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IN THE KNOW / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

Will Fans Take In the Garbage?

May 18, 1998

Can Garbage avoid the pop music trash heap? The Madison, Wis.-based quartet will get its first indication on Wednesday when initial-week sales figures for its second album, "Version 2.0," are reported by SoundScan. At a time when many pop bands fail to repeat the success of a hit album and ultimately fade from view, Garbage is hoping to buck the trend and avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx. Singer Shirley Manson and bandmates Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker kick off an aggressive promotional campaign with a six-city small-venue tour that starts Wednesday in San Francisco and reaches the Palace in Hollywood on Thursday. A summer tour of Europe will be followed by a full-scale U.S. tour that kicks off in mid-August and runs through the end of the year. Garbage has a tough act to follow. Its 1995 debut, "Garbage," spawned four hit singles, garnered three Grammy nominations for the group, sold about 4 million copies and made a star of its previously unknown Scottish-born singer. And the group seems to be off to a fast start with the new album. "Push It," the first single from the new album, has climbed to No. 5 on Billboard magazine's Modern Rock Tracks airplay chart.

Well, for One Thing, There's No Leo

"Titanic" sets sail Sunday on CBS. OK, so it's not the "Titanic." King of the World James Cameron's billion-dollar baby isn't scheduled to hit NBC's shores until 2000. This "Titanic" actually had its maiden voyage on CBS during the 1996 November sweeps, 13 months before Cameron's Oscar-winner took the world by storm. Executive producer Frank Konigsberg is happy CBS has booked his "Titanic" for an encore excursion (Sunday and Tuesday at 9 p.m.). He thought, though, the network would have repeated it earlier to cash in on "Titanic" mania. "I hope [the mania] hasn't died down since last December," Konigsberg says. Just like the Oscar-winning feature, the four-hour melodrama intermingles fictional characters with the real-life personages who sailed on the ill-fated luxury liner in 1912. Penned by Ross LaManna and Joyce Eliason, "Titanic" focuses on the ill-fated love affair between a handsome rich guy (Peter Gallagher and his equally well-heeled and beautiful ex-flame (Catherine Zeta Jones), who just happens to be married. Also roaming the decks are George C. Scott as Capt. Edward J. Smith, Eva Marie Saint as an insufferably snooty high society maiden, Marilu Henner as the unsinkable Molly Brown, Tim Curry as an odious thief out to rob the first-class passengers, and Roger Rees as the determined White Star Line executive J. Bruce Ismay. Though no ratings blockbuster on the scale of the recent "Merlin," the first two hours of "Titanic" ranked a respectable 24th for the week when it initially aired. Two million viewers, though, didn't bother to tune in for the conclusion two days later. Konigsberg ("The Last Don") believes one of the reasons the drama didn't perform better the first time around was that "CBS didn't quite have their promotional operation going at full force. They were promoting their fall series, so we didn't get quite the same push as we have on other things." He also thinks the cast didn't have "sufficiently recognizable names" to appeal to TV audiences. "I guess for TV audiences, they needed something to really sell it," he says. "I like the cast. I think they were all very good." But in all honesty, "Titanic" encountered decidedly mixed to negative reviews. Washington Post's Tom Shales said it had "fleeting moments of emotional power," but found it a "redundant retelling. It's a bad sign when you're watching a movie about the Titanic and you start to root for the iceberg." Of course, this production didn't have the deep pockets Cameron's did. Cameron's budget was over $200 million; this "Titanic" came in at a mere $13 million. Director Robert Lieberman shot the movie in just 43 days on a sound stage and water tank in Vancouver. "We couldn't afford to build what Cameron did," Konigsberg says. "As it was, I think we built a 60- or 70-foot section of the boat of the double two decks. We had that on huge construction lifts so that when we wanted to raise it we could." And just what does he think of Cameron's film? "There is no question it is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking," Konigsberg replies. "What he did in terms of re-creating the special effects was fabulous. I happen to think there was a little bit more depth of character and sort of a more complete story in the one we did. I'm very proud of it."

--Compiled by Times staff writers and contributors

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