself. It's a variation on the old story of the couple who discovers they were never really married and has to decide whether to stay a couple. For all the casting news, see The Dotted Line.

CAUSE: Organizers of the second Tibetan Freedom Concert announced the lineup for the June 7 and 8 event in New York: A Tribe Called Quest, the Beastie Boys, Bjork, De La Soul, Foo Fighters, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Pavement, Porno for Pyros, Rancid, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe & Mike Mills, and Sonic Youth.

RECUPERATING: Richard Crenna is recovering from surgery to have his thyroid removed after a malignancy was discovered.

REPEAT OFFENDER: NBC and CBS have already said they wouldn't run Dennis Franz's ads for Cadillac because he sounds too much like his character in ABC's NYPD Blue. Now Franz is back playing a cop in a major new Diet Pepsi campaign.

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