MISS USA NABS BEAUTIFUL RATINGS In its second year on NBC, the Miss USA beauty pageant nabbed solid ratings Monday night, beating two back-to-back episodes of CBS's Two and a Half Menat 9:00 p.m. and narrowly falling behind CBS's CSI: Miamiat 10:00 p.m. In 2002, CBS, which had carried the Donald Trump-owned contest since 1996, summarily dumped it because of declining ratings and feminist protests. But ratings have soared since NBC began carrying it, with this year's numbers climbing 5 percent above last year's. The two-hour special, together with a one-hour edition of Fear Factorfeaturing Miss USA contestants, gave NBC an easy win for the night with an 8.4 rating and a 13 share. CBS placed second with a 7.6/12, followed by ABC with a 5.6/9 and Fox with a 4.9/8.


The decision by the major networks to preempt regular programming tonight (Tuesday) to air President Bush's news conference in which he is expected to answer questions about a pre-9/11 intelligence memo warning about a possible terrorist strike, will result in a programming reshuffle that could boost sales of TiVo recorders. In particular, Fox has decided to slide two editions of American Idolup by one day, putting the top-rated talent contest into direct competition on Thursday with CBS's Survivor: All-Stars and two back-to-back episodes of NBC's Friends.


The watchdog group Commercial Alert has fired off a letter to baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, protesting the display of the Ricoh office equipment company logo on the sleeves and helmets of players participating in the special two-game series in Japan between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "It's clear where this is headed. Small ads at first to break the ice and gain 'consumer acceptance' in the term of the marketing trade. Then a gradual creep until baseball uniforms start to resemble NASCAR racing suits and cars." Reporting on the possibility that advertising on uniforms could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Major League Baseball, Advertising Agequotes unnamed sources inside the league as saying that it isn't a question of "if," but "when," the uniform ads will appear.


On the same day that it was announced that ABC's Easter Sunday variety show hosted by Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson had produced the highest ratings of the night among young adults, ABC ordered a second variety special featuring the couple, this one to air on Christmas. ABC indicated that, while it currently has no plans to produce additional variety specials with Lachey and Simpson, it might begin presenting them on a quarterly basis if the Christmas special also turns out to be a hit.


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has apologized to reporters' whose recorders were seized by U.S. marshals during a speech the justice was giving in Hattiesburg, MS last week. In a letter sent to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Justice Scalia maintained that he did not direct or approve of the marshals' actions. "I was as upset as you were," he said. He added that he will also make his views on the matter known to security personnel who accompany him to public events.


A reality TV series featuring Britney Spears as she travels through Europe on her upcoming concert tour is being shopped to TV outlets, with hopes that it could arrive on the air by this summer, in time to support ticket sales for her upcoming U.S. tour, the Hollywood Reporterreported today (Tuesday). Titled OnTourage, the six-episode series would chronicle her involvement with assorted performers, managers and other concert personnel, with Spears sometimes wielding the camera herself, the trade paper indicated. The show is being budgeted at $1 million per episode, a hefty figure for a reality series.


Miramax Books has turned out to be the top bidder for Barbara Walters' memoirs, agreeing to pay her around $6 million in advance, the New York Daily Newsreported today (Tuesday), citing sources familiar with the deal. Miramax Books publisher Jonathan Burnham declined to confirm the report.


Britain's Sky One, controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has agreed to pay more than $900,000 for an interview with the woman who claims to have had an affair with soccer star David Beckham. The woman, Rebecca Loos, who was Beckham's onetime personal assistant, had previously sold her story to another Murdoch media outlet, the Sunday News of the World newspaper. Sky One said today (Tuesday) that the interview will air at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday under the banner, "Rebecca Loos: My Story." Beckham, one of the world's highest-paid athletes, has denied Loos's claims, calling them "ludicrous," and has threatened a lawsuit.DISNEY SHARES DROP AFTER ALAMO DEFEAT Repercussions from Disney's The Alamodisaster were felt on Wall Street Monday as shares in the company dropped 2.1 percent to $25.70 (and an additional 1.6 percent in early trading today) as investors paid greater attention to the fact that the $100-movie earned only $9.2 million in its opening weekend than they did to a sanguine forecast by Disney CFO Thomas Staggs. Entertainment analysts agreed that there appeared to be little hope, even after revenue from overseas, DVD, and other ancillary sales are added up, that The Alamocould become profitable. Several expected a write-down not only for the battle flick, which wound up in fourth place in box-office performance, but also for Disney's animated feature Home on the Range -- another $100-million production, which has realized only $27 million since it opened a week ago. Without referring to the dismal performances of the two movies (or to the disappointing results of two earlier films, Hidalgoand The Ladykillers), Staggs forecast earnings growth of more than 40 percent for the current fiscal year, a figure 10 percent higher than an earlier prediction. The company presumably is hoping that DVD sales, principally for last year's Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean,as well as the recovering theme parks in California and Florida will more than offset the movie losses.


Many Easter celebrants spent Sunday going to the movies -- or, more particularly, going to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ,which returned to first place at the box office after being displaced from the top spot for four weeks. The film earned $15.2 million, to bring its seven-week gross to $353 million. Last week's top film, Sony's Hellboy, dropped to second place with $10.8 million, while Fox Searchlight's Johnson Family Vacation placed third with $9.4 million, despite the fact that it was screened in only 1,317 locations, versus 3,240 for Passionand 3,043 for Hellboy.Disney's The Alamo tanked in fourth place with $9.1 million. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):1. The Passion of the Christ, Newmarket, $15,216,723, 7 Wks. ($353,006,351); 2. Hellboy, Sony, $10,824,129, 2 Wks. ($40,828,171); 3. Johnson Family Vacation, Fox Searchlight, $9,375,307, 1 Wk. ($11,814,504 -- From Wednesday); 4. The Alamo, Disney, $9,124,701, (New); 5. Walking Tall, MGM, $8,442,008, 2 Wks. ($28,953,956); 6. Home on the Range, Disney, $8,105,171, 2 Wks. ($27,418,973); 7. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Warner Bros. $8,015,496, 3 Wks. ($62,878,150); 8. The Whole Ten Yards, Warner Bros. $6,685,381, (New); 9. Ella Enchanted, Miramax, $6,169,030, (New); 10. The Girl Next Door, 20th Century Fox, $6,003,806, (New).


Movies.com, Disney's movie listings and gossip website, has announced a deal with corporate sibling ABC Radio to provide several minute-long entertainment-related news features to ABC radio affiliates. They include a Monday box office report from ABC Radio's chief entertainment correspondent Bill Diehl, and "Cinemafiles," described cryptically as "a clever, topical compendium of must-see DVDs inspired by current events." Originally launched in 2000 as a joint venture between Disney and 20th Century Fox to provide "on demand" movie distribution via broadband connections to the Internet, Movies.com abandoned the effort two years ago after Fox withdrew from the partnership, citing "regulatory" and "logistical" issues.


Russell Sprague, the man accused of receiving Oscar screeners from Motion Picture Academy member Carmine Caridi and posting them on the Internet, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of copyright infringement. Earlier, he had admitted making illegal copies of about 200 films. He is due to be sentenced on July 28 and could receive up to three years in prison. Meanwhile, MPAA chief Jack Valenti told representatives of several film and community organizations that of 52 movies sent out for awards voting last year, 16 of them ended up being pirated.


On the eve of releasing a DVD featuring his music and hand-drawn animation that he designed, Paul McCartney has announced plans to produce a full-length feature film employing traditional animation. In an interview with Reuters, McCartney said that he had dreamed of making such a feature as long ago as the 1960s. "I remember saying to the guys in the Beatles, 'I'd love to do it some day,' and them saying to me, 'Then do it.'" Although film studios, including Disney, are abandoning hand-drawn cell drawings in favor of computer-generated images, McCartney told the wire service that he prefers the "old fashioned" way. "Everybody's into CGI," he said. "I don't love that as much as the old Disneys," which, he maintained, exemplify "a more artistic look, a soft look, a warmer look" than the "shiny, squeaky clean look" produced by computers.