CHARTS Britney Spears‘ ”Oops!… I Did It Again” ended ‘N Sync‘s eight-week reign in the top spot, scoring the second-highest first-week sales ever by moving 1.3 million copies (beaten only by her Jive Record labelmates’ debut for ”No Stings Attached” two months ago at 2.4 million). The ex Mouseketeer broke both the first-week and single-week records for a female artist, more than doubling Alanis Morissette‘s 1998 opening of 469,504 for ”Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie,” and smashing the single-week record of 759,959 for Mariah Carey‘s ”Daydream” during Christmas 1995. Pearl Jam‘s ”Binaural” came in at No. 2 (225,973 copies sold), while Big Tymers‘ release ”I Got That Work” took the No. 3 spot (187,000), knocking ”No Strings Attached” down to No. 4.
ILLNESS The ever-reliable Star Weekly reports that ”Friends” star Matthew Perry was suffering from severe liver problems when he checked into the hospital earlier this month. Citing anonymous sources, the paper claims Perry, who was once addicted to prescription pain killers, returned to Cedars Sinai Medical center 48 hours after his release last Saturday, because he ”has abused his body so badly that a liver transplant may be necessary.” In a statement, his publicist denied the rumor saying, ”It is completely untrue that he needs a liver transplant. He has been out of the hospital for a number of days and is feeling much better.” A spokeswoman for Cedars Sinai also told EW Online that Perry is not, and has never been, in their hospital. The Star says that the actor is staying under the assumed name Phil Shubano.
POLITICS Sheryl Crow will testify before Congress tomorrow on behalf of musicians hoping to repeal a change in copyright law that potentially deprives them of millions of dollars. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents the biggest of big record companies, initiated the fix, which classifies recordings as ”work for hire,” and thus the property of the labels, depriving musicians of the ability to buy back their songs after a typical waiting period of 35 years. An RIAA spokesman said the amendment was ”never considered as a major change.” Like, they didn’t notice what those Nike commercials did for Yoko Ono…. Chuck D rapped with a congressional committee yesterday on the glories of MP3 technology, calling digital downloads ”the radio of the new millennium.”
CASTING Bruce Willis is in talks to join George Clooney in Warner Bros.’ remake of the 1960 Rat Pack vehicle ”Ocean’s 11.” Word is that Willis is eager to work with ”The Limey” ‘s Steven Soderbergh, who will direct the film. Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt are also discussing roles…. Matt Damon has been offered Universal’s ”The Bourne Identity,” an adaptation of the Robert Ludlum bestseller. Damon is thinking about several projects, including DreamWorks’ ”The Ninth Man” …. Ben Stiller is in negotiations to direct and star in the comedy ”Zoolander,” which is based on the naive male supermodel character Stiller created for the ”VH1 Fashion Awards.” Fox initially wanted the project, but Viacom balked because it didn’t want a character created for one of its subsidiaries (VH1), to go to a rival studio, so VH1-sibling Paramount got the movie.
TV THEFT A conspiracy by David E. Kelley to make sure ”Ally McBeal” remains victorious come Emmy time? No, but the producers of ”Everybody Loves Raymond” were nonetheless irked that someone late Wednesday stole a truck carrying 9,600 videotapes of the CBS comedy that were onroute to Emmy voters. It was parked in a North Hollywood trucking company lot awaiting a trip to the post office. Nomination ballots for the upcoming Emmy fest go out June 5, and ”Raymond”’s producers wanted to make sure voters saw the screeners before then. New tapes will be made and sent out to members by the middle of next week. (by Lynette Rice)
LEGALESE A journalist is suing Entertainment Tonight and Ashley Judd for allegedly casting aspersions on the verity of an article he wrote for ”USA Today” about Ashley’s mom Naomi…. Producer Teddy Riley filed a $2 million suit against a former member of Blackstreet, a group Riley led that won 1998’s R&B performance Grammy for ”No Diggity.” Riley claims that ex-member Chauncey Hannibal (stage name: Chauncey Black) slanders him in his ditty ”Shame on You.” Hannibal says that he doesn’t name names in the song.
CRACKED The much-hyped opening of a safe belonging to Hollywood socialite/gangster Bugsy Siegel turned out to be completely empty, as it was filmed on L.A.’s KTLA TV. A psychic had said that it possibly contained the names of Hollywood moguls who used Siegel’s prostitution services. Couldn’t they just check studio archives for that info?
VIDEO NEWS The 007 flick ”The World Is Not Enough” grossed an estimated $30 mill in sales and rentals last week (only $5 million less than its theatrical debut)…. Despite DreamWorks’ previously reported squabble with Blockbuster Inc., ”American Beauty” is still going strong, coming in at No. 2, with its gross dropping only 7% to $6.3 million, making it the smallest second-week decline for a video this year.
MUSIC NEWS The Goo Goo Dolls‘ Johnny Rzenick will make his solo debut as the singing voice of an animated 15-year-old punk in a Disney feature slated for 2001.
MOVIE TICKETS AOL Moviefone announced that it plans to drop its $1 to $1.50 fees charged for tickets purchased over the Internet, giving it an edge over competitors like Hollywood.com. Now if only they can do something about popcorn prices.
TECHNOPHOBE Virgin’s Richard Branson confessed his unmitigated fear of technology yesterday to a group of high-tech CEOs gathered at a summit in Redmond, Wash., saying that he would rather purchase airplanes over the phone than on the Internet. But what about those great 747 deals they have going on eBay?
MO’ MONEY Motion Picture Association of America chief Jack Valenti praised the House’s passage yesterday of a bill to normalize trade relations with China. Approval of the bill allows Hollywood to double its exports to the People’s Republic. Oh, good, we always felt that those poor little studios didn’t have enough global power. DEATHS Al Simon, producer of such classic sitcoms as ”The Beverly Hillbillies” and ”Green Acres,” died last week of Alzheimer’s disease in L.A. He was 88.