STEAK ON A BLACK EYE
Following a week in which it was pummeled by critics over its handling of Dan Rather's 60 Minutes reports on President Bush's National Guard record, CBS was cheered by word Wednesday that it had trounced its rivals in the primetime ratings during the same week. The network finished with an average 8.9 rating and a 15 share, translating to 13.6 million viewers, well ahead of second-place NBC, which recorded a 7.1/12 (10.6 million). ABC placed a competitive third with an average 6.6/11 (10 million), helped by the series opener of Lost, which landed in the top ten, producing the best ratings for a new dramatic program on the network since 1995. (It put in another solid performance Wednesday night, posting a 10.2/16, to win its time slot.) The best news for CBS may have been word that it had scored its first ratings win since 1991 in the 18-49 year-old demo during the opening week of a season. Fox continued to hold off introducing new programs until post-season baseball concludes next month.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 18.5/28; 2. CSI: Miami, CBS, 14.9/24; 3. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.6/22; 4. E.R., NBC, 12.9/21; 5. NFL Monday Night Football, ABC, 12.8/21; 6. Law and Order 9/22(S), NBC, 12.5/19; 7. CSI: New York, CBS, 12.4/20; 8. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 12.0/18; 9. Lost, ABC, 11.9/20; 10. Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS, 11.7/19.
CNN CO-FOUNDER SAYS CABLE NEWS RATINGS PRESAGE A BUSH VICTORY
Last week's cable ratings showing Fox News Channel with 57.5 percent of the cable news audience and CNN with only 24.3 percent during primetime may be a predictor of a landslide Republican victory in November, CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld said on his website Wednesday. Fox News Channel strongly appeals to conservatives and Republicans. "These are the worst numbers I've seen for Kerry and far and away the worst numbers I've seen, so far, for CNN," Schonfeld said.
MOONVES SAYS HE AWAITS REPORT ON CBS NEWS SCANDAL
Acknowledging that "there is an immediate cloud over CBS News," CBS Co-president and Co-COO Les Moonves told an investors conference Wednesday that he will await the findings of the two-man investigation team that is looking into the news division's troubles before deciding what to do about them. "I've done extensive research into the matter. There are some things that are unclear. Before we assess what steps to take, I want to see what they say," Moonves told Merrill Lynch's annual media conference in New York, referring to the network's discredited report about President Bush's National Guard service. He also indicated that he was concerned about the perennial third-place position in the ratings of the CBS Evening News. "Obviously it will be hard to talk about how we fix it until we resolve this situation," he said.
NETWORKS BAR ADS FOR FAHRENHEIT DVD
Sony has protested the decisions by each of the major networks to refuse to accept advertising on its news programs for the DVD version of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which is due to be released on Oct. 5, L.A. Weekly columnist Nikke Finke reported in the online edition of the publication Wednesday. After first making the ads offbounds to the nightly newscasts, a Sony insider told the columnist, they then extended the ban to include magazine and morning talks shows as well. "That becomes very problematic to any advertiser trying to reach an adult audience," the source said. Finke reported that Sony's protests have begun to have an effect with the ban on the morning programs now lifted and NBC making ad time on Dateline available.
TV SHOWS TO BE DELIVERED TO SETS VIA DECODER
The Internet company Akimbo Systems has reached an agreement with Turner Broadcasting that will allow its subscribers to watch "on demand" many of Turner's cable programs carried by CNN, CNNfn, Cartoon Network, TCM and Boomerang Akimbo provides a $229 settop box to consumers that is connected to a TV set, enabling them to download programs via the Internet to a hard drive, which can hold up to 200 hours of programming. It plans to charge subscribers $10 per month when it launches sometime before the end of the year.
JANET JACKSON INCIDENT MOST TIVO'D EVENT
If TiVo users were broadcasters, they would be looking at pretty heavy FCC fines, judging from a company news release Wednesday indicating that Janet Jackson's notorious "wardrobe malfunction" at last February's Super Bowl halftime show remains the most replayed incident in TiVo history. Second on the list is the Britney Spears-Madonna kiss during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Also making the top of the list were scenes from the Athens Olympics, but a TiVo spokesman said that viewers were not interested in saving clips of victories so much as they were saving clips of flubs.
DID GAY LOVE SCENES DELAY ALEXANDER?
Warner Bros. pushed back the opening date of Oliver Stone's Alexander from Nov. 5 to Nov. 24 because it wanted Stone to cut some of the love scenes between Alexander, played by Colin Farrell and his male lover Bagoas, played by Francisco Bosch, according to MSNBC.com's "Scoop" column. It quoted an unnamed insider as saying, "Some of the suits at Warner Bros. think that the movie-going public just isn't ready to see that. ... There's some pretty heated arguments going on over it." Alexander is depicted as a bisexual in the film, which also includes heterosexual love scenes involving the title character. A Warner Bros. spokeswoman declined to discuss the report, saying "We wouldn't talk about anything involving the process of making a movie."
BOND PUT ON HOLD UNTIL 2006
Although much was made about Sony's acquisition of the James Bond franchise as part of its recent purchase of MGM, the studio confirmed Wednesday that it would not be able to deliver a new 007 movie on Nov. 18, 2005 as planned. MGM blamed the delay on its inability to find a director. It did not mention the fact that Pierce Brosnan has previously indicated that he is likely to walk away from the role. (Brosnan on Wednesday denied that he had said no to another sally as Bond; other reports have suggested that he has not been asked.) The script for the 21st Bond film has already been compleed by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who also wrote Die Another Day and The World Is Not Enough. It is said to rely more on character and intrigue than on special effects.
BROOKS TO MAKE SEQUEL TO SPACEBALLS
A day after announcing plans to film the movie version of his Broadway musical The Producers in New York, Mel Brooks is being quoted as saying that he is currently working on the script for a sequel to his 1987 Star Wars spoof Spaceballs that he would like to rush into production. Asked by Playbill magazine when the film is likely to hit the screen, Brooks replied: "Best case scenario: a week before the new Star Wars opens. Worst Case Scenario: a year after the new Star Wars opens." The new Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, is due to open on May 19, 2005. Brooks also indicated that he will appear in the sequel (although, he said, he won't have a role in The Producers). "It wouldn't feel right to have anyone else play Yoghurt, and the first one was the best experience I've had making a movie since Blazing Saddles," he said.
SHATNER'S SCI-FI "MOVIE" A HOAX
It may not have reached the level of the CBS hoax involving President Bush's National Guard records, but news organizations have been bamboozled by actor William Shatner. Last week they reported that Shatner had begun production of an independent motion picture that he had written with his Star Trek costar Leonard Nimoy tentatively titled Invasion Iowa. "Shatner called the film 'his baby,' and said he's dreamed of putting the story on the big screen for 30 years," the Associated Press reported. An Iowa newspaper claimed that "Priceline.com is making a documentary of its filming for release on DVD." Britain's The Scotsman newspaper quoted Shatner as saying, "This is my passion. I have had this movie on executive desks for a long time." Alas, it turned out Wednesday that there is no such movie, that it was all part of a ruse for an MTV reality show that will look at how a small town reacts when a Hollywood film crew descends on it.
FRENCH ANIMATOR LANDS IN SCOTLAND
French filmmaker Sylvain Chomet, who produced last year's critically acclaimed animated feature Bellevile Rendez-vous in Canada, is setting up shop in Scotland, with plans to produce three more animated films there, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today (Thursday). The newspaper said that producer Sylvain Chomet's studio "could become the largest and most influential facility in Europe." If successful, it could keep the art of hand-drawn animation alive. In an interview with the newspaper, Chomet said that he expects to have no problem luring talent to the studio, but that some animators are so steeped in the styles of other animation studios that "I have to train people to get used to my way of doing things."