POP/ROCK'Boss' of the Charts: Following his four-award...

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'Boss' of the Charts: Following his four-award Grammy sweep, Bruce Springsteen will officially reclaim the title of Boss when his greatest hits package enters the nation's pop chart at No. 1 on Saturday. Fans scooped up an estimated 251,000 copies of the veteran rocker's 18-song collection during its first week in U.S. retail stores. The March 1 Grammy ceremony telecast helped boost total album sales more than 7% and also triggered gains for other winners, including triple winner Sheryl Crow's "Tuesday Night Music Club," which rose from No. 9 last week to No. 4 this week with 103,000 units sold, and best album winner Tony Bennett's "MTV Unplugged," which had dropped completely off the chart but will now re-enter at No. 48 with 21,000 copies sold.


Record Plans: Veteran rock artist Neil Young is expected to sign a five-album recording pact today with his longtime label, Reprise Records--ending a heated bidding war to lure the 49-year-old Canadian rock star away from the Warner Music fold. Young, whose contract with the Warner-owned label expired last year, was one of several top artists who privately threatened to jump ship in October after a corporate power battle. Young's first album under the pact could be released as early as August and is expected to include a batch of new Young songs recorded last month in Seattle featuring collaborations with members of Pearl Jam. (See related story in Business.)


New Sondheim Comedy: A new, non-musical comedy-thriller by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, "Getting Away With Murder," will be the grand finale of the summer season at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Sept. 16-Oct. 21. The season also will feature a new play by A. R. Gurney, "Overtime," exploring what happened next to "The Merchant of Venice" characters, July 15-Aug. 20. The Old Globe's outdoor theater will present Dakin Matthews' condensation of Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2" into one evening (July 1-Aug. 5) and Robert Hays as "Mr. Roberts" (Aug. 26-Sept. 30). Slated for the Old Globe's Cassius Carter Centre Stage are Stephen Metcalfe's "Pilgrims" (July 8-Aug. 13) and another Dakin Matthews adaptation, "Uncommon Players: A Shakespeare Celebration" (Sept. 9-Oct. 15).


More 'Pulp' Prizes: Oscar nominee John Travolta has picked up another critics' best actor prize for "Pulp Fiction," this time from the London Film Critics' Circle. And Travolta's competition was stiffer for this one: Since British releases often come much later than U.S. releases, Travolta was up against Tom Hanks in not only "Forrest Gump" but also in last year's Oscar-winning performance for "Philadelphia," as well as Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List" and Daniel Day-Lewis in both "Age of Innocence" and "In the Name of the Father." The London critics also named "Pulp's" Quentin Tarantino best screenwriter, while "Schindler's List" won best picture and director (Steven Spielberg).


UPN's First Lineup Shake-Up: The new United Paramount Network, seen locally on KCOP Channel 13, will premiere "Legend," a Western adventure series starring former "MacGyver" star Richard Dean Anderson, on April 18 at 8 p.m. The show premieres with a two-hour episode, then on April 25 slips into its regular 8 to 9 p.m. time period, moving "Marker" to 9 p.m. "The Watcher," which aired at 9 p.m., will go on hiatus. In addition, starting March 20, UPN will flip its two Monday night comedies, "Platypus Man" and "Pig Sty," airing the latter show at 9 p.m., followed by "Platypus" at 9:30 p.m.


Unkind Fate for 'Great': Fox yanked "The Great Defender" off its schedule Wednesday after its premiere episode last Sunday drew dismal ratings, attracting only 6% of the available audience. A Fox spokesman said there are seven additional episodes completed of the legal drama starring Michael Rispoli and Richard Kiley, and that rather than let it "languish" in the 7 p.m. time period, the network would eventually bring the series back in a later slot. The Sunday hole, meanwhile, will be filled by repeats of "Martin" this week, then by "Encounters: The Hidden Truth."


The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved contracts with nonprofit arts groups to operate five city arts centers in partnerships designed to compensate for Cultural Affairs Department budget cuts. The centers are the Art in the Park Center (Monterey Hills), Encino Photography Center, Lankershim Arts Center, McGroarty Arts Center and the William Reagh L.A. Photography Center. . . . A San Francisco court granted jazz legend Nina Simone ownership of 52 of her master recordings. Simone had sued New Jersey-based San Juan Music Group and its distributors because she had not been paid for the recordings' worldwide releases

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