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Entertainment Briefs

Saturday October 05, 2002

San Francisco Opera projects $7.7 million deficit 

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Opera has projected a $7.7 million deficit for the 2002 fiscal year. 

The downturn in the Bay Area’s economy and the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks resulted in poor ticket sales, said Elizabeth Connell Nielsen, a spokeswoman for the opera. 

“We estimated a reduction of approximately $2.5 million in single-ticket sales as a direct result of 9/11,” she said Thursday. 

Two-thirds of the opera company’s shows opened after the terrorist attacks between September and November. 

Connell Nielsen explained that the company’s September 2002 opening of the gala production of Saint Francois d’Assise has not contributed to the fiscal 2002 deficit since it opened after the fiscal year’s end in July. 

Unlike other forms of art, opera costs cannot be cut at the last minute, Connell Nielsen said. 

“Opera has fixed costs that are set four to five years in advance,” she said. 

The unexpected economic downturn also resulted in a dramatic drop in donations to the opera, she said. 


Gaiman wins ‘Spawn’ suit  

MADISON, Wis. – A federal jury has upheld writer Neil Gaiman’s claim that he co-authored two characters in the “Spawn” comic books. 

Following Thursday’s decision, arbitrators must decide how much money series creator Todd McFarlane owes Gaiman for co-creating the characters Medieval Spawn and Cogliostro in an early “Spawn” issue. 

They also will decide how much McFarlane must pay Gaiman for not crediting him with writing part of another “Spawn” issue. 

Gaiman, author of the novel “American Gods” and “Sandman” comic books, lives in Menomonie in central Wisconsin. 

His lawsuit in U.S. District Court claimed McFarlane used Cogliostro, Medieval Spawn, and another character Gaiman created, Angela, without his authorization. 

Gaiman’s lawsuit also alleged McFarlane made a wrongful claim to Miracleman, a character in a comic book series Gaiman co-wrote with Alan Moore. The jury agreed. 

Afterward, McFarlane and Gaiman obliged a young fan by autographing a collaborative issue of “Spawn” that had landed them in court. 


National Enquirer to publish celebrity books 

NEW YORK – Scandal is headed for your bookstore. The National Enquirer is starting a line of true crime and celebrity books, with works planned on the Kennedys, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson and other tabloid favorites. 

“When we do a story, we do an enormous amount of research and interviews that never make it into the paper,” said Val Virga, president of the newly formed book division of American Media Inc., parent company of The National Enquirer.