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Mariah's No. 1

Mariah Carey breaks an industry record for female singers; Nicole Kidman’s flu closes ‘The Blue Room’ early; Charlie Sheen and Joan Cusack get ABC sitcoms

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Paul Rudd
Paramount Pictures

RECORDING HISTORY Mariah Carey‘s latest album “No. 1’s” recently topped 3 million copies sold, making her the first female singer to have eight consecutive albums sell at least 3 million units, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s February gold and platinum certifications.

WEB ALERT Acknowledging the power of the Internet, veteran singer Tom Petty has released his new single via the controversial format MP3. Starting next Monday, fans can download “Free Girl Now” — from Petty and the Heartbreakers’ upcoming album “Echo” — for free. “Petty wanted to use this medium to thank his fans for their loyalty and (to) give something back,” says Petty’s spokesman John Diaz.

SO LONG, FAREWELL Due to Nicole Kidman‘s bronchial infection, the critically successful play “The Blue Room” has closed early, canceling its last eight performances. The David Hare play can’t go on without its star: “I’m truly devastated not to complete the last week of the run and deeply apologize to the people who have planned to attend those performances,” Kidman said in a statement.

FAMILY REUNION The Jacksons — sans brother Michael and little sister Janet – announced yesterday that they have a contract to record a new pop/R&B album on Modern Records, Randy Jackson’s label. Randy, Jermaine, Marlon, Tito, and Jackie are scheduled to perform, but Michael, under contractual obligation to Sony, couldn’t join in the family fun.

TV WATCH Charlie Sheen and Joan Cusack are each getting their own sitcoms this fall on ABC. The network has ordered 13 episodes each of Sheen’s “Sugar Hill” (an ensemble sitcom set in a New York police precinct) and Cusack’s untitled comedy set and shot in Chicago…. Queen of talk Oprah Winfrey has declined an Emmy nomination for best talk-show host this year. After winning 32 Daytime Emmys, Winfrey explains her decision to take herself out of the running to colleague Roseanne on today’s “The Roseanne Show”: “Last year I was given the lifetime achievement award. And after you’ve achieved it for a lifetime, what else is there?” The afterlife?

REEL DEAL Capitalizing on their “Shakespeare in Love” success, Miramax’s Dimension Films has acquired worldwide rights to “O,” a teen-oriented modernization of the Bard’s “Othello.” “O” is set in a modern high school and stars beautiful young actors, including Mekhi Phifer as Odin (Othello), Josh Hartnett as Hugo (Iago) and Julia Stiles as Desi (Desdemona).

HOSPITALIZED Phyllis Diller, who was recently the queen’s voice in Disney’s “A Bug’s Life,” is in a Los Angeles hospital awaiting a pacemaker. According to Variety’s gossip columnist Army Archerd, the 81-year-old comic actress suffered a mild heart attack last month and is not in critical condition. Quite the contrary, Diller’s manager is quoted as saying “she’s panting to do a show in the hospital cafeteria.”

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