ABC PRAYS IT WON'T BE FOOLED AGAIN
The Parents Television Council, a unit of Brent Bozell's conservative Media Research Center, has filed an FCC complaint against ABC, demanding that its stations be fined for broadcasting an unedited version of The Who's "Who Are You?" during its July 2 Live 8 concert special. Although the special featured highlights from the worldwide rock concert, ABC neglected to edit out the f-word from the lyrics, even though the song has aired unedited thousands of times on the radio over the years. ABC acknowledged that it had aired the verboten word, saying in a statement: "Unfortunately, one inappropriate phrase sung by one performer was initially missed and made it into the East Coast network feed. It was subsequently edited out of the West Coast feed." The PTC has been at the forefront of protests against the use of profane language on television and generated most of the FCC complaints concerning Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl halftime show and Bono's use of the f-word during the 2003 Golden Globes Awards.
EMMIS DUMPS TV STATIONS, EYES ABC RADIO
Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications is putting its 16 television stations on the market for $1 billion and plans to use the proceeds to buy additional radio stations, according to the Indianapolis Star. The report indicated that Emmis may particularly have its eye on the ABC owned-and-operated radio stations, which Disney reportedly is about to sell. Although analysts have estimated the TV stations to be worth $1 billion, CEO Jeff Smulyan told Emmis shareholders at their annual meeting that the company hopes to do better than that.
A TV SET BUILT FOR TWO
Families once again will be able to watch television together in the same room as the result of the invention of a new TV screen unveiled Thursday by the Japanese electronics firm Sharp. The "dual-view LCD" can clearly display two pictures, one for people sitting on the left of the screen, the other for people on the left. Alternately, one side of the screen could display a Web browser or a videogame. Similarly, if mounted in a car, the screen could display a GPS mat to a driver and a movie to a passenger. Sharp says it plans to begin marketing the screen by the end of the year.
NOW IT'S THE ANNOUNCER WHO'S BOOTED FROM BIG BROTHER HOUSE
Phil Proctor, a member of the Firesign Theater satirical group of the 1960s and '70s and the announcer on the U.S. version of Big Brother in recent years, has been removed from the show. Writing in Indianapolis Star TV writer Aaron Barnhart's blog Thursday, Proctor said, "It is with a sad heart and a diminished bank account that I must inform you that on the afternoon of the day before I was to begin my fourth season as announcer on Big Brother 6, I was told that due to all the 'new' aspects of the show my services would not be required after all, even though I actually had a tour of the house and got my new security badge! According to a nice letter from the producers at Arnold Shapiro Productions the suits at CBS decided to change the entire opening sequence including the music (after 5 years) and the announcer (after 3) and they waited until the last minute to can me... so there you are." The changes have apparently not achieved their intended result. Ratings for the show have been lower this season than they were a year ago, although the show continues to win its time slot. Thursday night's Big Brother 6 scored a 5.4 rating and a 9 share, down from a 6.0/11 from the comparable week a year ago.
ABC'S HOOKING UP HOOKS AUDIENCE
ABC's "nontraditional" documentary series Hooking Up, about Internet dating, hooked some decent ratings Thursday as it posted a 4.5 rating and a 7 share in its debut, placing second in its time period. Viewers, however, seemed to prefer the more traditional Primetime Live news magazine at 10:00 p.m., which drew a 5.1 rating and a 9 share, better numbers than it had received during most of the 2004-05 season.
DISNEY PROTEST WEBSITE TO GO DARK
In the end, Roy E. Disney has decided that savedisney.com will not be saved. The former dissident director, who launched the site with Stanley Gold, another Disney dissident, said Thursday that he will shut down the site on Aug. 7. Currently, the home page of savedisney.com features the text of the joint statement issued by the Disney Co. and Disney and Gold, which essentially amounts to a truce declaration. In a separate statement Disney thanked those that had supported his stand and said, "It is my intent to fully be a part of the company again, to the best of my ability, and I can never fully describe what a joy it is that I will soon be reconnecting with so many friends." As part of the deal, Disney will be given an office at the company's headquarters in Burbank, CA, where he will act as a consultant, and the title "director emeritus."
REVOLUTION PARTNER ENLISTS IN PARAMOUNT REVOLUTION
Continuing his shake-up at Paramount, studio chief Brad Grey on Thursday named Revolution Studios partner Rob Moore president of Paramount's marketing, distribution and operations unit. Moore told today's (Friday) New York Times that he had been asked to focus on boosting Paramount's international distribution. "Going forward, we're going to be much more aggressive about retaining international rights and maximizing our opportunities overseas," Moore told the newspaper.
MICHAEL MOORE DODGES LEGAL BULLET
A federal judge in Detroit has thrown out a lawsuit against Michael Moore by James Nichols, the brother of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols. Nichols, who was interviewed in Moore's 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, which examines the American "gun culture," had accused Moore of libeling and defaming him, invading his privacy and causing him emotional distress. But Judge Paul Borman added to Nichols's distress by ruling Thursday that the comments made by Moore in the documentary were "factual and substantially true." Among Nichols's complaints was that Moore had claimed that he had been arrested in connection with the Oklahoma bombing. In fact, his soybean farm was raided by U.S. agents after the bombing and he was held as a material witness but was released after 32 days. Terry Nichols is currently serving two life sentences in connection with his role in the attack.
PENGUINS FRENCH DIRECTOR SURPRISED OVER FILM'S U.S. SUCCESS
Luc Jacquet, the director of the documentary March of the Penguins, has expressed surprise over the striking success of the film in U.S. art houses since it opened three weeks ago. For the past two weeks, the film has earned more on a per-theater basis than the two blockbuster hits, War of the Worlds and The Fantastic Four. It is expected to expand to about 150 theaters today (Friday) and to about 500 theaters by next week. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Jacquet said, "Although the film opened well in Europe, I'm surprised. ... People are liking the film, and I know how difficult it is for a French production to cross over into American theaters." He said that aside from having to film the movie in below-zero weather in the Antarctic, he and his crew also had to complete the film in six months or else they would run out of money. "It's not the kind of movie that you can pitch on paper," he said. "You can't just tell someone, 'OK, I'm going to make a film about penguins, and it's compelling, etc.' It has to be seen. The film, in order to survive and find an audience, had to be shown to get the finishing funds."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
Critics have found The March of the Penguins to be as wondrous as word-of-mouth has it. Jami Bernard in the New York Daily News concludes: "It will make you want to bill and coo with your mate, cuddle your young and maybe even go for a swim." Nancy Churnin in the Dallas Morning News calls director Luc Jacquet's description of the emperor penguins of Antarctica "stirring profiles in courage." Michael Booth in the Denver Post remarks that the emperors will leave audiences "energized, mesmerized and stupefied by the possibilities of life." The Baltimore Sun's Michael Sragow describes the movie as "eloquent and stirring." Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls it "an often-miraculous movie." Although the film is attracting families, the Los Angeles Times warns that it may be too intense for small children. But Wesley Morris comments in the Boston Globe: "Kids might blanch at some of the more upsetting images, but ultimately the movie will delight and uplift more families than it will scare."
MOVIE REVIEWS: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Critics generally seem to agree that there are things to like and to dislike about the two new films opening today, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wedding Crashers. In the case of the former, most conclude that the bad outweighs the good. In the case of the latter, good prevails. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal is one of several critics who conclude that the opening charm of Charlie "gradually gives way to a peculiar state that I can only describe as engagement without enjoyment." Likewise Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post comments that "the film's strenuous efforts at becoming a camp classic eventually begin to wear thin." Jami Bernard in the New York Daily News predicts that the movie will "delight children, annoy fans of the 1971 version ... and perplex everyone else." A. O. Scott in the New York Times calls the newest adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel, "wondrous and flawed." And Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times begins his review of the movie by remarking: "When it comes to confections, Tim Burton has confessed, his preference is "dark, bitter chocolate." Which is not exactly a surprise. The director's visionary, phantasmagorical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is equally dark and, if not exactly bitter, unapologetically, relentlessly strange. Burton's gifts ensure you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be happy with what you're seeing."
MOVIE REVIEWS: WEDDING CRASHERS
Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal is one of several critics who conclude that there are a lot of misfires in Wedding Crashers. Nevertheless, he concludes, "There's a lot here to laugh at and to enjoy." He particularly cites one line of dialogue, delivered by an angry wife during a divorce mediation: "You shut your mouth when you're talking to me!" Comments Morgenstern: "This tidbit of skewed logic is only one bright moment of many in a film ... that is blessed with a surfeit of sharply-honed zingers, and a flow of language that's both raunchy and uncommonly rich." Chris Kaltenbach in the Baltimore Sun agrees, saying that the first two thirds of the movie is "very funny, a classic guilty pleasure that revels in its basest elements. If only it didn't get all mushy and profound in the third act, this movie could have been a classic, period." And Chris Vognar in the Dallas Morning News also remarks, "It would help if the story didn't run off to the punch bowl with about 30 minutes left, but this case of cold feet can be forgiven." Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times concedes that the film is "far from bullet proof." However, she writes, "Witty, unhinged and fearless, it's exactly the kind of movie we need now; if only to give James Dobson something to get exercised about after a long day of focusing on the family." Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post compares the ending with "that deflating moment in the classical Don Rickles canon when, after tearing the world collectively a new nether passage, he'd turn to Johnny and say, "But you know, we're really all brothers under the skin blah blah blah blah." Ugh." Nevertheless, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are given high marks for their portrayals of two men who crash wedding parties looking for dates. "Vaughn's overbearing slacker-wiseguy and Wilson's blissed-out surfer dude blend into the ultimate patty-melt of slob-comedy personas," writes Gene Seymour in Newsday. And Kyle Smith concludes in the New York Post: "Vaughn and Wilson do cool insincerity as well as anyone since Chevy Chase and Bill Murray chased skirt. Hollywood should keep pairing them until we get sick of them."