The entertainment industry is proof that change is truly the only constant

By EW Staff
Updated October 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

— BRITNEY SPEARS Crossroads, indeed. Though her first starring role grossed a respectable $37 million, Spears’ sabbatical couldn’t have come at a more convenient time: Teen pop’s pooping out, her love life (and a Mexico City meltdown) is making her a tabloid fixture, and last year’s Britney sold less than half as many copies as her previous effort. The rest of the world’s been staring at her bare belly long enough: time for Britney to do some of her own navel gazing.

— LORENZO DI BONAVENTURA Did someone slip poison in the ear of the now- former exec VP of worldwide motion pictures for Warner Bros., or did he leave of his own volition? Depends whom you ask. Now di Bonaventura will have to sink or swim with his independent production deal on the Warner Brothers lot. The good news? He’s a producer who’s gotta be at the top of any mogul’s list of folks who could head a studio.

— ROB LOWE His decision to Wing network television’s most prestigious ensemble drama seems ill-timed especially in light of the show’s third consecutive Emmy win — and probably didn’t endear him to viewers. Lowe will no doubt have the pick of the pilot litter next season, but he hasn’t been able to sustain his luck on the big screen, most recently getting cut out of all but the credits in Goldmember.

— STEPHEN KING So Maine’s maestro of the macabre is saying sayonara? The horror! King’s penned nearly 50 books since 1974’s Carrie, and every one of them was a best-seller. (His latest, From a Buick 8, debuted at No. 1.) Not bad. Our buckling bookshelves may be thrilled about his decision to call it quits, but we’re not. Still, it’s not like he’s pulling a complete Salinger: His last three Dark Tower books are going ahead as planned, and his ABC series Kingdom Hospital is slated for next fall. But for him, this is R&R.

— BMG In the midst of the record industry’s biggest slump in 10 years, BMG remains a powerhouse (thanks in part to Alan Jackson and Grammy magnet Alicia Keys), trailing only Universal in market share. Still, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, the newly installed head of Bertelsmann’s music arm, has his work cut out for him. Bertelsmann chairman Thomas Middelhoff is gone (see Titans on page 56), as are Middelhoff’s plans to turn the now-defunct Napster from music-biz bogeyman to BMG cash cow (he’d hoped to legitimize the file-sharing service and get licensing agreements from all the major labels.) Not to mention BMG’s other major headache (see below).

— CLIVE CALDER In June, the Zomba chairman and CEO exercised an option forcing BMG to buy his stake in Zomba, owner of teen-pop factory Jive, for a reported $3 billion (yes, that’s a b — though BMG is trying to get him down to a bargain-basement $2.4B). While the deal undergoes due diligence (it was recently approved by the European Union), Calder remains Zomba’s titular chief, though analysts expect him to leave once it’s final. Is there life after Zomba? Probably: He may be eyeballing another label.