Plus, news about Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, John Stamos, George Harrison, Jeremy Irons, Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Wesley Snipes, and others

By Gary Susman
October 22, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

SOUND BITES It was a good week for Jay-Z. Not only did the rapper avoid prison — he pleaded guilty yesterday to a misdemeanor assault charge for stabbing rival producer Lance ”Un” Rivera two years ago, and a gun possession charge filed against him in April was dismissed Tuesday when his chauffeur claimed the gun was his — but his CD stayed in the top 5. ”The Blueprint” dipped two spots on this week’s Billboard chart to No. 4, selling 128,175 copies, according to SoundScan. His protegé Ja Rule held the top spot for a second week, selling 220,800 copies of ”Pain Is Love.” Climbing to No. 2 after nearly a year in release was Enya‘s ”A Day Without Rain” (162,250 units). ”Dark Days, Bright Nights,” by Southern white rapper Bubba Sparxxx debuted at No. 3 (132,175 copies), making him the only newcomer to this week’s top 10. Nickelback‘s ”Silver Side Up” held on to No. 5 (113,450 sold).

Other top 10 holdovers included compilation ”Totally Hits 2001” (No. 6), Alicia Keys‘ ”Songs in A Minor” (No. 7), Linkin Park‘s ”Hybrid Theory” (No. 8), Usher‘s ”8701” (No. 9), and P.O.D.‘s ”Satellite” (No. 10). Next week may mark the revenge of the oldtimers, with new releases by Ozzy Osbourne and John Mellencamp….

Britney Spears is delaying the start of her U.S. tour by five days because a bout of the flu last month forced her to push back her rehearsals. The tour was supposed to kick off Oct. 26 in Miami, but instead, she’ll end her tour there on Dec. 19. Her Oct. 28 show in Tampa has been rescheduleed for Dec. 18. Now, the tour is set to start Oct. 31 in Washington, D.C. She’s also added five new dates to the tour, which means she’ll now be spending Dec. 2, her 20th birthday, in East Rutherford, N.J. That’s every girl’s dream, isn’t it?…

ABC will broadcast a two-hour edit of Sunday’s ”United We Stand — What More Can I Give,” the eight-hour terror relief benefit concert Michael Jackson is headlining in Washington, D.C. The show will air on Nov. 1 (at the beginning of sweeps month) and be hosted by John Stamos….

Having spent much of this year being treated for cancer, George Harrison went back into the studio recently and recorded a new song. The 58-year-old ex-Beatle and his grown son Dhani wrote the tune, called ”A Horse to Water,” and he recorded it on Oct. 1 with keyboardist Jools Holland of Squeeze fame. Holland will release the song as a single; it’s one of several duets with high-profile artists on Holland’s upcoming album ”Small World, Big Friends.” Other big friends on the November release include Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits….