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IN THE KNOW / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

Unfortunate Notoriety for an Album

March 24, 1997

Even before his shooting death March 9 in Los Angeles, the Notorious B.I.G.'s new two-disc album, "Life After Death," was a strong contender to enter the national pop album sales chart at No. 1. After all, the New York rapper's 1994 debut album, "Ready to Die," has sold 2 million copies. But the emotion and curiosity surrounding his slaying should guarantee that the collection, due Tuesday, will sell enough to lead the pack. Advance orders for the album, which is released through Arista and Bad Boy Records, total nearly 2 million. "It was already the biggest buy I had done this year," said Violet Brown, urban music buyer for the 230-store Wherehouse Records chain. "After he passed, we increased the order by about 50%. It has a lock on No. 1. It's an album that will be around for a very long time." Sensitive about appearing to exploit the rapper's death, Arista and Bad Boy have scrapped an expensive in-store promotional campaign that showed a life-size B.I.G. standing next to a hearse. Ironically, it was the photo he chose for the cover of the album, which celebrates what he had hoped would be a break from his troubled past and a move into a more positive lifestyle. Brown praised the record companies' approach. "I think that Bad Boy and Arista are handling this very tastefully," she said.

A Return to 'Dallas' Stomping Grounds

CBS will try what's known in TV circles as "the old friend" approach beginning this week, bringing back Larry Hagman's series, "Orleans," Fridays at 9 p.m. Because Hagman presided that night for many years on "Dallas," the theory goes, viewers will come to his show like--you guessed it--an old friend. Beyond that, a "Dallas" reunion movie scored big ratings for CBS when it ran in November--not coincidentally, on a Friday night. Still, the networks have also learned this season that viewers can be chilly toward "old friends" (ask Rhea Perlman and Ted Danson), and "Orleans" was pulled after just four January telecasts due to low ratings. Hagman also struck out with a previous comeback, "Staying Afloat," on NBC. CBS insiders see little risk in giving the new Hagman show another crack at proving itself, though the network already has big plans for Friday night next season. The network has acquired rights to ABC's "Family Matters" beginning in September and is expected to use that show as the cornerstone of a youth-oriented programming block. As a result, even if "Orleans" does find an audience on Fridays, this old friend will probably be looking for a new home.

Yes, the State is Still in the Arts Business

The California Arts Council, the state agency that provides grants and various services to nonprofit arts organizations, holds regular meetings open to the public here and there around the state; the CAC lands next on Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in Westwood. Along with its usual agenda of promoting arts activity, this visit will include the presentation of a proclamation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the swearing in of new council member Janet Karatz, a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art and a trustee of CalArts, among her long list of philanthropic affiliations. And numerous local artists are expected to turn out to say farewell to Joan Agajanian Quinn, a council member since 1981. Council director Barbara Pieper says that the council budget, which has suffered cutbacks in recent years, is holding steady at $13.95 million; the agency's next Governor's Conference on the Arts--the big topic is "The Globalization of Culture"--takes place June June 1-3 in San Francisco.

Compiled by Times Staff Writers and Contributors

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