EX-IDOL CONTESTANT: MORE EVIDENCE AGAINST ABDUL

Former American Idol contestant Corey Clark said Tuesday that he has additional "incriminating evidence" to back his allegations that he was seduced by Paula Abdul, but will not reveal it to the public "because of its explicit nature." Clark's attorney said, however, that he will turn the material over to "any governmental agency that launches an investigation stemming from his claims." Thus far, no governmental agency has expressed interest in investigating the claims. Meanwhile, appearing on today's (Wednesday) edition of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Abdul's fellow judge Simon Cowell remarked that Clark's appearance on an hour-long special edition of ABC's Primetime last week "was actually just a huge plug for his appalling new album." Moreover, Cowell added, "I have to say in defense of Paula, I've worked with her now four seasons, I mean, you would have heard rumors of this stuff, you know what it's like when you work on a show, and it was all news to me and I think it was all news to her." On Tuesday night's edition of American Idol, cameras focused on members of the audience holding hand-drawn signs supporting Abdul. One read: "We love U Paula!"

IDOL SCANDAL BOOSTS RATINGS

For the first time this season, the Wednesday results edition of Fox's American Idol scored stronger ratings than the Tuesday performances show, due in large measure no doubt to ABC's Primetime Live special the same night on which former contestant Corey Clark alleged that he had an affair with judge Paula Abdul. While Idol remained the top-rated show among 18-49 year olds for the week, CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation continued to lead in the overall ratings and helped CBS win the first full week of the May sweeps.

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

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 16.3/25; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 15.7/24; 2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 15.7/24; 4. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 14.9/24; 5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 13.3/20; 6. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 12.4/18; 7. Without a Trace, CBS, 12.1/20; 8. Survivor: Palau, CBS, 12.0/20; 9. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 11.6/19; 10. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 11.5/17.

ABC-OWNED STATIONS IN BID FOR INTERNET AD DOLLARS

The ABC owned-and-operated TV stations are partnering with the Internet sales company WorldNow to offer advertisers the means of reaching their combined web sites -- accessed by 20 million visitors each month -- in a single buy. The new alliance, dubbed the Local Media Network (LMN), reportedly will allow advertisers to target by market, region, lifestyle, or day part via the websites of local stations. In a statement, WorldNow chief Gary Gannaway said, "LMN gives broadcasters a way to compete for the national online dollars which are growing 30 percent or more per year."

RAYMOND BROTHER PAINTS DIM PICTURE OF FUTURE

Everybody Loves Raymond

cast member Brad Garrett figures he has the most to lose after the series airs its final episode next Monday. Garrett, who sparked an industry uproar two years ago, when he refused to show up for work without a substantial raise, told the Associated Press: "I have that odd dynamic: I'm picky and not in demand. It's a brutal combination. I'm turning down stuff I'm not even offered."

BBC UNION MEMBERS VOW "BLACK SCREENS"

Saying that they want nothing less than "black screens and dead air" on the BBC, the two primary broadcast unions have voted in favor of a walk-out between now and early June. BECTU, which represents most of the BBC's staff, and NUJ, which represents most of its journalists, are protesting against the public broadcasting corporation's announced plans to cut 3,780 jobs. The BBC's website quoted BECTU official Luke Crawley as saying, "This is a ringing endorsement of the action of the joint unions and shows the determination of our members to stop these damaging job cuts." NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear added: "This result is a reflection of the huge anger at the scale and impact of [BBC Director General] Mark Thompson's cuts."

D'WORKS ANIMATION SHARES TRIP OVER OGRE

Shares in DreamWorks Animation were hit hard Tuesday after the company reported that DVD sales of Shrek 2 fell well below forecasts. The recently spun-off company, whose shares were trading at $38.50 at the start of the day tumbled in after-hours trading to $30.70 -- a 20-percent drop. "I've been sent to the shed and given a good lashing," DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told today's (Wednesday) Wall Street Journal. "Shrek 2 is still a blockbuster, and it is unfortunate that we have stubbed our toe in a way that has created the reaction that it has. But when you look underneath that, the fundamentals of the company couldn't be stronger." The company had estimated that it would sell 40 million copies of Shrek 2 during the first quarter; instead, it sold 35 million.

CANNES OPENER A THRILLER

The Cannes film festival is due to open tonight (Wednesday) with invited guests due to climb the red carpeted stairs at the Palais to attend the premiere of Dominik Moll's thriller Lemming, starring Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Laurent Lucas and André Dussollier. Earlier in the day George Lucas is set to be honored at a special ceremony aboard the Queen Mary II, docked in Cannes harbor. Lucas's Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith is scheduled to have its world premiere (out of competition) at Cannes on Sunday.

LUCAS: NEW TECHNOLOGY MADE STAR WARS POSSIBLE

George Lucas would not have made the "back story" of Star Wars (the first three episodes) if the technology did not exist to create "aliens that talk and act and not be rubber masks." At the same time, he told the Toronto Star, he does not believe the time will ever come when films can employ computer-generated actors and dispense with the human type. "We have perfect [computer] replications of our actors. You literally can't tell them apart. But we've never been able to teach a computer to act. It's a talent, it's a skill," he said. And Lucas suggested that it will take a long while before computer geniuses will be able to teach computers to act. "I don't see in the foreseeable future that computers can become human enough in their artificial intelligence to have the same crazed psychology you need to relate to other people and get them to emotionally express ideas. ... A computer can make a perfect visual representation but a computer cannot act." Lucas also disclosed that he was able to retain sequel rights to the original movie because 20th Century Fox had little faith in it. Nor did he, he said. "I got sequel rights because I wanted to make the other two films [Episodes 5 and 6], not because I thought I was going to be successful. I thought [Star Wars] was going to be a failure and with a failure they won't [do a sequel]. So if I get the sequel rights, I can do them anyway regardless if the first film fails or not. And they thought the same way I did: The first one was going to fail, so what do we care about that stuff?"

HOLLYWOOD DOMINATES BROADWAY'S TONY AWARD NODS

Broadway's Tony Award nominations resembled those for the Oscars Tuesday as Hollywood celebrities dominated the list. Monty Python's Spamalot, based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, led with 14 nominations, only one short of the record 15 set in 2001 by The Producers, another Broadway show based on a Hollywood movie. Also receiving numerous nods (11 in all) Tuesday was the musical version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Hollywood celebs who received nominations included Laura Linney (Sight Unseen), Mary-Louise Parker (Reckless), Kathleen Turner (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Phylicia Rashad (Gem of the Ocean), Billy Crudup (The Pillowman), James Earl Jones (On Golden Pond), John Lithgow (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Christina Applegate (Sweet Charity) and Hank Azaria, Tim Curry, and Mike Nichols (Monty Python's Spamalot). Conspicuously absent from the nominations was Denzel Washington, whom several critics considered a shoo-in for a Tony nomination for his performance as Brutus in Julius Caesar.

SOUTH CAROLINA TO SHOW SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY TO HOLLYWOOD

South Carolina is the latest state to adopt new laws granting tax incentives to attract motion picture producers. Signing the bill in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Governor Mark Sanford, said that he thinks "there's still much more that we can do on this front." Turning to the backers of the legislation, Sanford said, "I want to thank again this entire group for the way that ya'll constantly advocate this very clean business called the film business, because you think about economic input and economic output and there is no pollution, there is no infrastructure, people come in they spend the money and they leave. I love that kind of industry when you talk about preserving the quality of life in South Carolina."

RIVALS SAID TO HAVE SETTLED ON HI-DEF DVD STANDARD

Sony and Toshiba are close to an agreement to adopt a common standard for the nest generation of high-definition DVD technology, the Japanese daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun said today (Wednesday), citing no sources. According to the report, the two competing companies are expected to announce within a week that they have coupled Sony's Blu-ray Disc technology with Toshiba's software. Toshiba, however, quickly issued a statement denying that an agreement was at hand. "Nothing has been decided and absolutely no decision has been made for unification on any basis," it said in the statement." The report that an agreement "is imminent is unfounded and erroneous," it added.