Beatles: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis Images
Lori Reese
January 11, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

CHARTS Don’t despair: Even the music biz succumbs to annual post holiday depression. The dearth of new releases this week enabled The Beatles‘ hit compendium ”1” to top the Billboard chart yet again with 268,000 units sold, despite a 41 percent drop in sales. All told, the Fab Four’s greatest have sold a stupefying 5.3 million copies. But Shaggy‘s reggae/ dance hall LP ”Hotshot” wasn’t too far behind, as it climbed to the No. 2 position and bumped teen pop compilation ”Now That’s What I Call Music-Vol. 5” to No. 3. Limp Bizkit’s ”Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water” and Snoop Dogg’s ”Tha Last Meal” rounded out the top five.

TV NEWS Call the karma police: ABC‘s ”Dharma & Greg” has ”Buffy” syndrome. The show’s four year contract with ABC is up in May — and execs can’t agree on terms of renewal, according to Daily Variety. Fox, the show’s producer, says the comedy is worth about $3 million an episode, while ABC values it at only $1.5 million. Both sides are braced for fierce negotiations. ”Dharma”’s ratings have dropped 21 percent since it was placed in the Tues. 9 p.m. slot opposite ”Frasier” this season. Even so, it remains ABC’s second most watched sitcom after ”The Drew Carey Show”. If only they hadn’t ditched ”Dotcomedy”

RIVAL ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” will soon have a genuine challenger. NBC has purchased the rights to Britain’s ”Weakest Link” — the only game show to have succeeded in stomping the UK’s ”Millionaire” in ratings. The concept is just basic enough to work: a snide, disparaging host quizzes a team of eight or nine people who are forced to ”vote off” their weakest player each round. The Darth Vader of gaming himself, Richard Hatch, has signed on to emcee one of the pilots, according to Variety.

CONCERT It will soon be possible to catch Eminem in concert on television — but it won’t be cheap. The Slim Shady is planning a private gig Jan. 20 that will be taped for a pay-per-view show premiering Feb. 17 at a suggested price of $19.95. The legally challenged rapper is donating proceeds to a Motor City youth home.

HYPE Get ready: the inevitable furor preceding the feature adaptation of the ”Lord of the Rings” is about to begin. Though the first movie isn’t due until Christmas 2001, early trailers will debut this weekend before showings of the Cuban Missile Crisis drama ”Thirteen Days”. The films have virtually nothing in common, except their distributor, New Line Cinema.

CASTING ”Ali” has its Howard Cosell. Oscar winner Jon Voight has signed on to play the inimitable sports announcer, according to the Hollywood Reporter…. Johnny Depp has a new gig. He’s in final negotiations to star in ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” – a film based on the autobiography of ”The Gong Show” host Chuck Barris. George Clooney has been tapped to costar and Charlie ”Being John Malkovich” Kaufman has a hand in the script. Barris claimed to be an innocuous game show host by day — and CIA spook by night. So we weren’t just being paranoid.

DEATHS Musician James Carr died of cancer in a Memphis nursing home. The soul singer recorded ”The Dark End of the Street” and ”Pouring Water on a Drowning Man,” among other songs. He was 58.

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