SIMPSON TRIAL TOPS COVER TALLY AGAIN

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Try as they might, the pecadillos of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, just aren't scandalous enough to budge the O.J. Simpson murder trial off the top of the Cover Story survey.

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

The never-ending erosion of England's unhappily ever-after royal couple displaced the latest lurid dispatch from the Simpson front for at least a few weeks in October. Still, Simpson media mania remained strong enough to manage 7 points, squeezing by Chuck and Di, who together chalked up 6 points.

Once again The National Enquirer and The Star led the way on O.J., with coverage of Judge Lance Ito's latest tongue-lashing of the media and his denouncement of a juicy telltale book about Mr. Simpson's deceased ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

People also contributed to the Simpson media circus, but did its best to put Charles and Diana on top, devoting two covers to the doleful duo. Lady Di is said to be looking to move into New York's Trump Tower, home to Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie Presley, who were among the celebs tied for fifth place.

Grungy actor Johnny Depp scored 4 points, getting notice for his performance in the new film "Ed Wood" and for busting up a New York hotel room. Mr. Depp tied for third with for mer President Jimmy Carter, who worked a Newsweek-Time same-week coup for his role in negotiating a relatively peaceful turnover of political power in Haiti.

Crowding into the fifth-place spot and keeping Michael and Lisa-Marie company, each with three points: "Interview With a Vampire" star Tom Cruise; country crooner Lyle Lovett, whom tabloids have cheating on "Pretty Woman" wife Julia Roberts; R.E.M., which released its new album "Monster" last month; sex in America; and the heated debate involving the relationship between IQ and race.

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