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In the Know / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

Will Fans Eventually Go In for 'Breach'?

October 16, 2000

Why isn't the Wallflowers' new album, "Breach," the runaway favorite to be the highest newcomer on the national sales charts this week? Retailers are projecting instead that rapper Ja Rule's new "Rule 3:36" and techno-pop group Orgy's new "Vapor Transmission" will both outsell "Breach"--even though the Wallflowers' previous album, 1996's "Bringing Down the Horse," has sold 4.1 million copies to date, according to SoundScan, almost twice the sales of the previous Rule and Orgy albums combined. "Horse" also won Jakob Dylan and his band mates high-profile honors, including two Grammy Awards and a Rolling Stone cover. So what's going on with "Breach"? "If it does 100,000, that's a very, very strong first week," says Jeff Pollack, one of the nation's leading radio consultants. "Some people may say that's disappointing in view of 4.1 million sales [for 'Horse']. . . . But it's a more sophisticated record that will take more time to garner an audience"--one that consists of many classic-rock fans who are less prone to rush out to buy albums in their first week. Adds Pollack: "In no way can you judge a band like this on the first week or first several weeks of sales." Sounds like another classic rocker whose latest record has acted like the tortoise against the hare-like starts of various rappers, alt-rockers and boy bands. Sting's "Brand New Day" sauntered out of the gate at 91,000 copies in its first week last fall and had dropped as low as No. 91 in Billboard last January. But after extensive touring and aided by a hit single ("Desert Rose"), Sting and A&M/Interscope Records have pushed "Brand New Day" to sales of 2.6 million, placing it among the biggest sellers of his 15-year solo career.

Coming Soon: Hockey-Playing Chimpanzee

It's enough to drive grizzled National Hockey League players a little bananas. At hockey rinks around the country, a new player has been strapping on his skates, grabbing a stick and gliding onto the ice to shoot pucks into the net. His name is Bernie. He has these long arms, hair all over his body, funny-looking lips and doesn't speak a word of English. No, he's not your typical NHL player. Bernie, you see, is a chimpanzee, and he is on a nationwide tour of 19 NHL games to promote a new family comedy called "MVP: Most Valuable Primate," which opens Friday in selected theaters around the country, including the Los Angeles area. The chimp stars in the film as "Jack," a chimpanzee with a penchant for ice skating. The movie is the brainchild of director Robert Vince, the man who created "Air Bud," Disney's 1997 family comedy about a basketball-playing dog. "Air Bud" grossed $23.1 million domestically for Disney, and the 1998 sequel, "Air Bud: Golden Receiver," earned $9.1 million for Miramax. Vince said he chose to release "MVP: Most Valuable Primate" independently through Keystone Entertainment after former studio chief Joe Roth left Disney to become a producer. "I had a verbal deal with Joe Roth and that group," Vince said. "I didn't think the new regime [at Disney] thought this ['MVP: Most Valuable Primate'] was a theatrical movie. They wanted to dump it on the Disney Channel." Without the $4.5-million advertising budget Disney had poured into the original "Air Bud," Vince has decided to go on an old-fashioned Hollywood promotional tour, driving to various NHL games around the country in an RV outfitted with a play area for three chimps.

Thin Line Between Quality and Garbage

In January, Fox Television Entertainment Group Chairman Sandy Grushow pledged to shift his network away from such shock-value reality specials as "When Animals Attack" and "When Good Pets Go Bad." "I, personally, would rather fail with quality than win with garbage," Grushow told a semiannual gathering of TV critics in Pasadena, adding that such programming diminishes his network's brand. This week on Fox: "When Cameras Cross the Line," a look at celebrity-stalking paparazzi, Wednesday at 8 p.m., followed by a "TV Guide's Truth Behind the Rumors" special on "Charlie's Angels" and the death of comedian Phil Hartman. Garbage or quality? Is there a difference between pets going bad and cameras crossing the line? Maybe that's a question to be posed during an elimination round of "The Sexiest Bachelor in America," another Fox reality special that aired earlier this month. The network maintains that the two specials slated to air Wednesday are hardly shockumentaries in the "Animals Attack" mode and are just replacement programming in the event the National League playoff series between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals ends early. On the other hand, give Fox credit: Instead of airing "Cheating Spouses Caught on Tape" and "World's Nastiest Neighbors," two other reality specials the network developed, it cut those programs loose. They were subsequently sold to struggling UPN, which will air "Neighbors" Friday at 8 p.m. and "Spouses" at 9 p.m.

--Compiled by Times staff writers

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