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Steve Allen continues to touch colleagues and fans, even in death. That's why Hollywood-based Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors has decided to give a posthumous honor "of special recognition in memoriam" to the beloved entertainer. Allen's widow, Jayne Meadows, and son Bill will accept the award at a ceremony planned for January at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They say they are touched by the tribute and thrilled that others continue to recognize the contributions Allen made to the industry and the country. Allen died in October.

Steve Burns has decided to call it quits. That might not matter much to most of you, but to fans of the long-running cable children's show Blue's Clues, it could mean a lot (if they understood what it meant). The young actor has entertained kids for five years and 100 episodes as host of the lighthearted series, which, in its way, teaches kids deductive logic as it entertains them. Ironically, the 27-year-old actor now says that he thinks he would have "hated with all his heart" the character he plays on the show, but at the same time says he understands why some kids just loved it. He adds that he hopes his role on the show will not hound him for the rest of his acting career but fears that just might happen. And, he adds, he has no illusion about his fans really missing him. "I think the kids will probably forget fairly quickly," he concedes.

LOS ANGELES _ Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has turned his attention to jazz with an epic 10-part, 18{-hour series to air on PBS beginning Jan. 7.

Hoping to increase the popularity of what he calls the "only art form ever invented by Americans," Burns looks at the past 100 years of American history, tracking down the history of the musical movement.

"We think that jazz is a particularly accurate mirror of the 20th century, so in addition to being about this extraordinary music, it is about two World Wars, a Great Depression _ the soundtrack that got them through."

But don't think that Jazz is just a civics lesson. Burns says it's also "about sex, the way men and women talk to each other. It's about drug abuse and its terrible cost."

In describing the reason behind making the series, Burns remembered what writer Gerald Early told him while making the documentary History of Baseball: Americans will be known for only three things: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. " "They are,' Early went on, "the most beautiful things Americans have ever created,' " Burns related.

Burns also stressed the importance of figures like Louis Armstrong, not just to jazz but to music as a whole. "When I began this project, Louis Armstrong was someone who had a big smile and a handkerchief and had transformed popular songs. Now I realize that he is the most important person in music, I didn't say jazz _ in music _ in the 20th century," Burns said. "He is to music what Einstein is to physics and what the Wright brothers are to travel."

_ Times wires