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Quick Takes: Chris Brown's new album enters charts at No. 1

British arts funding slashed; cash-strapped Syracuse orchestra suspended; 'Green Lantern' casts Geoffrey Rush

March 31, 2011

Like the adage about bad publicity, R&B singer Chris Brown has proved there's also no such thing as a bad meltdown on a national TV show as long as it spells your name correctly and plugs your new album.

That album, "F.A.M.E.," entered Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart at No. 1 Wednesday with first-week sales of 270,000 copies, the second-highest total of the year, despite — or perhaps partly because of — the singer's tirade after ABC's "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts had asked him about his assault on former girlfriend Rihanna rather than limiting their discussion to the album.

It gives Brown his first No. 1 on the national album chart, although its initial-week sales total is slightly down from his 2004 high of 294,000 for "Exclusive," which peaked at No. 4 in Billboard.

Chris Brown: A Quick Takes item in the March 31 Calendar section about Chris Brown's "F.A.M.E." entering Billboard's top 200 Albums chart at No. 1 said that the album's first-week sales were slightly lower than for his 2004 "Exclusive." "Exclusive" was released in 2007. —

—Randy Lewis

English council slashes arts funds

Hundreds of British arts organizations had their public funding slashed or eliminated Wednesday, the result of government spending cuts aimed at tackling the country's deficit.

The government-funded Arts Council England must cut 15% from the amount it gives to art, music, theater, dance and literature groups by 2015 — which still leaves it with almost $1.6 billion to hand out.

The council said that instead of cutting 15% from everyone, it wanted to create a smaller but stronger portfolio of groups. So some have been cut off entirely, while others have seen their funding increase.

Several major institutions, including the National Theatre, the Royal Opera and English National Ballet, have received cuts of about 15% to their annual funding. Those who saw funding disappear include northern England's Northumberland Theatre Company and the Northcott Theatre in Exeter.

—Associated Press

Symphonic woes in Syracuse

The Syracuse (N.Y.) Symphony Orchestra's board of trustees has voted to suspend operations on Sunday amid financial woes.

There were more than 20 concerts remaining in the orchestra's season, including an April 27 concert by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The orchestra's 18 full- and part-time staffers and 61 core and 14 contract musicians will be laid off Monday.

Interim Executive Director Paul Brooks says the orchestra fell short of its March fundraising goal of $445,000, failed to receive

$1.3 million in concessions from the musicians for the current season and had

$5.5 million in debt.

—Associated Press

Hamm goes from 'Men' to 'Sisters'

Devotees of "Mad Men" won't be able to enjoy the fifth season of the Emmy-winning AMC series until early 2012 thanks to a dispute that has pitted creator Matt Weiner against the basic-cable network and Lionsgate, the show's producer. But fans of Jon Hamm, who plays Don Draper, need look no further than L.A. Theatre Works' upcoming production of "The Three Sisters" by Anton Chekhov to catch a glimpse of the actor.

Hamm will play the role of Vershinin, the philosophizing military officer who enters into an adulterous relationship with Masha, played by Jennifer Westfeldt, who happens to be Hamm's off-screen girlfriend.

L.A. Theatre Works will produce "Three Sisters" as part of its recorded theater series, in which actors perform the play in the manner of a staged reading in front of radio microphones. The production will run April 13-17 at the Skirball Cultural Center.

—David Ng

'Green Lantern' casts Rush

Geoffrey Rush is back in the mode of demanding teacher —but instead of a royal speech therapist, the Aussie actor will be Tomar-Re, a bird-beaked alien who teaches Ryan Reynolds how to use his new cosmic powers in "Green Lantern."

Warner Bros. is expected to officially announce on Thursday that the 59-year-old Oscar winner is giving voice to the CG-created member of the Green Lantern Corps, the intergalactic peace-keeping force that gets its first Earthling member in Hal Jordan (Reynolds). Rush's character — introduced in the pages of DC Comics in 1961 — is a scientist on his home planet.

—Geoff Boucher


ABC shuffle: ABC News says Juju Chang is leaving "Good Morning America" to become a correspondent and fill-in anchor on "Nightline." She'll be replaced by Josh Elliott, who's currently co-anchoring ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Big Jim: James Garner, the former star of the TV series "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," has written a memoir, "The Garner Files," that Simon & Schuster will release in November.

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