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Beatles Top Entertainment Icons List

The Beatles | Low Record Sales | Pierce Brosnan

Beatles Finish No. 1 on All-Time Icons List

The Beatles — you remember them — have finished at No. 1 on a list of 100 all-time show business icons.

The list has been compiled by Variety, the trade publication, in celebration of its 100th birthday.

The list includes actors, directors, performers and musicians from every genre. But interestingly, it excludes all contemporary stars.

Unlike Premiere magazine, which earlier this year put Tom Cruise at No. 3 in its biggest-movie-stars-of-all-time list, Variety's editors — led by Stephen Gaydos — stuck with tried-and-true, mostly deceased stars.

In fact, no one who first made his mark in the current decade is included at all. And the only listees from the late 1980s or the entire 1990s are Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur and directors Quentin Tarantino and Pedro Almodóvar.

Among the living icons: Madonna and Michael Jackson from the 1980s, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood from the 1960s and musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Bob Marley, the Supremes, Johnny Cash and Barbra Streisand.

There are others in the music category, but missing are Bruce Springsteen, U2, Sting and — most glaringly — the queen of country music, Loretta Lynn, or its princess, Tammy Wynette.

The rest of Variety's all-time Top 10 includes Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse and Elvis Presley.

You'd almost think no one alive made the cut. And you'd almost be right.

But these lists are made to be discussed, debated and denigrated. That's the reason magazines make them.

No one can ever agree on what's the best movie or song or actor or show. And that's the idea; the more debate, the better.

Still, the Variety list will probably be characterized as a little wacky, kind of out of date, and focused more on the hand imprints in front of Graumann's Chinese Restaurant than a contemporary reckoning of who's been culturally influential.

How else to explain Mae West, costume designer Edith Head , silent-film star Mary Pickford , controversial silent-film director D.W. Griffith, rotund and oft-married Mickey Rooney and Rudolph Valentino? Are there actual Variety subscribers who remember these people as other than names from the distant past?

Equally strange is the inclusion of only one writer. Is it Kurt Vonnegut? Toni Morrison? Tom Wolfe? Stephen King? No, the only writer on a list of 100 icons is (drum roll please) former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel.

I mean, if you were thinking of a Czech writer who has actually had an impact on the culture, wouldn't it be Milan Kundera? And if you were thinking along international lines, Primo Levi certainly. Havel is no doubt a distant relation of Variety editor Peter Bart .

There will no doubt be the requisite unhappiness with the Variety list. But at least we know this: Lassie will be happy. And Pac-Man, too. But P. Diddy, Britney Spears, Tom Cruise and Tara Reid will all be on the phone with their publicists by noon.

McCartney, Stones, Streisand: Few CD Sales

The numbers are in, and they are not good.

Combined sales for new albums by established hitmakers of the past totaled less than a quarter million. The news should have the record business in a frenzy. But it doesn't.

New albums by Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, less than a month old, are already out of the Top 50.

Crushed by lack of radio play, "Chaos and Confusion in the Back Yard" and "A Bigger Bang" made little difference to fans who paid upward of $250 a ticket to see either act in concert this fall.

McCartney's album has sold about 160,000 copies. The Stones are just a little bit ahead, at around 220,000.

Barbra Streisand has fared no better. Her just-released "Guilty Pleasures," a 25th-anniversary nod to 1980's "Guilty" — both albums feature the singing and songwriting of the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb — has caused little excitement even among her rabid fans. "Guilty Pleasures" is also lodged at around 150,000 copies.

Another stalwart, Bonnie Raitt, is hovering at around a mere 100,000 units sold of her new "Souls Alike." And the late Ray Charles, whose "Genius Loves Company" won the Grammy only nine months ago, has racked up only a paltry 44,000 units sold of his posthumously compiled "Genius & Friends" in the last couple of weeks.

The total number of copies sold by this collection of older artists is a little less than 750,000.

A slightly younger act from the 1980s, Bon Jovi, is holding its own with its new "Have a Nice Day," but that seems largely attributed to an appearance on "Oprah."

Aerosmith, dating back a decade further, also have a new album — the live "Rockin' the Joint" comes out Oct. 25. They'd better be planning something big. The band's last album, "Honkin' on Bobo," barely went gold, with 580,000 copies sold. So far, the only publicity about "Rockin' the Joint" is that drummer Joey Kramer may be too ill to tour.

One bright spot could be Stevie Wonder's terrific new album, "A Time 2 Love." It hits stores on Oct. 18. But fans have been downloading it like crazy from all the legal servers. And Motown/Universal will be pulling out all the stops to push Stevie to No. 1 his first week out.

What's the problem? The remaining record companies cannot get buyers into stores, if they can even manage to communicate that a new CD is out. Then the companies can't get Clear Channel to play the CDs. Even "payola" won't work in these cases.

Maybe McCartney and the Stones, at least, should have copied Prince's lead and included a copy of their new CDs with each concert ticket sold. Considering how much money was frittered away in advertising and promotion for these albums, only to recoup small sales, it wouldn't have been such a bad idea.

Pierce Pierced by Bond Producers

Pierce Brosnan doesn't mince words when it comes to the producers of the James Bond movies.

In the new issue of Premiere magazine, Brosnan recalls what led to his dismissal from playing 007 after four movies.

In fact, Brosnan concisely uses the F-word to describe his disappointment. Yes, he would have liked to do a fifth movie.

"We were just getting the hang of it," he insists.

Something I thought was interesting: He learned about the dismissal while he was shooting "After the Sunset" with Salma Hayek . That would have been some time ago, since the movie has already come and gone from theaters.

His agents actually called him right before he shot a love scene with Hayek. Talk about being distracted!

And the Premiere interview was done before the news this week that "Layer Cake" star Daniel Craig , 15 years Brosnan's junior, would be stepping into 007's highly polished shoes.

If I were Brosnan, I'd let it go.

His new movie, "The Matador," is a winner. He will without a doubt get a Golden Globe nomination in that group's comedy category. He could even land an Oscar nomination, depending on how the rest of this fall's releases fare upon release.

Right now, semi-finalists in the best actor Oscar category include Ralph Fiennes for either "The Constant Gardener" or Merchant Ivory's upcoming "The White Countess," Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote" and David Straitharn for "Good Night, and Good Luck."

Brosnan's portrayal of a down-and-out hit man is a hoot, and the movie works consistently, through and through. And Hollywood can't have just character actors in that main category. Oscar needs some movie stars, too!