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ABC, Jackson had a deal before interview

It was the TV event of the summer: some 60-million viewers watching Diane Sawyer interview Michael Jackson on ABC's PrimeTime Live. What viewers didn't see, though, now has TV insiders buzzing: the behind-the-scenes deal-making that got Sawyer together with Jackson and his wife, Lisa Marie Presley. The juiciest angle? That ABC gave Jackson commercial time worth up to $1.5-million, in exchange for rights to his future videos, even as Sawyer was wooing the pop star. ABC says the commercial deal wasn't a backhanded payoff for appearing in the June 15 interview. "There's absolutely no connection," said Gary Morgenstern, an ABC News spokesman, noting that the deal was made with ABC Entertainment, a separate division of ABC. Sawyer, meanwhile, is having a good laugh over being called the infamous "Deep Throat," the supersecret source for journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's crusading Washington Post reporting that forced the resignation of President Nixon. Aides said Sawyer, once a low-ranking press aide to Nixon, "laughed so hard, she could hardly stand it and said, "That's priceless' and "Oh, my God.' " In a TV interview, Rabbi Baruch Korff, 80, who headed the pro-Nixon National Citizen's Committee for Fairness to the President, said he thought Sawyer was Deep Throat because she was allegedly close to White House press secretary Ron Ziegler, although he admitted he had no evidence. Woodward and Bernstein have always maintained that their source was a man.

In other news . . .

Larry Hagman, perhaps best-known as J.R. Ewing on the Dallas TV series, has a liver tumor, his publicist said Tuesday. It was discovered last week "early in its development," and discussions are under way "as to his therapeutic options." Hagman, 63, was diagnosed with cirrhosis in 1992.

Christopher Reeve is to be moved this week from the hospital in Virginia where he has been recuperating from a broken neck and spinal-cord injury since May 27. It is unclear where he will continue therapy.

Sen. Bob Dole renewed his criticism of Hollywood violence Tuesday, citing a Massachusetts murder in which the suspects are said to have compared their crime to the movie Natural Born Killers. The Senate majority leader, a Republican presidential candidate, waved a copy of Boston Herald on the Senate floor and said the case was evidence that movies can inspire acts of violence.

The Kingsmen got possession of frat-party rocker Louie, Louie, 32 years after they made the hit record. A federal judge in Los Angeles awarded the group ownership of the song, plus more than 100 others, after ruling that Sceptor-Wand Records breached a contract by not giving them past royalties. They will now get all future royalties.

Pearl Jam, which canceled its tour Sunday, now says it will play a few shows after all _ July 8-9 at Milwaukee's Summerfest and July 11 at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Today show co-host Katie Couric is pregnant with her second child, USA Today reported Tuesday.

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