Borat and Keith Urban are up, Will Ferrell and Kevin Federline are down. There are approximately 43 shopping days left until Christmas. What are you waiting for?


Keith Urban and Borat Dominate Charts, The Game vs. Akon, Elton Down on Religion, Prince in Sin City, Fall Out Boy’s New Single, Music on TV
The countdown to the end of the year has started. Holiday decorations are going up, vacation plans are being made and the music industry starts to mentally check out, as if they haven’t already. Da Bears rule over the Giants, the Jets conquer the Patriots jinx and USC re-enters the BCS battle, with traditional rivals California, Notre Dame and UCLA left on their schedule, while Ohio State and Michigan go at it for #1. Borat and Keith Urban are up, Will Ferrell and Kevin Federline are down. There are approximately 43 shopping days left until Christmas. What are you waiting for?

In chart action, Sony Music Group's Now 23 has pulled ahead of Capitol Nashville’s Keith Urban and 143/Reprise's Josh Groban, with a sales total in the 320-330k range, while Urban and Groban are now looking at between 260-270k. Other notable Top 10 newcomers will include Luke LewisMercury Nashville country duo Sugarland at 180-200k and Koch rapper Jim Jones with a total north of 115-120k.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s remarkable Borat story continues apace. With almost double the theatres, the R-rated comedy dominated the box office weekend by raking in an estimated $29 million, a 10% increase over last week’s $26.4 million debut for a 10-day total of $67.8 million, justifying 20th Century Fox’s strategy of opening the movie in less than 1,000 theatres. The film should surpass the $100 million mark by Thanksgiving and could finish with a total of $140-150 million. Disney’s Santa Clause 3 held onto the #2 spot, with an estimated $16.9 million, followed by Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s Flushed Away, which was #3 with $16.7 million. The top debut was Sony’s Will Ferrell comedy Stranger Than Fiction, which bowed with $14.1 million, his weakest opening as a leading man since 1998’s SNL spinoff A Night at the Roxbury. Paramount’s amazing Babel expanded to more than 1,000 theatre this week, but only earned $5.6 million, which has to be considered a bit of a disappointment, though it should benefit from Oscar buzz. Fox’s romantic comedy A Good Year was a disaster for director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe, with just $3.8 million in more than 2,066 theatres. The three-day gross was $126 million, a .2% rise over last year, when Chicken Little was #1 with $31.7 million, while the total box office year-to-date is $7.99 billion, up 6.4% from 2005. Next weekend, Borat will have to make way for Daniel Craig as the new James Bond in Casino Royale, which is bound to be the new box office topper.

Next week’s album chart sets up a battle between Geffen’s The Game, his first album after a very publicized split with producer Dr. Dre and nemesis 50 Cent, and Steve Rifkind’s SRC/Universal Motown rapper Akon, who has two smash hit duets with Eminem and Snoop Dogg. Both are in reach of the 300-350k mark. For the L.A. Times’ take on The Game’s comeback and follow-up to his five-million-selling The Documentary, click here. And while the L.A. TimesOliver Wang was tepid in his review here, the N.Y. TimesKelefa Sanneh called it one of the year’s best here

Elton John is at it again, announcing that organized religion should be banned because it “promotes homophobia” and turns some people into "hateful lemmings." “I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it," the British singer said in an interview with the Observer newspaper on Sunday. "Religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people. It is not really compassionate." The singer, who tied the knot with long-term partner David Furnish in a civil ceremony last year, said he admired the teachings of Jesus Christ, but disliked religious bodies. “The reality is that organized religion doesn't seem to work," he added.

Prince launched his new Las Vegas residency at the Rio hotel-casino this past weekend with a two-hour set, peppering it with references to Scripture and spirituality at his in-house nightclub, called the 3121 after his most recent album. The same name adorns the Asian-themed restaurant being run next door by his personal chef. Prince plans to perform Friday and Saturday nights for the high roller crowd, with the 900 tickets going for $125 apiece. In keeping with the stripped-down style of his recent concert tours, Prince performed with only a bass player, a keyboardist and a drummer, as well as his latest female proteges, The Twinz, strutting and accompanying him on several songs.

Fall Out Boy continues its love of strange song titles. “It Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” will be the first single off the upcoming album from the Chicago emo stars. The disc, which is said to be almost finished, won’t be out till ’07, but the single is apparently set for some time in December.

MUSIC ON TV TONIGHT: George Jones on Letterman (CBS, 11:35 p.m.); Vince Gill on Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m.); Barry Manilow on Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m.) and Los Lobos on Conan O’Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m.)


In 1963: Paul McCartney caught the flu. Hour-by-hour progress reports on his condition appeared in the British press.

In 1964: The first official biography of The Rolling Stones, Our Own Story, was published in Britain.

In 1966: John Lennon and George Harrison attended a London party held by Brian Epstein in honor of The Four Tops, which attracted a guest list including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Georgie Fame, Donovan and Eric Burdon.

In 1968: Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones bought Cotchford Farms, the English estate where A. A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh.

In 1968: The Beatles Yellow Submarine film was released nationwide.

In 1969: Having bought the island of Dorinch off Ireland, John Lennon declared any hippie who wished to, was free to live there.

In 1972: Tickets for Led Zeppelin’s fifth tour of the U.K. sold out in four hours.

In 1973: Jerry Lee Lewis’ 19-year-old son, Jerry Lee Jr., died in a car accident outside Hernando, MS. He was a drummer in his father’s band.

In 1974: After crashing a borrowed Porsche in Iowa City, the driver claimed to be Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The real Blackmore was actually performing in San Francisco that night.

In 1980: English glam star Gary Glitter began the first of many U.K. comeback tours, performing at the Cromwell Club in Norwich.

In 1985: An exhibition opened at New York’s Whitney Museum celebrating Bob Dylan’s 25 years in the music industry.

In 1992: Elton John performed his first-ever gig in Mexico before an audience of 90,000

In 1995: Ralph Blane, the lyricist who co-wrote “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and other songs from the MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis, died at age 81.

In 2000: Elton John released his live album One Night Only, which was recorded at Madison Square Garden the previous month.

In 2002: Michael Jackson testified in his defense at the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, where he was being sued by a concert promoter for canceling two millennium gigs.

In 2003: Wynonna Judd was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after police stopped her for speeding through Nashville. She was released after posting a $500 bond.

In 2003: Madonna donated 100k copies of her children's book Mr. Peabody's Apple to schoolteachers across the U-S.

In 2004: Ol' Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, died in his Manhattan studio, three days short of his 36th birthday.


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