Plus, CBS rinses out the gray, Alanis Morissette turns Broadway angel, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated May 21, 2001 at 12:00 PM EDT
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CHART SURVIVORS You’d think that people would have had enough of ”Silly Love Songs.” But Paul McCartney debuts on the Billboard chart at No. 2 with the Wings retrospective ”Wingspan (Hits & History),” selling 220,500 copies, according to SoundScan. This wasn’t enough, however, to topple Destiny’s Child, whose members’ combined ages are roughly equal to Sir Paul’s. Their ”Survivor” held the top spot again, with sales of 358,975, enough to make the record go platinum after two weeks in stores. Janet Jackson‘s ”All For You” slipped to No. 3, with 215,750 units sold. ”NOW, That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 6” took fourth place with 143,975 sales. Debuting at No. 5 (118,500 sold) was the soundtrack to ”Moulin Rouge,” featuring Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink, and Fatboy Slim, as well as the golden throats of the film’s stars, Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

Filling out the top 10 were Tim McGraw‘s ”Set This Circus Down” (No. 6), 2Pac‘s ”Until the End of Time” (No. 7), Shaggy‘s ”Hotshot” (No. 8), Stevie Nicks‘ ”Trouble in Shangri-La” (No. 9), and Uncle Kracker‘s ”Double Wide” (No. 10). Watch for a chart melee next week, when releases by R.E.M., Tool, and Missy Elliott enter the list.

TV UPFRONTS How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Don’t get too old. At its upfront presentation to advertisers yesterday at the famed New York concert hall, CBS continued to shake its image as the geezer network by putting out to pasture ”Walker, Texas Ranger,” ”Diagnosis Murder,” and ”Nash Bridges.” It’s even kicking veteran ”Touched By an Angel” to Saturday, since male viewers who’ve been touched by a touchdown on Sundays weren’t sticking around to watch it.

In keeping with the current economy, CBS has two new series about people who lose their jobs and move back home: ”The Ellen Show,” starring Ellen DeGeneres as a failed dotcom executive (yep, her character’s gay); and ”Citizen Baines,” produced by ”The West Wing”’s John Wells and starring James Cromwell as a senator voted out of office who returns to the town where his grown daughters live. No, he doesn’t become a pig farmer.

Other notable new shows include the CIA drama ”The Agency,” produced by action director Wolfgang Petersen (”In the Line of Fire,” ”The Perfect Storm”) and starring Gil Bellows as an agent facing various dire challenges (including ”ER,” the show’s Thursday night competition); and ”The Amazing Race,” which takes the ”Survivor” concept on the road with 11 teams of competing globetrotters — call it ”Around the World in 30 or 40 Days.”

In fact, CBS has a new show for every night of the week except Monday. No need to monkey with the lineup anchored by ”Everybody Loves Raymond” — though, given CBS’ new youth kick, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts may want to watch their backs.

UPN and Fox have their upfronts today. UPN will announce that, having taken ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” away from the WB, it has also added WB reject ”Roswell” to its lineup. Expect Fox to announce that ”The X-Files” will stick around for a ninth season, though with even less David Duchovny, and that ”The Lone Gunmen” will not. Hmm, first Mulder, then his pals — do you smell a conspiracy?

THANK YOU Tony nominated Broadway musical ”Jane Eyre” was in danger, and not just from the crazy pyromaniac in the attic. The show was set to close yesterday until composer Paul Gordon’s friend, Alanis Morissette, ponied up $150,000 to keep the show running another week. It’s not clear whether the play will continue after that, or whether its benefactor plans to, um, go down to the theater to see it.

IN HIS SHOES The mysterious murder of Robert Blake‘s wife has ”fascinated” no less an authority on such matters than O.J. Simpson. In an interview for TV’s ”Extra” set to air today, Simpson says, ”My first reaction was an immediate feeling of compassion for [Blake] because I knew what he was about to go through.” He advises, ”Don’t watch TV, Robert. I know that watching TV is only going to frustrate him.” Good advice — it would be pretty demoralizing to turn on the tube and learn that your biggest supporter is O.J.

TOP HATS The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum moves into bigger digs today. The new 135,000 square foot building in downtown Nashville opens with an exhibit of 2,000 items from the personal collection of singer Marty Stuart, including a purple performance outfit once worn by Johnny Cash. The Man in Black in purple? The mind reels.

HAIL, CAESAR’S Although Celine Dion retired from performing last year, her act will go on. Having quit the concert stage in order to have a child, which she did in January, she’ll welcome into the world the new 4,000 seat amphitheater at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace in 2003. The venue, designed to resemble the Colosseum in Rome (but presumably less ruined looking) is replacing the casino’s 1,000 seat Circus Maximus. She’s booked to play 200 nights a year for three years — good news for people everywhere else who are sick of hearing that ”Titanic” song.

REEL DEALS Oliver Stone is returning to Vietnam for the fourth time. He will write and direct ”Spite House,” based on the true story of Billy Garwood, a Marine who escaped after spending 14 years as a POW, only to be court martialed for treason.

Terence Malick, who returned to filmmaking after a 20 year absence with 1998’s ”The Thin Red Line,” will produce (but not direct) a remake of ”Brighton Rock.” Richard Attenborough starred in the 1947 version of Graham Greene‘s British gangster story.

Jane Eyre

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