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Grim news of war and refugees in a distant land overwhelmed celebrity tales in April, with the war in Yugoslavia dominating newsstands for the month.

NATO's aerial onslaught against the forces of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic captured 11 points and eight newsweekly covers for the month, including back-to-back triple plays on Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report as the Balkan battle began. The story also made the cover of People.

Close behind with 9 points is the glam star with girl-next-door appeal, Sandra Bullock, who snagged three monthlies with publicity for her latest, "Forces of Nature." She could be seen on McCall's and Movieline, as well as sharing Harper's Bazaar with her current co-star, Ben Affleck, who tied in ninth place with 13 others.

Third place was won by TV's favorite stalker, with Sarah Michelle Gellar staking her claim to two covers and 6 points. The star of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" appeared on Premiere and Us to help promote the opening of her latest movie, "Cruel Intentions."

Fourth place found a trio of stars sharing the honor. Country sensation Garth Brooks; ailing former talk-show host Johnny Carson; and TV star Brooke Shields, who is headed for divorce, each claimed 4 points.

Another tie cropped up in seventh place, with TV stars Kirstie Alley and Dylan McDermott both scoring 3.5 points. Besides Mr. Affleck, those tying for ninth place include: Drew Carey, Goldie Hawn, Ryan Phillippe and Charlize Theron.

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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