WILL COWELL QUIT IDOL?
A court case pitting American Idol's Simon Cowell against the show's creator, Simon Fuller, due to begin today (Monday), could eventually result in Cowell's leaving American Idol and bringing a similar talent show, X-Factor, which he created for the British market, to another U.S. network, the New York Times reported today (Monday). The newspaper said that Cowell is seeking a settlement that would allow him to continue to manage the American Idol winners. A Cowell associate told the Times: "Simon is not interested in making a star for another label."
MADE-FOR-TV FILM POSEIDON SINKS LIKE, WELL, POSEIDON
NBC's hopes of getting back into contention in the November sweeps by airing an expensive remake of The Poseidon Adventure sank like the ship in the movie, averaging only a 6.1/9 between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Sunday night. Earlier in the evening, the network's telecast of the NASCAR Miami 400 scored a 5.4/8, trounced by an overrun of NFL football on CBS, which averaged a 15.0/24. Still, the highest show of the night remained ABC's Desperate Housewives, which pulled a 17.6/25. Grey's Anatomy, which followed at 10:00 drew a 14.1/22. ABC won the night with an average 12.2/18, followed by CBS with an 11.7/17. NBC was far behind with an average 5.9/9, while Fox trailed with a 5.1/17.
DATELINE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT LENNON KILLER SHOT DOWN
A two-hour Dateline feature profiling Mark David Chapman, the killer of John Lennon, produced dismal ratings for NBC Friday night. The episode averaged a 4.5 rating and an 8 share versus a 5.7/10 for Dateline a week earlier and a 5.8/11 the week before that. It also appeared to represent the continuing erosion of audiences for magazine shows on all three networks. CBS yanked its Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes at the beginning of the season. The TVNewser blog, citing an unnamed tipster, said today (Monday) that a number of producers on Dateline as well as the Today show have been fired, along with several associate producers and lower-level staff members.
TIVO COMING FOR IPOD AND PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
TiVo is expected to announce today (Monday) that users of its digital recording devices will be able to transfer TV shows onto their iPod or PlayStation Portable via a copy-protected system called Enhanced TiVoToGo. Borrowing a page from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which provides screeners to its members containing a digital watermark, TiVo's system is also expected to feature a watermark, giving it the ability to trace the origin of a program that might be illegally posted on the Internet. "This is another thing we can do to add value for our subscribers," Jim Denney, TiVo's vice president of product marketing, told Sunday's New York Times. "We've seen reasonable demand and interest from people to bring their videos with them." The new TiVoToGo is expected to be made available to beta testers beginning today and to the general public early next year.
ABC ADDING HISPANICS TO ALL PRIMETIME SHOWS
ABC has been quietly casting Hispanic actors in virtually all its primetime programs, the New York Post observed today (Monday). The newspaper quoted ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson as saying: "I look at it as a business decision. ... There's a gigantic Hispanic audience out there. If you're in the broadcasting business and you're not looking to reach the broadest audience, I think you're making a mistake." McPherson added that the network was taking a tack different form "the forced 'do good' way" of the past. "When it feels organic and truthful, people will respond. If it's being forced or 'managed,' they really won't," he said.
ADVERTISERS PULL AD MONEY FROM TV TO USE ON THE WEB
Advertisers are expected to pull $640 million away from their TV budgets and use it for online video advertising in 2007, according to the research firm eMarketer. In a study, eMarketer projected a 71-percent boost in spending on online video ads in 2006 as more and more PC users switch to broadband connections. By 2008, it estimated, 84 percent of online households will have switched to broadband.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT DEAL ON MEDIUM NETS ADS, NOT CASH
A product placement reference to Sony Pictures' upcoming Memoirs of a Geisha, followed by a commercial for the movie on last week's episode of Medium was the result of a deal between the studio and Medium exec producer Glenn Gordon Caron, according to a report in the New Jersey Record. In an interview with the newspaper, Caron said that he had received a call from Sony saying "that they were very interested in advertising on the show and very interested in having the characters in the show encounter the movie." Caron said that when he asked, "What's in it for me?" he was told that Sony "would be interested in buying advertising in publications that we otherwise would not have the money to advertise in" to plug the episode. "I thought that was a good thing," he said.
GOBLET GOBBLES UP $101.4 MILLION
In a word, Warner Bros.' latest Harry Potter movie, The Goblet of Fire, was hot. Setting a record for a fall/winter release, the movie grossed an estimated $101.4 million over the weekend, which would make it the fourth biggest three-day gross in history, behind only Spider-Man, Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, and Shrek 2, all of which opened in the spring or summer. In addition, the movie opened in 19 countries, where it took in an additional $181.4 million. The figures could change significantly when actual results for Sunday are announced later today. Some parents, concerned about the PG-13 rating, may have been waiting to hear from other moviegoing friends whether the film may have been too intense for smaller children. Moreover, Sunday is traditionally a family day and some families may have been waiting until then to head for the local multiplex. If estimates hold, ticket sales for the top 12 films rose 19 percent to $171 million from the year-ago period, despite an overall drop of 8 percent for the entire year. "People want to go to the movies, and Harry Potter gave then a huge reason to go," Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Daily News. "This is exactly what the industry needs and what everyone has been waiting for. Heading into the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it should boost the box office even more."
CASH BIOPIC WALKS AWAY WITH $22.4 MILLION
Although it was overshadowed by the latest Harry Potter movie, 20th Century Fox's Johnny Cash bio, Walk the Line, debuted in second place with a far-higher-than-expected $22.4 million. Daily Variety observed that no other film has opened as strongly against a Harry Potter flick, and it quoted Fox distribution chief Bruce Snyder as saying, "It was selling out in towns I've never seen sell out and doing business in the upscale marketplace." Two other family films, however, couldn't compete against Potter. The box-office take for Chicken Little dropped 53 percent to $14.8 million; the take for Zathura dropped 62 percent to $5.1 million. Get Rich or Die Tryin' also was shot down, falling 64 percent to $4.4 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, $101.4 million; 2. Walk the Line, $22.4 million; 3. Chicken Little, $14.8 million; 4. Derailed, $6.5 million; 5. Zathura, $5.1 million; 6. Jarhead, $4.8 million; 7. Get Rich or Die Tryin', $4.4 million; 8. Saw II, $3.9 million; 9. The Legend of Zorro, $2.3 million; 10. Pride & Prejudice, $2.1 million.
POTTER ACTOR NOW RICHEST TEENAGER IN BRITAIN
The London Sunday Times has reported that 16-year-old Daniel Radcliffe has signed a deal worth at least $14 million to play Harry Potter once again in the forthcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film in the series. (It noted that he received $250,000 to make the first Potter film.) The newspaper observed that the deal makes Radcliffe the richest teenager in Britain. In an interview with the newspaper, Radcliffe said, "I don't actually know how much I am worth at this point. In a way, I think that's right. It's not something that affects the way I think about things." The Times observed that Gilmore Jacobs, a firm set up by Radcliffe's parents to manage his business affairs, has earned $17 million from the first three films. Philip Beresford, compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: "I've never seen such profitable accounts for someone so young. I would not be surprised if he enters adulthood with [$34 million] in the bank, with all his taxes paid. He has left his teenage rivals struggling in the slipstream of his broomstick."
FOX THWARTS POTTER INTERNET PIRACY
Intense efforts by 20th Century Fox to prevent bootleggers from camcording Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire appeared to pay off over the weekend, with no credible accounts of online availability of the film being reported. According to numerous reports, Fox distributed thousands of night-vision goggles to theater staffs throughout the world and promised rewards to any employee catching a moviegoer in the act of camcording the movie. No one was nabbed. (A British report circulated on several websites over the weekend claiming that the film had made it onto the Internet even before it had been released in theaters. The report, which was dismissed by the mainstream press, quoted an unnamed source as saying that money derived from sales of the pirated DVDs "help to fund organized crime like drugs and prostitution.")
ARNOLD, JACKIE CO-STAR IN ANTI-PIRACY PSA'S
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was back in the movies again -- appearing with Jackie Chan in a series of public-service shorts aimed at combating movie piracy in Hong Kong. The spots are expected to be broadcast on television, on screens of public buses, and in theaters. Joined by Chan at a business conference in Hong Kong, Schwarzenegger charged that pirates "are robbing the creative industry" and claimed that the U.S. loses $250 billion a year because of piracy.
GERMANS MAY HAVE MISTAKEN LESLIE HOWARD'S PLANE FOR CHURCHILL'S
A German fighter attack on a civilian plane carrying British film star Leslie Howard in 1943 may have been intended as an assassination attack on Prime Minister Winston Churchill, according to a British documentary set to air tonight (Monday). Howard, best known for his role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, died in the crash of the plane in the Bay of Biscay. According to the documentary, based on the recently discovered writings of Churchill's bodyguard, Walter Thompson, the cracking of Germany's Enigma Code revealed that the Nazis had planned an attempt on Churchill's life. It notes that on the night Howard's plane was shot down, Churchill's plane, which had been grounded by bad weather, had been scheduled to fly over the same route as the one carrying Howard.