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Ticketmaster inquiry closed with no action

The Justice Department declined Wednesday to bring an antitrust case against Ticketmaster, the nation's largest distributor of tickets for live sports events and concerts. A target of widely publicized protests by the rock band Pearl Jam and by consumer groups, the Los Angeles-based company had been under investigation by the department's antitrust division for alleged anti-competitive and monopoly practices. The company sold 55-million tickets last year for an estimated $1.6-billion. Pearl Jam claimed the company priced tickets too high for the band's teenage fans. In a two-sentence statement, the Justice Department said it had informed the parent company, Ticketmaster Holdings Group Inc., that "it is closing its antitrust investigation into that firm's contracting practices." No lawsuit was filed so the case is over. But the antitrust division warned industry participants that the government "will continue to monitor competitive developments in the ticketing industry."

In other news . . .

Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe may spend another few days in a Nashville hospital recovering from what appears to be pneumonia. The 84-year-old Monroe's condition improved Wednesday, said Debbie Koch, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital. Monroe, a mandolin player and singer known as the "father of bluegrass music," should be released in the next few days, Koch said. He was admitted Friday.

The bitter custody battle between film director Woody Allen and actor Mia Farrow appeared to end Wednesday when a New York appeals court dismissed Allen's appeal of an earlier ruling awarding custody of their three children to his former lover.

WYUU-FM 92.5 will air the nationally syndicated special Wolfman Jack: Tribute to a Legend from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday. The popular disc jockey, who appeared in the 1973 hit film American Graffiti and hosted NBC's The Midnight Special in the 1970s, died of a heart attack Saturday at his home in Belvidere, N.C. He was 57.

Two Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center shows have been canceled. The 7:30 p.m. July 16 performance of the King and I has been dropped. The other performance times will remain the same: 7:30 p.m. July 14, 7:30 p.m. July 15 and 2 p.m. July 16. The Nov. 14 Ray Charles concert has also been canceled. Refunds are available at the point of purchase. For information, call 229-7827 or (800) 955-1045.

Prepare to salute: Klingon Lt. Cmdr. Worf is reporting for duty on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Michael Dorn, who played Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is joining the cast of its sister Star Trek show with the two-hour season premiere in October, producers said Wednesday.

CBS says actor Hugh Grant will be on Late Night With David Letterman on July 19. He also is still scheduled for NBC's The Tonight Show With Jay Leno on Monday, which is likely to be his first public appearance since his arrest on a public lewdness charge last week.

Jazz sax player Gato Barbieri, who canceled an appearance earlier this year, will return to the bay area in August. Barbieri will play the Tierra Verde Resort at 9 p.m. Aug. 11. Tickets are $22, available through Ticketmaster or at the Tierra Verde Resort (200 Madonna Blvd., Tierra Verde). Also at Tierra Verde, The Starship will land at 9 p.m. July 22. Tickets are $22. For information, call 867-8710.

WONDERFUL! WONDERFUL!: Singer Johnny Mathis signs a slab of wet concrete to be placed in front of the Greek Theater's Wall of Fame in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The wall honors performers who have sold more than 100,000 seats at the venue over the course of their careers.