NBC'S HAWAII MAKES WAVES
Apparently determined to give its critically scorned drama Hawaii all the exposure it can provide, NBC aired the second episode Monday night, after airing the first episode in the show's regular time slot on Wednesday and repeating it on Saturday. As was the case last week, the show performed dutifully, nailing a 6.2 rating and a 10 share in the 8:00 p.m. hour behind reruns of CBS's top-rated Everybody Loves Raymond (6.9/11) and Two and a Half Men (6.5/10). It also finished first among viewers 18-49 years old and wiped out the season premiere of Fox's North Shore, another drama set in Hawaii, which drew a lowly 2.9/5 in the same time slot.
AD BUYERS NOT PROUD OF PRIDE
The Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group formed mostly of advertisers to encourage the development of wholesome family entertainment on TV, has withdrawn its support of NBC's animated series Father of the Pride, Advertising Age reported Monday. The DreamWorks series, which airs on NBC, had initially received $50,000 from the group. Kaki Hinto, who is co-chairman of the forum, told the trade publication that NBC had been "responsible" for informing the group that Pride would be "taking an adult turn and we agreed to eliminate that project from the script development fund."
WILL AIRPORT EXPOSÉ AID TERRORISTS?
Britain's Department for Transport has demanded to see a BBC documentary exposing lapses in security at Manchester airport, claiming that the exposé might provide helpful information to terrorists. The program is due to air tonight (Tuesday) as part of a BBC series titled Whistleblower. According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, the documentary was the primary work of reporter Michelle Cox, who took a job as a security officer at the airport and used hidden cameras to record numerous security problems and apparent cover-ups. A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said that while the agency took the exposé seriously, "We have concerns that it could be of use to terrorists." The BBC maintained that it has final authority on what it will air.
RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST REPORTERS WHO COVERED CRISIS
Several Russian-based reporters who covered the hostage crisis in Beslan have been subjected to arrest and harassment by government authorities in what some observers have decried as a reversion to the controls of the press that existed during the Communist era. Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today (Tuesday) that the Moscow bureau chief of the Arab all-news channel al-Arabiya was arrested on his way to Moscow from Beslan, where he covered the hostage crisis. Yesterday, the editor of Izvestia, the onetime government-owned daily that is now controlled by a group of powerful corporate investors, was forced to resign because of the way the newspaper reported last week's siege. (It editorially denounced heavily censored coverage by the state TV network.) In addition, the organization Reporters Without Borders said that two employees of a Georgian TV station who covered the siege have been held by police since Sept. 4. The group has sent a letter to the interior ministry, saying in part: "We urge you to ensure that journalists can carry out their work without hindrance, especially at this critical and tragic time when the population has a right to full, impartial and independent information."
JET MAKES SOFT LANDING AT NO. 1
It may only have taken in $11.5 million over the four days of the Labor Day holiday, but Jet Li's Hero, released by Miramax, remained at the top of the box office for the second week in a row. "Talk about ending the summer with a whimper," Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian said in an interview with the Associated Press. "This is the lowest-grossing No. 1 film of the year, and one of the lowest grossing Labor Day weekends that I've ever seen." (Analysts blamed the low attendance in part on Hurricane Frances.) In its third weekend, Paramount's Without a Paddle rose to second place with only $9.4 million over the four days, while Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid slipped to third with $8 million. In fourth place was 20th Century Fox's Paparazzi, from Mel Gibson's Icon productions, whose $7.9-million opening take over the four days represented a setback for Gibson following his impressive success earlier this year with The Passion of the Christ. Other openers performed even more poorly. MGM's Wicker Park grossed $6.8 million. Focus Features' Vanity Fair debuted with $6.1 million. Lions Gate's The Cookout also earned about $6.1 million. Together, the top 12 movies grossed $83.4 million, down 21 percent from the comparable Labor Day period last year.
The top ten films for the four-day weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Hero, $11.5 million; 2. Without a Paddle, $9.4 million; 3. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, $8 million; 4. Paparazzi, $7.8 million; 5. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, $7.3 million; 6. Wicker Park, $6.7 million; 7. Collateral, $6.5 million; 8. Vanity Fair, $6.12 million; 9. The Cookout, $6.10 million; 10. The Bourne Supremacy, $5.4 million.
MOORE PUSHING FOR BEST PICTURE OSCAR
Michael Moore has disclosed that he will not submit his Fahrenheit 9/11 for consideration in the best documentary category and will instead aim for the best picture Oscar. The film was the surprise winner of the Cannes Film Festival's top prize this year. His decision also frees him to release Fahrenheit on TV before the Nov. 2 elections. Under Academy restrictions, films submitted for the documentary Oscar may not play on television until nine months after they are released theatrically. Moore said on his website that he is hoping to persuade Columbia TriStar Home Video, which is releasing the Fahrenheit DVD on Oct. 5, to allow him to screen the film on TV on or before election eve, Nov. 1, adding, however: "I have no assurance from our home video distributor that they would allow a one-time television broadcast -- and the chances are they probably won't."
DISNEY SAYS ALL ITS FILMS HAVE BEEN PIRATED
Since last year, the Walt Disney Co. has seen every film that it has released hit the Internet within two days of its opening in theaters, two Disney execs have told a Hollywood conference. As reported in today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Daily News, the two execs, Jeff Mirich and Richard W. Atkinson, commented that despite the motion picture industry's efforts to curb piracy, it continues to escalate both online and in the marketplace. "We are stacking the sandbags but the tide is rising," Mirich remarked. Atkinson observed that since Kill Bill, Vol. 2, the technical quality of pirated films uploaded onto the Internet has improved. "We really saw things fundamentally shift," Atkinson said.
NETFLIX AND TIVO IN PARTNERSHIP
Subscribers to the Netflix DVD rental service will soon be able to download movies onto TiVo personal digital recorders instead of receiving them by mail, Newsweek reports in its current issue. Details of how the service will function were sketchy. Newsweek suggested that it will likely employ software developed by a recently acquired company, Strangeberry, that allows a DSL or cable modem to be plugged into a TiVo recorder to receive content from the Internet. Reporting on the development, Newsweek commented that it "could shake up the media world." Both Netflix and TiVo declined to comment on the report.
SONY CFO WANTS MGM
Although news reports have suggested that Time Warner has taken the inside track in negotiations to buy MGM from billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, Sony is not planning to give up its own effort to win the lion's den. Sony CFO Katsumi Ihara told Bloomberg News today (Tuesday) that his company needs to buy the studio "for our pictures business to grow in the longer term." He indicated that Sony in particular has its eyes on the MGM library of more than 4,000 films and on the James Bond franchise.
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL AWASH IN CRITICISM
Directors of the Venice Film Festival have come under heavy criticism following numerous delays and organizational glitches. "In my entire life as a producer I've never seen anything like this at a festival, and for this reason I'm never coming back," Michael Lionello Cowan, co-producer of The Merchant of Venice, which premiered at the festival Monday night, told the Venice newspaper La Nuova. It was reported that Al Pacino, who plays Shylock in the film, could not find a seat when he arrived at the theater. The screening of Miramax's Finding Neverland was delayed until the wee hours of the morning, leading Co-chairman Harvey Weinstein to remark to the audience: "Welcome to the breakfast screening of Neverland. This morning [Festival director Marco] Mueller will be serving the croissants and I'll be teaching him the meaning of timing. Then I'll drown him in the lagoon, with his feet encased in cement."