DANCERS, BRATS RAID NIELSENS
TV critics may have responded "You can't!" to Fox's new series So You Think You Can Dance, but that didn't stop the two-hour premiere of the summer series from becoming the sixth most-watched show of the week last week among the overall audience and second among adults 18-49. Another surprise hit last week was ABC's reality series Brat Camp, which follows a group of trouble teenagers undergoing an attitude makeover at a wilderness camp. It landed in eleventh place. Nevertheless, CBS, which rarely deviated from a schedule of reruns, remained the leader for the week with an average 5.0 rating and a 9 share, with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation landing at No. 1 with a 9.9/17. Fox placed second for the week, NBC third, and ABC fourth.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 9.9/17; 2. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.7/15; 3. Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 6.6/11; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC, 6.5/11; 4. NCIS, CBS, 6.5/12; 6. So You Think You Can Dance, Fox, 6.4/11; 6. (Tie) Law & Order, NBC, 6.4/11; 8. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 6.3/10; 9. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.1/12; 10. CSI: Miami, CBS, 6.0/10;
IRAQ VETS SOUGHT FOR FEAR FACTOR
Under the headline, "Been Deployed? Eat Bugs? NBC Wants You," The U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes put out the word Tuesday that NBC is looking for active-duty soldiers who have been to Iraq to be featured in a special episode of Fear Factor, which it called, "the weekly gut check." The newspaper said that the show, which is searching for "guy-girl couples" who need not necessarily be romantically involved to participate in the show, which will be taped over a three-week period in November on an aircraft carrier in Oakland, CA. Executive producer Matt Kunitz indicated that the "military challenges" the couples will be asked to perform are currently being developed by a new stunt department. Kunitz noted that Military Fear Factor will amount to a fun way for the show to tip its hat to members of all of the services and give them a special shot at the $50,000 prize and other rewards. Further details about applying are posted at www.nbc.com/Fear_Factor/apply_military.shtml.
SATELLITE SUBSCRIBERS TO GET PREVIEW OF FALL SEASON
Subscribers to satellite provider DirecTV will be able to watch previews of fall programming from the major broadcast networks as well as pay-TV cable outlets Showtime and HBO beginning next month. In a statement, David Hill, president of DirecTV Entertainment said, "Collectively, the participating networks will showcase several new programs and our customers can get an inside look at these new shows. What television fan wouldn't want to take advantage of such an opportunity?" Nevertheless, it was not clear from the company's announcement whether the "showcase" would consist of clips from programs or entire programs.
ECHOSTAR JOINS FIGHT AGAINST ADELPHIA TAKEOVER
EchoStar, which operates the DISH satellite TV service, has joined rival DirecTV in protesting Time Warner and Comcast's acquisition of bankrupt Adelphia Communications. EchoStar indicated that it believes the deal will increase the two companies' clout and put it at a disadvantage in attempting to bid for popular programming, particularly sports events.
ABC TO REPEAT CLEANERS PROMO FOR HOUSEWIVES
ABC, which cleaned up with its ads on dry-cleaning bags for Desperate Housewives last season, will bring them back to the cleaners before the next season of the show ("New Season; New Dirty Laundry," the ads will say) and will add souvenir T-shirts to some customers' orders, ABC marketing chief Mike Benson told TV critics in Los Angeles on Tuesday. In a separate interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Benson said that the idea for the free T-shirt came to him after he found someone else's shirt among his own when he returned from the dry cleaners. "I'm like, 'Wait, whose is this?' It actually fit me. I didn't keep it, even though it was a nice shirt and I wanted to." ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson declined to provide details of the T-shirt giveaway Tuesday, saying that network marketing efforts have become so competitive that "people are ripping the ideas off."
REPORT: THEATERS TO GO DIGITAL
The major studios have reportedly agreed on new technical standards for digital projectors and are close to an agreement on a financial plan to introduce them in the nation's theaters, the New York Times reported today (Wednesday), noting that an announcement of the agreement is expected to be made later today. The newspaper, citing two unnamed executives, said that Digital Cinema Initiatives, a joint studio effort to develop the standards, has agreed that the new projectors should have the capability of being upgraded as technology becomes more advanced. The studios are also reportedly close to an agreement on a plan whereby they would borrow money to install the projectors in theaters, then use the money saved from lower print costs to pay down the debt. Theaters would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep.
NBC UNIVERSAL LOOKING TO BUY DREAMWORKS
NBC Universal has opened talks to acquire DreamWorks, the live-action film business that remained following the public spinoff of DreamWorks Animation, the New York Post reported today (Wednesday), citing three sources familiar with the matter. The report follows word that DreamWorks' latest production, The Island, co-financed with Warner Bros., flopped disastrously in its opening weekend. The movie, which reportedly cost $120-130 million to make, earned just $12.1 million in its debut.
ACTORS WITH DISABILITIES FACE DISCRIMINATION IN HOLLYWOOD, SAYS REPORT
Despite the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act 15 years ago, actors with disabilities continue to be routinely passed over for employment by TV and film producers, according to a study released Tuesday by the Screen Actors Guild. At a news conference David Hall, chairman of SAG's National Performers with Disabilities Committee, said that the study, titled "The Employment of Performers With Disabilities in the Entertainment Industry," represented "the first real documentation of what performers with disabilities and their advocates have long suspected: We have far to go to achieve true equality of opportunity. ... The images we see and the stories we tell say a lot about our society. We are part of the story." He pointed out that while persons with a physical or mental disability comprise 20 percent of the population, less than 2 percent of TV show characters exhibit a disability and only one-half of 1 percent are hired in speaking roles. Hall himself, who plays the coroner on CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and who lost his legs following a car accident, said that he was "keenly aware" that he is an exception.
NETFLIX SUCCESSFULLY HOLDING OFF BLOCKBUSTER, WAL-MART
Online DVD renter Netflix surprised Wall Street analysts Tuesday by posting a profit during its second quarter despite having had to cut its subscription rates drastically to fend off competition from Blockbuster and Wal-Mart. The company also said that it expected to post a small profit for the year. It had earlier forecast a loss of between $5 million and $15 million. Second-quarter profit rose to $5.7 million versus $2.9 million for the comparable quarter a year ago. In a conference call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told analysts, "In every dimension we are winning [against Blockbuster and Wal-Mart] and continue to extend our lead." Meanwhile, reports continued to circulate that Netflix is close to launching a download service; however, a company spokesman said Tuesday that an upcoming test of such a service is likely to be "of a very modest nature."
VSDN PICKS STUDENT ANTI-PIRACY FILM AS WINNER OF ITS CONTEST
The Video Software Dealers Association has named "Taken Away," a short film by Joshua Smith, a student at the Art Institute of California -- Los Angeles, as the winning entry in its contest for an anti-piracy public service announcement. At its convention in Las Vegas, the association said that the PSA will run on video store monitors and will also be made available without charge to movie studios, theaters, and any organization that would like to run it. VSDA President Bo Anderson said, "We believe this public service announcement depicts the impact of the illegal downloading of movies and trading in bootleg DVDs in a way that today's youth will find compelling without being preachy."
BLACK COLUMNISTS RAP RAP MOVIE
Hustle & Flow received mostly positive reviews when it opened on Friday and was the second-highest grosser on a per-theater basis (behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but the film is receiving decidedly mixed notices from African-American columnists. New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch calls it, "the latest update of blaxploitation and the most recent neo-minstrel development in black popular culture." He also expresses disappointment that the film was produced by John Singleton with support from Spike Lee and Will Smith. He writes: "This is not minor because all three of these men have previously remained removed from celebrating the sort of scum that this film -- and that the worst of the rap industry -- raises high from the dung heap of popular culture at its most irresponsible and dehumanizing." Wendi C. Thomas, writing in the Memphis Commercial Appeal (the film was shot in Memphis), writes that the film is "giving me nightmares," noting that the city is depicted as a place populated by "pimps given to preachifying, prostitutes as dumb as they are loyal, and block after block of some of the most rundown neighborhoods this side of Ethiopia." A lot of money was spent in Memphis by the filmmakers, Thomas notes, "but all money isn't good money, especially if the money is made pimping on the silver screen the worst Memphis has to offer." On the other hand, Armond White, writing in the New York Press, comments that the film "isn't really about a pimp. Its concern is with the emotional turmoil a man faces while dealing with women on top of the social difficulties that beset impoverished black men." And Desson Thomson in the Washington Post calls the film "rather wonderful .. a surprisingly charming story that -- in certain sections -- almost crystallizes into the sweetness of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland musical."