SIMPSON SAGA AGAIN NO. 1 COVER STORY

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August was a month that saw flexible funnyman Jim Carrey become a major, albeit improbable, Hollywood star, Major League Baseball players go on strike, and Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley celebrate their surreal marriage with a global goodwill tour-slash-honeymoon.

But despite all that hubbub, the O.J. Simpson murder case still emerges with the August Cover Story crown.

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

Driving Mr. Simpson to the top of this pop chart was weekly attention paid by supermarket tabloids like The National Enquirer and The Star. Newsweek delivered a dishy expose on Mr. Simpson's private life, while People offered profiles on the two people the former football great is accused of murdering in June-Nicole Simpson, Mr. Simpson's ex-wife, and Ronald Goldman, her friend.

Simpson Murder Mania managed to generate 11 points on the strength of 11 cover appearances.

Prediction: Mr. Simpson's trial begins Sept. 19, so look for this story to win its fourth consecutive Cover Story title next month. The former Hertz Corp. spokesman's case accounted for 12 points in the July survey of magazine covers and 8 in June.

For a brief, shining moment in August, media attention was diverted from Mr. Simpson to the Jackson-Presley union. Magazine editors toasted the couple's wedded bliss with seven cover appearances, earning 7 points.

The Major League Baseball strike generated 4 points the week of Aug. 22. Then everyone forgot about it and got ready for football.

Mr. Carrey, the rubbery star of "The Mask," placed fourth with 4 points on two covers.

Tied for sixth with 3 points each: the civil war in Rwanda, crime in America, Nicolas Cage, Madonna and the Rolling Stones.

Joe Mandese coordinates MediaWorks.

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