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LAWSUIT PLANNED OVER EASTER SERVICE.

Byline: Troy Anderson Staff Writer

Longtime sponsor of the Easter sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl plans to seek a court order next week to prevent the world's largest Christian television ministry from taking over the event this year.

The president of the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service, which lost last week's coin toss for control of the service to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, sent notice Friday to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association that it will seek a preliminary injunction to set aside the contract between the Philharmonic and TBN.

``We've had calls from people across the nation who are so incensed and upset that the Easter sunrise service can be decided by the toss of a coin,'' Norma Foster, president of the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service, said Friday.

Orange County-based Trinity Broadcasting Network attorney Colby May said he was sorry Foster's group has decided the only way to settle the matter is by going to court.

``I think it's a shame,'' May said. ``It's too bad that for an event surrounding the holiest day of Christendom, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we find ourselves caught up in the secular courts with an issue involving the hosting of such a sunrise prayer service.''

Los Angeles County officials ordered the Jan. 25 coin toss at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to settle a dispute over rights to the service.

TBN, which had sought unsuccessfully for several years to hold the service there, complained it could not get an event permit in time to produce its show.

Foster said TBN forced the county into the coin toss by threatening to sue, but TBN officials said they just wanted a fair chance at getting use of the publicly owned venue.

In the first coin toss ever to decide the fate of the service, auditor William Jacobs flipped the 1973 Eisenhower silver dollar into the air and it landed and rolled to the feet of a TBN program coordinator. The coin landed on tails, the network's assigned side.

However, members of Foster's group say its predecessors created the Bowl in 1921 and gave it to Los Angeles County in exchange for permission to use it each Easter morning.

The County Counsel's Office researched the matter and found there has been a long-standing practice of issuing permits without clear procedures. But the research did not turn up documents proving or disproving Foster's contention that the county agreed to let her group use the Bowl each Easter morning.

Foster also wrote another letter Thursday to the Philharmonic, which leases the bowl from the county, saying no other group can use the image, history or the symbols of the traditional Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service.

These include the large living cross structure center stage in which the children's chorus performs ``Christ the Lord is Risen,'' the traditional release of the white birds of peace, the large letters ``He is Risen'' on the front stage and the wooden rugged cross on the hill at the back of the audience seating.

May said he didn't think anyone could reasonably believe they have a right to control whether doves are released.

``For a long time, the dove has been synonymous of our new life through Christ and an important symbol of the day and I'd like to believe all Christians can celebrate the wonder and joy of a new life through Christ, represented by a dove,'' May said.

Foster also criticized a TBN official for saying, following the coin toss, that actor Charlton Heston had been invited to the service.

Heston publicity spokeswoman Lisa Powers said TBN invited the star of ``The Ten Commandments'' a few months ago, but that Heston told TBN he would not be available to participate.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 2, 2002
Words:620
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