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New Harry Potter Already No. 1 in Sales

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Mark Stewart/Camera Press/Retna

ZOOMED: One day after the announcement that the sixth book in the teen wizard series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will hit bookstores on both sides of the Atlantic on July 16, the title is already No. 1 on the list in the U.K., with a similar ranking expected in the U.S. Pre-orders of the J.K. Rowling work are being discounted by American retailers, including, Barnes & Noble and the Borders chains, all of which sent e-mails to its customers promising to deliver the $29.95 book for $17.99 (40 percent off), if it is pre-ordered today. To date, the Harry Potter titles have sold 250 million copies worldwide.

ACCUSED: Robert Blake made no attempt to aid his dying wife when he found her shot in the family car, according to witnesses who testified in the Barretta star’s murder trial Tuesday. Instead, said witness Sean Stanek, who called 911 after Blake pounded on his front door that night and was the first witness at the crime scene, the actor was hyperventilating and screaming, “What happened to her? Did we get robbed?” The actor, he said, never attempted to get near her slumped body. Blake, 71, has denied murdering his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, in May 2001.

RATED: The nearly 17-million-strong audience for The Apprentice 2 finale’s hiring of Kelly Perdew was down sharply from last April’s 28 million viewers for Bill Rancic, but Donald Trump still gave NBC its top-rated show for the week, according to Nielsen Media Research. The network’s decision to stretch the latest finale over three hours helped dilute the numbers. But even in the second hour, The Apprentice was beaten by a rerun of CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

SUED: Snoop Dogg (real name: Calvin Broadus) has sued a woman and her attorneys for extortion, alleging they demanded $5 million to keep silent about an alleged assault against her, reports the Associated Press. The defendant was listed only as “Jane Doe” to protect her privacy, Snoop Dogg publicist Meredith O’Sullivan said Tuesday. O’Sullivan also declined to identify the woman’s attorneys. The rapper’s legal papers claim that he was not involved in the alleged assault at a performance in 2003.

DISPUTED: The 1960’s band The Turtles is suing the Applebees restaurant chain for $75,000, claiming that the music and voices in a TV commercial using their 1967 hit “Happy Together” is too close for comfort and turns a “sweet love song to a crass paean to shrimp and steak combination plates,” according to legal papers. Singer Ron Dante, of the Archies, performs in the new commercial (he is not part of the legal action), and claims he was asked to sing the jingle in “patented Archies style,” not to copy the Turtles.

DIED: Blues singer-guitarist Son Seals, 62, who helped establish Chicago-based Alligator Records, died Monday in Chicago of complications from diabetes, says the Hollywood Reporter. He won three W.C. Handy Blues Awards and received a 1980 Grammy nomination for his work on the live compilation Blues Deluxe. Award-winning muckraking New York journalist Jack Newfield, 66, whose circle included Robert Kennedy and Muhammad Ali, died Tuesday after a bout with cancer.

PUBLISHED: The latest Harry Potter won’t show up until summer, so happy are the book buyers who, come spring, can get their hands on the Twinkie cookbook, in honor of the sweet’s 75th anniversary. The New York Post, previewing some of the tasty recipes contained inside, says the book contains meal suggestions ranging from a Twinkie mousse to a Twinkie kabob. The paper also reports that in three-quarters of a century, more than 32 billion Twinkies have been consumed. Time to hit the gym.