Plus, the Backstreet Boys officially land a sales record, and the 'Home Improvement' finale rakes in huge ratings

By Josh Wolk
Updated May 27, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Home Improvement

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RECOVERED Two men who stole a print of ”The Phantom Menace” in Menomonie, Wis., turned themselves and the movie in to police yesterday, four days after the film disappeared from a local theater. It’s not clear why they pinched it, but the worry was that they would sell it to the black market to make illegal bootlegs. This recovery doesn’t mean that illegal copies aren’t a problem: Bootleg video CDs (a format that’s not available in the States) are being sold in Hong Kong malls, and videocassettes turned up as early as Tuesday on the streets of New York.

TOP SELLER It’s official: The Backstreet Boys now have the record for the most first-week album sales. Their sophomore album, the topically titled ”Millennium,” sold 1.13 million albums, 50,000 more than the last record-holder, Garth Brooks’ ”Double Live.” The sales-crazy Garth will NOT tip his hat to the Boys on this one.

FINALE BLOWOUT Tuesday night’s 90-minute ”Home Improvement” finale ended up being the fourth-watched series-ender of the 1990s, behind ”Seinfeld,” ”Cheers,” and ”The Cosby Show.” A whopping 35 million people were estimated to have tuned in, which is more than twice the number who had been watching the show the rest of the season. Meanwhile, ”Mad About You”’s Monday-night swan song attracted 19.8 million watchers.

CASTING Mark Wahlberg is resurrecting his music career, but only for the movies. He’ll play a heavy metal singer in a cover band who is drafted by his favorite rockers to replace their lead singer in ”Metal God.” The story is based loosely on a New York Times article about Judas Priest’s new shrieker who was plucked out of his cover band and office-supply-salesman job…. Greg Kinnear, John Goodman, Ben Kingsley, and Linda Fiorentino have joined the alien-in-love comedy ”What Planet Are You From?” with Garry Shandling…. Dougray Scott (”Ever After”) is in negotiations to play the lycanthropic superhero Wolverine in the ”X-Men” movie.

NABBED Layzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was arrested Monday at his home in Solon, Ohio, for an old drug warrant dating back to March 1997, according to MTV News. He was reportedly released on bond.

TV STUDY Those rating letters for TV shows warning viewers of adult content seem to be more of an encouragement for shows than a deterrent. A study by the Parents Television Council has determined that nudity and violence have soared nearly 31 percent since November 1996. The chairman of the Council, L. Brent Bozell, said networks could use the ratings as an excuse to push the envelope under the excuse that now viewers would know what they’re getting. Network executives told Variety that the study was flawed because it was too subjective in determining what counted as adult content.

SALES QUEEN Barbra Streisand may not sing live much anymore, but her fans seem to be making more than due with her recordings: After her 1976 album ”Classical Barbra” went gold this week, she became the second musician (behind Elvis) to ever have 40 albums make that sales landmark of 500,000 copies. Trailing her closely are the Beatles (39), the Rolling Stones (37), and Neil Diamond (35).

Episode Recaps

NEW AWARDS The Grammy Awards will get a little longer this year because the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has added three new categories to its annual competition: Salsa and Merengue Performances, and Soundtrack.

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