Snoop Barks Loud: Despite the legal problems facing CEO Marion “Suge” Knight and the September murder of Tupac Shakur, Death Row Records still has a stranglehold on the pop charts. Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Tha Doggfather” album sold 479,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan, and Shakur’s posthumous “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” sold 250,000 copies, giving the controversial hard-core rap label the No. 1 and 2 positions on the nation’s album chart. The “Doggfather” figure is considerably below the 803,000 first-week copies sold in 1993 by Snoop’s “Doggystyle"--the record for a rap album in the SoundScan era. But it still represents the third-highest rap debut this year--behind Shakur’s “All Eyez on Me” (566,000 first-week copies) and “Killuminati” (664,000 copies), and it ranks fourth overall on the year’s list of top debuts, which is headed by Metallica’s “Load” (680,000). Last week also saw the debut of the “Evita” soundtrack, which sold 92,000 copies, landing at No. 6.
More Rap News: Tupac Shakur will be seen in “Bullet,” a straight-to-video release due on Jan. 21. Co-starring Mickey Rourke, the urban gang tale was filmed in the fall of 1994, and is described by distributor New Line Cinema as being “like ‘Pulp Fiction’ . . . powerful, violent and real.” . . . Meanwhile, Shakur’s label, Death Row Records, is gearing up for its fourth annual turkey give-away, Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Compton Fashion Center parking lot. Said Compton Councilwoman Marcine Shaw: “Even with the tragic loss of Tupac Shakur and Mr. Knight’s present inconveniences [being in prison], this shows that their concerns are still with the community.”
Slap Those Cheeks!: Alex D. Linz, a 7-year-old who appeared in Jim Carrey’s “Cable Guy” and is in the forthcoming Michelle Pfeiffer-George Clooney movie “One Fine Day,” has landed the plum role as Macaulay Culkin’s replacement in John Hughes’ “Home Alone” franchise. Perhaps best known for his recurring role in McDonalds’ commercials, Linz begins work in Chicago next month on “Home Alone 3,” in which he’ll play an ingenious 8-year-old defending his street against mysterious new residents.
Parents’ Rating Wishes: What do parents want from a TV ratings system? A new survey by the National Parent Teachers Assn., to be released today, is expected to show that parents want a system that gives them information about the sexual, language and violence content on specific programs. The TV industry is currently preparing a ratings system expected to be age-based, like movie ratings, but without describing the specific content of each show. But children’s advocates and some legislators hope that the PTA survey will pressure the industry to provide more content descriptions.
Battling Tycoons: Gabriel Byrne and Ben Kingsley will star in “Weapons of Mass Distraction,” an upcoming HBO Pictures movie about the war between two rival media tycoons. The satire is written by Larry Gelbart (“Barbarians at the Gate,” “Tootsie,” “Oh, God!”), who told The Times that he wrote the story “long before” those two real-life media tycoons, Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch, went public with their own rivalry. However, Gelbart says he hopes Turner and Murdoch will “have a good laugh” over his story, in which the protagonists, rather than engaging in a public feud, attack each other through their various media outlets. Said Gelbart: “There is a number of our species--usually male--who have this kind of power, and they’re all grist for the mill.” Wonder if Turner--the new vice chairman of Time Warner, which owns HBO--will tune in?
Back in the Pit: The Philadelphia Orchestra resumed performances Tuesday after a nine-week strike, but members’ relationships with management aren’t exactly harmonious. Musicians--on strike since Sept. 16--approved late Monday a three-year contract giving them the second-highest weekly base salary of all U.S. orchestras,increasing to $1,500 the first year and $1,610 the third. But tensions remained despite the deal, with an attorney for the musicians’ union saying members still “believe the board and management have abandoned their fiduciary obligations to the orchestra.” Management was no more celebratory: “It’s very difficult after a nine-week strike to be happy,” said Philadelphia Orchestra Assn. President Joseph Kluger.
Jack Germond, one of the creators of “The McLaughlin Group,” has ended “all association” with the weekly syndicated program, and says although he will continue as a regular contributor to CNN, he “already has some lines out” to other TV shows. . . . Producer Quincy Jones and his partner David Salzman announced plans Wednesday for a syndicated late-night series patterned after Jones’ Vibe magazine that would showcase “cutting-edge talent from the urban music scene, a broad range of stand-up comedy and live interviews.” . . . Twenty-one months after their wedding on a Cancun beach, “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson Lee has filed for divorce from rocker Tommy Lee, citing irreconcilable differences. The “Baywatch” star asked the court to restore her name to Pamela Anderson, and requested joint custody of their 5-month-old son.