Plus, Steven Spielberg heads back to outer space, and Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos team for a summer tour

”STAR WARS” WATCH George Lucas and 20th Century Fox have flip-flopped, announcing that theaters CAN start selling advanced tickets to ”Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” on May 12 at 3 p.m., one week before the film’s opening. The studio and the ”Star Wars” creator had originally banned pre-premiere sales to prevent scalpers from stocking up on tickets. Although theater owners have promised they will limit each buyer to 12 tickets and will watch to make sure scalpers won’t get right back in line after buying one set, Fox realizes that ”if somebody wants to do it bad enough, they will,” says studio spokesman Tom Sherak.

REEL DEAL Steven Spielberg is heading back to themes he first explored in ”Close Encounters of the Third Kind” by executive-producing the miniseries ”Taken,” which will explore alien abductions over the past few decades. The 20-hour miniseries, which is budgeted at around $40 million, will air on the Sci-Fi channel in fall of 2000.

TOURING To hell with Lilith: Alanis Morissette is teaming with Tori Amos for their own summer tour, which will kick off on Aug.t 18 in Fort Lauderdale. Amos will also release a three-CD set this summer. Two of the discs will showcase live performances from her last tour, while the third disc will contain new songs.

BIRTH Let the jokes begin: Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn have a new baby daughter, named Bechet Dumaine Allen. The press has speculated that the 5-month-old girl was adopted, because Soon-Yi hasn’t looked pregnant in any recent pictures, but the couple would not comment. Jazz enthusiast Allen named the girl after famed jazz clarinetist Sidney Bechet.

DROPPING Is the bloom off the talking poo? The ratings for ”South Park” have fallen 46 percent this year to a 3.8 from the same time last year, when it averaged a 7.0. A Comedy Central executive points out that the network never expected the show to maintain the astronomical ratings it reached at its peak, but that even now the series is the top-rated scripted cable show.

OBITUARY Roger and Larry Troutman, two brothers who were original members of the 1980s R&B group Zapp, both died on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, in what police suspect was a murder-suicide. Roger, 47, was found outside a studio with multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, and he passed away after being brought to the hospital, while Larry, 54, was discovered in a nearby car with a handgun and a single gunshot wound to the head. Police are still investigating.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace
  • Movie
  • 134 minutes