SPLITSVILLE'S FIRST FAMILY RULES IN '93

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Add the 1993 Cover Story crown to the list of marital assets to be divided up between Hollywood's divorcing duo, Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson.

In a year that provided the world with a wealth of celebrity couplings and uncouplings, Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Anderson led the publicity pa rade, according to Advertising Age's Cover Story survey, a monthly check of the most visible celebrities based on their appear ances on more than 30 of the na tion's leading magazines.

Celebrities are awarded points based on prominence of photo and frequency of publication.

"Burt and Loni" media coverage, scoring a staggering 111 points, shattered 1992's record-breaking 91-point performance by then-President-elect Bill Clinton. By Ad Age's Cover Story standards, however, it was another good year for Mr. Clinton. He finished second in 1993, ahead of the odd-couple, ugly duckling duos of Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg and Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts.

Burt and Loni could hardly land a cover in the first half of 1993, but once the film and TV star

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served his wife with divorce papers in June, their unhappy faces became permanent fixtures on newsstands nationwide.

"They were a fairy tale that went bad, a top-of-the-wedding-cake couple that crumbled," said Brian Williams, the Enquirer editor who oversaw the tabloid's coverage of the duo's uncoupling.

In the customary way it has of dealing with celebrityhood, the public quickly found solace in the misery and bliss of other Hollywood pairings once it grew weary of Burt & Loni. The recently dissolved Danson-Goldberg relationship scored 51 points for sixth place, while 1993's most unlikely marriage-that of Mr. Lovett and Ms. Roberts-earned 32 points and finished eighth.

Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Anderson far outdistanced President Clinton, who garnered 87 points.

Newsweek Editor Maynard Parker said it was a typical showing on magazine covers for a first-year president. But he said he was surprised that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to finish higher, "seeing as she got so much coverage during the first half of the year." Mrs. Clinton tied Mr. Lovett and Ms. Roberts for eighth.

The woman who is first in the hearts of many Britons, Princess Diana, finished third with 80 points. Her prospects for finishing in 1994's top five could be diminished, however, since the Princess of Wales has cleared her calendar of public appearances and tabloids speculate that she is pressing for a divorce.

Talk show chattress Oprah Winfrey earned 74 points for fourth place. Ms. Winfrey got most of her points by again losing a lot of weight and for conducting a highly rated prime-time interview with fifth-place finisher Michael Jackson.

The pop superstar, who admitted to an addiction to painkillers and was accused of sexually molesting several boys, grabbed 72 points in 1993 and could earn even more in 1994.

"There's your cover boy for next year's survey," Mr. Williams said. "Michael Jackson will be the story of 1994."

Also in the top 10 were pop diva Whitney Houston, finishing seventh with 49 points, and Michael Jordan, whose retirement from the Chicago Bulls helped propel him to 30 points and 10th place.

For December's Cover Story race, Mr. Jackson took first place with 10 points. Angels garnered 9 points and second place through two cover stories in Time and Newsweek, debating whether the celestial beings exist and if the U.S. believes in them. Actor Tom Hanks was third with 8 points, and Ms. Winfrey and Mrs. Clinton tied for fourth with 6 points each.

Tied for sixth with 4 points: President Clinton; Elizabeth Taylor; Liam Neeson, star of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"; Mr. Spielberg; Ms. Goldberg; Kathie Lee Gifford; and Sally Jessy Raphael.M

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