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Morning Report

Arts And Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press.

December 25, 1999|SHAUNA SNOW

POP/ROCK

Posthumous Success: "Number one with a bullet" has been music industry shorthand for pop chart success for decades, but in the 1990s the expression took on a tragic second meaning as seven posthumously released albums hit No. 1 during the decade, all from artists who died of gunshot wounds. Before the 1990s, only one posthumously released album hit No. 1: Janis Joplin's "Pearl" in 1971. The seven posthumous bestsellers this decade included two each from Tupac Shakur ("The Don Killuminati . . . " and the "Gridlock'd" soundtrack) and Notorious B.I.G. ("Life After Death" and "Born Again")--rival rappers whose respective murders in 1996 and 1997 remain unsolved and may be connected, according to police. The seminal grunge band Nirvana, which lost leader Kurt Cobain in 1994 to a shotgun suicide, also had two with an MTV Unplugged collection and "From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah." The seventh No. 1 was "Dreaming of You" from pop singer Selena, who was gunned down in 1995 by her fan club president. "It's eye-opening and I'm sure it says something about society," said Geoff Mayfield, the charts editor for Billboard magazine, who reported the ominous trend in his year-end column.

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Bidding Goodbye: Hank Snow was remembered as a country music pioneer by scores of mourners who packed Nashville's Grand Ole Opry for a final tribute Thursday. The singer's closed casket sat at the foot of the Opry stage as performers recalled the artist best known for the 1950 country classic "I'm Movin' On." He died Monday at age 85. Among the estimated 200 mourners were Garth Brooks and country veterans Little Jimmy Dickens and Kitty Wells. "Hank Snow was a great folk hero and one of the first international stars," country singer Marty Stuart said. "The dignity of country music--a huge part of it--lies in front of us today." Snow had his last No. 1 hit, "Hello Love," in 1974.

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Admitting a Mistake: A British author and his publishers have agreed to pay undisclosed libel damages and legal fees to Pet Shop Boys members Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe for claiming that the duo made only minimum contributions to their songs. The pair had sued Roger Scruton over suggestions in "An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture" that the Pet Shop Boys' recordings were almost entirely the work of sound engineers. The defendants' lawyer admitted that the suggestions were baseless.

TV & MOVIES

Christmas Kisses: A new poll has found that Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brad Pitt are the celebrities Americans most want to meet under the mistletoe this Christmas. Runners-up in the Blockbuster video chain's holiday poll are, in descending order, male celebrities Bruce Willis, Cuba Gooding Jr., Joseph Fiennes and Mike Myers and females Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz (last year's winner), Rene Russo and Heather Graham. Julia Roberts ranked as the actress or actor Americans would most like to ring in the New Year with, followed by Tom Hanks.

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Programming Notes: ABC has tentatively slated "Mary and Rhoda," its movie reunion of Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards with Valerie Harper's Rhoda Morgenstern, for Feb. 7. . . . John Goodman will return to CBS' "Now and Again" in a one-time guest appearance during February sweeps. Goodman appeared in the series' premiere episode, playing a middle-aged insurance executive who dies violently before having his brain put into the body of a handsome 26-year-old. Goodman's reappearance will be accomplished through flashbacks. . . . The WB will present a one-hour premiere episode of its new single-camera comedy series, "Brutally Normal," on Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. The Monday night series goes to its regular half-hour format the next week, when "Zoe" (formerly "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane") assumes the 9:30 p.m. time slot. . . . TV Land will add four new series to its nightly classic TV lineup on Jan. 1. "The A-Team" will be broadcast at 9 p.m., followed by "The Andy Griffith Show" at 10 p.m., "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." at 10:30 p.m. and "The Honeymooners" at 11 p.m. . . . Former "Lois & Clark" star Dean Cain will host TBS' new cable series, "Ripley's Believe It or Not," on Wednesdays at 8:05 p.m., beginning Jan. 12. . . . CNN will show "Moment of Impact: Stories of the Pulitzer Prize Photographs," a special telling the stories behind some of the world's most memorable photographs, on Sunday at 7 p.m. Sam Waterston ("Law & Order") hosts.

QUICK TAKES

Actress Halle Berry ("Bulworth," "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge") is engaged to marry R&B singer Eric Benet. The couple met two years ago when she attended one of his concerts and have been dating for about a year, Berry's publicist said. No wedding date has been set. Berry, 32, was divorced in 1996 from Cleveland Indians outfielder David Justice. . . . The WB network's Saturday morning lineup set another ratings record last week thanks to a "Pokemon" marathon, averaging about 2.4 million kid viewers. . . . Times Square revelers will be able to see ABC's entire 24-hour live millennium special, "ABC 2000," because the network will run the special on the 48-foot-high Sony JumboTron screen at its Times Square studios. . . . The a cappella group the Persuasions has won the 1999 Gold Award for children's music from the advocacy group Parents' Choice, for the album "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

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