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With a Little Help From Their Fans

September 01, 1997

Record-industry office pools, which try to predict first-week album sales, should be especially active this week thanks to Oasis' third album, "Be Here Now." Most experts predict that the collection by the controversial English group will enter the chart at No. 1 on Wednesday, but there's wide disagreement over the actual sales figure. Even though Oasis' first two albums have sold a combined 4 million copies in the United States, the group has not established itself as a major concert draw here and many pop fans complain the band is arrogant and that its music relies too heavily on Beatles influences. Few are expecting anything in the 500,000-plus blockbuster range when figures are announced by SoundScan, even though the album is off to a sizzling start in Britain, where it sold a record 1 million copies during its first week in the stores. One U.S. retailer, who is normally good at predicting first-week sales, places his bet at 225,000 copies. Whatever, Oasis will renew its attempt to build its U.S. audience when it makes an Oct. 4 appearance on "Saturday Night Live." The group, which kicks off a three-week European tour Sept. 8 in Norway, is expected to play a series of U.S. dates early next year.

A Foreign Film Fest Where English Is Spoken

What's a film festival without a little buzz about the entries? The 22nd Toronto International Film Festival opens Thursday, but already certain movies are receiving attention from film buyers, according to festival officials. One of those is "The Apostle," actor-director-writer Robert Duvall's tale about a preacher who commits a murder and then goes on the lam. He resurfaces in a poor black town where he tries to redeem himself by helping the congregation build a church. Another movie receiving interest is director Wayne Wang's "Chinese Box," a story about the final days of Hong Kong's British occupation. Last year, the film "Kissed," Lynne Stopkewich's love story about a young woman with more than a passing interest in post-mortem sexual relations, created controversy at the Toronto festival, and many wonder if another movie will emerge as this year's attention grabber. Among the smaller fare receiving advance notice, festival officials say, is one from Britain called "Stone, Scissors, Paper," a love story with a twist about a shy and withdrawn headstone engraver, the first feature-length film from director Stephen Whittaker. Another is a German entry called "Bandits," from director Katja von Garnier. The movie focuses on four female prisoners who form a hard-driving rock band named "The Bandits," book themselves to play at an annual police banquet, then steal a police van and head for South America. Still another entry creating advance buzz, officials say, is director Amos Kollek's "Sue," which tells the story of a woman down on her luck in New York City. Asked to assess the business climate this year, Kelley Armstrong, the Toronto festival's director of sales, replied: "I think the companies are probably less willing to take huge risks on really personal or esoteric films, but that has more to do with lackluster performance of some art house titles. The fact is, any distributor will take a chance on a huge, new talent." The festival, which runs through Sept. 13, will screen 281 films from 58 countries, closing with TriStar Pictures' "Seven Years in Tibet" starring Brad Pitt.

More Fun Than Grammy, Oscar or Emmy

"Singled Out," shmingled out. We want our MTV back! Specifically, the music videos that were once the staple of the cable channel, which, in recent years has been criticized for devoting more and more of its schedule to non-music programming. MTV's response was to start a second channel, exclusively devoted to music videos, but it's virtually impossible to find on cable systems. OK, enough griping. Only because this week is MTV's most entertaining show, the "Music Video Awards," will be seen Thursday at 8 p.m. from New York's Radio City Music Hall and repeated at 11 p.m. Hot comedian Chris Rock is the host, but he probably won't repeat his act from last year when, as a guest presenter, he made a joke about Death Row Records' Marion "Suge" Knight, who was in the audience. Something must have transpired because Rock later told Ebony Man magazine, "I guess I wasn't supposed to tell a joke about that person." When Spin magazine asked him to elaborate, Rock would only say, "No comment. He's a good man, Death Row's a good company, I buy all of their albums." Knight has since been jailed for violating his parole, so maybe Rock will be newly emboldened. Scheduled performers include executive-turned-rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs, the Wallflowers, the Spice Girls, Marilyn Manson, Prodigy and U2, with the Rolling Stones as presenters.

The TV Academy Spreads Out Its Big Night

In a shift from recent years, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will hand out two-thirds of the nighttime Emmy Awards this Sunday--a week prior to the televised ceremony, which will air Sept. 14 on CBS. Traditionally, Emmys in more than 50 categories such as sound, lighting and editing were presented the night before the Emmy broadcast, but officials decided spacing the two events would benefit those who have to attend both nights. The academy will also present its first award for best commercial Sunday, after going to arbitration with its East Coast counterpart over whether the organization had the right to do so.

--Compiled by Times Staff Writers and Contributors

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