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In the Know / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

July 01, 2002

`Nellyville' Is Poised to Upstage Eminem's `Show'

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Who's going to be king of the charts this week?

On the album front, look for St. Louis rapper Nelly to unseat Eminem after five weeks at No. 1. Sales of Nelly's "Nellyville," which was released last Tuesday, were outpacing those of Eminem's "The Eminem Show" at a rate of about three to one at Tower Records stores during its first week, says Tower Southwest region director Bob Feterl.

Retailers expect Nelly's first-week total to be in the 600,000 to 700,000 range when figures come in Wednesday.

"The initial single ['Hot in Herre'] has been getting huge airplay, there's been lots of TV exposure for him and he's coming off a huge record," says Feterl, referring to "Country Grammar," Nelly's 2000 album that has sold 7.8 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"I don't think it's a surprise to anyone how well it's doing," says Feterl, "but hopefully that will continue. I think it's too early to say that [this year's overall sales slump] is turning around, because they've been so poor for so long. But with Eminem and now Nelly, it's a good first step."

On the singles front, the King may reign once again. RCA Records general manager Richard Sanders predicts that Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" will be the top-selling single in the nation, thanks to a new hip-hop remix by Dutch DJ JXL that received widespread exposure in a Nike commercial shown during World Cup games. It was released commercially in the U.S. last Tuesday.

These days, singles need sell only 4,000 or 5,000 copies some weeks to top the singles sales chart. But if the Elvis single gets enough radio airplay to put it atop Billboard's Hot 100 chart, which measures both sales and radio airplay, it will create a dilemma for RCA Records officials: Do they include it with a new single disc of Presley's No. 1 hits modeled on the Beatles' massively successful "1" album? The single has already hit No. 1 on the British charts, which technically qualifies it for inclusion because the set, like the Beatles "1," combines Presley's U.S. and U.K. chart-toppers.

The obvious answer might seem to be "of course," but Sanders notes that existing promotional and marketing materials for the album--due this fall--have been created around the title "30 No. 1 Hits." Additionally, those 30 tracks clock in at about 76 minutes, generally considered the maximum for standard CDs. "We're exploring putting it on as a bonus track," Sanders says.

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Thousands Expected at Anime Expo

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The popularity of Japanese animation will be underscored this week when an estimated 15,000 to 18,000 people are expected to attend the four-day Anime Expo trade show that begins Thursday at the Long Beach Convention Center.

"It's one of the biggest venues in the nation for the industry people to announce what their plans are for the year and to interact with fans and learn what they are interested in," said Jennifer Vancil, vice president for public relations of the Anaheim-based Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, a nonprofit corporation that is sponsoring the 11th annual show.

This year's show will include an appearance by Maria Kawamura, one of Japan's most popular animation voice actresses.

"When I talk to people about anime," Vancil said, "I try to explain that it isn't a genre, it's a media, because you can find any kind of story that has the label 'Japanimation' attached to it--preschoolers to dramatic stories, the whole range. There is something for everybody."

Movies such as "Princess Mononoke" and "Pokemon" have popularized anime in the U.S., although many Americans still view animation largely as a children's genre because of Disney's dominance in the field, Vancil said.

In Japan, she explained, "animation doesn't carry the stigma that it's only for kids. They have a lot of programming for adults, and that includes action-style movie animation, dramatic style animation. Just as we have action movies that are very violent, they also will have action animation that is very violent."

"Japanimation," as Vancil calls it, is usually edited down for children for distribution in America, allowing it to become more mainstream. She noted that the Cartoon Network averages four to six hours a day of anime programming, including a new children's show called "Hamtaro."

Meanwhile, she said, membership in her group has grown an average of 28% to 33% in the 11 years since the trade show began. To attend the four-day show, memberships are available at the door at a cost of $20 for children and up to $50 for adults. For more information, visit www.anime-expo.org.

Compiled by Times staff writers

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