NEW YORK – William H. Macy says Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven have come a long way from when he baby-sat them while they were growing up outside Chicago.

Cusack co-stars with Macy in the upcoming Showtime series “Shameless.” Macy replaced Piven on Broadway when Piven dropped out of the David Mamet play “Speed-the-Plow” in 2008.

Macy got involved with Chicago theater after moving to the Windy City following college. He says he met actor Byrne Piven, Jeremy’s father, when the elder Piven did a play for the St. Nicholas Theater Company, which Macy co-founded with Mamet.

Macy says that when “Jeremy was just a little kid,” his dad became his mentor and often offered him odd jobs for things like baby-sitting and carpentry, “because I needed the work.”

Macy says he was in a play with Joan’s father Dick Cusack around the same time.

He says that while filming some racy scenes in bed with Cusack for “Shameless,” he and his co-star have howled about what her father would have said if he knew what future held.

“Shameless,” a comedic drama about an alcoholic, single father dealing with a family of six, premieres Jan. 9 on Showtime.

With pope behind her, Boyle going royal

LONDON – First she sang for Pope Benedict XVI, and now British singing sensation Susan Boyle, 49, is going to perform for Prince Charles.

The reality television show star will perform Lou Reed’s Perfect Day for Charles and his wife Camilla at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards on Monday.

Boyle said Tuesday the appearance is a “real privilege.”

The singer, who shot to international fame after her stint on “Britain’s Got Talent,” performed during a ceremony for the pope when he visited the U.K. in September.

Record-setting week show spoils go to Swift

NEW YORK – Taylor Swift fans have spoken — more than a million times.

The country-pop superstar sold more than 1 million copies of her new album “Speak Now” to debut at the top of the Billboard album chart this week. Billboard.com said Wednesday that it’s the biggest debut since 50 Cent’s “The Massacre” five years ago.

“I Can’t Believe This You guys have absolutely lit up my world. Thank you,” Swift tweeted Wednesday morning.

According to Nielsen SoundScan figures, “Speak Now” sold 1,047,000 copies since it was released last week. That’s slightly higher than the 1,006,000 posted by Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” in 2008.

Craig Marks, the editor of Billboard, said that Swift’s feat solidified her status as one of pop’s most important and influential music superstars.

Jackson ‘circus’ gets real

NEW YORK – Death isn’t stopping the King of Pop. Cirque Du Soleil and the Jackson estate announced “Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour” on Wednesday. It’s being billed as a combination of his music, thrilling choreography and visual effects.

The tour will kick off in Montreal in October 2011 and hit cities including New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Some tickets are being sold to fan clubs of Michael Jackson and Cirque Du Soleil starting Wednesday. The rest go on sale Saturday.