STUDIO BRIEFING: September 22nd, 2005
GERALDO: A SERIAL NUDGER?
Geraldo Rivera will be nudging Fox's syndicated A Current Affair, hosted by Tim Green, off the air in November, Fox TV stations chief Jack Abernethy indicated Wednesday. The new program, titled Geraldo at Large, returns the veteran news personality to TV syndication for the first time in more than 10 years, when he shifted to cable news. A news release said that the program "will take the most compelling stories we hear, see and read about each day and produce them in a fast, informative and exciting way." Rivera currently hosts the weekend At Large With Geraldo Rivera on Fox News Channel. The decision to drop the low-rated A Current Affair and replace it with the Rivera feature was made by Twentieth TV chief Roger Ailes, according to Daily Variety, which described it as Ailes's "first major move as top dog" of News Corp's TV unit. Meanwhile, the New York Times, which has refused to issue a correction of TV writer Alessandra Stanley's assertion that Rivera nudged a rescue worker out of the way in order to show himself helping an elderly hurricane victim to safety (a video showed no nudging), has issued another correction of a Stanley column. It noted that she had "misstated the name of the popular show, ended last season, that the network is trying to replace with another hit. It is Everybody Loves Raymond, not All About Raymond." Various blogs have listed numerous earlier corrections of Stanley columns that have appeared in the newspaper.
PASSENGERS WATCH THE NEWS THEY'RE PART OF
MSNBC scored a news beat Wednesday when it turned out that one of the passengers aboard JetBlue Flight 292, which was forced to make an emergency landing in Los Angeles, was the husband of the cable news network's media relations director. When the plane landed, passenger Todd Schwartz called his wife Leslie at her office, and she quickly transferred his call to the studio, where anchor Allison Stewart put him on the air. Schwartz said that he and many other passengers received news about their plight by watching MSNBC's coverage on their seat-back sets aboard the plane. Today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times said that the crew allowed the TV broadcasts to continue to beam throughout the plane until moments before the actual landing.
PEOPLE METERS FIND ADDITIONAL VIEWERS OUTSIDE OF HOMES
The radio ratings firm Arbitron said Wednesday that first-week results from its first portable people meter market test in Houston have revealed more than twice the number of people watch TV outside of their homes than had previously been surmised -- and more than three times as many during daytime hours. "This is historic," Pierre Bouvard, president, Portable People Meter at Arbitron, told the online MediaDailyNews. "I think we as an advertising industry have stereotypes about out-of-home television as guys in bars. And I think that stereotype gets exploded."
DISNEY DEAL HELPS VERIZON COMPETE WITH CABLE
Verizon will be carrying ABC and a slew of Disney-owned cable channels on is broadband service FiOS (for "Fiber Optic System") following a tentative agreement between the communications giant and the entertainment company Wednesday. Verizon will also be carrying ABC's news-on-demand service, ABC News Now, the companies said. Later in the day, Rupert Murdoch told an investors conference in New York that News Corp was "99 percent there" in reaching a similar content deal with Verizon. Verizon has been testing FiOS in the Dallas suburb of Keller, TX and was expected to begin full service to the community today (Thursday). The Washington Post observed today that the service "may eventually pressure cable companies to lower prices." The newspaper quoted Verizon exec Thomas J. Take as saying that the company intends "to offer a value proposition to the customer." The deal between Disney and Verizon also contains a provision requiring Verizon to set up a coding system that will alert Disney when it appears a customer is illegally downloading content. Upon Disney's request, Verizon will alert the customer that he or she might be violating copyright laws. A Verizon spokesperson told today's Wall Street Journal, "We understand that Disney has issues of copyright but for Verizon the critical issue is privacy for our customers. We're as committed to that as we ever were."
JAPAN COMPANY TO COVER EARTH NEWS FROM SPACE
Tokyo-based Space Films Co. said Wednesday that it has obtained exclusive rights to mount a high-definition TV camera on the International Space Station on Oct. 1. The Asahi Shimbun reported today (Thursday) that the camera can be used for news reports about natural disasters and human conflicts on earth. It will first be used in November to shoot a Japanese commercial for an company that makes instant ramen noodles starring Russian astronaut Sergei Krikalev who established a new record for space habitation last month when he marked his 748th day aboard the space station.
TIME TO SCRAP THE BBC?
With new digital TV stations broadcasting many of the same sort of public-service television programs that were once in the exclusive domain of the BBC, the state-supported broadcasting company may have lost its raison d'ètre, BSkyB CEO James Murdoch observed Wednesday. As a result, he suggested, the BBC is moving to compete unfairly with commercial TV ventures since it is underwritten by license fees paid by every member of the public with a television set. In the same speech, Murdoch also called for a "bonfire of controls" imposed by European regulators. "In broadcasting, it is clear that the great advances that have been made have all occurred, sometimes alongside, sometimes in spite of, but never because of regulation. They are the result of technological progress, allied with free enterprise and open markets," he said.
PARAMOUNT IS PARAMOUNT, SAYS VIACOM CHIEF
Tom Freston, who will become CEO of the new Viacom after the company's planned split, said Wednesday that he will concentrate on rebuilding Paramount as a Hollywood powerhouse. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs media conference in New York, Freston observed that Paramount in recent years has fallen to "the bottom of the heap in Hollywood" and just "bringing it back to where it was would be significant growth in itself." He said that he had considered buying "a couple of studios" but had determined that "build vs. buy works better for us," indicating that he plans to focus on closer production ties between Paramount and Viacom cable networks MTV, Nickelodeon and BET.
MURDOCH CRITICIZES REDSTONE'S DECISION TO SPLIT VIACOM
Rupert Murdoch has no plans to mimic Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, who is splitting his company in two in an effort to improve stock performance. Murdoch, whose News Corp, like Viacom, owns both movie and TV properties, told a Goldman Sachs media conference in New York that he didn't understand Redstone's thinking. "I don't get that at all," Murdoch said. "Sumner's frustrated with his share price," but despite the split the stock "still won't move. ... They're a worthy competitor, but they're no stronger separated than together." (Viacom's stock price is down 9 percent from a year ago.)
QUAID WILLING TO DELAY FILM IN ORDER TO MAKE IT IN NEW ORLEANS
Dennis Quaid indicated Wednesday that he plans to delay production of his movie Shame on You so that it can be filmed in New Orleans, as originally planned, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported today (Thursday). Appearing at an impromptu news conference with the city's police chief, Eddie Compass, Quaid, who wrote the screenplay and plans to direct the movie, asked Compass, "Can we get in here by Jan. 1? ... If there's any way we can do it here, I want to do it here. This is the place that really needs it." Compass quipped that Quaid could begin by January if he were given a role in the movie. "Get me in there, brother, even if it's as an extra," he remarked. It had previously been reported that production of the movie was likely to move to another Louisiana city in order to take advantage of the state's liberal tax incentives.
MOODYS ISSUES NEGATIVE RATING OUTLOOK FOR THEATER CHAINS
With indications of a greater fall-off in ticket sales for recent movies following their debut weeks than originally expected, Moodys Investors Service has changed to negative the rating outlook for the movie theater chains AMC Entertainment and Loews Cineplex, which AMC is acquiring. In most cases, movie theaters collect a larger percentage of ticket sales at the end of a film's run than they do at the beginning. But this year's long-running box office slump has resulted in lower attendance than usual during the weeks that count most for theaters. Moody's said that AMC's acquisition of Loews might result in some cost savings but probably not enough to sustain current ratings.
TAYMOR CROSSES UNIVERSE, WILL MAKE MOVIE
Julie Taymor, the stage director who transformed Disney's animated movie The Lion King into a Broadway musical, is doing an about-face and will direct a movie musical, employing 18 songs written by the Beatles, according to Playbill magazine. The movie, Across the Universe, will tell the story of a British boy who comes to the U.S. in the 1960s and falls in love with an American girl (named, naturally enough, Lucy). Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Pretty Persuasion) has been cast in the female lead role. The film is being produced by Revolution Studios.
DE BEERS DIAMOND EXEC WORRIES ABOUT DI CAPRIO FILM
An executive of the De Beers diamond company in South Africa has expressed concern that the storyline in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie The Blood Diamond could damage the public's confidence in the value of the gem. Speaking at a Cape Town conference, Jonathan Oppenheimer pointed out that the movie will star Leonardo Di Caprio and was likely to attract a huge audience. News reports did not specify what part of the movie's plot troubled Oppenheimer, but the diamond company exec appeared to indicate that the storyline concerned an illegal practice that no longer exists. "Can you imagine its impact on the Christmas-buying audience in America if the message is not carried through that this is something of the past?" Oppenheimer asked. "That this is something that has been managed and taken care of?"
LOST 106-YEAR-OLD MOVIE DISCOVERED
Cléopatre, a short film made in 1899 by pioneer French director George Méliès that was long believed "lost," has turned up in France, Agence France Presse reported today, citing information provided by the director's descendants. The wire service described the two-minute film as "a groundbreaking classic in the early history of cinema." Méliès is credited with being the filmmaker to introduce the fade-in and -out, the dissolve, and stop-motion special effects. He is believed to have made over 500 films during his career.