Scoop

UPDATED 06/04/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

Now, the C Note
It costs $100—or more—to see a star shine

Focus

Summertime, and the living is expensive—if you hope to catch a favorite act in concert. Top-tier seats shattering the $100 barrier—U2 ($130), Janet Jackson ($125.25), Sade ($129.75), Rod Stewart (also $129.75) and the Backstreet Boys ($124.50)—are becoming the norm, causing many fans to whittle down their wish lists.

It's a trend some rockers find troubling. "Younger fans don't have as much money," Billy Joel told USA Today recently, "but they make for a better, crazier, noisier audience." Joel, who just wrapped a sold-out joint tour with Elton John, admitted his concerts' $175 choice seats were "much higher than I'm comfortable with." Not so pop's grande dame, Madonna, whose 12-city, 30-concert Drowned World U.S. tour is charging fans up to $250 for primo real estate. "No one is going to feel cheated," publicist Liz Rosenberg says of the Material Girl's first concert tour since 1993, which kicks off July 21 in Philadelphia. "This show is going to have everything—martial arts, Indian music, even the circus."

Promoters point to the travel and equipment expenses. But Billboard touring reporter Ray Wadell counters that the industry has actually become more cost-efficient with smaller lighting and sound systems. So are there any bargains? Ozzfest 2001, featuring Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson and at least 20 other acts, says Wadell: "It's 12 hours of music for $60—that's a pretty good deal."

Taking Gingerbread? A Snap
Four years ago Shrek storyboard artist Conrad Vernon sketched a gingerbread man to be tortured by the film's wicked Lord Farquaad. How? "Dip him in milk, maybe break off his legs," Vernon, 32, recalls. He pitched the scenario to DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg, who liked Vernon's squirrely voice as much as the idea. And so the artist snared a vocal cameo as the gingerbread man in the hit computer-animated flick. That's also Vernon's voice inside the squeezable gingerbread doll sold as part of the merchandising campaign. Says Vernon: "It's weird being a toy."

Thanking Lucky Stars
For some celebs an award show is only as good as the goodies they get to take home. And this year the competition is stiff. The Tonys—set for June 3—lavished actor nominees with about $3,000 worth of gifts—including robes, Taittinger champagne and MP3 players donated by the manufacturers. "It feels like Christmas morning," says Follies' Blythe Danner. Adds The Producers' Matthew Broderick: "They get better every year." Indeed. Emmy gift baskets (featuring Nokia global cell phones) were valued at $8,000; Oscar baskets (including digital cameras) at $12,000; and Grammy baskets (with designer crystal jewelry) at $15,000.

A Cosby Kid No More
One more sign you're getting older: Keshia Knight Pulliam, the actress who played Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show (1984-92), graduated May 20 from Atlanta's Spelman College. "I took time off to grow—emotionally and physically" says Pulliam, now 22. But she's ready for another close-up. "I'm open to most everything," says Pulliam, who'd like to direct, produce and act. "But it's hard. People still see me as the little girl they grew up with."

Putting On (Jane) Eyres
When singer Alanis Morissette put up $150,000 to buy a week's worth of tickets to Broadway's Jane Eyre May 16, hopes ran high that the resulting publicity might keep the financially troubled musical alive. (Morissette is a friend of the show's composer Paul Gordon; the tickets went to several inner-city children's groups.) A May 20 closing notice was withdrawn, but producers would not say if the production would make it to Memorial Day.

Risky Business
Want an awards show with some real cliffhangers? Held May 20, the first World Stunt Awards honored film's most intrepid daredevils in categories such as best fire stunt. "You don't just jump out of a five-story window and hope for the best," says action flick vet Arnold Schwarzenegger. His most dangerous stunt? "Riding a horse on a rooftop in True Lies," he says, "I almost took a dive off the roof."

POP QUIZ

with Jason Cerbone

A henchman's bullet ended the life of Jackie Aprile Jr. May 20 on the season finale of The Sopranos. But what of Jason Cerbone, the 23-year-old actor who played the troubled young HBO mobster wannabe? Scoop spoke with the young man known as Jackie Jr.

How did you learn that you were going to get whacked?

I had a meeting with [series creator] David Chase. He was really nice about it. He just said, "It has nothing to do with you." Which I understand because I respect him very much. I was in shock, of course. But I've come to terms with it.

When did you find out?

When we were shooting the episode prior to it [a few months ago].

How did your fellow cast members react?

The producers, the directors, the cast, the members of the crew, they all took me to dinner. We had a party down on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, at II Cortile. I walked in the restaurant and of course I was late. So, Joey Pants [actor Joe Pantoliano, who as mobster Ralph Cifaretto gave the order to kill Jackie Jr. on the show] said, "Look, he's late for his own funeral."

You played your final scene in a coffin.

That was definitely the freakiest thing I ever had to do. They're not comfortable; obviously they don't need to be. It was really strange and spooky, even for the other cast members to see me in there. It was just creepy, y'know?

So, what next?

I'm reading a lot of scripts.

This comes out of left field, but...weren't you Luka in the Suzanne Vega music video "Luka"some time ago?

Yeah [laughs]. It was a big hit for her. I was 9 or 10 at the time.

Finally—are you dating Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Meadow on The Sopranos?

Jamie and I are just friends.

Pop Rocks

Joe Sumner, the 24-year-old front man for the budding rock band Santa's Boyfriend, is the son of Sting, 49, and his first wife, Frances Tomelty. Although one critic said the guitarist "inherited his pop's charisma genes," Joe wants to make it on his own. So please, Dad—don't stand so close to him.

ON THE BLOCK

LAURA'S LAIR

Seeking reassurance, Laura San Giacomo had the phrase It's Going to Be All Right painted in bright red letters on her bedroom wall. Apparently it worked, for the star of NBC's Just Shoot Me recently sold her three-bedroom home in Studio City, Calif., for $541,000. Her former 1,858-sq.-ft. house features a balcony overlooking a black-bottom lagoon pool, a spa and a touch that real estate agent Chuck Bartlett, who handled the sale, calls "warm and homey with a loose eclectic feel"—sunbursts custom-painted on the kitchen cabinets. The inspirational motto, alas, was painted over before the sale.

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