Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Compiled by Times Staff Writers and Contributors

First the announcement that her sitcom character would come out as a lesbian. Then the interview with Time magazine revealing that she is gay, too. In this week's installment of the Ellen DeGeneres saga, the comedian will speak to Diane Sawyer about--surprise!--those same topics. Originally, the interview was planned for "PrimeTime Live" on Wednesday, but with the May sweeps getting underway Thursday, it was rescheduled for "20/20" on Friday at 10 p.m. Why waste an opportunity, eh? In the meantime, viewers who want to do more than wait can log on to a World Wide Web site (http://www.glaad.org) and learn how to set up their very own "Come Out With Ellen" party for the much-hyped episode on April 30, or find out where they can attend one. On the site, page sponsor GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) writes that it has already had more than 1,500 requests for the "Come Out With Ellen" party kits. West Hollywood's Love Lounge will be the site of one of those parties, with "Ellen's" Patrick Bristow (Peter) and David Anthony Higgins (Joe), and GLAAD's entertainment media director, Chastity Bono, attending, according to a GLAAD announcement. The Web page is also hosting an online party for cyberfans that evening. A statement on the site reads: "GLAAD is encouraging gay and lesbian people throughout the country to use April 30 and the days that follow to take Ellen's brave lead and begin or continue their own coming out process."

Will Touring Get 'Pop' Back on Top?

Build a concert stage and fans will line up--at the record stores. At least that's what has happened traditionally in pop music--and retailers are counting on it again to stimulate album sales during U2's massive world tour, which begins Friday at the 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Silver Bowl in Las Vegas. Just as Wall Street is extra-sensitive these days to the slightest blip in economic indicators, the record industry continues to search for clues to the consumer's mood. Discouraged by flat overall sales for three years now, the industry has hoped in recent months for every potential rock blockbuster to ignite a fire under record fans. But executives have seen one old favorite after another, including R.E.M. and Pearl Jam, come in below expectations. Neither 1996 release, in fact, is even still on Billboard's list of the nation's top 200 sellers. The latest blow to industry confidence: the failure of U2's long-awaited "Pop" to stay in the Top 10 more than three weeks. That's why attention is on the band's tour and whether it will stimulate fans to buy "Pop." "The tour should have a huge impact on the sales," says Bob Bell, new release buyer for the 240-store Wherehouse chain. "The R.E.M. and Pearl Jam records both suffered by not having a major tour to support them." One mixed signal on the U2 tour: ticket sales. While U2 dates were instant sellouts in numerous cities around the country, sales in Southern California have been sluggish. Only about 70% of the 45,000 tickets reportedly have been sold for the concert April 28 at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium and only about 80% of the 70,000 tickets for the June 21 stop at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

But Does It Have Any New York Jokes?

For "Pie in the Sky," a comedy set in Los Angeles about childhood sweethearts . . . and traffic, the road from Telluride was even bumpier than usual. Despite enthusiastic response at the 1995 film festival, New Line Cinema (whose video division financed the film) opted for an HBO cable premiere rather than a riskier theatrical release. After considerable hustling by director Bryan Gordon, the film is now opening the Hermosa Beach Film Festival on Thursday before its premiere at Laemmle's Monica Theater the following night. The film stars Josh Charles ("Dead Poets Society") as a young man whose passions are unraveling gridlock and an avant-garde dancer, played by up-and-comer Anne Heche ("Donnie Brasco," "Volcano"). John Goodman, Christine Lahti and Peter Riegert are also featured. "This is the quintessential L.A. film," said Gordon, who won an Academy Award for his 1987 short film, "Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall." "Without sounding too presumptuous, not being able to show it in this city would be like denying Woody Allen the opportunity to show his movies in New York."

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