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HYPE

EUREKA, ERYKAH
After a smash year, hip-hop artist Puff Daddy was expected to be showered with attention at the Soul Train Music Awards last month. Well, it didn't happen. Instead Erykah Badu reigned supreme. She collected four awards, including best new artist and album. Sean "Puffy" Combs' lone award in a competitive category was for his "I'll Be Missing You" video. Perhaps Puffy should get an award for best performance as a gracious loser. After three award shows (Soul Train, American Music and the Grammys), Combs scored 17 nominations but only three awards.

SUNSCREEN TAKES HEAT
Sun worshipers, don't rely on sunscreen to save your skin.

The use of sunscreen has risen dramatically over the years. But catch what scientists reported last week after looking at 10 skin cancer studies: In eight, sunscreen didn't help prevent cancer; in two, cancer actually increased. And the most dangerous skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is on the rise.

So should you skip the 'screen? No way! Experts said they weren't all that surprised by the findings -- after all, they never said sunscreen offers 100 percent protection against skin cancer. Also, malignant melanoma usually takes years to develop, and many people who use sunscreen now didn't use it years ago. And people often plunk it on and mistakenly think it means they can stay out in the sun forever.

So what's the smartest way under the sun to act? Wear sunscreen, but also avoid prolonged sun exposure. If you're fair-skinned, wear protective clothing, like brimmed hats.

PLAYFUL CARD
With the release of Topps' Screen Plays Sound Chips card, the longtime trading card company ventures into multimedia. Sort of.

The card, about the size and shape of an audio cassette, consists of a moving photo that advances frames as you tilt it. Press a button on the back of the card and listen to the play-by-play call of what's being shown in the video, which is Cal Ripken slugging a homer in his 2,131st game. (Topps is waiting to see the reaction to this card before producing others; so far, we hear it's a hit.) The card is out now at hobby and card stores. (Because it's sold to stores as part of a box deal, prices will vary, but it was about $15 at stores we checked.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY
"It's the only business in the world where people thank you for making them cry."

-- "Titanic" director James Cameron, talking about moviemaking in Entertainment Weekly.

-- Knight Ridder

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