NOW WOWS That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, U.S. music fans like it. More than 6 million hit-hungry Americans have sprung for the NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilations. The pop-heavy hits series is currently in its fourth edition and features smash singles from the likes of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and Jennifer Lopez. Internationally, the NOW brand is a 15-year-old phenomenon, with more than 55 million albums sold, but it wasn’t until 1998 when NOW partners EMI, Universal, Sony, and Zomba expanded the franchise to the U.S. ”The [recent] explosion of pop in America gave justification to the idea,” says Ray Cooper, coprez of EMI’s Virgin Records. Launched Stateside via a massive TV-led marketing blitz, the first NOW volume sold more than 1 million copies. That success paved the way for double- platinum-plus sales of volumes 2 and 3 and last week’s chart- topping debut of NOW … 4, which knocked the tenacious Eminem from his throne. So is the future NOW? As long as the hits keep coming, expect a new NOW volume every six months.
— Laura Morgan
DOGG TREAT Fox’s King of the Hill has scored a casting coup for the animated sitcom’s 100th episode in February. Not only will Renée Zellweger lend her voice as a hooker befriended by the Hills, her white wannabe gangsta pimp is played by — ready for this? — Snoop Dogg. ”We were thinking about getting a rap star,” says Hill exec producer Richard Appel, ”and [Hill cocreator] Mike Judge had the idea of casting Snoop, who liked the idea.” So, was Snoop pretty fly for a white guy? ”He was so convincing,” says Appel, ”we wouldn’t hesitate to go back to him to play an African American.”