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Morning Report

September 27, 2002|Lisa Boone

POP/ROCK

Barry White in Need

of a Kidney Transplant

Veteran R&B singer Barry White has been hospitalized in Los Angeles for kidney dialysis treatment.

According to a brief statement released by his record company, the deep-voiced, 58-year-old musician has a history of high blood pressure that led to a decline in his kidney function. When his condition stabilizes, doctors say he will be a candidate for an organ transplant.

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Elvis' Hits Package Making Strong Debut

The new Elvis Presley hits package, "Elvis: 30 #1 Hits," may reach No. 1 on the album sales chart itself when first-week figures come in on Wednesday.

The album, which was released Tuesday, is "shaping up like it could be pretty huge," Wherehouse chain senior pop buyer Bob Bell said Thursday, looking at the first two days of sales. "This is the kind of title that's going to sell well in lots of different kinds of retail and discount outlets as well as traditional record stores."

Presley's record label is anticipating sales of at least 450,000 to 500,000 the first week, a range that would put it in the vicinity of the Beatles' "1" collection of 27 of that group's hits. The "1" album sold 595,000 during its first week in stores in 2000 and went on to set the record for highest single-week sales other than first week when it posted 1.26 million copies during the week leading up to Christmas that year.

"What is amazing is not only the scale and scope of the consumer response, but the diversity in age and demographics," says Joe DiMuro, senior vice president of strategic marketing for BMG Entertainment. "It is clear that this campaign has been embraced beyond the core Elvis Presley demographic."

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TELEVISION

Damon Beats Bernie, NBC Takes 'Wing'

It was good news, bad news, and more bad news for ABC on Wednesday, as "My Wife and Kids" opened its season to strong ratings while the second edition of "The Bachelor" and new drama "MDs" both stumbled out of the starting gate versus a two-hour "The West Wing."

ABC's Damon Wayans comedy averaged 14.8 million viewers with an hourlong episode, easily beating Fox's tandem of "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Cedric the Entertainer Presents," which together averaged a little more than 8 million. Some observers had worried that the two sitcoms with African American stars would cancel each other out, but both fared reasonably well, particularly in the younger demographics sought by advertisers.

"The Bachelor," meanwhile, was left at the altar thanks largely to the concluding installment of CBS' "Big Brother 3." The latter unscripted program averaged nearly 13 million viewers, compared to 9 million for the ABC dating show.

NBC's "West Wing" premiere towered over all, though its average audience of 18.2 million viewers was down compared to last year's opener, suggesting the three-time Emmy winner's popularity may have peaked. The show's audience did build through the night, exceeding combined tune-in for CBS' and ABC's medical shows, "Presidio Med" and "MDs," at 10 p.m.

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KTLA's Rubin Suspended for Week

KTLA "Morning News" entertainment reporter Sam Rubin has been suspended from the station this week. KTLA executives declined to comment on the action, saying, "This is a matter between KTLA and Sam Rubin."

But the suspension comes after Rubin delivered an on-air tirade against KABC general manager Arnie Kleiner, calling him "a devil" and suggesting he was on drugs. Rubin accused Kleiner of preventing him from conducting an interview with Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, the hosts of the syndicated "Regis & Kelly," seen locally on KABC.

Neither KABC officials nor Rubin could be reached for comment. He is scheduled to return to the air Monday.

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THE ARTS

Public Phone Calls a Hard Cell in New York

When a cell phone goes off during a play or opera in New York in the future, the offender could face more than a dirty look as the City Council debates a ban on using cell phones at public performances.

A bill proposed by City Councilman Philip Reed of Manhattan would prohibit the use of mobile phones in "places of public performance" and make violators subject to a fine of up to $50. It would also require the operators of the performance spaces to post signs outlining the ban. The bill would not apply to outdoor venues.

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QUICK TAKES

Saturday's L.A. concert by Persian singer Googoosh has been postponed due to delays in visa processing. Tickets for the Staples Center show will be honored at a future performance to be announced shortly. Visa problems also have forced the cancellation of a Nov. 14 performance by the Afro-Cuban All-Stars at UCLA's Royce Hall.... The Martin Beck Theater in New York will be renamed for artist Al Hirschfeld, 99, according to the New York Times. Hirschfeld will become the first artist to have a theater named after him and one of the few people not directly involved in acting or producing ever so honored.... The wife of Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland has filed for divorce after two years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.

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