Things were kinda slow if you weren't Jared Paul Stern or Michael Jackson, but baseball season is in full swing, the NBA playoffs are warming up, John Branca made a lot of money and Vito proves a "natural" at judging antiques on The Sopranos, while Tom Cruise has begun his publicity blitz for M:I:3 and his upcoming baby, in that order.


The Networks vs. the FCC, the Pulitzers Awarded, Branca Makes Money on Michael, Flatts vs. Keith, Scary Movie 4 Tops the Weekend Box Office and Guns N’ Roses Return.
Good morning, everybody. Hope your Easter was eggs-actly what you hoped for, as we resurrect HITS for another week. Things were kinda slow if you weren't Jared Paul Stern or Michael Jackson, but baseball season is in full swing, the NBA playoffs are warming up, John Branca made a lot of money and Vito proves a "natural" at judging antiques on The Sopranos, while Tom Cruise has begun his publicity blitz for M:I:3 and his upcoming baby, in that order. Now, for the stuff that's been bought and paid for:

INDECENT CHALLENGE: The New York Times reports that it could take up to a year before an outcome on CBS, ABC and Fox’s decision to file lawsuits in federal appeals courts in Washington and New York to challenge indecency rulings involving obscenities that were used on the CBS news program "The Early Show," "Billboard Music Awards" on Fox and "N.Y.P.D. Blue" on ABC. The networks maintained that many of the remarks that were found to have violated the indecency rules were blurted out spontaneously, although the ones at issue in "N.Y.P.D. Blue" had been scripted. "The F.C.C. overstepped its authority," the networks said in a joint statement Friday, "in an attempt to regulate content protected by the First Amendment, acted arbitrary and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard for determining what content the government intends to penalize." For more go here.

TO WINNERS GO SPOILS: Winners of the 90th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music will be announced this afternoon at 3 p.m. (ET), 12 noon (PT), at Columbia University. No, we don’t expect to be named.

TO LAWYERS GO MORE SPOILS: Insiders are saying noted entertainment attorney and one-time Michael Jackson rep John Branca stands to make more than $20 million from the pop star’s decision to sell off half his stake in Sony/ATV publishing, which is worth around $250 million, 25% of the pubbery’s reported total value of close to $1 billion. Branca’s deal calls for 5% of any deal Jacko makes on his publishing interests.

TOBY OR NOT: Look for Show Dog Nashville/Universal’s Toby Keith and Lyric Street’s Rascal Flatts to have an old-fashioned shoot-em-up for the top spot on tomorrow’s HITS album chart, with both angling to sell in the 300k+ range. Flatts’ Me and My Gang debuted at #1 last week with 714k in first-week sales, the largest chart bow of the year, and will be fiercely challenged to hold on to its lead by Keith’s White Trash with Money. Keep checking our building album sales chart to stay one step ahead of the competition. Among the releases hitting retail tomorrow are Universal’s Da Backwudz, Hollywood’s Elefant, Roadrunner’s Dresden Dolls, New West’s Drive-By Truckers, Aware/Columbia’s Mat Kearney and Fat Wreck ChordsNOFX.

BOX OFFICE FRIGHT: The Weinstein Co. and Disney’s Scary Movie 4 earned $41 million in the three days beginning April 14, setting a new record for the Easter weekend, but it was the third-lowest bow in the franchise's history, behind 2003's Scary Movie 3 with $48.1 million and the 2000 original with $42.3 million. Scary Movie 2 opened with just $20.5 million in 2001. Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, last week’s champ, slipped to #2 its third weekend with $20 million, taking its 17-day haul to $147 million. Columbia PicturesRob Schneider baseball comedy (and we use the term loosely), The Benchwarmers, went from #2 to #3 with $10 million for a total of $36 million, while Disney’s animated barnyard comedy The Wild was a disappointment, opening at # 4 with a paltry $9.6 million. New Line Cinema’s Antonio Banderas ballroom dancing saga, Take the Lead, went from #3 to #5 with $6.7 million for a two-week total of $22.5 million. Fox Searchlight’s critically acclaimed Thank You For Smoking rose two places to #8 with $4.5 million, after tripling its theater count in its fifth weekend, for a total of $11.5 million.

GUNS RUNNING IN NYC: Guns N’ Roses have announced two New York dates at the Hammerstein Ballroom on May 15 and 17, with tickets at $63 apiece go on sale this Friday (4/20) at 10 a.m. (ET). After that, the band will head over to Europe to play 17 festivals this summer starting off with the Rock in Rio concert in Lisbon, Portugal.


In 1964: Leading the band Them, an 18-year-old Van Morrison rocked the Maritime Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the group's debut performance.

In 1969: Bob Dylan performed solo at San Francisco's Winterland auditorium for the first time.

In 1970: Johnny Cash performed for President Richard Nixon at the White House. Nixon wouldn't let him leave until he performed “A Boy Named Sue,” but Cash refused.

In 1970: Paul McCartney released his first post-Beatles solo album, McCartney.

In 1983: Felix Pappalardi was shot by his wife in their New York apartment. He was 41. The producer worked on records by Cream, Hot Tuna, Mountain and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In 1986: Following the American bombing of Libya, Stevie Ray Vaughan canceled his European tour in fear of reprisals.

In 1998: Linda McCartney died after a fight with breast cancer.

In 2001: The late Ramones singer Joey Ramone was buried in New Jersey following a private funeral service in Forest Hills, Queens.

In 2002: Jimi Hendrix's dad James Al Hendrix died at 82 after a long battle with congestive heart failure.

In 2003: Tommy Lee was cleared of responsibility for the drowning death of a four-year-old at his son's 2001 birthday party. The boy's parents alleged criminal negligence and sought 10-million dollars in damages.

In 2004: Kurt Cobain's right-handed 1960s Mosrite Gospel Mark IV guitar sold at an auction for $117K, while the piano on which Elton John wrote "Your Song" sold for $165k.

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