Airwaves, arias, and CBS in the 'sewer'

A friend recently shared an amazing tale of how he tried to fulfill a lifelong dream of attending the world-famous La Scala opera house. Despite his best efforts to arrange for tickets beforehand, he arrived in Milan, Italy, without them. Just hours before the production, he managed to wrest them from the box office when he guessed they might be under another name.

That's the hard way to hear great opera. The easy way is to tune into the 59th season of the live Texaco-Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts that began last week. The program is heard Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. EST on 325 radio stations in the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Texaco-Met partnership is believed to be the longest between a sponsor and a program in broadcast history. The broadcasts range from the well-known (like Bizet's "Carmen" this Saturday) to broadcast premires and lesser-known works. Consult your local listings or find more information online at www.texaco.com and www.metopera.org

Joseph Lieberman, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, and former Education Secretary William Bennett, a prominent Republican, are mounting a bipartisan battle against sex and violence in the media and entertainment industry by handing out Silver Sewer awards. CBS received one earlier this week for its "60 Minutes" broadcast of Dr. Jack Kevorkian taking a human life and for the debut of Howard Stern's raunchy late-night talk show, which a CBS company produces.

"CBS, by virtue of two major decisions this year, has become as much of a standard-shredder as a standard-setter today," Senator Lieberman said.

"60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt told AP that most viewers who saw the Kevorkian show said it was OK. Linking his program with Mr. Stern's outrageous offering showed that Lieberman and Bennett "are desperate to get their name in the paper," Mr. Hewitt said.

Tony Bennett may be the greatest living interpreter of what he calls "The Great American Songbook," now that Frank Sinatra is no longer on the scene. Already the darling of the MTV crowd, the velvet-voiced man who "Left My Heart in San Francisco" is reaching for an even younger audience. His 98th recording, "The Playground," includes a duet with Kermit the Frog. Speaking of singing for children, he told Reuters:

"I used to live near Dizzy Gillespie, and he came over one day and introduced himself to my son, then 10 years old. He said, 'Hello, I'm Dizzy.'

"So my son ran and got him a glass of water."

* Send questions and comments to entertainment@csps.com

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