ROBERTS REPEATS AS JANUARY COVER GIRL

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It could become a New Year's tradition: Julia Roberts soared to the top of Cover Story for the second January in a row last month. The star of "Stepmom" earned 7.5 points, with appearances on Ladies' Home Journal, People and Us, in the wake of her holiday film release and a new romance with "Law & Order" star Benjamin Bratt.

Second place was claimed by Kathie Lee Gifford, as the morning talk-show maven toted up 5.5 points and three covers: Good Housekeeping, the National Enquirer and the Star.

Next came pop star Jewel, with a stylish turn on Vogue, as well as Entertainment Weekly and People, as her new album, "Spirit," invaded the charts.

Fourth place saw a three-way tie, with Hollywood denizens Leonardo DiCaprio and Gwyneth Paltrow scoring the same 4.5 points as the 1998 Cover Story king, President Clinton, whose impeachment imbroglio kept the press' attention to the tune of two covers apiece in the National Enquirer and Star. Ms. Paltrow was riding a wave of critical acclaim surrounding her role in "Shakespeare in Love," and won notice on Entertainment Weekly and InStyle; Mr. DiCaprio continues to fascinate, with starring roles on the covers of Us and the Star.

Next in order came "A Civil Action" star John Travolta, in seventh place with 4 points. The actor continued to enjoy his reborn career, appearing on Bazaar with his wife Kelly Preston, as well as the National Enquirer. Ms. Preston also figured in the crowd vying for eighth place.

Eighth place produced a 17-way tie, with an assorted cast claiming 3 points apiece. Among those in the newsstand mix were: Robert Duvall, Heidi Klum, Shirley Manson, Susan Sarandon, Rod Stewart, James Van Der Beek and Vince Vaughn.

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

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