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Ben Howland’s Tenacious D juggernaut reduced LSU's Big Baby to a Cry Baby, and darn if they don’t look like the ones with the Big Mo-mentum heading into tonight’s game against the still-youthful Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators.
MONDAY MORNING BRIEFING
FCC vs. Payola, T.I. vs. Tim, Ice Age vs. Inside Man, Stern vs. Fans, Hilburn vs. Monkeys, Craigslist vs. Capitalism
Not a bad weekend for sports watching, even if the NCAA semi-final games were a little anticlimactic... though not for UCLA Bruins fans, that’s for sure. Ben Howland’s Tenacious D juggernaut reduced LSU's Big Baby to a Cry Baby, and darn if they don’t look like the ones with the Big Mo-mentum heading into tonight’s game against still-youthful Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators. At this point, I’m convinced the L.A. boys have the mojo going like they haven’t since winning the 1995 championship against Arkansas only after Tyus Edney drove the length of the court and dropped in that lay-up against Missouri to give the team a one-point victory in the second round on the very day Charlie Minor was killed and Michael Jordan made his return to the NBA. And finally, today marks the opening day of baseball season, which means it’s just three months until my Mets are officially eliminated from the pennant race.

PAYOLA CONTINUED: If you didn’t see Saturday’s papers, both the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times reported the FCC is negotiating with the four major radio chains, Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom and Citadel, to settle claims of taking pay for play (see hitsdailydouble.com, 4/1). Word is the companies are willing to settle for between $500k to $1 million, which is below the $1.5-$3 million sought by the agency, but that at least one FCC Commissioner, Democrat Jonathan Adelstein, wants to levy judgments up to $10 million per company.

RAP RULER: Record-wise, it was a T.I. kind of weekend, as the Atlantic Records rapper from ‘Lanta is poised to make his #1 debut on the HITS sales charts this week, with a number that appears to be going over 500k for his fourth album, King. His film debut in ATL landed at #3 in weekend box office take (see below). Tim McGraw will bow at #2, with approximately 225k for his Greatest Hits Vol. 2 on Curb. Hitting retail on Tuesday is Lyric Street/Hollywood country popmeisters Rascal Flatts, whose new album is expected to be the year's second consecutive blockbuster, with a possible 500k in first-week sales.

BOX OFFICE WARMING: Ice Age: The Meltdown heated up the weekend box office with $70.5 million, the top March total ever, easily topping last week’s winner, Spike Lee’s Inside Man, which finished with $15.7 million. Warner Bros.ATL did a better-than-expected $12.5 million, with a higher per screen average than Inside Man for third place. Failure to Launch ($6.6 million) and V for Vendetta ($6.4 million) rounded out the Top 5. The Basic Instinct sequel, featuring Sharon Stone, was dead on arrival, with a paltry total of $3.2 million, which put it in a dead heat for 10th place with, how appropriate, the Oscar contender Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. Among the limited release films, the high school noir Brick averaged almost $44k per screen in its two engagements and Thank You for Smoking continues to do well, earning $3.2 million through two weeks.

PUTTING THE STAR IN STARBUCKS: The L.A. Times reports that Starbucks is about to launch their first movie marketing campaign. The company’s Director of Business Development, Nikkole Denson, whose job it is find the right movies for Starbucks to market in its 8,300 North American stores, has chosen Lionsgate’s Akeelah and the Bee, the story of an African American girl in Los Angeles who overcomes a tough neighborhood and bad schools to become a national spelling bee champ, to promote to its customers via such outlets as coffee-cup sleeves. Read all about it here.

STERN BLASTS FANS: Howard Stern told Entertainment Weekly in a cover story that hits newsstands today that he is angry more of his fans haven't followed him to satellite radio since he moved in January. "I was just at my psychiatrist and I said, `I just got great news: We hit the 4 million mark. And I'm angry. It should be 20 million,'" Stern says. "It's insulting to me that everyone hasn't come with me. I take it personally. I want to say to my audience, `You haven't come with me yet? How dare you? We're up to wild, crazy stuff, the show has never sounded better. You cheap bastard!'"

MONKEY BUSINESS: The L.A. TimesBob Hilburn essayed a mostly favorable piece on the Arctic Monkeys’ current tour of America, lightly admonishing the U.S. for not taking a longer view of the band’s potential, while admitting the disc is hardly the phenomenon it has proven in their native U.K. He also detailed the band’s aversion to doing promotion and their sensitivity to being the objects of hype here.  

NONPROFIT PROPHETS:  The N.Y. TimesRichard Siklos writes about the new media phenomenon of companies, like craigslist.com that “leave the competition scratching their heads because they don't really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they're not in it for the money.” Read about it here.

COLDPLAY’S HOT PLAY: The band plays an intimate radio performance this Thursday night (4/6) at New York’s China Club, with WPLJ giving away 95 tix to listeners. If you’d like one, click www.Coldplay.com for details.

AIR AMERICA SEEKS MORE SPACE: Two of the founders of the liberal Air America Radio, Anita and Sheldon Drobny, have announced plans to begin buying or leasing radio stations across the United States through their new company, Nova M Radio. The Drobnys, who own a venture capital firm called the Paradigm Group based near Chicago, started the new company with Dr. Michael Newcomb, and a handful of investors. The name derived from Nova Miasto, the town Sheldon's father came from in Poland.

NE-YO SELLS COKE:  The soft drink that is. The Urban star will be the first artist to be featured on Coca-Cola’s new music and entertainment site, www.StageSide.tv. It will showcase an original video that includes footage from his concerts and behind-the-scenes interviews.  The soft drink company is encouraging people to pass along the contents. People can download the Ne-Yo clip through free peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent and iTunes.  It is available in formats for the iPod and other gadgets.

KURT & BARBIE: Wonder if this is what Courtney Love had in mind when it came to a tasteful legacy for her late husband. The National Entertainment Collectibles Association is developing a Kurt Cobain doll because, according to their site, "The one thing that many fans have been asking for and have never received in ANY form, official or not, is an action figure.” The doll, which is inspired by the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, will be available in June. Wonder if it’s anatomically correct. To see what we’re talking about, go to www.NECAOnline.com.

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS: P. Diddy’s Unforgivable, his fragrance for men, has been #1 in terms of sales since its national launch on Feb. 10. Estee Lauder partnered with the rapreneur and his fashion company Sean John to develop and market the scent. The beauty products company says it's the best fragrance launch it’s seen in years.

A LEFSETZIAN SPOOF: A lot of people who should know better got taken in by record industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz's annual April Fool's Day jape. This year, our intrepid pundit reported that Microsoft's Bill Gates had swooped down and acquired BMG Music from Bertelsmann to help him take over Apple's digital music business, forcing Steve Jobs back into the personal computer game. As always, it was just well-reasoned enough to be convincing, but by now, regular readers have come to expect Bob's April 1 shenanigans.

ON THIS DAY:
In 1966: Hollywood’s Troubadour Club hosted a performance by folk singer Peter Tork. By September of that year, he was famous for being a member of The Monkees.

In 1969: The FBI arrested Jim Morrison for obscenity at a Miami concert. Morrison had crossed the Florida state line, making him an inadvertent fugitive.

In 1975: Police were called to Steve Miller’s home, where it was claimed he set fire to the clothes of his friend Benita DiOrio. By the next day, however, DiOrio asked for the charges to be dropped and Miller was set free.

In 1976: The Sex Pistols played the El Paradiso Club in London.

In 1984: In court, producer Jack Douglas won $3 million that he claimed was owed to him by Yoko Ono for his work on the Lennon-Ono album Double Fantasy.

In 1986: “18 and Life” singer Sebastian Bach turned 18.

In 1987: U2 kicked off the American leg of The Joshua Tree tour in Arizona.

In 1989: Pepsi canned Madonna as a spokesperson after her “Like a Prayer” video was called “blasphemous” by the Vatican.

In 1991: Paul McCartney recorded an episode of MTV Unplugged.

In 1996: MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy.

In 2003: The Beastie BoysLas Vegas benefit for Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay sold out in 24 seconds.

In 2004: OutKast won Favorite Group and Best Song for "Hey Ya!" at the 17th-annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Hilary Duff won Favorite Female Singer and Nelly won Favorite Male Singer.

 

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