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Hooray! We're No. 250 on the List!

November 16, 1998

When the American Film Institute earlier this year selected its 100 greatest U.S. films of the century, it touched off a huge controversy among critics and the public, who were not shy about expressing their own choices for the list. When films are nominated for the Oscar each year, officials at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences know full well that the nominations will stir widespread debate. But when the Librarian of Congress steps before the TV cameras with actor Gregory Peck tonight at the academy headquarters in Beverly Hills to announce that another 25 films are being added to the National Film Registry, he will make it very plain that this is not the library's equivalent of the Oscars or even the AFI 100. "We're not saying these are the 25 best films," said James H. Billington. "This is an attempt to determine which films are historically, culturally and artistically important." Today's selections will bring the number of films in the registry to 250. Billington stressed that while many of the films chosen throughout the years have been Hollywood favorites, the Library of Congress has also chosen documentaries, westerns, avant-garde, amateur, regional interest, ethnic, animated and short film subjects. "A couple years ago, we selected the Zapruder film," Billington said. "It's not a pleasant film, but it is a record of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and it was important that it be preserved."

'Felicity' Casts Screenwriter in Teen Role

When the story broke about a 32-year-old woman passing herself off as a teenager to get work writing for the TV series "Felicity," many asked how she could possibly pull it off. Viewers can see for themselves Tuesday, when Riley Weston appears on the WB network show. Weston, at the time believed to be 19, plays a character even younger--a 16-year-old high school student who, according to the synopsis, "only has partying on the brain." Media coverage of Weston followed enormous preseason hype and critical praise for "Felicity," which stars Keri Russell as an introspective college freshman. The program is averaging 5.7 million viewers--an unspectacular performance thus far, ranking behind the other WB dramas "7th Heaven," "Dawson's Creek," "Charmed" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." As for Weston, who also co-wrote Tuesday's episode, she left the show before her ruse became public and signed a six-figure producing agreement at Walt Disney Television.

Garth, Whitney and the Teletubbies

Some of the biggest names in the pop world unload their new releases this week--just in time for the holidays. The Super Tuesday 1998 lineup includes Garth Brooks, Whitney Houston, Jewel and . . . Tinky Winky? "Teletubbies: The Album" will arrive with 14 songs from the quirky, somewhat surreal British television show "The Teletubbies," which airs on PBS and has replaced Barney in the hearts of many toddlers. Tinky Winky and the show's other three pudgy elves are already making their commercial mark in toy and video stores, and now they're looking for the sleeper gold record of the season. Don't laugh: The album features "Teletubbies Say 'Eh-Oh!' "--a song that actually hit No. 1 on the singles chart in England last December. "The sky's the limit," said Neil Werde, vice president of marketing at Rhino. "We imagine we'll see 500,000 or 600,000 [sold] by the end of December." . . . Meanwhile, will Alanis Morissette's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" hold on to its No. 1 spot for the second week? Not if R. Kelly can fly to the top with his double album, titled, simply, "R." "It looks like a real handsome start for R. Kelly," said Geoff Mayfield, charts editor for Billboard magazine. "He's a figure to be reckoned with in R&B." Retailers said another multi-disc album--Bruce Springsteen's "Tracks," which features four discs of mostly unreleased songs--is also off to a fast start and will likely be among the nation's top five sellers, despite a $65 list price.

--Compiled by Times Staff Writers and contributors

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