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April 1998



1
Howard Stern and CBS announce the shock jock will host a late-night show to rival Saturday Night Live, with a combination of guests, comedy sketches and, of course, tasteless Stern pranks. The show is set to debut in August.
The Simpsons will sound the same next season. After weeks of heated negotiations, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, who provide the voices of more than 40 different characters on the show, renew their contracts with Twentieth Century Fox TV. Details are not released, but rumors put their salaries at about $50,000 an episode, up from the $30,000 they earned this season.
3
Rob Pilatus, 32, one half of the disgraced pop duo Milli Vanilli, dies from an alleged drug overdose in a Frankfurt, Germany, hotel room. The band won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1989 but surrendered the award when it was discovered that Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan lip-synched the songs, which were actually sung by studio musicians.
Michael Jackson and wife Debbie Rowe welcome their second child. Paris Michael Katherine Jackson (a girl) weighs in at seven pounds, nine ounces. She joins 1-year-old brother, Prince Michael Jackson, Jr.
6
The “First Lady of Country Music,” Tammy Wynette, dies in her sleep from a blood clot. She was 55 and had been ailing for several years. She was best known for her gravelly voice and her signature song, “Stand By Your Man,” which urged women to stick by their partners regardless of their slipups because “after all, he's just a man.” Wynette didn't heed her own advice, having married five times. She recorded more than 50 albums, sold more than 30 million albums and won the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year Award three times. Her other hits include “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “I Still Believe in Fairy Tales.”
The unthinkable happens: Titanic sinks at the box office. For the first time in 15 weeks, the highest-grossing film of all time takes second place, behind Lost in Space, which took in $20.1 million to Titanic's $11.5 million.
Lollapalooza organizers cancel the annual traveling music festival for 1998, claiming they couldn't enlist a prominent headliner. Fest co-owner Ted Gardner promises the show will go on in 1999.
ABC wins broadcast rights to the Oscars through 2008. Viewers are winners, too, as the network plans to start the show a half hour earlier and limit commercial time.
7
Republican Mary Bono wins the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives left vacant by her late husband, Sonny Bono, who died in a January skiing accident. She defeats Democrat Ralph Waite, best known as “Pa” on The Waltons.
Singer George Michael is arrested in Beverly Hills for allegedly engaging in an unspecified lewd act in the restroom of a park.
Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and the soon-to-be former husband of former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, pleads no contest to a felony charge of spousal abuse. He'll serve at least six months in jail. In February, Anderson filed for divorce after a domestic dispute that left her with a broken nail and redness on her lower back.
8
Jerry and his self-absorbed friends film the last episode of Seinfeld. The audience of approximately 300 close friends and family members took vows of secrecy before taking their seats.
There will be one less awards show next year. Members of the National Academy of Cable Programming vote to do away with the CableAce Awards, which honor excellence in cable-television programming. The annual awards have been upstaged by the more prestigious Emmys and Golden Globes.
10
George Michael reveals on CNN that he's gay and admits that his recent arrest in a Beverly Hills public bathroom was the result of recklessness. “I want people to know I haven't been exposed as a gay man,” he said. “I don't feel any shame. I feel stupid and reckless and weak for having allowed my sexuality to be exposed this way.”
13
The Love Boat sets sail again, though it's likely destined a fate similar to the Titanic. UPN's The Love Boat features Robert Urich at the helm as Captain Jim Kennedy III, replacing Gavin MacLeod's Captain Stubing.
Philip Roth wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his American Pastoral.
USA Today reports that former host of Saturday Night Live's “Weekend Update” Norm Macdonald will anchor a similar skit on Howard Stern's upcoming late-night show. Macdonald was fired from the show because “he stopped being funny.”
17
Linda McCartney, the wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, dies from cancer at age 56. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and in March, she learned the cancer had spread to her liver. Linda was a photographer when the couple met. She joined Paul's post-Beatles band, Wings, as a backup singer and keyboard player. She was a strict vegetarian and produced a line of vegetarian food. The couple have three children, Mary, Stella and James, and Linda has a child, Heather, from a previous marriage.
19
Jimmy Smits, who plays Detective Bobby Simone on ABC's NYPD Blue announces he's leaving the show. “The support I have had on NYPD Blue has been incredible, and there was a lot at stake in the beginning,” Smits said. “I feel now I can walk away and know I achieved what I wanted with this show. I acted a cop, not a Jimmy Smits persona.” Smits replaced David Caruso four seasons ago. He'll return for six episodes next season so he can be written out of the show.
23
ABC officially pulls the plug on Ellen. The move comes as no surprise, as the show's ratings have been in the dumps, Ellen DeGeneres has been publicly lambasting the network and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place ran in favor of Ellen during the May sweeps.
Sixteen former guests of the Jerry Springer Show reveal that — gasp — the screaming, biting and punching were just histrionics. “We acted everything,” said one guest identified only as Gary. “They wanted us to wrestle and throw each other around.” Show spokesman Jim Benson denies the allegations of fraud. “Our guests are required to be truthful in their rendition of personal experiences and sign a legal statement of such compliance,” he said. “The Jerry Springer Show uses its best efforts to avoid being tricked or defrauded, but, of course, like any news or magazine show, cannot guarantee that such efforts will always be successful.”
27
Television's hottest and most vulgar third graders will continue to flatulate right on through the millennium. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone agree to write, produce and provide the voices for Comedy Central's highest-rated show for two more seasons. They will also write and produce an R-rated animated feature film. The deals are said to be worth $1.5 million for Parker and Stone.
The Lion King takes six Outer Critics Circle Awards, including featured actress in a musical, direction in a musical and choreography. Ragtime takes best musical and The Beauty Queen of Leenane wins the nod for best Broadway play. The Outer Critics is an organization of theater writers for out-of-town newspapers and national publications.
29
The principal of South Carolina's Irmo High School cancels an Indigo Girls concert scheduled for May 7 after several parents complained about “the sexuality issue.” The group's singers, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, are both lesbians. School spokesman Buddy Price said the issue was “polarizing” the community.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

March 1998The Year in Entertainment: 1998May 1998

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