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To Crash or Not to Crash: The Fox network is upping its reality programming quotient by developing a special in which it would create a crash of a real 747 jumbo jet somewhere in the California or Arizona desert. The program, with the planned title “Jumbo Jet Crash Live: The Ultimate Safety Test,” would be presented under the guise of a public service-type broadcast about airline safety. However, the plan hasn’t gone over well with the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees airline safety issues. The FAA is particularly heated over a Fox executive telling TV Guide that a deal is in the works to get the FAA’s approval on the crash, which he says would use three trained pilots to get a plane up into the air and then “bail out before the crash.” And the broadcast wouldn’t literally be live, the executive said, but would instead be delayed by a couple of seconds so that the network itself can bail out “in case anybody dies.” “They have never come to us for this, and we would not work with Fox or anyone else on something like this,” an FAA spokeswoman said emphatically. Fox, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying that the project is “in the early stages of discussion,” and that “formal sanction by either the network or the FAA has yet to be pursued.”


‘Millionaire’ Magic: The final edition of ABC’s summer quiz show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” drew an impressive 22 million viewers Sunday--its biggest audience in 13 telecasts--becoming prime time’s most-watched program for the second consecutive week. Over its two-week run, the Regis Philbin-hosted show gave away more than $1.4 million. ABC has said the program will return in November but has yet to set the exact play pattern--whether the show will air weekly, nightly or several nights a week. Meanwhile, David Honea, the North Caroline graduate student who was mistakenly told he gave the wrong answer on a Great Lakes question on the show’s Aug. 19 episode, increased his winnings in a return visit Sunday but backed out before answering a $250,000 question. He decided instead to pocket his assured $125,000 in winnings.


Internet Music Booming: The new David Bowie album will be sold via digital download on the Internet beginning Sept. 21, two weeks before it arrives in stores as a CD. The collection, titled “hours . . .,” will be sold to computer users through more than 50 retailers with an online presence. How much will it cost? That’s up to each online merchant, although the label is wholesaling the digital download version at the same price as the CD edition. That will likely bring grumbles from the Internet community, where the pricing of downloads is a hot-button issue as the fledgling marketplace takes shape. The download version will, however, include bonus tracks not on the CD collection, and Bowie, in a press release, says he is “hopeful that this small step will lead to larger leaps by myself and others, ultimately giving consumers greater choices and easier access to the music they enjoy.” The release by Virgin Records America continues the mainstream music industry’s tentative exploration of the Internet as a sales avenue, and Monday’s Bowie announcement coincided with news that the Zomba music group (with an artist roster including the Backstreet Boys, R. Kelly and Britney Spears) will make thousands of songs from its archives available at the site, where consumers can choose and compile tracks for custom-made CDs they can then purchase by mail order. Zomba officials said the deal sets the groundwork for consumer purchases of the label’s music via digital download in “the near future.” Meanwhile, controversial chart-topping rock group Limp Bizkit will hit the Internet on Thursday in a Webcast of a concert shot in June on the rooftop of a Chicago recording studio. The 5:30 p.m. Webcast will be at



Lauding Foreign Films: The Landmark Theatre chain is celebrating its 25th anniversary by amassing a Top 100 Favorite Foreign Films list, which it says is intended to complement the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies list. Filmgoers can vote through ballots at all Landmark movie houses and at Borders bookstores. The 600-title ballots are also available online at or The final list will be issued in January.


Musician Sheila E. has joined Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Smits and Paul Rodriguez as a celebrity investor of Los Angeles’ Conga Room nightclub. She will perform at the club Sept. 22 and plans to eventually become the venue’s musical director. . . . Dick Clark, the ageless king of New Year’s Eve, has signed on as the pitchman for a new breakfast cereal celebrating the end of the millennium. Clark will promote Millenios, a Cheerios-type General Mills cereal with both 2s and 0s that will hit store shelves in September. . . . Due to the devastating earthquake in northwestern Turkey, PBS’ travelogue “Going Places” has switched its tour plans for the show’s third season opener. The program, airing Sept. 9 on KCET-TV, was to have focused on Turkey but will now be set in Bali. . . . CBS has scheduled hourlong concert specials starring chart-toppers Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Ricky Martin for three consecutive nights, starting with Dion on Nov. 24.