Plus, Michael Jackson beats a plagiarism rap in Italy, Seinfeld to perform on ''Letterman,'' and more

By Sandra P. Angulo
March 15, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Dave Matthews: Steve Jennings/Retna

CHART ATTACK Dave Matthews Band stopped Aerosmith from claiming the No. 1 spot. DMB’s ”Everyday” sold more than 280,000 copies last week for a first place finish. Aerosmith’s 16th album, ”Just Push Play,” debuted at No. 2 after selling 240,000 units, bumping Shaggy down to third place. The Jamaican superstar’s ”Hotshot” still had a great week, moving 235,000 copies, and making his 31 week sales total 4.1 million. Eve‘s latest album, ”Scorpion,” landed at No. 4, with more than 162,000 sold. In fifth place, DJ Clue‘s ”The Professional, Pt. 2,” moving 129,000 copies. Rounding out the top 10 are: Dido‘s ”No Angel” (No. 6); The Beatles’ ”1” slipped one spot to No. 7; Lenny Kravitz‘s ”Greatest Hits” (No. 8); Project Pat‘s ”Mista Don’t Play” drops from No. 4 to No. 9; and Ja Rule‘s ”Rule 3:36” is No. 10.

LEGAL BRIEF No, this isn’t about Puffy, Shyne, or DMX. Michael Jackson has been cleared of plagiarism allegations in Rome, Italy. According to the AP, a Rome appeals court overturned Wednesday a lower court’s decision finding Jackson guilty of plagiarizing an Italian songwriter’s music. Al Bano, a veteran singer / songwriter, claimed Jackson stole parts of his 1987 song ”I Cigni di Balaka” (”The Swans of Balaka”) for the 1991 hit ”Will You Be There” (from the album ”Dangerous”).

In May 1999, Rome’s lower court found Jackson guilty and ordered a $1,900 fine. Since then, the court had suspended the fine but ordered Jackson to pay court costs. Jackson’s attorneys appealed, leading to this week’s final decision. Bano also lost a civil case of copyright infringement against Jackson in 1997. Upon appeal in 1999, Jackson was once again found not guilty. Che será, será, Al.

STAND UP, PLEASE Jerry Seinfeld has signed on perform stand up on CBS’ ”Late Night with David Letterman” next Wednesday. The gig will mark Seinfeld’s first TV stand up appearance since his HBO special in August 1998. Seinfeld has made 41 guest appearances on Letterman’s show. The last time he was on the show, he sang the ”Sound of Music” showtune ”Sixteen Going on Seventeen” with ”Seinfeld” friend Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

BOOK ‘EM British publishing house Boxtree has paid $724,200 for the rights to Britney Spears and her mother Lynne’s upcoming novel ”A Mother’s Gift.” According to Reuters, Random House bought the U.S. rights in a reported $1 million deal with the Spears ladies. A Boxtree spokeswoman told the London Express: ”I think it will be sweet. It’s the kind of novel that mothers will buy for their teenager daughters, or Britney’s fans will lap up.” Sounds like a real Pulitzer Prize winner. ”A Mother’s Gift” comes out in the U.S. in May (around Mother’s Day, natch).

TUBE NEWS Oscar winner Sally Field has officially signed to play a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in ABC’s drama pilot ”The Bench,” Variety reports. Field will make somewhere around $150,000 an episode for the series, which also stars Alicia Witt (”Cybill”), Billy Burke (”Wonderland”), and other supporting characters. Field, who started out in television, recently returned to prime time with a six episode stint on ”ER.” Emmy winner Kathy Baker (”Picket Fences”) is in final talks to star in the drama pilot ”Murphy’s Dozen,” for the WB. Baker would play Mrs. Murphy, the mother of, you guessed it, 12 children living in New Jersey. It’s ”7th Heaven” with five more children and an Irish Catholic family, instead of Anglo Protestants. Baker, who won three Emmys during ”Fences”’ four seasons on the air, had taken a five year break from television to make movies, including ”The Cider House Rules.”

CASTING Julia Stiles (”Save the Last Dance”) will star in ”Carolina,” a drama featuring Oscar winner Kathy Bates and Alessandro Nivola (”Mansfield Park”). Stiles will play a young woman who leaves her Southern family and heads west, where she ends up in love with two different men. Production starts in April.

Rosario Dawson, who stars in ”Josie and the Pussycats,” is in talks to star in two upcoming movies: a comedy for Fox called ”The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest” and the megabudgeted sequel ”Men in Black” 2. ”$20 Million,” about computer geeks whose multimillion idea is stolen by a rival inventor, starts production in April and already stars Adam Garcia (”Coyote Ugly”). ”MIB” 2, of course, stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprising their roles. Dawson would play Smith’s love interest in the sequel, which starts shooting in June.

”Saving Private Ryan” vet Adam Goldberg will star opposite Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly in ”A Beautiful Mind” for director Ron Howard. The Universal Pictures drama is based on the true story of Nobel Prize winning and schizophrenic mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. (Crowe). Goldberg will play Nash’s Princeton classmate and then fellow mathematician. Production begins March 26 in New York.

SPORTS CASTING First Dennis Miller and now Jason Priestley. ABC Sports has hired Priestley, who is no stranger to fast cars — or crashing them for that matter, to be a commentator on seven Indy Racing League events. The former ”90210” bad boy wrecked his Porsche in a DUI accident two years ago and served five days in a work release jail program, according to Reuters. He’s also an avid race car driver, who has often competed professionally in the past few years. Priestley’s first on air gig is March 18, covering the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 live from Phoenix. Can we expect similarly lofty literary references from Priestley as we’ve gotten from Miller. Remember — this is the guy that liked Barenaked Ladies so much he made a DOCUMENTARY about them.

HONORED An organization of record retailers honored Rod Stewart Wednesday night for his multidecade career in the music industry. Stewart received the Chairman’s Award at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers’ convention in Orlando, Fla., the Associated Press reports. After accepting the award, Stewart performed a set of hits, including ”Maggie May” and ”Forever Young.” NARM, which represents more than 1,200 music retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and suppliers, also booked Jessica Andrews, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Blue Man Group for this year’s convention.

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