WOODRUFF AND VARGAS, NEW ABC CO-ANCHORS?
ABC News is likely to name Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas as co-anchors of World News Tonight, TV Week reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources. The sources also said that Charles Gibson, who has been holding down the anchor's post with Vargas since April is likely to jump networks if he is passed over for the permanent post. An ABC News spokesman told TV Week that its sources were wrong. "To be clear, no decision has been made. At best your sources are ill-informed gossips. At worst, your sources know they don't know what they are talking about. We are in no rush to make this decision. When we are prepared to make an announcement, we will make one," the spokesman said.
AARON & ANDERSON ATTRACTING FEW VIEWERS
The pairing of CNN's Aaron Brown with Anderson Cooper is no instant smash. According to figures posted on the TVNewser blog, the two attracted an average of only 482,000 during the 10:00 p.m. hour on Friday, a figure that dwindled to 356,000 by 11:00 p.m. CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein said a day earlier that he planned to keep the two in the 10:00 hour since they had proved themselves to be a winning combination during CNN's coverage of the two devastating hurricanes that hit the Gulf region last month. ""The combination of Aaron and Anderson gives us fire and ice," Klein said Thursday. "Anderson is about visceral experience. Aaron is kind of about the cerebral analysis."
FOX DENIES GERALDO'S SHOW WILL BECOME NIGHTLY NEWSCAST
Geraldo Rivera on Monday described his upcoming half-hour nightly program as not "magazinely" and "more like a newscast." In an interview with TV Week, Rivera said that he envisions the program, which launches on 150 stations on Oct. 31, as "the beginning of a process" leading to a national newscast on Fox stations. His remarks were immediately contradicted by an unnamed Fox News executive, who told the TVNewser blog, "Contrary to what he claimed, Geraldo's show is NOT the prelude to a national newscast. The new syndicated show will be a distinct product unique to Geraldo's talents, but he will not be involved in the beginning of any national newscast on Fox." The Fox News exec acknowledged that a national newscast is indeed in the works, but, he added, "If it does get off the ground, Geraldo will have nothing to do with it -- he's a completely separate entity."
FOR MARTHA, PRISON MAY HAVE BEEN EASIER
Martha Stewart may be preparing to face another losing battle, or, more precisely, a Lost battle. NBC has decided to move her version of The Apprentice to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights, where it will air opposite ABC's Lost and CBS's new drama Criminal Minds. Stewart's show had taken a pounding from reruns of Lost during the past two weeks and is likely to be pummeled even harder by original episodes. The CBS drama has also proven to be a surprisingly strong competitor. NBC has decided to move Jerry Bruckheimer's new drama E-Ring into the 8:00 p.m. hour. It had been airing at 9:00 p.m. against Lost. Meanwhile, NBC announced that it is pulling the new drama Inconceivable from its Friday-night lineup this week after its first two episodes produced some of the worst ratings ever in the 10:00 p.m timeslot. It will be replaced this Friday by a repeat of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. However, the network said that it plans to return Inconceivable to the timeslot on Oct. 14 and that production will continue on the series.
CABLE VIEWERS ANGRY OVER SPANISH HOUSEWIVES
About 240,000 Adelphia cable-TV subscribers in Southern California were surprised Sunday when they were only able to receive the Spanish-language soundtrack of ABC's Desperate Housewives. A spokesman for the cable company said that the problem occurred after Adelphia had to move its service to a new transport system following last week's fires. "As a result, the audio channel settings were not configured properly," a spokesman for the company said. Meanwhile, the Toronto Star today (Tuesday) published the dialogue of a five-minute segment of Sunday night's episode of Housewives that was accidentally deleted because of a technical glitch on the CTV network. The Star reported that at 9:49 p.m. viewers were surprised to see final credits roll, then watch a repeat of the final scenes. The newspaper said that CTV plans to rebroadcast the episode in its entirety this Saturday at 10:00 p.m.
CBC ENDS LOCKOUT IN TIME FOR HOCKEY
Apparently prodded by the start of the National Hockey League season, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday reached a tentative agreement with the Canadian Media Guild, ending a nearly two-month lock-out of 5,500 CMG members. The agreement calls for a 12.6-percent wage hike over the life of the new labor agreement, which will run through March 31, 2009. Workers will also receive retroactive pay from the start of the lockout, plus an $800 bonus for returning to work. CBC spokesman Jason MacDonald told the Toronto Globe & Mail: "We want people coming back this week and programming returning to normal this week and things fully back to normal as soon as possible." He promised that Hockey will be on the air this weekend. "What it looks like will depend on how quickly we can get people back and all of that," he said.
NIPSEY RUSSELL DEAD AT 80
Comedian Nipsey Russell, best known for his appearances on numerous afternoon game shows in the 1970s and '80s, including To Tell the Truth, Hollywood Squares and Match Game PM, has died in New York of cancer at age 80. He also was a regular cast member on the '60s TV sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? and co-starred as the Tin Man in the 1978 musical The Wiz.
WHO NEEDS THEATERS, ANYWAY?
The major movie studios are stepping up their production of movies intended to go directly to the home video market, Home Media Retailing reported Monday. Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau told the publication, "We have a $24 billion business that consumers absolutely love ... and yet there is very little content made only for this business." Many of the new features being produced for DVD release are being described as "franchises" -- essentially sequels to successful films. Last week, Universal launched "Universal DVD Originals" with Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, a sequel to 1993's Carlito's Way. On Dec. 27, the studio will release the DVD sequel American Pie: Band Camp, starring Eugene Levy. Sony plans to release Single White Female 2: The Psycho on Oct. 25 and 8MM2 on Nov. 22. New Line is planning sequels to 1994's 8 Seconds and last year's The Butterfly Effect. And Paramount Home Entertainment President Meagan Burrows told the publication that the studio is "in the process of developing a new [DVD] comedy label."
INTEL: MAYBE THERE'LL BE A BLU-RAY INSIDE, AFTER ALL
Intel, which last week threw its support to Toshiba's HD-DVD high-definition DVD system, appeared to waver today (Tuesday) after reports emerged that Paramount had switched to Sony's Blu-ray system and that Warner Bros. might do the same. Donald McDonald, head of Intel's digital home group, speaking at a news conference in Chiba, Japan, said that Intel could support Blu-ray if the system permits users to copy the content of the discs onto their home computers and portable devices. The HD-DVD camp has made such a commitment, McDonald observed. "The opportunity is for Blu-ray to unequivocally commit to having exactly the same consumer friendly features," he said.
FLIGHTPLAN REMAINS ALOFT BOX OFFICE
The Jodie Foster thriller Flightplan flew high above a slew of new arrivals at the nation's theaters over the weekend, taking first place at the box office for the second week in a row. Flightplan, which was released by Disney on 3,424 screens took in $14.8 million, averaging $4,324 per screen. But the No. 2 film, Universal's Serenity, which was released on 2,188 screens and took in $10.08 million, had a slightly higher per-screen average, $4,610. So did the No. 4 film, New Line's A History of Violence, which was released on just 1,340 screens and took in $8,1 million. It had the highest per-screen average of all films in wide release with $6,047. Meanwhile, Universal's The 40 Year-Old Virgin passed the $100-million mark in gross ticket sales after seven weeks.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Flightplan, Disney, $14,805,739, 2 Wks. ($45,912,018); 2. Serenity, Universal, $10,086,680, (New); 3. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Warner Bros., $10,033,257, 2 Wks. ($33,188,109); 4. A History of Violence, New Line, $8,103,077, 2 Wks. ($8,871,781); 5. Into The Blue, Sony, $7,057,854, (New); 6. Just Like Heaven, DreamWorks, $6,128,180, 3 Wks. ($38,424,283); 7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Screen Gems, $4,380,280, 4 Wks. ($68,502,023); 8. Roll Bounce, Fox Searchlight, $4,029,257, 2 Wks. ($12,677,124); 9. The Greatest Game Ever Played, Disney, $3,657,322, (New); 10. The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Universal, $3,120,045, 5 Wks. ($101,405,778).
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS FIND NO SAFE SEX IN MOVIES
An Australian analysis of sex and drug use in the most profitable movies of the last 20 years listed by the Internet Movie Database indicates that only one, Pretty Woman, suggested condom use, according to the British Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales examined only PG-13 and R-rated movies. The study's director, Hasantha Gunasekera of Sydney University, observed: "The study showed there were no references to important consequences of unsafe sex such as HIV transmission, spread of STDs, or unwanted pregnancy. ... The motion picture industry should be encouraged to depict safer sex practices and the real consequences of unprotected sex and illicit drug use."