DANCING A BIG HIT FOR ABC

Astonishing critics who scorned it, ABC's Dancing with the Stars turned out to be the second-highest-rated show of last week, nailing a 9.4 rating and a 15 share, making it the biggest summer debut since Survivor premiered in 2000. Only CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, with a 9.7/16, beat it. Another new reality show, NBC'S Hit Me Baby One More Time, which featured one-time music stars and gave them another few minutes of fame, ranked No. 17 overall but No. 1 among the key demographic group of 18-49-year-old adults. CBS won the week in overall numbers with a 5.8/10. NBC moved into second place with a 4.9/9 (and took first place among the 18-49ers). ABC placed third with a 4.4/8, while Fox trailed with a 3.4/6.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 9.7/16; 2. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 9.4/15; 3. CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.8/15; 4. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.7/15; 5. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 8.0/13; 6. 48 Hours Mystery Tuesday, CBS, 7.6/13; 7. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 7.4/12; 8. 60 Minutes, CBS, 7.2/14; 9. NCIS, CBS, 7.1/11; 10. CSI: NY, CBS, 7.0/12; 10. Law and Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 7.0/11.

NBC RETAINS NEWS CROWN

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams remained the most-watched national news program, posting a 5.9/13. ABC's World News Tonight remained close behind with a 5.8/12, despite the illness of Peter Jennings. CBS Evening News placed third with a 4.7/10.

CNN FIRES FIRST HIGH NOON SHOT, MISSES

Your World Today, CNN's first major effort under its new chief Jonathan Klein to "return to basics," got off to an inauspicious start Monday when it attracted 11 percent fewer viewers than tuned in to its predecessor. The program, which is simulcast from Atlanta during the noon hour with CNN's international channel, reportedly averaged 309,000 viewers versus 347,000 during May.

ABC BECOMES FIRST NET TO REPORT FROM NORTH KOREA SINCE 2000

In an apparent effort to improve its image, North Korea has invited several U.S. reporters to visit the country and meet with top officials. ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff was the first to arrive and reported from Pyongyang Tuesday that a high-ranking official had told him that the country would be willing to return to talks over North Korea's nuclear program if the U.S. tones down its volatile rhetoric, citing Condoleezza Rice's recent description of the country as "an outpost of tyranny." No American TV news correspondent has reported from North Korea since October 2000.

CLINTON EXCORIATES NEWS MEDIA FOR TIMIDITY

The mainstream news media, which has been taking a beating at the hands of conservatives in recent years, came under a blistering attack from the liberal side Tuesday as New York Senator Hillary Clinton charged that they had become a pale imitation of the reporters who brought down Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Speaking at her first major fund-raiser for her 2006 reelection campaign in New York, Clinton said, "It's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. ... They don't stand their ground. If they're criticized by the White House, they just fall apart. I mean, c'mon, toughen up, guys, it's only our Constitution and country at stake."

LESBIAN DRAMA CERTAIN TO ATTRACT CONTROVERSY IN U.K.

Britain's Channel Four is bracing for intense controversy after it begins airing a miniseries tonight (Wednesday) about a lesbian relationship between two teenage girls. The 10-part miniseries, Sugar Rush by journalist Julie Burchill, is expected to come under attack from the same groups that last year condemned the novel on which it was based, mostly on religious grounds.

IGER AND JOBS MAKE NICE

"We've opened up talks again with Pixar," Disney president and CEO-in-waiting Robert Iger disclosed to a Deutsche Bank conference in New York Tuesday. While providing no details of the talks, Iger sounded upbeat as he told his audience, "We'd certainly like to figure out a way to continue to do business with them. I think that's mutual. We've gotten to understand the issues that are most important to both sides." Iger refused to give odds on a possible renewal of an alliance with Pixar saying only, "The fact we're having a dialogue is very healthy." On Monday, Pixar Chairman Steve Jobs suggested that the talks were preliminary but that he believed that negotiations would open "within the next month or two."

MIRAMAX CLEARS THE SHELVES

Bob and Harvey Weinstein are clearing the shelves of their Miramax Studios with a torrent of releases over the next three months in advance of their departure to form a separate company, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Wednesday). Many of the films, the newspaper observed, were held up during the Weinsteins' intense divorce negotiations with Disney. Harvey Weinstein said in a statement: "Releasing these films prior to our departure gives us the ability to continue to support the filmmakers and the projects." Nevertheless, the Times pointed out, the rush will result in five films being released in one two-week period in September, including the Johnny Depp starrer The Libertine, which has been touted as a possible Oscar contender. Some film producers expressed concern about the length of time their films have been shelved by Miramax. Producer Bertrand Faivre, who completed his film Warrior in 2001, told the Times: "I hope people, especially the critics, will forget about the time it was made. ... You can say very good things about the film, but when you say that it was made in [2001], it kills the movie right there."

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE IS POSSIBLE AGAIN

After weeks of rumors that Paramount was considering canceling Mission: Impossible 3, starring Tom Cruise, despite having spent millions of dollars in preproduction, the studio formally greenlit it on Tuesday, saying that the movie will start shooting on July 18. The announcement reportedly followed a week of intense talks between Paramount chief Brad Grey and Cruise over the film's budget, which was said to have soared over $150 million, Cruise's own demand for a 30-percent cut of the gross, and his recent odd behavior on Oprah, which resulted in stills from the show landing on the front pages of numerous newspapers. Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday) that Cruise agreed to at least a 10-percent cut in the film's budget, the elimination of some exotic locations, and "modifications on his payday."

MICHAEL MOORE TO STAGE FILM FESTIVAL IN MICHIGAN

Michael Moore has received permission to stage a film festival in the tourist town of Traverse City, MI that will focus on mostly classic movies. Moore also received permission to erect a 49-foot by 24-foot inflatable screen in which some of the movies will be screened. They reportedly include Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause, and Jaws. The festival is due to take place July 28-31.

STAR WARS FLOPS IN CHINA

Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith has failed in China to create the kind of excitement that it has in the rest of the world. China Daily reported Tuesday that the film earned only $3.37 million in its first week of release in the world's largest nation. The newspaper commented that the failure of the film likely reflects cultural differences, noting that its "virtual world seems too celestial to be acceptable to many Chinese movie fans," many of whom, it said, have more adult tastes than Westerners. The newspaper observed that Titanic, by contrast,earned $38.5 million on the Chinese mainland market and attributed its success to "the universal theme of love."

SINGAPORE TO ACT AS "DIGITAL PORT" FOR STUDIOS

Hoping to become "a digital shipping port for movies," Singapore conducted a test earlier this year in which three high-definition movie trailers were transmitted from Los Angeles to Singapore and projected on theater screens in the city/state, Britain's New Scientist magazine reported today (Wednesday). According to plans currently in the works, the magazine disclosed, Singapore will act as a regional hub for releasing films with appropriate subtitles into 20 Asian countries. The same digital system is also expected to be used for transmitting live sporting events and other special live programming like the Academy Awards, the magazine said.

GOD BLESS YOU, PLEASE, MRS. BROOKS

Tuesday's death of Anne Bancroft from uterine cancer at age 73 made the front pages of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times today (Wednesday), befitting an actress who was as esteemed on the Broadway stage as she was in Hollywood films. In fact she had had a lackluster career in movies in the 1950s until she appeared on Broadway in The Miracle Worker to such acclaim that she was asked to recreate the role on film. It won her an Oscar in 1963. As Daily Variety observed in its obituary today: "From that time on, her career went from strength to strength." She received four more Oscar nominations -- for The Pumpkin Eater in 1965, The Graduate in 1967, The Turning Point in 1977, and Agnes of God in 1985. But she remains best remembered for her performance as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate in 1966, playing "the older woman" in Dustin Hoffman's life (despite the fact that, in real life, she was only six years older than he). Despite the fact that it was described as a match of opposites, her marriage to Mel Brooks, who she wed in 1964, was regarded as one of the most enduring between Hollywood celebrities. She reportedly prodded Brooks to turn his movie The Producers into a Broadway musical.