YOU SAW THIS COMING In a gig that’s been inevitable for the 16 years since the ”1999” single was released, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince will play a pay-per-view concert to be aired at 10 p.m. this New Year’s Eve. However, the Artist will actually tape the show on Dec. 18 at his Paisley Park studios. So for all we know on New Year’s Eve he might be sitting at home watching TV, and not partying at all! Oh, the hypocrisy!
LEO FEVER The battle for Thailand’s beaches continues: While national environmentalists are suing Fox over the filming of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie ”The Beach” — during which they say the film crew trampled the gorgeous cove on Phi Phi Leh Island — Thai tourism chiefs are hoping to use the movie as a draw to get more people to come to the island, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Many hotels and package companies want to put together Leo tours, where tourists can come see all the spots from the movie. The protesters, who are already unhappy with the number of visitors coming to the island, will undoubtedly be even angrier once it gets the ”Titanic” treatment.
TICKET JUSTICE There’s no getting around it: The Backstreet Boys are a force for good. According to MTV News, the boys found out that the House of Blues — which was the promoter of their Halloween Show at Denver’s Pepsi Center — had given its 1,200 tickets to scalpers, who sold the $38.50 seats for up to $110. So the Boys insisted that the House repent by donating $75,000 to the Columbine College Fund. ”We’ve done everything we can to prevent scalping,” the Boys said in a statement. ”To think scalping of this type occurred at our Denver show infuriated us.” The House of Blues said it was launching an internal investigation to see how the tickets got into the wrong hands.
NEW JOB ”The Insider” may be tanking at the box office, but it’s certainly helped the man who it’s based on. Tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand has just been hired by the Canadian government to act as a special health consultant on that country’s tobacco’s policies. Wigand has already been an outspoken critic of Canada’s cigarette companies for not giving out the latest information on nicotine and other smoking health issues. Meanwhile, American tobacco companies are probably lighting up to celebrate the fact that he’ll be busy challenging another country.
GETTING READY Even though neither Jodie Foster nor Anthony Hopkins has committed to the movie version of ”Hannibal,” producer Dino De Laurentiis is already starting on preproduction for the movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He and director Ridley Scott are currently scouting locations in Italy. Meanwhile, the two stars are waiting to read Steven Zaillian’s (”A Civil Action”) rewrite of David Mamet’s script before deciding. Details, details. Who needs stars when you’ve got locations?
FIND OTHER PLANS Less than a week after Jewel canceled her New Year’s Eve show, the New York City ”Celebration 2000” Dec. 31 concert — with Sting, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Enrique Iglesias, and Andrea Bocelli — has been axed because of poor ticket sales. The hefty price may have been a deterrent: Seats ranged from $1,000 to $2,500, which is an awful lot to pay without a firm commitment that the end of the world will follow.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE NIELSEN Some things never get old: On Sunday night ”The Wizard of Oz”‘s airing on TBS set a record for the highest-rated basic-cable broadcast of a theatrical movie, with more than 5 million households tuning in.
NEW RELEASE, OLD SONGS George Michael has switched record labels again, now moving from DreamWorks to Virgin. His first release at his new home will be ”Songs From the Last Century,” an album of covers in stores on Dec. 14. Some of the eclectic selections are ”Roxanne,” ”The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and ”Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”
AXED If you didn’t know a show called ”The Strip” existed, don’t bother learning it now: UPN has canceled the Las Vegas action series. Already produced episodes will continue to run through the end of the year, and next year it will likely be replaced by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson’s new cop show, ”The Beat.”