COVER STORY;EDITORS KEEP POURING THE O.J.

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A heart-breaking accident and a hero's ordeal; movies with astronauts and caped crusaders; a blue-collar comedienne and a stylish TV vixen; the daughter of the King and the King of Pop; and that trial that seems to be lasting forever.

Such is the stuff of Cover Story for June.

The O.J. Simpson murder case returned to No. 1, a spot it has owned for 11 months out of the past 13, after being knocked into second place in May by the Oklahoma City bombing. The O.J. saga racked up 11.5 points based on nine cover appearances; the National Enquirer and Star accounted for all but one, with the Simpson children, Sydney and Justin, featured on Life.

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 publications.

A fateful riding accident put one-time Superman Christopher Reeve in second place. The actor's ordeal after a serious spinal cord injury earned him 8 points, based on six appearances in the tabloids and People.

Close behind in third place is dual Oscar winner Tom Hanks, as appearances in GQ, Premiere and Entertainment Weekly touted his latest role as astronaut Jim Lovell in the space saga "Apollo 13."

Details and Movieline went batty for Val Kilmer, earning the "Batman Forever" star the No. 4 spot with 6 points.

Tying for No. 5 with 51/2 points apiece are wisecracking Brett Butler and the couple that continues to perplex America, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley Jackson.

Another tie pops up in seventh place, with ever-popular TV hostess Oprah Winfrey scoring 5 points to match the performance of U.S. pilot Capt. Scott O'Grady, who survived six days alone in the woods of Bosnia before being rescued.

The resident shrew of "Melrose Place," Heather Locklear, earned the No. 9 spot with 4 points from two cover appearances.

And two divas and their soap operas racked up 3.5 points apiece to tie for No. 10. Meryl Streep won the spot thanks to her role in the fictional "Bridges of Madison County." The true-life tale of newswoman Connie Chung was enough to garner her a position, with the scoop on her dumping by CBS followed by news she had fulfilled her dream of motherhood by adopting a boy.

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