NSync: Steve Granitz
Sandra P. Angulo
February 14, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

KA-CHING! Millions of screaming girls can’t be wrong. Pop’s princes ‘N Sync have been crowned the top money makers of the music industry. VH1 and Money magazine teamed up to assess the richest musical acts, calculating grosses from album and concert sales and such intangibles as fan loyalty, crossover appeal, and licensing deals.

‘N Sync, who earned an approximate $267 million in 2000, topped the ”Music Money Power” list, with rap combo Dr. Dre and Eminem came in No. 2; Rounding out the top 5: Britney Spears, No. 3; country couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, No. 4; and the Backstreet Boys, No. 5. VH1 will reveal the top 25 acts in a special Feb. 22 segment of ”All Access.” Parents can watch too, since business savvy artists like Sting, KISS, and Jimmy Buffett made the list. Everyone really does waste away in Margaritaville…restaurants.

OSCAR HISTORY Director Steven Soderbergh became the first filmmaker in 63 years to get nominated for two films in the same category. His predecessor is Michael Curtiz, who nabbed nominations for ”Angels With Dirty Faces” and ”Four Daughters” in 1938. And if Soderbergh actually wins Best Director for either ”Erin Brockovich” or ”Traffic,” he’ll surpass Curtiz’s feat — the latter lost to Frank Capra for ”You Can’t Take It With You.” Soderbergh is also the ninth director to have two films up for Best Picture. Herbert Ross was the last director to have two movies compete for the night’s highest honor: 1977’s ”The Turning Point” and ”The Goodbye Girl.”

LANGUAGE BARRIER One of Soderbergh’s stiffest competitors, Ang Lee, also made Academy record books when the nominations were announced Tuesday. Lee’s martial arts epic ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is the first foreign language film to garner 10 nominations and only the seventh to nab a Best Picture nod (not to mention the first Asian movie to do either). ”Crouching Tiger” also vies for both best picture and best foreign language film, a double nod that only two other films have received — Roberto Benigni’s ”Life Is Beautiful” in 1999 and Costa-Gavras’ ”Z” in 1970. However, the odds are against Lee, because no subtitled film has ever won Best Picture at the Oscars.

RATINGS BOOST The first day of ”Live! With Regis & Kelly” was a Nielsen champ. Monday’s show — the first with new cohost Kelly Ripa — scored the best ratings in top markets since the day after Kathie Lee Gifford left last summer. The midmorning talk show won its timeslot in Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philly, San Francisco, and several other key cities. Just to recap, Kelly’s first official day on the set was better than the day Reege debuted WITHOUT Kathie Lee.

MUSIC SHOWDOWN The Best Original Song category at this year’s Oscars is full of heavyweights. There’s the ever present Randy Newman, whose ”A Fool in Love” from ”Meet the Parents” earned the composer’s 14th nomination (he’s yet to win, however). Rock legend Bob Dylan is in the running for his Golden Globe winning song ”Things Have Changed” from ”Wonder Boys.” Then there’s Sting representing the Disney faction, with ”My Funny Friend and Me” from ”The Emperor’s New Groove.” And of course, there’s Iceland’s national treasure Bjork, competing for her fist possible Oscar with ”I’ve Seen it All,” from ”Dancer in the Dark.” The well known musicians must contend with the three writers of ”A Love Before Time,” from ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

CASTING Tim Allen and Mel Gibson are collaborating to make a sci fi comedy, ”StarChild,” for Paramount. Allen, whose previous space themed roles include Buzz Lightyear in the blockbuster ”Toy Story” series and the William Shatner homage in ”Galaxy Quest,” will star, with Gibson coproducing. The movie will likely start production in early fall — or whenever the possible actor and writer strikes end.

Four more actors have joined Ridley Scott‘s upcoming military drama ”Black Hawk Down.” Ron Eldard (”Death of a Salesman”), William Fichtner (”The Perfect Storm”), Jeremy Piven (”The Family Man”), and British actor Orlando Bloom (Legolas in the upcoming ”Lord of the Rings” trilogy) have signed on to join the Revolution film’s ensemble cast, which already features Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, and Tom Sizemore. Shooting starts Feb. 23.

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