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''Save the Last Dance'''s soundtrack shimmies up the music charts

Puff’s lawyer cries racism, Dennis Miller will return to ”Monday Night Football,” and more

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Julia Stiles, Save the Last Dance

MUSIC CHARTS The real story about this week’s record sales isn’t that the Beatles’ ”1” and Shaggy’s ”Hotshot” remained No. 1 and No. 2, moving 215,525 and 203,700 albums, respectively. It’s that the ”Save the Last Dance” soundtrack — feauturing songs from K-Ci & Jojo, Lucy Pearl, and Pink — skyrocketed from No. 11 to No. 3, selling 172,100 units — 50 percent more than the previous week. Just goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of teenage girls. The rest of the top 10 stayed virtually the same: Columbia’s compilation ”NOW That’s What I Call Music, Vol. 5” fell one place to No. 4, scanning 112,275 copies, while Creed’s ”Human Clay” also dropped one notch to No. 5, selling 102,200 units (the album has now sold 8.9 million copies). Rounding out the top 10 are Sade’s ”Lovers Rock” (No. 6), Limp Bizkit’s ”Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” (No. 7), Dido’s ”No Angel” (No. 8), Outkast’s ”Stankonia” (No. 9), and Lenny Kravitz’s ”Greatest Hits” (No. 10).

LEGAL BRIEF The defense lawyers for Sean ”Puffy” Combs and Jamal ”Shyne” Barrow accused prosecuting attorney Matthew Bogdanos on Wednesday of illegally rejecting potential jurors because they are of color. According to MTV News, Bogdanos denied the charge, and the presiding judge ruled that the prosecutor had challenged the jurors fairly. ”He’s batting 100 percent — nine out of nine challenges are to nonwhite people,” Combs’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said. ”There is clearly a pattern.”

But in every jury selection, both sides are allowed nine ”peremptory challenges” — dismissing a juror without having to explain why. Five out of the nine jurors Bogdanos challenged were black, and the other four were Hispanic. The defense lawyers, on the other hand, removed four white jurors and one Asian American. So far, the final jury consists of two black men, a white man, and a white woman.

Bogdanos defended his challenges (which he had no obligation to justify): Some worked in the medical field, and three doctors will be testifying in the case. One juror spoke little English, while another had a criminal record in New York and owned a Shyne album. Another juror he removed had watched TV coverage of the case. Bogdanos also nixed two jurors who worked in social work, because they tend to ”empathize with criminals.” Jury selection in the case continues on Thursday and Friday; opening arguments are expected Monday, January 29.

MILLER TIME Despite mixed reviews for his verbose rantings, it looks like comedian Dennis Miller will be back in the booth on ABC’s ”Monday Night Football” next fall. Miller and Dan Fouts, a Hall of Fame QB also new to sportscasting, have both reupped for another season with play by play master Al Michaels. According to Variety, ABC Sports exec Don Ohlmeyer confirmed the deals in an interview at the NATPE, the TV industry’s annual convention for network program executives. Read Brittanica.com’s analyses of Miller’s erudite but obscure references here.

WELCOME TO TV Country star Reba McEntire will make her primetime series debut in a sitcom pilot for the WB. The Grammy winner will play a typical Southern belle mom facing serious family problems (a cheating husband and a pregnant teenage daughter). Set in Houston, the pilot’s producers even plan to explain McEntire’s identifiable Oklahoman accent. Meanwhile, the singer starts her Broadway stint as Annie Oakley in ”Annie Get Your Gun” on Friday. Hey, maybe they should call the sitcom ”Annie Oakie.”

AWARDS ALERT Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis (”Hannibal”) will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (the highest honor a producer can get) at the Oscars this year. One of the few old school producers left in Hollywood, De Laurentiis’ career stretches as far back as the ’40s and ’50s, with Federico Fellini‘s ”La Strada” (1956) and ”The Nights of Cabria,” (1957) both of which received Academy Awards. De Laurentiis, 81, went on to produce a series of action and suspense dramas, from ”Three Days of the Condor” and ”Conan the Barbarian” to ”Dune” and ”Blue Velvet.” His most recent productions include ”U-571,” ”Breakdown,” and ”Assassins.”

MINI MADNESS Looks like the famous miniseries ”Holocaust” will finally have a worthy successor. NBC plans to air ”Uprising,” a mini about the Warsaw ghetto’s armed resistance during WWII. An A list ensemble is currently in talks, including Leelee Sobieski, James Woods, Stephen Rea, Hank Azaria, Sadie Frost, David Schwimmer, and Donald Sutherland. Jon Avnet (”Fried Green Tomatoes”) will direct the story of the monthlong battle between an organized group of young Polish Jews and the Nazis in 1943.

TUBE NEWS Producer Dick Wolf has enlisted Jamey Sheridan (”The Ice Storm”) to star opposite Vincent D’Onofrio in his new spinoff series, ”Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Sheridan, whose TV experience includes a stint on ”Chicago Hope” and a chilling turn as the Devil in the miniseries ”The Stand,” plays a police captain on the new NBC drama. Courtney B. Vance (”Space Cowboys”) and Kathryn Erbe (”Oz”) also star. Production for the show began on Wednesday in New York.

SACKED Poor Cybill Shepherd. The producers of the ratings deprived talk show ”Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” are replacing Shepherd with a panel of five new cohosts: former model and weight loss spokeswoman Christina Ferrare; radio hosts Bo Griffin and Sam Phillips; Dr. Drew Pinsky (MTV’s ”Loveline”); and comedian Rondell Sheridan. The new format will begin Feb. 1. Cybill, one word of advice: Get thee to Lifetime.

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