The Dance Theatre of Harlem -- in the midst of a six-month layoff that began after the company's Kennedy Center performances in March -- received a $1 million grant yesterday from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund "to help the dance company solve its current financial crisis."

"The Dance Theatre of Harlem is a world-class ballet company, and clearly a national treasure," said fund President M. Christina DeVita in announcing the grant. DTH announced the layoff Jan. 31, after unexpected tour date cancellations raised the prospect of a massive deficit. On Monday, DTH artistic director Arthur Mitchell is expected to announce additional, major new corporate support.

Another Rebuff for the NEA

Acclaimed choreographer Bella Lewitzky said yesterday she would reject $72,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and file suit against the federal agency. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Papp, producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival, and other arts organizations, she hopes to invalidate the requirement that endowment recipients sign a pledge not to create obscene work.

"The check won't be used unless the phrase is removed. I cannot use it. I must reject it," said Lewitzky, who is seeking counsel from the People for the American Way.

LaToya Jackson Attacked in Rome

Singer LaToya Jackson, sister of pop superstar Michael Jackson, was beaten up by a gang armed with metal pipes who broke into her Rome hotel suite, her manager said yesterday. Jackson, 31, was badly bruised in the attack and is resting at her London home, where she returned after the incident, according to her manager, Jack Gordon. Gordon said by telephone from the star's apartment that he believed the attackers had been trying to abduct her. Jackson, who spoke briefly to the Reuter news service, said she had been unable to leave her apartment to see a doctor because of the media presence outside.

The Bushes, on the 'Express'

President Bush, his wife, Barbara, and several friends and family members, attended last night's opening at the Kennedy Center of "Starlight Express," the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical set on roller skates.

The Bushes were joined by their son and daughter Jeb Bush and Doro LeBlond, as well as Houston oil executive Will Farish, his wife, Sarah, and their children, Laura and Bill.

Elizabeth Taylor, Out of the Hospital

After a two-month hospital stay during which the celebrated actress nearly died of pneumonia, Elizabeth Taylor was finally able to go home last night. The actress, smiling, waved to reporters as she drove away from St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica at approximately 7:45 p.m. in a compact car.

Her New York publicist, Chen Sam, quoted Taylor as saying, "Throughout this experience, I have learned how precious life is, how much I love it and yearn to live more of it. I am grateful to everyone who has supported me through this difficult period."

Bethunes Rescued at Sea

Retired Arkansas congressman Ed Bethune and his wife, Lana, were rescued from their disabled sailboat in stormy seas Tuesday night. The Bethunes' 30-foot sailboat, Salute, had hit a gale about 210 miles south of Cape Cod and lost engine power. They were unable to hoist sails because of high winds. After drifting for 1 1/2 days, the couple called for help at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Bethune, 54, said he waited to call because "we have a good blue-water boat and felt perhaps the weather might improve. ... But it became apparent that we needed to call the Coast Guard."

When the helicopter arrived, the boat's rigging was swinging so violently the couple couldn't be lifted directly from the craft, a Coast Guard spokesman said. They were told to abandon the boat and get into a life raft. Petty Officer Roderic Parker dove from the chopper into the ocean and helped Lana Bethune into a rescue basket. Then the life raft blew about 75 yards away and Parker had to swim through 25-foot waves to reach Ed Bethune.

The Bethunes, suffering only from exhaustion, were taken to a Coast Guard Air Station, officials said. The next time Bethune sees U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.), who deals with Coast Guard matters, he said, "I'm going to tell him my story and offer to testify about just how good these people are."