- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

Bucky does ‘A.I.’ proud

If you wanted yet another indication of the power of “American Idol,” try this one on for size: The top country music artist in the nation this week is Bucky Covington.

No, we aren’t kidding.

Mr. Covington, who finished eighth on last season’s “American Idol,” sold 61,000 copies of his self-titled debut album (on the Lyric Street label), Zap2it.com reports. On the main Billboard album chart, that put the North Carolina native’s album behind Avril Lavigne’s “The Best Damn Thing” (286,000 copies sold), Nine Inch Nails’ “Year Zero” (187,000) and the “NOW 24” compilation (68,000).

More impressive stats about Mr. Covington’s debut: Just two other country acts — Tim McGraw and Martina McBride — have debuted in the top four on the overall Billboard charts this year, and Mr. Covington is the only new country act to debut in the top five so far.

Not impressed yet?

The 61,000 albums sold represent not only 2007’s biggest unit debut from any new country artist, but also the best first-week sales and highest Top 200 chart position for any new male country artist since Miley Cyrus’ dad Billy Ray moved 90,000 copies of “Some Gave All” in its premiere week back in 1992.

Mr. Covington still has a way to go to keep up with last season’s “Idol” album champ, Chris Daughtry. The rocker’s partially self-titled debut has gone double-platinum and is still the seventh-best-selling album in the land after 22 weeks on the charts.

HBO sails to ‘Pacific

HBO Films has given the green light to “The Pacific,” the long-gestating 10-hour miniseries from executive producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg that serves as the follow-up to the duo’s Emmy-winning 2001 HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, filming on the epic — which HBO Films is producing in association with Playtone and DreamWorks Television — is set to begin this summer in Australia.

A companion piece to the World War II saga “Brothers,” “Pacific” tracks the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines — Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge — across the vast canvas of the Pacific, from the first clash with the Japanese in the jungles of Guadalcanal to the triumphant return home after V-J Day.

Production will be based at Melbourne Central City Studios in Melbourne, Victoria, with filming set to take place in Melbourne, where U.S. troops camped in 1943, and far north Queensland.

“Pacific” is based on the books “With the Old Breed” by Mr. Sledge and “Helmet for My Pillow” by Mr. Leckie as well as original interviews conducted by the filmmakers and Hugh Ambrose, son of “Brothers” author Stephen E. Ambrose, who died in 2002. Hugh Ambrose serves as a consultant on the miniseries.

Mr. Hanks and Mr. Spielberg will executive produce “Pacific” with Mr. Hanks’ partner at Playtone, Gary Goetzman, who served as a co-executive producer on “Brothers.” Another “Brothers” co-executive producer, Tony To, is back and will co-executive produce with “Brothers” writer Graham Yost.

This is their concert

John Mellencamp will be offering patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center a full concert performance, airing at 8 tonight on HDNet.

The performance will take place in Building 41, the historical Old Red Cross Building on the grounds of the center’s Northwest campus. This is the same building in which generations of performers, dating back to the era of Bob Hope, Martha Raye and Jimmy Durante, lent their talents to entertain Walter Reed’s patients and staff.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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