Garth Goes Wal-Mart

Some tidbits that plop into an Arts & Leisure editor's mailbox or zap onto his computer screen:

* Country music superstar Garth Brooks will give a special live concert exclusively for customers in Wal-Mart stores (Nov. 17, 9 p.m.). Brooks and his band will perform from a studio in Los Angeles, with the concert beamed via satellite to televisions in more than 2,300 Wal-Mart electronics departments across the country.

I'm there. Can I grab a soda at the lunch counter and pull up a recliner from home furnishings?

* Speaking of Wal-Mart, the retail giant is also tying itself to "The Prince of Egypt," the cartoon feature from DreamWorks based on the story of Moses in the Bible.

Wal-Mart will offer a special gift pack: two tickets to the movie, a storybook, and a music CD for $19.96. Employees will appear in ads touting the movie, which opens Dec. 18. "We see this as an opportunity to offer our customers a family-friendly movie that speaks of hope and faith and miracles," Wal-Mart's Alex Clarke told the Los Angeles Times.

Last week "Antz," also from DreamWorks, became the highest-grossing non-Disney cartoon of all time, $67.7 million so far.

* In Florida, nearly every theater is running what looks like an ad for a new "conspiracy" movie. Tense faces, quick cuts, and eery lighting build the suspense: What is the "deadly toxic substance" surreptitiously killing millions? The plague, it turns out, isn't the work of evil aliens. It's tobacco.

The Florida Department of Health, which sponsors the ad, is also asking movie patrons to write to actors and sign petitions urging Hollywood to cut back on on-screen smoking.

The trailer looks convincing. It should. The director of photography is Ward Russell, whose credits include "The X-Files" movie.

* Our Oct. 23 cover story called documentaries "suddenly chic." Since then, a new Nielsen Media Research poll confirms their popularity. It says 85 percent of American households tune in to documentaries on television.

Hmmm. The study was commissioned by The Documentary Channel, which premires next year.

* Actor James Woods told CNN recently he was worried about a scene in "John Carpenter's Vampires" in which he comes out of a motel and it blows up.

"So I'm going to be in the motel when all the stuff is wired with all these explosive devices in the hundred barrels of gasoline?" he asked.

And what happens if it goes off by accident?

Replied director Carpenter: "We don't have a sequel."

* No ruffled feathers intended:

Our photo caption (Oct. 30, Page B4) said a new Broadway production of "Swan Lake" has an all-male cast. Au contraire. All the swans are men, but two of the other roles are danced by women.

The show's press representative didn't seem upset, saying, "We're used to it, everyone does it."

* Questions? Comments? Send an e-mail to entertainment@csps.com

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