Plus, news about Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, LeAnn Rimes, Patti Austin, Mike Myers, Julia Stiles, Meg Ryan, LL Cool J, Tracy Morgan, Oliver Stone, Andy Richter, Jack Nicholson, and others
Credit: Aaliyah: James Patrick Cooper/Retna

TRIBUTE ALBUM Not surprisingly, Aaliyah‘s self-titled CD vaulted from No. 18 to No. 1 on the Billboard chart this week, as mourning fans quintupled its sales from 62,075 last week to 305,925 this week, according to SoundScan. The week also saw strong debuts from Mary J. Blige, whose ”No More Drama” opened at No. 2 (294,350 units), and Slipknot, whose ”Iowa” was right behind at No. 3 (254,925 copies).

Alicia Keys held at No. 4 with ”Songs in A Minor” (170,650 sold), barely edging out last week’s top disc, Maxwell‘s ”Now,” which dropped to No. 5 on sales of 170,450. Also holding over from last week were ”NOW That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 7” at No. 6 and Juvenile‘s ”Project English” at No. 8.


Other top 10 premieres were Brian McKnight‘s ”Superhero” (No. 7), Toby Keith‘s ”Pull My Chain” (No. 9), and Fred Durst discovery Puddle of Mudd‘s first CD, ”Come Clean” (No. 10). Champagne corks are surely popping at Universal Music Group, which released all five of this week’s top 10 debuts, as well as Afroman‘s ”The Good Times,” bowing nearby at No. 14.

CATFIGHT The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have sent a letter to Britney Spears, begging her drop her plans to have four live cheetahs accompany her on stage during her performance of ”I’m a Slave 4 U” at tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards. PETA, which once successfully dissuaded Janet Jackson from using a live panther as a prop, wrote Spears ”in the hope that you’ll open your heart to the plight of captive ‘wild’ animals caged and forced to tolerate bright lights, crowds and frightening levels of noise.” Not to mention the cruelty of having to hear Britney’s attempts at hip-hop and simulating an orgasm….

In a new Talk magazine interview, conducted before her hospitalization, Mariah Carey lashes out at Jennifer Lopez, claiming that the singer stole her music and her look, as well as being stupid and lazy. When reporter Vanessa Gregoriadis told Carey she’d recently interviewed Lopez, Carey said, ”I bet it was really intellectually stimulating. I bet you could just see the depth in her eyes, she was so soulful.” Told that Lopez gets eight hours of sleep each night, Carey said, ”If I had the luxury of not actually having to sing my own songs I’d do that too.” (Carey said she sleeps only three hours a night; no wonder she had an emotional and physical breakdown.) The theft charges stem from Carey’s assertion that Lopez stole the melody of ”I’m Real” from Carey’s ”Loverboy,” which she says she recorded a year earlier. She blames her ex-husband, Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola, for leaking the tune to Lopez and for grooming Lopez’s hair to resemble hers. At least he hasn’t made Lopez suffer a breakdown and go into seclusion.

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