Plus, news about Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Howard Stern, Alex Trebek, Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, Jonathan Franzen, Steve Martin, Status Quo, and others
SOUND BITES Oops, she did it again and again and again. To no one’s surprise, ”Britney” debuted on top of the Billboard chart, making 19-year-old Britney Spears the first female pop star to send her first three albums to No. 1 their first week. Still, the disc sold an impressive 745,750 copies according to SoundScan, making it this year’s second biggest bow (after the 1.9 million copies ‘N Sync‘s ”Celebrity” sold its first week), shifting about twice as many units as Michael Jackson‘s ”Invincible” sold when it debuted at No. 1 last week. That album suffered what this year has been a typical second-week decline of about 45 percent, selling 202,350 copies this week and dropping to No. 3. Pink Floyd fans who don’t own enough different versions of ”Money” sent ”Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd” to a No. 2 debut (214,650 sold). Holdovers rounding out the top five were Enrique Iglesias‘ ”Escape” at No. 4 (182,950 CDs) and Enya‘s ”A Day Without Rain” (177,275 units) at No. 5.
Other familiar entries were DMX‘s ”The Great Depression” (No. 6), Backstreet Boys‘ ”The Hits: Chapter One” (No. 7), Nickelback‘s ”Silver Side Up” (No. 8), and Ja Rule‘s ”Pain Is Love” (No. 10). George Strait‘s ”The Road Less Traveled” (No. 9) became his third album in two years to debut in the top 10. Challenging Britney’s reign next week will be Garth Brooks, Paul McCartney, Jewel, Shelby Lynne, Natalie Merchant, and Shakira.
Michael Jackson can take consolation in the knowledge that he’s still King of Pop TV Specials. ”Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration,” CBS’ edit of Jacko’s September self-tribute concerts, drew a whopping 25.7 million viewers, swamping NBC’s two-hour ”Frasier”-fest (19.3 million) and giving CBS its biggest Tuesday since 1994. Of course, it’s not clear how many of those 25.7 million watched in the faint hope of hearing Marlon Brando‘s rant about sick and dead children.
Meanwhile, some viewers thought Whitney Houston appeared more robust on the telecast than she did during the taping at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where audience members said that she looked emaciated. ”Entertainment Tonight” reported that her appearance had been ”digitally enhanced,” though producer David Gest did not offer any skinny on Houston. Hey, the camera adds 10 pounds, right?