LIVE 8 FAILS TO SET RATINGS HIGHS

Although estimates by Live 8 organizers that the 10 worldwide concerts were watched by "billions" of viewers could not be substantiated, AOL claimed that its Internet coverage established a new record for a live video cybercast, with 5 million viewers logging on. The BBC said that it averaged 7.8 million viewers between 6:00 p.m. and midnight, while France's M6 said that its peak number was 1.9 million (between 8:00 p.m. and 8:45 pm.). Canada's CTV said that 10.5 million people tuned into at least part of its 18-hour telecast. (Most -- if not all -- countries took the "Live" part of "Live 8" to heart and did not employ a time delay. The BBC said that it received about 400 complaints about swearing by some of the performers, adding that it was "sorry that viewers were offended by swearing and apologize especially to those who were watching with children.") In the U.S., MTV said that figures would not be available until Wednesday. However, Nielsen reported that ABC's two-hour telecast of highlights of the concerts drew only 2.9 million viewers, despite the fact that it included performances by some of the concert's biggest stars.

RATINGS FIZZLE WHILE BARBECUES SIZZLE

Barbecues and fireworks won out over television Monday night. Overnight figures indicated that CBS's slate of reruns won the night with a 5.0 rating and a 10 share. NBC was in second place with an average 3.9/8. ABC finished in third place with a 2.8/6, just a tad ahead of Fox's 2.6/5. The top-rated show of the night was CBS's Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which scored a 5.4/11 at 10:00 p.m. Earlier in the evening, NBC's Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular was less spectacular with a second-place 4.7/9.

IS GLICK IN THE RUNNING FOR COURIC'S SPOT?

NBC correspondent Alexis Glick, who has become an increasingly familiar face on Today, offering reports on an almost daily basis, may succeed Katie Couric as co-anchor if Couric and the network are unable to agree on an extension when her current contract expires in May, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported today (Tuesday). However, Today's executive producer, Jim Bell, called such speculation "nonsense" and said that Glick's increasing face-time on the program is intended to give her greater "experience to be part of the best team in morning TV." Two years ago, she was employed by Wall Street's Morgan Stanley.

GAY CHANNEL GETS INSTANT AUDIENCE BOOST

Logo, Viacom's cable outlet targeting gay and lesbian viewers, got a big boost over the weekend by a landing a deal with Comcast, the nation's largest cable-TV operator. The channel will be added to its Digital Plus package, whose subscribers number about 5 million.

SENATOR WANTS RESTRAINTS ON DRUG ADS

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, a former heart surgeon, as asked the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily wait two years before advertising new drugs to ordinary consumers. His proposal appeared to have been touched off by the brouhaha over Merck & Co.'s Vioxx, which had to be pulled off the market last fall because of concerns about safety. Frist also seemed to be suggesting that some of the elaborate advertising campaigns that the drug makers are now undertaking may also be contributing to higher costs of prescription drugs." But Edward Gagebiel, a spokesman for Eli Lilly, told today's (Tuesday) Wall Street Journal, "We spend more in two weeks on R&D then we do in a year" on consumer drug advertising."

NEWS STAFFS AT TWO STATIONS TO BE TRAINED WITH PORTABLE GEAR

Michael Rosenberg, who calls himself a "DV Dojo," said Monday that he will begin training the news staffs of WRKN-TV in Nashville and KRON-TV in San Francisco in the use of digital video cameras and laptop computers to gather and edit stories. He said the staffs, including reporters, editors, photographers and some anchors, will be given the necessary portable equipment in advance of the eight-week training sessions. In an interview with UPI, WRKN-TV President and General Manager Michael Sechrist remarked, "Today's newsrooms, despite all the technological changes that have occurred in our business, are still running essentially the same way they did when broadcast news began in the 1950s. ... Using smaller cameras and laptop editing allows us to make long overdue and exciting changes to the way news looks and is covered."

THE SLUMP GROWS DEEPER

It didn't come close to rivaling last year's Spider-Man 2 opening, but War of the Worlds did rake in an estimated $113.3 million in its first six days, and no other Independence Day opening except Spidey's ($180 million) has done as well. Still, it topped a slate of unexceptional performers at the box office that saw its overall total drop 23 percent from to $171 million from $223 million last year. It marked the 19th consecutive weekend of the current record-breaking slump. Most holdover films saw significant drops of 50 percent or more from last week. Worst of all was Universal's George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, which fell a deadly 74 percent in its second week. The only other new entry, the Martin Lawrence comedy Rebound, earned only $6 million. Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian attempted to put a good face on the results, telling Bloomberg News, "Considering we're in a so-called slump, I think the box office was very respectable." Nevertheless, he added, "We need a movie to come along, or several movies to come along, to break this slump. ... I don't know when that's going to happen." and 20th Century Fox's distribution chief remarked in an interview with the Washington Post: "We were all going up against Spider-Man 2. We were not going to come out ahead this weekend no matter what. ... The thought of having a record year every year is almost silly."

The top ten films for the Friday-through-Sunday period, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. War of the Worlds, $77.6 million; 2. Batman Begins, $18.7 million; 3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, $12.7 million; 4. Bewitched, $10.8 million; 5. Herbie: Fully Loaded, $10.5 million; 6. Madagascar, $7 million; 7. Rebound, $6 million; 8. Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, $5 million; 9. The Longest Yard, $3.5 million; 10. George Romero's Land of the Dead, $3.2 million.

OLDER CONSUMERS SHUN THEATERS, EMBRACE DVD'S

Older consumers, turned off by the escalating costs of movie tickets, popcorn, gas and parking, are driving revenue of some movies on DVD beyond their original ticket sales, USA Today observed today (Tuesday). The newspaper observed that the Ray Charles biopic Ray, which earned $75 million at the box office, took in twice that amount in DVD sales and rentals. The Bobby Darin biopic Beyond the Sea, which was released on only 383 screens and earned just $6 million, made $17 million in DVD sales. Such films as The Notebook, Friday Night Lights, Shall We Dance? and Finding Neverland also earned significantly more on DVD than they did in theaters. Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, told the newspaper that older consumers, many of whom are just now buying DVD players, "are significantly embracing not only the DVD phenomenon but also, more specifically, DVD dramas. Gordon Ho, executive vice president of Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment, observed that for the DVD release of Finding Neverland, "we targeted a broad audience, including parents, many of whom did not get a chance to see the film in theaters." Meanwhile, today's Los Angeles Times observed that R-rated comedies, which traditionally have failed at the box office, are doing a land-office business on DVD. Commented the Times: "This unlikely boom in raunchy videos has been made possible by the fact that the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which rigorously regulates the ratings of theatrical films (and, just as important, their trailers and TV spots), has taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach to the video marketplace."