• Clarification Appended: April 6, 1998

    Elvis has Graceland. Jim Morrison's plot at Pere-Lachaise in Paris has been the subject of such devotion and commotion that the cemetery's keepers have threatened to expel the coffin. But on a recent Friday afternoon at the Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, Texas, no poignant notes or fresh flowers bedeck the black gravestone of Selena Quintanilla Perez. The place is deserted--until two young people approach to pay their respects. Roddy Gomez, 27, and his fiance Lisa Castro, 18, moved from Arizona two months ago, simply to live in the city of their idol. "It looks so plain, it's hard to believe she's buried here," says Gomez. Castro thinks the site is pretty. "But somehow I thought it would be bigger."

    No matter. The fans of Selena, Queen of Tejano, are about to get a $23 million memorial, and they needn't make a pilgrimage to this Gulf-port city either. Two years after the Mex-Tex singer was killed by the president of her fan club, a reverent Hollywood biopic is opening around the country. Selena, from writer-director Gregory Nava (El Norte, Mi Familia), stars Jennifer Lopez in a Spanish-accented version of the old star-is-born tale. Urged on by her father (Edward James Olmos), a gifted girl rises to the top of her niche market. She falls in love and elopes with her band's guitarist (Jon Seda)--a defiant gesture that tests but doesn't defile her dad's love. She's ready to ride the pop mainstream when Yolanda Saldivar, a trusted friend, cuts Selena down at 23. End of a life, beginning of a legend.

    "I didn't do the movie to exploit my daughter," insists Abraham Quintanilla Jr., 57, who formed the group Selena y Los Dinos when the girl was just nine and served as its manager and goading spirit. "I did it because there's an insatiable desire from the public to know more about her." Nonetheless, Selena is the latest, largest artifact in the kind of postmortem career maintenance that not only honors but also profits from a slain celebrity. Selena still has three albums on Billboard's Latin Top 50 chart. Music awards continue to come her way. The family has kept promoting Selena hair salons, Selena fashions and a new Selena doll ($22 plus tax).

    E! the Entertainment Channel aired a re-enactment of Saldivar's trial and plans to rebroadcast it soon. And in Selena's Secret, the newest of at least half a dozen unsanctioned bio books about the star, author and Univision hostess Maria Celeste Arraras coyly hints that Selena kept a secret diary and was planning to torpedo her career for a tryst with the Mexican plastic surgeon who administered her liposuction treatments. The family denies these scandals.

    The Selena film studiously avoids the sensational. It dares to be a slow, stolid film about goodness, to build its story on the rock of family love. The main conflict is over Selena's love for long-haired Chris, the metal guitarist who plays pappy pop when he joins the band--he's a rebel without a chord. Chris is also the excuse for a later tearful reconciliation between Selena and Dad. Though they are often at loggerheads, they are never at loggerhearts. Selena's too devoted for that. She's a modern-day saint in spandex.

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