IN MAY SWEEPS, EVERYBODY LOVES CBS
Thanks in large part to huge numbers for the finale of Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS won the last full week of the May sweeps by a wide margin in overall households and among adults 18 to 49. The network posted an average 9.1 rating and a 15 share and placed six shows among Nielsen's top ten. ABC, thanks in large part to strong season closers for Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, finished second with a 6.4/11. NBC, which failed to place a single show in the top ten, was close behind with a 6.3/11. Fox, with strong finishes for American Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday, placed fourth with a 6.0/10. (The May sweeps officially conclude tonight -- Wednesday).
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 20.2/29; 2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 18.7/28; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 18.5/30; 4. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 16.4/25; 5. Raymond: Last Laugh, CBS, 15.3/24; 6. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 15.0/22; 7. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 14.9/24; 8. CSI: Miami, CBS, 14.6/23; 9. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 13.8/23; 9. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.8/22.
IDOL IDEAL IN PENULTIMATE EPISODE
The penultimate season episode of Fox's American Idol, which narrowed the competition down to the final two contestants, scored a commanding 18.0 rating and a 27 share Tuesday night, firing up anticipation for what could be the biggest audience for any show of the season when results are announced tonight (Wednesday). (The show also airs opposite the season finale of ABC's hit drama Lost.) The season finale of Fox's House also scored strongly Tuesday night with a 14.1/20, dwarfing the competition. NBC's competing two-hour season (and probably series) finale of The Contender, by contrast, drew only a 5.1/7. On CBS, Rob & Amber Get Married drew a 7.1/10, while ABC's made-for-TV movie Trump Unauthorized was trumped by just about everyone else as it drew a 4.2/6.
ROSIE WAXES POETIC OVER SALE OF GRUNER + JAHR (U.S.)
Former TV talk show host Rosie O'Donnell greeted in free verse word that U.S. publisher Meredith Corp. was buying two magazines published by Gruner + Jahr (U.S.) and taking an option on two others. O'Donnell, who waged a bruising court battle against the German company over its editorial policies for her magazine Rosie, included on her Web blog such lines as "'I will ruin you, Rosie O'Donnell,'/Said the smug senator's son [a reference to former Gruner + Jahr CEO Daniel Brewster, son of a former Maryland senator]./'I own you and your name."/One corrupt motherf*****./Well, U didn't, Danny boy./U ruined yourself/And a huge company/2 boot./I wish I felt glee./I don't./What a waste./The demise of G&J,/Brought down/By the girl [who] begged for peace/And got only war."
PODCASTING BECOMING NEW BROADCASTING MEDIUM
Further advancing "podcasting" as a new-fashioned broadcasting medium, ABC News announced Tuesday that it would offer the audio content from a variety of its TV programs for automatic downloading to iPods and MP3 players. The material, which can be downloaded without charge from www.abcnews.com/technology/podcasting includes segments from Good Morning America, Nightline, and news reports related to entertainment, sports, technology and business. Relevant material can also be downloaded via the ABC News RSS feed. Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Wednesday) that NBC News plans to offer podcasts of some of its shows starting next month. On Sunday Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the computer company would be updating its iTunes music software to accommodate podcasts. "Already millions of people are subscribing to these podcasts," Jobs said. "I think this is going to send it into orbit."
NO CONTROVERSY OVER THIS YEAR'S NIGHTLINE MEMORIAL
ABC News said on Tuesday that it has heard no response from conservatives to its announcement that on Monday's Memorial Day edition of Nightline it plans to read aloud the names of some 900 Americans who have been killed in Iraq during the past year. When it aired a similar program a year ago, some conservatives attacked it as an effort to undermine the U.S. war effort, and ABC affiliates owned by Sinclair Group refused to carry the broadcast. In an interview with today's (Wednesday) Philadelphia Inquirer, Nightline exec producer Tom Bettag remarked: "I'm happy to say we haven't heard anything from the affiliates or the Sinclair Group. It was a major issue last time, which concerned us. We don't expect to draw much fire. The show was deeply misunderstood last year."
CNN ANCHOR WORRIES ABOUT VIEWERS SEEKING NEWS THEY AGREE WITH
CNN anchor Aaron Brown has expressed concern that television viewers may be gravitating to newscasts that present opinions with which they agree. In an interview with the Minneapolis-St. Paul-based Rake magazine, Brown described the drift as "very dangerous" for democracy. He said that while rival Fox News Channel may represent part of the problem, "I hear it on the left all the time, too. ... It's not enough to just say, 'They lied to us about the intelligence,' for example. Rarely are things that clear. Because I'm in the business of presenting complicated stuff in the most objective way I can, my world would be a lot easier if people sat back and listened to the range of argument, and did it in a kind of civil way rather than [saying], 'He's an idiot,' or, 'He's a traitor,' or, 'He's a whore.' These are all things I've probably been called today - over nothing. [And] this has been a good day!"
IS THE TV NEWS MAGAZINE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES?
The television news magazine, which once substituted for failed entertainment shows during primetime, may itself be in mortal danger, CBS News producer Jeff Fager has suggested. Referring to the decision by CBS Chairman Les Moonves to cancel 60 Minutes Wednesday, which Fager exec produced, Fager told TV Week: "I don't think it's a good prognosis [for network news magazines]." Fager did suggest that some of the program's staff could be retained to work on 60 Minutes specials for the network. In a separate interview with the trade publication, CBS News President Andrew Heyward said, "We have a long history of doing one-offs [specials on a single subject]. What we're going to try to do is keep as many people as possible here gainfully employed."
SOPRANOS COULD RETURN FOR SEVENTH SEASON
The Sopranos creator David Chase has hinted that the show could return for a seventh season. Interviewed at a New York forum by the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, Chase indicated that, given the right offer from HBO, he might be willing to alter the storyline for the final episodes of the sixth season -- which is currently being shot -- in order to set up a seventh. "We wouldn't have to change anything important," Chase remarked. On the other hand, he added, "It's just a question of whether the story works out creatively in six seasons, which I think it will."
TAX INCENTIVES AND ALL THAT JAZZ
The state of Louisiana is taking a second look at the tax incentives it has granted movie producers after state lawmakers determined that some of the productions have cost the state more than what it received. According to today's (Wednesday) Baton Rouge Advocate, which cited figures from state representative Bryant Hammett, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, producers of the movie Ray spent about $7.6 million in Louisiana but got at least that much back in tax credits. Lawmakers have focused their attention on a provision of the state tax law that allows producers a credit equal to 15 percent of a movie's budget even if only a portion of the movie is filmed in Louisiana. Hammet has proposed a new law that actually boosts the credit to 25 percent -- but only for money spent in Louisiana. State Economic Development Secretary Michael Olivier was quoted as saying that the previous tax law may have been "excessively generous" to filmmakers.
YAHOO! TO RECOMMEND MOVIES BASED ON USERS' TASTES
Yahoo! is teaming up with ChoiceStream to offer movie recommendations to Yahoo!'s users based on their personal preferences. To use the service -- a part of Yahoo! Movies -- users will be required to answer a number of questions, including whether they prefer independent or mainstream movies, and to rate a selection of films so that the system can determine their tastes. The Web portal said that it will not use the information to target advertising to the users. It also said that its recommendations will not be influenced by whether a studio advertises on the Yahoo! site. In a statement, Doug Hirsch, general manager of Yahoo! Entertainment, said, "By bringing together the reviews and recommendations of millions of movie fans with exciting new personalized recommendations technology, Yahoo! Movies has the most comprehensive information available to help folks make the best movie-going decisions possible."
UNIONS ASK MEMBERS WHETHER TO STRIKE VIDEO-GAME MAKERS
The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have sent out ballots asking their members whether they should go on strike against the publishers of the leading video-game software. The unions have encountered a stone wall in their demands for residuals for the use of their likenesses and voices in video games.
CHRISTIAN FAMILY GROUP ENDS DISNEY BOYCOTT
The Rev. Tim Wildmon announced Tuesday that his American Family Assn. has decided to end its nine-year-old boycott of the Walt Disney Co. Wildmon indicated that he was not calling off the boycott because of any fundamental changes in Disney's policies, but because "there are so many other issues we need to move on to and deal with that are taking our time and energy." In a statement on the group's website, Wildmon added, "If you're going to call for a boycott of a company -- if something has become that serious -- you need to have all your resources behind it." Industry analysts had said that the boycott had had absolutely no impact on Disney's earnings.
IGER SELLS CHUNK OF DISNEY STOCK
Robert Iger has made his first sale of Disney stock since being named CEO of the Disney Company. Iger, who is due to take over full management of the company in October, sold $3.5 million in Disney stock under a trading plan in which the sale was to be automatically triggered when the stock price hit $28.
DE NIRO TO ADVISE ROME FILM FESTIVAL
Robert De Niro has accepted an invitation from the mayor of Rome to serve as an adviser to the city's first international film festival in 2006, currently dubbed Festa Del Cinema, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday). Mayor Walter Veltroni, who is regarded as a passionate film buff, reportedly is pushing the festival as a showcase for international cinema and not as a competition. Further details are expected to be announced at this year's Venice film festival, scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 10.