CULTURE POP: COVER STORY: BILL + SEX SCANDAL = BLANKET COVERAGE

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Hurricane Monica swept through newsstands in February, in a media whirlwind whose fury outstripped even the tsunami of Cover Story scandalmonging: O.J. Simpson. The never-ending revelations of what may or may not have transpired between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky racked up 17.5 points with 14 covers, including a rare feat: two triple-plays on Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report.

Even at the height of O.J. fever, his trial only earned 16 points, upon his acquittal. But he did make a brief return to the spotlight -- in a 24-way tie for eighth place with 3 points thanks to an exclusive Esquire interview.

Everyone else was just a bit player compared to the story du jour, with Rosie O'Donnell coming in second with 6.5 points. "Good Will Hunting" wunderkind stars/writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck both made the top 10, with Mr. Damon taking third with 5 points, and his cohort earning 4 in a tie with Michelle Kwan for fifth. Kevin Bacon won fourth with 4.5 points, while his wife, Kyra Sedgewick, took seventh with 3.5. Among those tying with O.J. were Claire Danes and Marilyn Manson.

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.

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