Garth News 



EMI expects boffo Brooks biz

By Adam Sandler

NASHVILLE (Variety) - With a record 8.5 million copies of ``Garth Brooks: Double Live'' shipped, the country giant is making sure his fans don't get caught short this time around.

The Capitol Nashville Records 25-track, two-disc set -- which chronicles the country music superstar's performances from 1991 to the present -- is set to bow Nov. 17.

The music industry has dubbed that day ``Super Tuesday,'' because releases from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, as well as the triple disc soundtrack set from ``Prince of Egypt,'' will also debut.

Brooks' set is being advanced with lofty expectations and a multimillion dollar promotional campaign befitting his status as the best-selling solo artist on the planet. The country phenomenon's 85 million albums in the marketplace also makes him the industry's second-bestselling act behind the Beatles.

Seven months ago, Brooks' label underestimated demand for the singer's last album, ``The Limited Series,'' a limited edition boxed-set, and had to press additional copies at enormous expense. By contrast, the label's parent, EMI, has pressed plenty of ``Double Live'' discs.

``Retail is going out of their way to help make this album a success,'' Brooks told Daily Variety. ``But (their efforts) are also going to help the industry sell albums from other artists, because hopefully we're helping to bring people into the stores.''

Wal-Mart executives predict one million albums will be sold the first day, something Brooks has been reiterating in an effort to motivate fans and store employees.

As an added incentive, Brooks will be performing live via closed circuit TV to all of the Wal-Mart stores the same day.

The mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart and Target, are country music strongholds and will do the lion's share of business with the Brooks set, which, despite a list price of $29.98, will likely sell for under $14.

Brooks will be busy hawking the ``Live'' set. In addition to his Wal-Mart promotion, he'll perform a trio of live concerts on NBC Nov. 18. Starting each broadcast at 8 p.m., he'll sing for three different time zones. He'll also make a number of TV appearances on country music-friendly talk shows such as ``The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.''

Brooks intends to take a year off from performing when he concludes his latest roadshow, a tour which he has been on for nearly three years and wraps this week in Belfast, Ireland.

But he probably won't be sitting at home watching TV. Instead, Brooks will be putting pen to paper scribbling songs or scripts. He'll also be finishing a pair of soundtracks and producing a film for Paramount Pictures called ``The Lamb,'' a psychological thriller about an obsessive fan. Jeb Stuart, who will write the script, is currently working as a roadie on Brooks' tour.

Brooks admits he's still a bit leery of the way Hollywood works.

``There are a million places to drop the ball (on a film),'' Brooks said. ``Many more than putting out an album. But I've always been someone who questions why things have been done a certain way. Maybe we can do it a little differently on the (film side).''

While ``The Lamb'' works its way through the production maze, Brooks will be finishing the music for the CBS made-for-TV movie, ``The Colors of Christmas,'' which Brooks' Red Strokes production banner is shepherding for a holiday bow next year. Second unit work for the picture is currently underway in New York.

He's also working on a duet album with MCA Nashville songstress Trisha Yearwood.

Brooks' track record of breaking long established records in short periods extends to the recent tour: it broke almost every previously held attendance record at the 100 venues at which it stopped and has grossed nearly $110 million, a country music record and one of the concert industry's top arena tour tallies. The Brooks tour played to more than 5 million fans, logged nearly 350 shows, and did it with a $20 ticket price, the industry's lowest for a superstar act.

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