HAPPENINGS TEN YEARS TIME AGO
March 26 to April 1, 1997
MTV fire a string of onscreen presenters, after US ratings drop by 20 per cent. The station’s facelift, which it claims will result in the screening of about 20 extra hours of videos a week, with a stronger emphasis on indie, electronica and dance artists, is also believed to have been prompted by a hugely critical music biz poll. The survey, by the Record Industry Association of America, suggests that MTV has become “surprisingly irrelevant” to consumers.
A New York judges dismisses a $7 million lawsuit against Motley Crue. The group were taken to court by a concert-goer who claimed he suffered permanent hearing loss after attending one of their shows.
Just weeks after the rapper’s death, The Notorious BIG’s album Life After Death tops the US albums chart, with first-week sales of close to 700,000.
The Chemical Brothers enter the UK singles chart at Number One with “Block Rockin’ Beats”. The Spice Girls’ debut Spice has now headed the albums list for a combined total of 13 weeks since its release the previous November.
The Spice Girls are also the first faces seen on the new terrestrial station Channel 5, performing a specially rewritten version of the Manfred Mann hit “5-4-3-2-1”.
Sylvester Stallone is rumoured to be in talks to star as a gun-runner in Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming movie Jackie Brown. The role ultimately goes to Samuel L Jackson.
Horror writer Stephen King, long thought to be unhappy with Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining, announces that the book is to be made into a mini-series. However, a planned TV version of the author’s The Green Mile has been scrapped in favour of a big screen treatment, helmed by Frank Darabont, Oscar-nominated for directing King’s short story The Shawshank Redemption.
Sci-fi novelist Martin Caidin, whose 1972 book Cyborg was the basis for the hit TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, dies of thyroid cancer, aged 69.
Sesame Street director Jon Stone, who co-created Big Bird and Cookie Monster with Jim Henson, dies at the age of 65.
Twelve-year-old Joanna Pacitti is fired by producers of the Broadway musical Annie, just weeks before its due to begin a 20th anniversary run, for weak performances in rehearsals. The girl’s parents hit the talk show circuit, and start legal action against Macy’s department store who sponsored the original competition to find a new child star.
Police in California discover the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate religious cult at a compound in San Diego, dead from an overdose of phenobarbital mixed with vodka, in an apparent suicide pact. The cultists’ main belief was that the recent sighting of the Hale-Bopp comet would be the signal to shed their earthly bodies and board a spacecraft to take them to a higher plain of existence.
Charles Manson’s ninth parole hearing in 20 years is unsuccessful, authorities concluding that an early release “would pose an unreasonable risk and danger to society, and a threat to public safety.”
President Bill Clinton becomes the owner of a chocolate-coloured labrador called Buddy, telling reporters “if you want a friend in Washington, you have to get a dog.”