CBS STEAMROLLERS NBC ON THURSDAY
CBS compounded its overwhelming domination of Thursday night by drawing more than twice the number of viewers as its closest competitor, the onetime Thursday leader, NBC. The network averaged a 13.8 rating and a 22 share. NBC placed second with a 6.4/10, followed by Fox with a 3.7/6. Thanks to wrestling, UPN took the fourth spot with a 3.4/6, beating ABC which could only manage a 3.7/6. CBS's Survivor Palau with an 11.9/20 at 8:00 p.m., trounced NBC's Joey and The Office, which together averaged a 3.9/7. The two NBC sitcoms were also beaten by Fox's The O.C., which scored a 4.4/7. At 9:00 p.m., CSI: Crime Scene Investigation produced the highest ratings of the night (and probably of the week) -- a 16.5/26. In second place was NBC's The Apprentice, with an 8.3/13. CBS's Without a Trace remained strong at 10:00 p.m. with a 13.0/21, beating a rerun of E.R., which recorded a 7.1/12.
DVD'S OF KIDS' SHOWS FLY OFF SHELVES
Although DVD distributors were late in bringing kids' TV shows to the disc medium, they already account for 17 percent of the total $15.9 billion video market and are expected to account for 28 percent of the market within two years, according to a study by Home Media Research. As reported in the online edition of Home Media Retailing magazine, sales of DVDs for kids will be accelerated by such devices as the new PlayStation Portable and by "Barney in the backseat" players in automobiles. Glenn Ross, head of Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Family Productions, told the publication that since kids enjoy watching the same DVD repeatedly, parents are willing to buy rather than rent. "And much of this product is evergreen," he added. "Every four or five years, you have a new crop of kids, plus you've got parents purchasing things for their children that they knew as children. Care Bears is back, Strawberry Shortcake is back -- it's cultural anthropology we're dealing with."
ABC TO PREVIEW NEW HARRY POTTER MOVIE
ABC said Thursday that on May 7 it will preview scenes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when it airs Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. "As a special treat for Harry Potter film fans," the network said in a statement, "this presentation will include interstitials throughout featuring an exclusive first look at film clips, cast interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage from the fourth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, opening in theaters November 18th, 2005."
REEBOK YANKS COMMERCIAL FEATURING 50 CENT
Reebok has agreed to pull a commercial from British television in which rapper 50 Cent counts to nine -- a reference to the fact that he has been shot nine times and survived. The commercial is part of Reebok's "I Am What I Am" campaign, and was initially defended by the company, which said that "it references what [50 Cent] has had to overcome to reach his global iconic status." Reebok added that while it did not always agree with the "athletes and entertainers who wear our products," it nevertheless supports "their individuality and their right to express themselves freely." However, Lucy Cope, founder of Mothers Against Guns, argued that the spot "glamorizes gun crime. My son died of one bullet. 50 Cent is very lucky to be shot nine times and survive." Britain's Advertising Standards Authority had said it was launching an investigation of the complaints.
SATELLITE TV COMPANIES EXPLOIT CABLE STAND-OFF ON METS TELECASTS
The two major satellite TV companies are attempting to take advantage of the impasse between Time Warner Cable in New York and Cablevision, which has prevented New York Mets games from being seen in New York City. On Thursday, Echostar's DISH Network began offering subscribers in New York its sports package at a 32-percent discount. Rival DirecTV had already begun wooing Mets fans earlier in the month.
FIRED 60 MINUTES PRODUCER TO BLAST CBS EXECS IN FORTHCOMING BOOK
The New York Daily News has published excerpts from a book proposal by fired 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes presenting her version of what occurred in the notorious "memogate" incident. Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove reported that Mapes, in her forthcoming book The Other Side of the Story, relies on her extensive notes and transcripts "to embarrass and bludgeon her former bosses and others," including CBS President Les Moonves and CBS News President Andrew Heyward. She also accuses former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press President Louis D. Boccardi of conducting a "Star Chamber" investigation into the story, which raised questions about President Bush's National Guard service and used supporting documents that the investigators said could not be authenticated. She concludes that the firing of three top CBS execs and the removal of Dan Rather as anchor of the CBS Evening News were intended to "settle [CBS's] differences with an angry and vindictive [Bush] administration." Mapes has reportedly received a mid-six-figure advance from St. Martin's Press for her book, due to be published in November.
Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
New York Times critic Manohla Dargis begins her review of the remake of The Amityville Horror with a lesson in horror film economics. "In a world gone drearily mad with sequels and recycled television shows," she writes, "it is merely rhetorical to ask why anyone ... would revisit a stinker like the 1979 flick The Amityville Horror. The answer, of course, is that these days, even the dumbest horror movie scares up decent big-screen business before being shuttled off to DVD perpetuity. Just as crucial, horror is relatively cheap to churn out, especially when the supporting cast features interchangeable no-name guys and gals, and the real star of the show -- in this case, a spacious waterfront Long Island house -- doesn't require its own trailer, a piece of the gross or any of the usual perquisites." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post laments the fact that Horror is "the once mighty" MGM's final release before being absorbed by Sony. "Even by the low standards of contemporary horror movies, this remake of the old American International Pictures' biggest hit (grossing $86 million in 1979 dollars and spawning six sequels) is shoddily made, boring and, most shockingly, without a single decent scare," he writes. Other critics write in the same vein. Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe: "An incompetent retread of the equally inane 1979 hit." Sean Daly in the Washington Post: "A nasty exercise in gore, torture and strobe-like MTV-style cuts." Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News: "Why remake a horror film if you can't make it scarier?" Bob Longino in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Amityville is noise followed by more noise." Claudio Puig in USA Today: "The performances are bad, the special effects ho-hum, and it's not even particularly scary." Leave it to reliably contrarian Kevin Thomas in the Los Angeles Times to find much to praise about the movie. The new film, he writes, "is decidedly superior to the original." He goes on to complement the filmmakers for their "visual panache and consistent dexterity." He's joined by Bruce Westbrook in the Houston Chronicle, who comments: "It's a gruesomely effective thriller ... Like good drive-in fare from the '70s, this is all about sensation."
STUDIOS TO RELEASE MOVIES FOR PLAYSTATION PORTABLE
Sony's PlayStation Portable appears likely to become the dominant movie-watching player in the handheld market, Home Media Retailing reported Thursday. It noted that several studios are planning to issue movies in PSP's Universal Media Disc format, with Sony Films, not surprisingly, taking the lead. (Sony's Spider-Man 2 comes bundled with the player.) Apparently, the studios will be aiming at adults as well as kids, with Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment planning to release the R-rated Kill Bill Vol. 1 on April 19 (along with Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl.) Sony plans to release Hitch on both DVD and UMD on June 14.
ISRAELI THEATER CHAIN SAYS IT WILL SCREEN HITLER FILM
An Israeli theater chain has decided to show the controversial German movie Der Untergang (Downfall), starring Bruno Ganz, who portrays Adolf Hitler in his final days. The Oscar-nominated film, which has taken in $85 million worldwide, is the highest-grossing German film in history. Controversy has arisen, however, from people who feel Ganz's portrayal of Hitler humanizes the Nazi dictator inappropriately. Nurit Shani, the owner of the Lev Cinema chain, whose parents and in-laws were Holocaust survivors, told the Associated Press that she was well aware of the controversy but that an Israeli test audience reacted positively to the movie. "Furthermore, I'm not a censor. I hate censorship," she added. But Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he had no plans to see it. "I normally prefer that censorship not be employed in issues like this," Zuroff said. "I would hope people will vote with their feet and prefer not to see the movie."
COMING SOON: THE WEDDING SINGER: THE SHOW
Theatrical producer Margo Lion, who brought the movie Hairspray to the Broadway stage, said Thursday that she intends to do the same with Adam Sandler's The Wedding Singer. Sandler's role in the production was still being worked out, Lion told today's (Friday) New York Times, but, she said, Tim Herlihy, who wrote the screenplay -- and was Sandler's roommate at NYU -- will write the book for the musical. Cast auditions were conducted Thursday. An audition notice urged actors to "prepare a brief 1980's pop or rock song showing range. ... We will not listen to musical theater songs."
GET YOUR SPOILERS NOW: SITH NOVELIZATION ON SALE
Revenge of the Sith, the novelization of the final Star Wars movie, has gone on sale weeks before the film's May 19th general release. "This is the earliest we've gone on sale with a Star Wars movie tie-in," Random House (Canada) spokeswoman Cathy Paine told the CBC Thursday. Matthew Stover, who wrote the book version of the movie, told the Associated Press that even though it reveals the plot, he doubts that it will affect ticket sales. But in reporting on the novel's release, the CBC observed, "The early publication date would seem to fly in the face of all the attempts by George Lucas, the creator of the science-fiction saga, to keep the film's plot a secret." Meanwhile AMC Theatres announced that it would begin selling advance tickets for the movie at noon today (Friday) at theater box offices or online at www.moviewatcher.com/starwars.
MONTANA GIVES TAX CREDITS TO MOVIEMAKERS -- PROVIDED THEY DON'T SMOKE
The Montana Senate has passed the "Big Sky on the Big Screen Act" that would provide tax credits to Hollywood movie and TV producers. The bill now goes back to the House for confirmation of Senate amendments, one of which would withhold the tax credits from producers of tobacco ads. The bill, which faced strong opposition -- it passed by a vote of 30-20 -- had received strong support from Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who had claimed that Montana was losing millions of dollars in spending by film companies to other states that offered tax credits. But one state senator, Dan McGee, suggested that the state really didn't need the business. He told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that after Robert Redford made A River Runs Through It in 1992, people from out-of-state poured into the Gallatin Valley and elsewhere, driving up real estate prices for local buyers.