Despite all the hoopla regarding the release of Michael Jackson's "Bad" album last week, don't look for it on this week's Billboard album charts: It doesn't appear anywhere in the Top 200. That's not because it hasn't been selling -- 2.25 million copies were in stores Aug. 31 and another 500,000 have been shipped since. Industry insiders say CBS asked retailers whose sales reports are the basis for Billboard's charts not to report the album this week, but to wait until next week. That will give "Bad" two weekends' worth of sales -- including Labor Day weekend, the second largest for retail sales after Thanksgiving -- and should allow the album to open at No. 1, a feat accomplished only five times in 20 years.

"I think it was very carefully planned," said Billboard editor Tom Noonan last Friday as the charts were being compiled in Los Angeles. "They're trying to ensure that it doesn't debut this week ... by making sure we don't get over 40 percent of the retail panel reporting." Billboard, which must rely on dealers' cooperation in compiling chart positions, has a strict rule that unless 40 percent of the panel reports, it won't put an album on the charts in its first week.

Still, Noonan says, CBS may have had some justification for its stall tactics. Usually, 80 percent of Billboard's retail calls are made on Mondays, but because of the holiday weekend, those calls had to be made Friday. And because CBS didn't preship to rack jobbers or one-stops -- key customers who then had to ship the album to their branches, which in turn had to get it out to locations -- many outlets didn't have "Bad" until Tuesday or Wednesday. Those smaller accounts, Noonan points out, represent about 20 percent of chart position information. "CBS obviously felt it was not a fair reflection based on three or four days in-store," he says.

Of course, there's also the Jackson camp's ego factor. "I had lunch in early July with {Jackson's manager} Frank Dileo and he said he didn't care where it debuted because he knew it would go to No. 1," says Noonan. Of course, that was before Whitney Houston's "Whitney" opened at No. 1, also with a little manipulation (Arista shipped the record in midweek and asked retailers to hold off reporting until the following week).

The Boston Benefits

The Washington-based Farm organization has just awarded its man of the year honors to Tom Scholz of the band Boston for his opposition to cruelty to animals. Scholz, a vegetarian, is a strong supporter of Greenpeace, the activist organization opposed to (among other things) the killing of whales. Scholz recently contributed the royalties for the single "To Be a Man" to Greenpeace -- a donation of more than $200,000. Last night's Capital Centre concert raised $155,000 for Hospices of America. "It became apparent they needed a shot in the arm," says Scholz. "They're getting loaded down by all the AIDS patients in the last couple of years, and with government dragging its feet on both the state and national level, somebody's got to do something, and maybe this will help. There's a lot of confusion about efforts to slow down AIDS and it was time to stand up and say 'Hey, there's people dying, and they need help.' "

Dead, but Lively

Also visiting town this week, of course, is the Grateful Dead, with concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Capital Centre (Friday is drummer Mickey Hart's birthday, fans). Hot on the heels of its first-ever Top 10 album and its quickest platinum effort ever, the Dead is also about to score its first-ever Top 10 single with "A Touch of Gray," currently No. 11 (with a bullet) on the Billboard charts. And the CD version of the album is currently the hottest selling CD in the country.

This week the Dead unveils "So Far," a 55-minute film mixing new concert footage, archival photographs and conceptual visuals (including split screens and 3D computer animation), and a 30-minute documentary, "The Making of 'A Touch of Gray,' " its first conceptual video. Len Dell'Amico codirected "So Far" with Jerry Garcia; the Dead directed its own video for "Hell in a Bucket," which should be aired soon. Just to show the band hasn't lost touch with reality, the Dead is reportedly considering a benefit concert in Brazil to save the rain forests.

Garcia and Bob Weir will be appearing on David Letterman's show Thursday, Sept. 17. Also on the Garcia front, or more correctly bottom: Jerry's radio spots for Levi's 501 jeans, part of a new $20 million campaign that will also feature Leon Redbone and Robert Cray. And Ben and Jerry's ice cream Cherry Garcia flavor, reportedly the manufacturer's third most popular, is proving a sweet boon for the Rex Foundation: Garcia has donated his royalties to that charity. Finally, look for Garcia to embark on a two-week Broadway stand in October with bassist John Kahn, a longtime friend. The show will feature Garcia and Kahn in three distinct settings: first as an acoustic duo, then in a bluegrass band featuring members of the Black Mountain Boys (Garcia's first bluegrass band) and finally their current electric venture, the Jerry Garcia Band.