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Flashes: Week of Nov. 5, 1999

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Most interesting It’s a record: The just-published edition of Guinness World Records 2000 contains no fewer than 497 entertainment-themed entries. ”Basically, we’re trying to reach the teenage marketplace,” says Guinness publisher Mark C. Young. ”And that’s where their interests are.” Here, some noteworthy additions.

1. Singer with most recorded duets: Willie Nelson, who has paired with about 100 artists, including Bob Dylan, Julio Iglesias, Frank Sinatra, and Sinead O’Connor

2. Richest supermodel: Elle Macpherson, who’s worth $38.12 million

3. Oldest female vocalist to reach No. 1 in England: Blondie’s Deborah Harry, 53, who topped the charts with ”Maria” in February 1999

4. Highest-paid active TV writer: Chris Carter, who’s earning $52 million in 1999

5. Biggest opening-day box office: Star Wars: Episode I —– The Phantom Menace, which took in $28.54 million in its first 24 hours.

Fright music

Horror master Wes Craven has done it again. Music of the Heart — his new drama about a violin teacher who bonds with inner-city youths — provides chills that rival such Craven classics as A Nightmare on Elm Street. Here, the five most terrifying moments at the heart of Heart.

5. The creepy head twitching of professional violinists during the climactic concert

4. ‘N Sync’s bone-chilling title song

3. The shocking appearance of another Culkin — Kieran, Macaulay’s brother

2. Meryl Streep. In a bathrobe. With curlers.

1. Gloria Estefan’s acting

Extra credits

Is Meat Loaf by any other name still as sweaty? America’s finding out. For his roles in Fight Club and Crazy in Alabama, the 52-year-old rocker has chosen to be credited as Meat Loaf Aday. ”I started as an actor and I’ve always wanted to keep a separation,” explains Mr. Loaf, whose given name is Marvin Lee Aday. And things are about to get more confusing. In upcoming movie appearances he’ll ditch Meat Loaf altogether in favor of little-known nicknames. ”On film I’m going to go with Michael Aday or M.L. Aday. But I’m still doing albums as Meat Loaf.” A relief, no doubt, to the American Beef Council.

Plastic surgery

Here’s an interesting pop-culture conundrum: You’re the designer of the new Britney Spears doll. Do you go with Spears’ torso before or after her controversial ”growth spurt”? As journalists, we felt the need to find out. ”I don’t think this is interesting,” sniffs Roland Caville, president of Yaboom, which released the $40 doll Oct. 13. Okeydoke. But what’s the answer? ”We usually take care of the likeness for the head,” says Caville, whose parent company also made the Spice Girls dolls. ”We don’t make a new body every time for every doll.” In other words, they’re just faking it.

Random quote

”I’m having fun with this fame thing. Please invade my privacy.” — Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath, when asked if he would mind being interviewed at a recent Hugo Boss party in L.A.

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