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Bill Cosby promises $1-million to support national slavery museum

Comedian and actor Bill Cosby pledged at least $1-million for a planned U.S. National Slavery Museum.

Cosby announced Friday he would donate proceeds from 10 concerts to the museum effort, or between $1-million and $1.5-million, museum officials estimate. Cosby sits on the museum's board.

"We need history," Cosby told an audience in Fredericksburg, where the museum is planned to open in 2007. "We need proof for our children ... to see the strength of their ancestors."

The museum plans fundraising activities in conjunction with each concert and hopes to raise $20-million, said Ed Wegel, chairman of the museum's capital campaign committee.

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first black elected governor, has estimated the museum project will cost $200-million.

Construction on the five-story, 250,000-square-foot building is scheduled to begin later this year.

Former "Cheers' star to take role in new "Law & Order: Trial by Jury' TV series

LOS ANGELES _ Bebe Neuwirth, who played Lilith the psychiatrist on sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, is getting serious with a role as the latest member of the Law & Order franchise.

Neuwirth will play a tough Manhattan prosecutor in Law & Order: Trial by Jury, coming to NBC next year. She joins actor Jerry Orbach, who is moving over from the original Law & Order series.

Neuwirth received two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Frasier Crane's wife (and later ex-wife) on the NBC sitcoms. An acclaimed musical stage star, she won Tony Awards for Sweet Charity and Chicago.

She's appeared in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Summer of Sam, Malice, Bugsy and other films.

An air date for the new Law & Order has not been announced.

Blue Man Group has a new Vegas venue

LAS VEGAS _ Blue Man Group is on the move.

The show's new home will be a custom-built, 1,750-seat theater at The Venetian hotel-casino, officials announced Thursday.

Blue Man Group is a sort of new-age vaudeville show featuring musicians with makeshift instruments who are equal part performance artists who paint and toilet paper their audience.

The show opened at the Luxor hotel-casino in March 2000 and will continue there through Sept. 15. Blue Man will open at The Venetian in October 2005.

"We're thrilled that The Venetian is custom-building a theater for us," said Chris Wink, group co-founder. "It's a great opportunity for us to retool our show to accommodate the new space, incorporate the latest technology, and toss in a few surprises."

_ Times wire services

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