December 28, 2001 12:00 PM

U2 RULES: Year-end tallies for the concert business are in, and U2 has come out on top. The Irish band had the second biggest tour ever — generating $109.7 million in estimated ticket sales, second only to the Rolling Stones’s 1994 gross of $121.2 million. Otherwise, according to Pollstar magazine, 2001 was an off year for many groups and solo acts, with ticket sales down 7 percent. But U2 managed to sell out venues across the U.S. with a back-to-basics show, even adding dates after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

JULIA’S NEXT: Julia Roberts, 34, will host a documentary called “Old Friends” for the A&E network, according to Variety. The program, which is currently in production and expected to air late next year, focuses on the enduring friendship of Chicago natives Mildred Mulligan, Helen Klipinger and Ann Pritchard, who have been pals since meeting in grade school in 1906. Last month, Roberts and her film crew attended Klipinger’s 103rd birthday in the sleepy L.A. suburb of West Covina. The program reportedly will include interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds on what it means to be a friend. Roberts’s company, Shoelace, is producing.

MARIAH’S SLUMP: After her highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown last summer and the failure of her movie debut, “Glitter,” now comes news that Mariah Carey’s record company, the EMI Group’s Virgin label, is preparing to end its relationship with the star. According to the Los Angeles Times, only about 2 million copies of the pop diva’s September release — which shares the name of Carey’s failed film debut — have been sold around the world, resulting in an estimated $10 million loss for the company, including marketing costs. EMI is preparing to offer Carey, 31, a settlement to break her contract, the Times reports.

RODDICK ROCKS: Tennis ace Andy Roddick, 19 — named a rising star in the current PEOPLE issue devoted to the most intriguing people of 2001 — and his celebrity net pals Serena and Venus Williams, Brenda Shultz and Chris Evert, gathered in Florida over the holiday weekend. The purpose: The Andy Roddick Alumni Sports Weekend at his alma matter, Boca Raton Preparatory School, reports PEOPLE. “It was a pretty intimate event,” Roddick said after a three-hour tennis marathon. The affair raised about $50,000 for an Andy Roddick Scholarship (a grant for an underprivileged child to attend the elite Boca Prep) and for the “Back-To-Basic Angel” program, which provides very basic necessities to nearly 6,000 kids in South Florida.

MODE O’MADONNA: What do you give the woman who has everything? How about her own tartan — known to most Americans as the plaid pattern sported mainly in Scotland. Tourist authorities in that country have devised an original tartan pattern to honor Madonna and the attention they say she has brought to the Highlands, reports the Associated Press. The blue, yellow, white and purple plaid has been registered officially with the Scottish Tartans Society Register. On Dec. 22, 2000, Madonna married British film director Guy Ritchie at Skibo castle in Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland. (She was 42; he, 32.) As a result, said Scott Armstrong of the Scotland Tourist Board, the “Madonna effect” has inspired a significant rise in the number of couples spending romantic holidays in Highland castles. This year, for instance, Ashley Judd and racing driver Dario Franchitti married in the Highlands.

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