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Quick Takes: Lionel Richie's country payoff

April 19, 2012

Going country has turned out to be a shrewd move by crooner Lionel Richie.

He scored his first chart-topping album in more than 25 years Wednesday, as his twang-enhanced "Tuskegee" scooted into the top spot after a 35% sales jump inspired by last week's CBS broadcast, "ACM Presents: Lionel Richie & Friends in Concert."

"Tuskegee" sold more than 128,000 copies over the last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and surpassed releases from Nicki Minaj and Adele in its ascent to the pole position. Its total sales are at 423,000.

On "Tuskegee," Richie revisits his hits from the '80s with country stars such as Shania Twain, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton.

The last time Richie topped the Billboard chart was in 1986 with "Dancing on the Ceiling."

—Todd Martens

London theater is a good sport

London's theater industry is increasingly confident that culture won't suffer during a summer devoted to celebrating sports.

West End producers had been apprehensive that the 2012 London Olympics could deter people from traveling to London or visiting its central entertainment district at the height of the summer tourist season.

That's not the feeling now.

Producer Nica Burns said the theater community had forcefully argued its case to Olympic organizers and London authorities, who have pressed to inform tourists of all the nonsporting delights that Britain's capital has to offer.

—Associated Press

Kitty Kelley in 'Camelot' mode

Kitty Kelley's next book project will be "heartwarming." Promise.

The author of gossipy bestsellers about Frank Sinatra, Jacqueline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Reagan and others is providing the text to "Capturing Camelot," a collection of photographs by her friend Stanley Tretick.

Tretick, who died in

1999, covered the White House for Look magazine while John F. Kennedy was in office. He took many pictures of the president and his children that helped define JFK's image as a family man.

Thomas Dunne Books is releasing "Capturing Camelot" in November. The publisher said Wednesday that Kelley, who manages Tretick's estate, would contribute an "insightful, heartwarming essay" about the photographer and the president.

—Associated Press

Classical music ambassadors

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Riccardo Muti, performed in Russia on Wednesday for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Muti and U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul described the visit as part of President Obama's efforts to improve relations with Russia.

The orchestra performed Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, with the oboe solo played by principal Eugene Izotov, a native of Moscow who studied at the Gnesin School of Music. The two other pieces on the program were Dmitri Smirnov's Space Odyssey and Nino Rota's Music from Il Gattopardo.

After a second performance on Thursday, the orchestra travels to St. Petersburg for a single concert on Saturday.

—Associated Press

Spotting a tilt on Sunday shows

Do the Sunday TV news shows skew too far to the right? A new study by a media watchdog group says yes.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a New York-based liberal organization, says that NBC's "Meet the Press," CBS' "Face the Nation," ABC's "This Week" and "Fox News Sunday" are "failing miserably" at getting diverse guests.

"[F]rom June 2011 through February 2012, FAIR found a distinct conservative, white and male skew" on the shows. Eighty-six percent of the guests booked for one-on-one interviews were male and 92% were white, FAIR said. Of the guests who were identified as having a partisan affiliation, 70% were Republican.

"The Sunday morning shows are the showcase debate programs for the national news networks," FAIR's Peter Hart wrote

in a statement. "It's a shame they aren't interested in

having many actual debates."

—Scott Collins

Finally

Side gig: California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is adding a new job to his résumé: talk show host. He'll host a weekly program on cable's Current TV starting next month.

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