LEGALESE Bubblegum chart toppers have inadvertently been thrust into the digital piracy spotlight. Zomba Records, the parent of Jive Records (home to ‘N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears) recently filed suit against MP3.com. Never mind that ‘N Sync sold more records in one day this year than any band in history, Zomba wants its piece of the copyright infringement pie too. The music label is demanding even larger damages than the estimated $250 mil awarded to Universal Music Group, according to the L.A. Times. Affiliate Zomba Publishing – which represents songs by Korn, Whitney Houston, Faith Hill, and, uh, Napster sponsored band Limp Bizkit – is also suing the beleaguered music service. MP3.com could not be reached for comment. Quite the sticky wicket.
REALITY TV Omigod, have you heard the news about ”Big Brother”? Judging from ratings, probably not. The ”BB” housemates are threatening a strike, of sorts, to protest producers’ unabashedly Machiavellian attempts to lure more viewers. That’s right, they’re planning – gasp! – a walkout on tonight’s episode. (Warning: This could be yet another CBS ploy.) Among the complaints: Producers tried to stir up racial tension by getting the show’s only black contestant, Cassandra, to confront the others (nixed). ”BB” makers tried to bribe housemates into watching nomination tapes (nixed). And last week, they offered $50,000 to any contestant willing to leave the show, so producers could insert a nubile troublemaker. (The honorable citizens refused.) We think it would be more interesting to lock the producers in a house and watch them scramble for their jobs.
MUSIC NEWS So begins the Smashing Pumpkins’ very long goodbye. The group – which announced its imminent demise last May – is really working the publicity machine. Not only did Billy Corgan and Co. just wrap an appearance on VH1’s ”Storytellers” (airing Nov. 4), release angst stirring new video for a single, ”Try, Try, Try,” and post all of their self bootlegged material on the band website – but they have made good on their promise to bring out leftover material from their latest album, ”Machina/The Machines of God.” Sort of. Twenty-five vinyl pressings of previously unheard sessions were released – sans announcement – on Sept. 5 and sent to a select group of fans. Those who did not receive the goods can visit the Pumpkins fansite to hear a new MP3 track each day. Oh, they’re so Indie, so Noble. Where will the once multimillion dollar ”reject the music industry” music industry be without them?
BLACKLIST As if ”Harry Potter” really needed more publicity. The J.K. Rowling series has officially made the Banned Books list. The top 100 titles adults are trying to keep off school library shelves will be released during the 20th Annual Banned Books week (Sept. 23-30), which attempts to raise awareness about censored literature in the United States. ”Potter” is No. 48, with 5,000 parental complaints registered.(a figure the American Library Association says represents about 20 percent of all challenges). The No. 1 book is the late Alvin Schwartz’s ”Scary Story” series. (accused of ”violence, occultism, and cannibalism”). Other troublemakers include J.D. Salinger’s ”The Catcher in the Rye” (No. 10, ”Centered around negative activity”) and Maya Angelou’s ”I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (No. 3: ”Portrays white people as being horrible, nasty, stupid people”). Because censoring books is such a smart, enlightened thing to do.
TV WATCH Get ready for more reality. ”Law & Order” exec producer Dick Wolf is enlisting genuine crime fighters for his upcoming reality series ”Arrest and Trial” (debuting Oct. 2). The creator has asked FBI agents, DEA agents, and police officers to play themselves on the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He also plans to develop controversies from the series into new plots for ”L&O”…. Popcorn flick king Jerry Bruckheimer is preparing to launch a new CBS reality show entitled ”Race Around the World.” Eight couples will trek to 11 cities in 30 days over 13 episodes, reports Variety. ”Race” is scheduled for a 2001 premiere, but it may run sooner. And we thought we were the only ones who’d noticed Bruckheimer’s skill at creating plausible screen adventures.
BIRTHS Phil Collins, 49, is expecting another little Phil (or Philicia). The singer and his wife, Orianne, 28, will have their first child together next year. ”It is very early days yet and they have not even told all the members of their family,” a spokesperson told the BBC. Oops.
DEATHS Oscar winner Edward Anhalt has died of cancer in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The screenwriter, whose scripts include ”Girls! Girls! Girls!” and the biopic ”Becket” was 86…. Actress Jean Speegle (Ron Howard’s mother) has died of heart and respiratory complications in Burbank, Calif. She was 73.