A GOOD, GOOD THING ON COVERS: KIDMAN

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Combine Hollywood's hottest couple with a legendary director, and the resultant publicity for their controversial movie-"Eyes Wide Shut"-was guaranteed to top the Cover Story chart for July. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise separately earned enough points to capture the top two spots with 9 and 7 points respectively. Ms. Kidman shared the spotlight with her superstar husband on Time and Us, while appearing alone on Good Housekeeping and Rolling Stone. Mr. Cruise also was featured on Harper's Bazaar.

Another pair of Tinseltown co-stars could be seen in a tie for third place, with Salma Hayek and Will Smith both scoring 5 points with the opening of their summer movie, "Wild Wild West." The actors appeared together on Entertainment Weekly and the Star, while Ms. Hayek graced the front of George and Mr. Smith was on Vanity Fair.

Another tragedy in the Kennedy family produced a media frenzy that generated 4 points for the late John F. Kennedy Jr., who in late July appeared on all three newsweeklies, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report. The death of Mr. Kennedy, his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette in a plane crash also inspired special issues of several magazines, and a spate of covers in early August.

The race for sixth place attracted a dozen hopefuls, each with 3 points, including pop star Brandy, actresses Claire Danes, Heather Graham, Heather Locklear and Meg Ryan, tennis star Patrick Rafter and the U.S. Women's Soccer Team.

Cover Story is Ad Age's monthly ranking of celebrities' popularity as reflected by their appearances on the covers of more than 30 of the nation's leading

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