FOOTBALL SCORES AGAINST BASEBALL
Football beat baseball in Monday night's ratings. Fox's telecast of the fifth game of the American League Division Series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees (of the Bronx) won the 8:00 p.m. hour with an 8.3 rating and a 12 share. But at 9:00 p.m., ABC took the lead with Monday Night Football kicking off with a 10.1/15 to baseball's 8.1/11. At 10:00 p.m. MNF scored an 8.9/14 to baseball's 7.7/11. But CBS's CSI:Miami beat them both, as the drama registered an 11.6/18.
HOW THE CHAIN OF COMMAND BROKE
Production of ABC's Commander in Chief has fallen so far behind schedule that the network became concerned that it would have to preempt it or show repeats during the November sweeps, the New York Times reported today (Tuesday) to explain the decision to replace creator Rod Lurie with producer Steven Bochco. The newspaper noted that not only was it unusual to replace the "show runner" of a hit series two weeks into its on-air run, but that it was especially odd to select Bochco, who has previously played a principal role in the creation of every show he has been involved with and has never joined a show that another writer had created. The Times observed that Lurie will continue to retain his executive producer title on the series but will not be involved in any way with it in the future.
INCONCEIVABLE GETS BOOT
NBC did a little quick arithmetic over the weekend, then announced on Monday that its new Friday-night drama Inconceivable will no longer be conceived. It removed the show from its schedule and shut down production. The decision came after the network pulled the show on Friday night and replaced it with a rerun of Law & Order: Criminal Intent -- supposedly for one week only. But whereas all-new episodes of Inconceivable had averaged about 5.4 million viewers (a 3.4 rating and a 6 share), Friday's Criminal Intent rerun drew 7 million viewers (5.1/9).
CBS COMPLAINS ABOUT TACTICS OF WRITERS GUILD
CBS and the Writers Guild of America East appear headed for a showdown following the leak of an internal CBS memo by its labor-relations chief to Daily Variety. In the memo, Harry Isaacs wrote that the guild's leadership has rejected 73 potential dates for bargaining but "has found the time to picket or hold rallies at least eight times." Isaacs added that "incredibly, the union has yet to even specify its wage demands" but has made 100 contract proposals. By contrast, Isaacs noted, the network has made 31 proposals and agreed "in a good faith effort" to take one-third of them off the table. The WGAE, it said, has only budged on two proposals. "Negotiation is a two-way street," Isaacs said, "and the union has done nothing to demonstrate a willingness to discuss any issue in a substantive manner."
RATHER HAD DOUBTS EARLY ON ABOUT BUSH DOCS, SAYS AUTHOR
Dan Rather had belated qualms about the authenticity of the memos on which his 60 Minutes feature about President Bush's National Guard service was based, according to the updated paperback edition of David Blum's chronicle of the TV news magazine, Tick ... Tick ... Tick. In it, Blum discloses that on the night before his on-air apology, Rather phoned executive producer Josh Howard and told him "I knew when I did the [document examiner Marcel] Matley interview that something wasn't right with all this." Rather initially reported that Matley believed that the documents were authentic, remarks that Matley himself quickly denied in an interview with the Washington Post.
NETWORKS FIND TOUGH GOING COVERING EARTHQUAKE
On his The Daily Nightly blog Tuesday, NBC anchor Brian Williams described some of the difficulties of reporting on the earthquake disaster in Pakistan. He said that on Monday, NBC News producer Carol Grisanti was surveying the damage by helicopter with the Pakistani information minister and that when they attempted to land in the town of Balacot, they were rushed by survivors. "The helicopter was forced to lift off again, and was not able to fit any of the wounded survivors on board, despite their family's pleas. ... It's beyond grim, and it will take us all some time to get our arms around the scope of this story." Numerous blogs have complained that TV news coverage of the disaster -- by the broadcast networks and the cable news networks alike -- has been inadequate given its enormity.
VETERAN COMIC LOUIS NYE DIES AT 92
Veteran TV "second banana" Louis Nye, one of the regulars on Steve Allen's original The Tonight Show in the 1950's ("Hi, ho, Steverino!") died Sunday at age 92 of lung cancer, the Associated Press reported Monday. He had continued to work in television until 2002, when he appeared regularly on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Still, the role he was always identified with was that of Gordon Hathaway on Allen's '50s' show. "He was the suave, pretentious, smug country club braggart, that, in spite of the pretentiousness, you had to like because democratic nations like America need people like that to make fun of," Robert J. Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, told the New York Times. "Gordon Hathaway was to Steve Allen as Frasier was to Frasier's dad. Frasier was always this guy we liked to dislike for looking down his nose at us."
AFTERMATH OF THE CURSE
Many of the sets and plasticine characters used for the filming of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit turned out to be the only survivors of Monday's fire at a Bristol, England warehouse that destroyed the rest of Aardman Animation's sets, props, storyboards, and characters, the company said today (Monday). The Were-Rabbit artifacts, it disclosed, were saved because they were being exhibited elsewhere in England (including the Imperial War Museum) to promote the movie. Director Nick Park said that he had been carrying the Wallace & Gromit characters from the latest film in his suitcase. He told the London Sun: "They have been going with me on a world tour. I keep them safe in a special suitcase. They were with me at my house when the fire happened. ... I rang up the office this morning to find out how the film had done in the US. I was told the great news that it was Number One and then they said there was some bad news as well." In reporting on the aftermath of the fire the London Times observed today: "Not since Ben Hur's chariot went up in smoke when Cecil B DeMille's original wooden studio caught fire has the film world suffered such a loss." The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, DreamWorks, $16,025,987, (New); 2. Flightplan, Disney, $10,764,440, 3 Wks. ($60,916,649); 3. In Her Shoes, 20th Century Fox, $10,017,575, (New); 4. Two for the Money, Universal, $8,703,240, (New); 5. The Gospel, Screen Gems, $7,523,571, (New); 6. Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride, Warner Bros., $6,511,336, 3 Wks. ($42,116,028); 7. Waiting ..., Lions Gate, $6,021,106, (New); 8. Serenity, Universal, $5,352,090, 2 Wks. ($18,020,875); 9. A History of Violence, New Line, $5,067,000, 3 Wks. ($16,638,684); 10. Into the Blue, Sony, $4,830,342, 2 Wks. ($13,903,087).
ICAHN RENEWS BATTLE WITH PARSONS ET AL
Corporate raider Carl Icahn, who in August reportedly had a bury-the-hatchet meeting with Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, has renewed his battle against the company's leadership. Today's (Tuesday) New York Times reported that Icahn has increased his stake in Time Warner, while at the same time attacking the company's managers and directors in a letter to stockholders. According to the Times, the letter notes that 12 of the company's 15 current directors, including Parsons, voted in favor of the AOL merger in 2000. "Why are a majority of the same directors who signed off on the disastrous AOL merger still steering the corporate ship?" the letter asks. He also blamed the company's "habitual excess deliberation and inability to act decisively" for its failure to acquire MGM last year.
WARNER INDEPENDENT WON'T TAKE CANDY
Days after the New York Daily News reported that "overlawyering" at Warner Bros. would result in the studio's decision to cancel the release of Strangers With Candy, Daily Variety has said that the film won't be released as scheduled on Oct. 21 "out of concern that the producers didn't secure all the needed rights, including for such items as posters and props." The company's specialty unit, Warner Independent Pictures, had reportedly bought Strangers from David Letterman's Worldwide Pants company for $3 million at this year's Sundance Film Festival. A source told the Daily News last week that other studios were ready to pick up the film if Warner's dropped it. The film, directed by Paul Dinello, stars Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert, with supporting performances from Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
THEATERS WHO CLOSE WINDOW WILL GET DVD REVENUE, SAY PRODUCERS
Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, who have proposed closing the window between the release of movies in theaters and their release on pay-TV and DVD, plan to offer theaters 1 percent of the gross DVD revenue if they will agree to a simultaneous release, Home Media Retailing magazine reported Monday. The pair, who own the Landmark art theater chain, the HDNet Movies channel, Rysher Entertainment and other film and TV properties, are reportedly in the process of acquiring a DVD label and plan to release the Steven Soderbergh movie Bubble on DVD and in theaters in January.
MOVIES TO BE BEAMED FROM U.S. TO JAPANESE THEATERS
Warner Bros. announced in Tokyo Monday that it will participate in a year-long test of the new "4K" digital cinema format. The test will include Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, which will distribute Warner's films via fiber-optic cable, and Toho Cinemas, which will present the films in three theaters in Osaka and Tokyo, using projectors developed by JVC. As the tests expand, new 4K projectors being developed by Sony will also be employed. The films, beginning with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, will be transmitted to Japan directly from Warner's headquarters in Burbank, CA.