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Quick Takes: 'Red' soars, 'Sandy' soft

December 28, 2012

Taylor Swift's "Red" appeared to be the music gift of choice among last-minute shoppers, posting a sixth week in the No. 1 slot on the pop music charts in the final week before Christmas and adding 276,000 copies to its total, which is closing in on 3 million.

Rapper T.I. came in with the highest chart debut of the week, his new "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head" landing at No. 2 with 179,000 copies, just edging out Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox," which dropped one slot to No. 3 on second-week sales of 178,000 copies.

One surprise to many in the music industry is the less-than-powerhouse greeting the public gave the "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief" all-star benefit album. Billboard reported that industry sources were expecting first week sales of 125,000 to 150,000 following the widely broadcast and webcast concert featuring the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Bon Jovi and other performers. But it entered the chart at No. 9 on first week sales of 82,000 copies.

—Randy Lewis

Sistine Chapel to tidy up tourists

In an effort to lessen pollution damage to artwork inside the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican plans to have visitors vacuumed and cooled down before they go in, Britain's Guardian newspaper reports.

It quoted Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican museums, telling the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that visitors will be "dusted, cleaned and chilled."

The Guardian said the heat and dirt generated by 20,000 tourists entering the chapel every day have been blamed for the layers of grime accumulating on the paintings, which include Michelangelo's depiction of God giving life to Adam.

"We will cover the 100 meters before the entrance with a carpet that cleans shoes; we will install suction vents on the sides to suck dust from clothes and we will lower temperatures to reduce the heat and humidity of bodies," Paolucci said.

—From a Times staff writer

Gaga: The Film is in the works

Looks like Lady Gaga is tearing another page out of the Madonna platinum-blond, pop-superstar playbook.

In the early '90s, Madonna launched a new phase of her career by allowing director Alek Keshishian to make a documentary, "Truth or Dare," about the singer's Blond Ambition tour. Keshishian's film painted Madonna in a candid and revealing light.

Now Lady Gaga has followed Madonna's celluloid blueprint by reportedly recruiting fashion photographer Terry Richardson to make a feature-length documentary about her.

—Reed Johnson

Britney Spears an ex-'Factor'?

Britney, we hardly knew you.

Just days after the Season 2 finale of "The X Factor" comes word that Britney Spears — the pop singer hired to bring ratings sizzle to Simon Cowell's TV singing extravaganza — is getting the heave-ho as a judge.

According to Us Weekly, Cowell is close to canning Spears because he doesn't feel she's earned her $15-million paycheck.

Of course, it doesn't help that "The X Factor's" ratings have seen a double-digit decline from Season 1 on Fox. Before the show premiered, Cowell was vowing to beat "American Idol."

At the moment, only Cowell and fellow judge Demi Lovato are poised to return next fall. L.A. Reid already announced his attention to depart "The X Factor" and refocus on his duties as a music executive.

But a show spokeswoman said it's too early to talk about what the future holds for "X Factor."

"No one has discussed next year's judging panel yet," the spokeswoman said. "Any reports otherwise are complete speculation."

—Scott Collins

Stars aligned for Phil Alvin show

The original members of the Blasters will reunite and be joined by X, the Knitters and other veteran Southland roots-rock musicians Jan. 26 in a benefit dubbed "Brotherly Love: A Night for Our Brother Phil Alvin."

Blasters founding member and lead singer Alvin was hit by the powerful MRSA virus a little over a year ago and nearly died last summer during a relapse, according to his brother, guitarist, singer and songwriter Dave Alvin.

Phil Alvin has since recovered but has amassed significant medical bills that benefit organizers hope their event will help him pay off.

The Jan. 26 performance will take place at the Observatory in Santa Ana.

—Randy Lewis

Finally

Wedding bells: Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet has tied the knot for a third time, marrying Ned Rocknroll (born Abel Smith) in New York.

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