September 26, 2003 02:21 PM

SOLD: Madonna’s children’s story, “The English Roses,” which was published simultaneously around the world Sept. 15, will top The New York Times’s children’s list for the Oct. 5 edition. “It demonstrates once again that Madonna has an extraordinary gift for communicating with children of all ages,” Nicholas Callaway, the book’s American publisher, said in a statement. According to Nielsen BookScan, “Roses” sold 57,369 copies in its first full week, ranking No. 5 overall (on both the adult and kids’ sales lists). The top seller was Dr. Phil McGraw‘s “The Ultimate Weight Solution,” with sales of 215,536.

NAMED: “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” film composer John Williams, 71, will be the grand marshal of next Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day, reports the Associated Press. “I’ve never been to the Rose Parade, so I can’t wait,” said Williams, a five-time Oscar winner who scores just about all of Steven Spielberg’s movies. Tournament President Michael K. Riffey says this year’s theme is “Music, Music, Music.”

QUOTED: “I was having a lot of stomach problems and acid reflux and this and that. I had to fly home at one point and get an endoscopy on one of my days off. … I flew back and I was on stage the next night.” — Lisa Marie Presley, 35, to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on how she felt on her first tour, opening for Chris Isaak

DIED: Playwright Herb Gardner, 68, author of such hit Broadway comedies as “A Thousand Clowns” and the Tony-winning “I’m Not Rappaport,” died of lung disease Wednesday at his home, said his wife, Barbara Sproul. … Actor Stanley Fafara, 54, who played the character Hubert “Whitey” Whitney on TV’s “Leave it to Beaver” from 1957-1963, died Saturday in Portland, Ore., from causes related to chronic Hepatitis C, the Oregonian newspaper reports. Besides the popular sitcom, he also had roles on TV’s “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” and in the 1962 movie “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm,” in which he played Hansel.

ARRANGED: A free public memorial service for Johnny Cash (who died Sept. 12 at age 71) is set for Nov. 12 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, where the country music legend hosted a prime-time network TV show more than 30 years ago, reports AP. Details about who will take part in the service are expected to be announced in the next several weeks. A private funeral for Cash took place Sept. 15 near his home in Hendersonville, just north of Nashville.

REUNITED: The two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, 61, and Ringo Starr, 63, made a rare joint appearance at the world premiere of a documentary film for last year’s concert tribute to their late colleague, George Harrison, reports Reuters. The two (with their wives, Heather Mills and Barbara Bach), arrived separately at the Wednesday evening event but spoke briefly and posed together for pictures on the Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, California. The 90-minute film is due for release Oct. 3 in about three dozen cities.

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