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More than 200 comics from 16 countries will descend on Montreal for the 11th annual Just For Laughs comedy festival, to take place July 22-Aug. 1 around town. Performers include John Candy, who will host two of the St. Denis Theatre Galas; Michael Richards, who plays Kramer on “Seinfeld”; Scott Thompson from the Kids in the Hall troupe; and George Burns, whose show at Place des Arts Aug. 1 will be his first appearance here in 65 years. Showtime will air the John Candy gala, along with a one-hour special taped during the Late Night Danger Zone series at Club Soda. In Canada, CBC has signed up with the festival for another three years, and the national pubcaster will run 12 half-hour Just For Laughs shows this summer.

Mickey Mouse comic books went on sale all over China on Tuesday, marking the cartoon character’s return to the country after a four-year absence due to copyright infringements. The monthly comic book, selling for about 35 cents, is the first of a series of publications that The Walt Disney Company (HK) Ltd. is producing with Chinese partners, the company announced. Coming soon: Disney shoes, clothes, stationery, schoolbags and other items. Company officials said Disney is bringing Mickey back to China because Beijing agreed early last year to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights.

Elton John on Tuesday became an Officer of Arts and Letters, one of France’s highest distinctions for the arts. Culture Minister Jacques Toubon decorated the British rock star during ceremonies in Paris, calling him a “legend, a musician who inaugurated a form of stage show never seen before.” The 46-year-old singer-pianist, known for his colorful costumes and flashy eyewear, “has greatly influenced our artistic and musical world for the past 25 years,” Toubon said. Wearing a red jacket, black leather pants and silver-tipped boots, John said he hoped to continue writing songs for many years. “I’d like to give back a fraction of what I’ve received in my life,” said John.

South African Broadcasting Corp. technicians, in a dispute over wages, blacked out TV coverage of a key international rugby match May 22 for about nine minutes. Five SABC radio stations were also blacked out for the same period. The SABC declared the action a breach of strike rules. The 1,650 technicians want a 10% salary increase, 2.5% more than the SABC has offered.