JANET DOES IT AGAIN
In what Washington Post media critic Tom Shales described as "a richly deserved nose-thumbing" directed at Congress and the FCC, Janet Jackson, appearing in a sketch as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Saturday Night Live, bared a breast (it was electronically blurred) to spoof her own "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime program. In his column, Shales commented, "By lampooning the incident as early as possible during the 90-minute Saturday Night Live telecast and ridiculing the Bush administration as well, SNL delivered another of its many triumphant jeers" and demonstrated "that it hasn't been corrupted by success and still takes impudent pokes at the privileged and powerful."
VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW BITES THE DUST
Calling the harsh regulatory climate that followed the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident 25 percent responsible for its decision, Limited Brands, which owns the Victoria's Secret chain, said Saturday that it is canceling its annual November fashion show on CBS. Today's (Monday) Wall Street Journal observed that while the fashion show acted as "a magnet for publicity and celebrities, [it] was never particularly successful at drawing holiday traffic into the stores. However, Ed Razek, chief marketing officer for Limited, told the Journal that the fashion show will eventually return, "and it will be bigger and better."
INFOMERCIAL MARKETERS VOW TO CLEAN UP THEIR ACT
The Electronic Retailing Association, composed of several leading infomercial marketers, is expected to announce a new self-regulatory program today (Monday) that would come down hard on infomercial producers who make false claims, the New York Times reported today. The ERA also plans to report such companies to the FTC for investigation, the newspaper said. "Our members demanded it," ERA chief Barbara Tulipane told the Times. It's very hard to compete with outlandish claims." Jack Kirby, the association's chairman, added: "For a decade or two, this has almost been the Wild West of advertising, where people make the rules for themselves as they go. It was time to really set some standards and move forward."
RTNDA PROTESTS CRACKDOWN ON REPORTERS AT SCALIA SPEECH
The Radio-Television News Directors Association has condemned actions by a federal marshal who ordered two broadcast journalists to erase tape recordings of a speech made by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Hattiesburg, MS. The marshal had been guarding Justice Scalia. In a statement, Barbara Cochran, president of the RTNDA, commented: "This high-handed seizure of a journalist's work product without any regard whatsoever for the rights and responsibilities of the news media is totally unacceptable." Justice Scalia customarily bars TV and radio broadcasters from recording his speeches. In her letter, Cochran referred to "Scalia's unreasonable and discriminatory treatment of electronic newsgathering" and called it a "desecration of the First Amendment."
DREAMWORKS GAMBLING BIG ON COMPUTER-ANIMATED TV SERIES
DreamWorks' upcoming computer animated Father of the Pride for NBC is costing $2 million to $2 1/2 million per episode, making it one of the most expensive half-hour TV series ever, the New York Times observed today (Monday). But Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is overseeing the series, which is due to be launched next fall, said that "the unbelievable revolution" in computer graphics technology that occurred just two years ago made the series possible at all. The technology, he said, made it still "very expensive, but it wouldn't be so far off the charts that it would be uneconomical." The series, about the lives of white lions in Siegfried & Roy's Las Vegas show, was well into production when Roy Horn was mauled by a tiger on stage. Katzenberg said that he had decided to scrap the series if Horn didn't survive. "If Roy had not pulled through this, I think it would have been very hard and insensitive" to continue with the production, Katzenberg told the Times.
NINE YARDS DOES BETTER ON TV THAN TEN YARDS AT B.L.
Even as its sequel was struggling to gain yardage at the box office, the original Bruce Willis/Matthew Perry movie The Whole Nine Yards did well enough in the ratings Saturday night to give CBS a win for the night. As usual for a Saturday night, however, ratings on all the networks showed weakness, with CBS taking the night with just a 4.9 rating and a 9 share.
NICK & JESSICA BECOME NEW SONNY AND CHER
A family-hosted variety show, evoking memories of the Osmonds and Sonny and Cher, has once again risen to the top. Sunday night's The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour on ABC, starring the MTV married couple Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, was the top-rated program of the night among 18-49-year-olds, and overall scored 6.7 rating and an 11 share -- beaten out only by the usual Sunday night winner, CBS's 60 Minutes, which nabbed a 6.11/14. The variety show featured appearances from Mr. T, the Muppets, Jewel, Babyface, and former baseball catcher Johnny Bench. Simpson was also due to begin taping a pilot for her own ABC sitcom today (Monday).
DISNEY STAGGERED BY ALAMO DEFEAT
The Alamo fell for a second time over the weekend, and this time, the scope of the defeat, although bloodless, was no less staggering than the original. The $100-million Disney movie took in just $9.2 million, tying for third place with the $12-million urban comedy Johnson Family Vacation, which played in only about half the number of theaters. (Some box-office trackers were predicting that when the final numbers are released later today, The Alamo will finish fourth.) "I'm shocked, quite honestly, at the number," Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane told USA Today. Analysts had predicted a relatively low figure, but had not anticipated the utter debacle that transpired. They also had not anticipated that Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ would be resurrected in first place again four weeks after dropping out of that position. "That's unprecedented. I've never seen that before," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, told the Associated Press. "The Passion is just rewriting box-office history." (However, Dan Marks of the rival Nielsen EDI told the Los Angeles Times that almost the same thing happened in 1996 when Jerry Maguire returned to No. 1 after dropping out for three weeks.) Passion has now earned a total of $354.8 million and ranks eighth on the all-time domestic box-office list. Other new films also tanked at the box office. The Whole Ten Yards with Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry, debuted with just $6.7 million. The girls' flick Ella Enchanted drew a less-than-enchanting $6.1 million, just ahead of The Girl Next Door, which earned $6 million. And in yet another dose of bad news for Disney, the studio's The Ladykillers, starring Tom Hanks, dropped out of the top 10 after just two weeks. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. The Passion of the Christ, $17.1 million; 2. Hellboy, $11.1 million; 3 (tie). The Alamo, $9.2 million; 3 (tie). Johnson Family Vacation, $9.2 million; 5. Walking Tall, $8.3 million; 6. Home on the Range, $8.2 million; 7. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, $8 million; 8. The Whole Ten Yards, $6.7 million; 9. Ella Enchanted, $6.1 million; 10. The Girl Next Door, $6 million.
HIGH-DEFINITION DVD'S TO DEBUT WITHIN A YEAR
High-definition DVDs are expected to hit the U.S. market in late 2005 or early 2006. At about the same time Sony's Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (CTHE) plans to release its first high-definition movie titles, Billboard magazine reported over the weekend. The players and the discs are expected to employ the Blu-ray technology, which packs onto a digital disk five times more information than a conventional DVD disk does. In an interview with Billboard, Benjamin Feingold, president of CTHE, commented, "It will be love at first sight when they see it. People will be stunned with how fast Blu-ray will be adopted." The anticipated price of the new players has not been disclosed, although a Blu-ray player is currently being marketed in Japan for about $3,500.
COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER'S CONTROVERSIAL BOOK TO BECOME MOVIE
In what could amount to a kind of modern-day All the King's Men, Sony Pictures Entertainment plans to produce a film version of counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies, the New York Times reported Saturday. The film is to be produced by former SPE Chairman John Calley, who helped bring All the President's Men to the screen at Warner Brothers in 1976.
CARRIE SNODGRESS IS DEAD AT AGE 57
Carrie Snodgress, who was nominated for an Oscar for her 1970 performance in Diary of a Mad Housewife, died of heart failure on April 1 at age 57, it was announced on Friday.