DANCE TRIPS UP IN SECOND WEEK
Fox's So You Think You Can Dance stumbled a bit on its second night out Wednesday, although it won the 8:00 hour with a 4.8 rating and a 9 share. ABC placed second with a Brat Camp repeat (3.8/7), followed by NBC's Average Joe and CBS's the cut. In the 9:00 hour, Dance slipped to third place with a 5.5/9, behind NBC's Law & Order with a 5.5/9 and a new Brat Camp on ABC with a 5.4/9. Last week Dance averaged a 6.4/11 over the two hours. Although NBC won the night in the overall ratings with an average 4.9/9, Fox easily won the 18-49-year-old demo.
VAN SUSTEREN'S RATINGS SKY ROCKET AT FOX NEWS CHANNEL
Greta Van Susteren, whose On the Record program on Fox News Channel has soared in the ratings since she began reporting from Aruba on missing teenager Natalee Holloway, drew her biggest audience to date on Tuesday night when 2,997,000 viewers tuned in. Her ratings have now surpassed those for FNC's Bill O'Reilly and Hannity & Colmes. Last week, the Chicago Tribune suggested that Van Susteren may owe part of her success to her decision to interact with viewers via the Internet. It said that she spends more than two hours a day responding to email. "I much prefer to interact with the viewers than just talk at them," she told the newspaper. "It's where I think the business is headed."
MARTHA STEWART DOING A LOT OF TIME (ON TV)
Martha Stewart will seemingly become omnipresent on TV this fall given Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's latest announcement that she will exec produce and host a third TV series, thus far untitled, focusing on troubled women "coming off welfare, recovering from bankruptcy or getting out of rehab." Reporting on the new show, Advertising Age said on its website Wednesday that the "program appears to be part of Ms. Stewart's stated aim not to forget about the people she left behind in prison." Meanwhile, it was also announced that episodes of Stewart's new syndicated show Martha, which debuts on Sept. 12, will be repeated each day on cable's TLC.
ABC TO DOUBLE-UP DANCING WITH THE STARS
Borrowing another page from Fox's American Idol, ABC plans to air its Dancing With the Stars twice a week when it returns at midseason in the fall -- once as a one-hour competition, then, two days later, as a 30-minute "results" show, according to ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson. Meanwhile, last season's winner Kelly Monaco has denied that her appearances on ABC's General Hospital gave her an advantage over her rivals. She noted that the soap opera averages only 2.4 million viewers per day and that most of the people who write about the show "hate" her character.
WHO LEAKED LONDON BOMBING EVIDENCE TO ABC?
British and U.S. authorities were attempting to determine who might have leaked key evidence concerning last week's attempted terrorist bombings in London to ABC News. Photographs of an unexploded nail bomb, including an X-ray of the device, aired on ABC's World News Tonight Wednesday night. The images were grabbed off the air and published on the front pages of six British dailies today (Thursday) and broadcast on Sky News and the BBC, although British police had asked the news organizations "in the strongest possible terms" not to show them "because they may prejudice both the ongoing investigation and any future prosecutions." Several newspapers said that Scotland Yard had made a direct appeal to ABC not to air the photos. Some British reports speculated that they may have been leaked to the network by someone within the CIA or the FBI, which maintains close contact with their British counterparts. Britain's Press Association wire service quoted Congressman Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee, as saying that if the leak did come from the U.S., it could affect coordinated intelligence operations between this country and Britain.
WEST WING'S LOWE, SORKIN: TOGETHER AGAIN
Former The West Wing star Rob Lowe is reuniting with the show's creator, Aaron Sorkin, for a London revival of Sorkin's play A Few Good Men, which was originally produced on Broadway in 1988 and went on to become a hit film starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson four years later. In the play, Lowe will play a military lawyer defending two soldiers at the Guantanamo military base who are accused of murder. "The play was written before a lot of things that have informed how we feel about the military, but I think it is going to resonate," Sorkin told the BBC. Added Lowe: "Whenever you do a revival it begs the question 'why now and why here?' ... I can't think of a better place to do the show than London right now, and I can't think of a better theme to do than the cost of protecting the world."
STRINGER CAN'T HALT SONY'S SLUMP
Sony's new chief, Howard Stringer, who has vowed to turn the company around within 100 days of taking over, was obliged to sign off on the company's latest quarterly report rendering a net loss of $65 million. It also slashed its estimates for the year. One of the few bright spots on the company's filing was Sony Pictures Entertainment, which reported $37.3 million in operating profit, up from $36.4 million a year ago. The rise was attributed mostly to receipts connected with the library of MGM titles Sony acquired when it absorbed MGM in April. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Yuuki Sakurai, general manager of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co., commented that Stringer "is a software man. ... Sony's problem lies in the hardware businesses. We have no reason to be very optimistic for the near future for Sony."
MCDONALD'S LOOKING TO PLAY THE FIELD
McDonald's, which has maintained a monogamous marketing marriage to the Walt Disney Co. for ten years, has shifted its affection to DreamWorks Animation. It announced Wednesday that it will not resign with Disney when its contract expires next year and will instead take on DreamWorks Animation as a non-exclusive marketing partner beginning in 2007 with the release of Shrek 3. In recent years, McDonald's has found itself aligned with Disney even as the studio released numerous duds (except for the animated features produced by Pixar). "Ten years is a very long time," McDonald's marketing chief Larry Light told the Associated Press. "I don't anticipate that we'll be making 10-year deals in the future with anybody." In a separate interview with Daily Variety, Light described the deal with DreamWorks as a "long-term relationship," adding: "A long-term commitment is different from a long-term relationship. ... We will not be exclusive and we will be flexible."
TV LEGEND LEAR TAKES 50-PERCENT STAKE IN VILLAGE ROADSHOW
Norman Lear and two partners are investing $115 million in the production and distribution unit of Australia's Village Roadshow. The company, which has a co-financing deal with Warner Bros., has been on a roll with several highly profitable films, including the three Matrix films and the current Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Lear is best known as the creator of such seminal TV hits as All in the Family, Maude, and Sanford and Son. His theatrical films have included The Princess Bride and Fried Green Tomatoes. The announcement of the deal was made Wednesday, on Lear's 83rd birthday.
CELIBATE KIDS TO URGE STUDIOS TO DE-SEX MOVIES
Under a banner proclaiming, "We raise the bar. We push the limits. We make things happen, and Hollywood will never be the same," a group calling themselves the Abstinence Clearinghouse (Rolling Stone last month described them as "The Young and the Sexless") said Wednesday that it will bring together 1,000 supporters in Hollywood next week to urge filmmakers to produce sex-free movies. The Sioux Falls, SD-based group said that it plans to hold its ninth Abstinence Leadership Conference from August 4-6 with the theme "Lights, Camera, NO Action."
COUNTING THE F-WORDS
Interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia has determined that British writer/director Gary Oldman's 1997 award-winning Nil by Mouth used the F-word more times than any film in history -- 470 times in 128 minutes, or an average of 3.67 times per minute. Runner-up on the list was Martin Scorsese's 1995 gangster flick Casino with 422 F-words over 178 minutes, or 2.37 per minute. Close behind was 2002's Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat which used 347 F-words in just 113 minutes, or 3.07 times per minute.