IF IT'S WEDNESDAY, IT MUST BE AN IDOL WIN
Ratings for American Idol's results show Wednesday night just about equaled those for the previous night's performance show. The selection of the winners in the love-song competition drew a 16.2 rating and a 24 share, down only a fraction from the 16.4/25 the night before. The huge numbers also guaranteed Fox of an overall win for the night, as it averaged a 9.1/14 ratings, which CBS, which wound up in a dead heat with 7.4/12. ABC trailed with a 5.5/9.
WARNER BROS. TO PRODUCE SHOWS FOR CABLE
Warner Brothers TV plans to create a new unit, Warner Horizon Television, to produce low-budget programs exclusively for cable networks, the company announced Wednesday. In an interview with today's (Thursday) New York Times, Peter Roth, the head of the studio, called cable "the one clear potential growth opportunity" for series development. He said he expected budgets for the new shows will be between $400,000 to $500,000 per episode, versus $1.5 million to $2 million for shows produced for the broadcast networks.
SNOW GETS THUMBS UP FROM WHITE HOUSE TV REPORTERS
President Bush's selection of Fox News's Tony Snow as White House press secretary has generally received a favorable reaction from TV correspondents who will be dealing with him and those who have dealt with his predecessors. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said that having a former TV reporter in that position helps because "they generally [understand] what you need and where you're going with a story." Former CBS White House correspondent John Roberts, now a national correspondent for CNN, told the newspaper that the current White House staff "don't get the extra logistical steps we have to undertake in order to do stories. To some degree, they don't understand the intricacies of the TV business." Another former White House correspondent, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who is now the network's chief foreign affairs correspondent, told the Inquirer that Snow "understands the healthy adversarial relationship that should exist between the media and the White House. ... At this stage, we're more interested in getting honest information instead of spin."
ABC'S QUIÑONES HAS EYE ON CBS
ABC newsman John Quiñones has indicated that he would be willing to jump to CBS if he were offered a job on 60 Minutes, the San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday. Quiñones, who was speaking at his old middle school in the Texas city, was asked by a student whether he would consider working for another network. At first he observed that ABC had been his home for 20 years and those whom he worked with were like family. However, he noted, his contract is due to expire in December and then remarked, "It would be nice to work for 60 Minutes." Quiñones is currently a co-host of ABC's Primetime news magazine.
TV UP FOR CBS, BUT RADIO'S A DRAG
CBS Corp. reported a slight rise in profit during the first quarter -- $226.9 million versus $225 million in the year-ago quarter -- but a strong performance by its television division was dragged down by its slumping radio unit, reflecting the departure of the unit's chief money maker, Howard Stern. "The radio portion of CBS is a sticking point for investors, and will remain an issue going forward," Frederick Moran, media analyst with Stanford Group Co., told today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times. The situation has become so serious, the New York Post reported today, that CBS is considering selling off some of its radio stations. On the other hand, the company also received an unexpected $4-million boost in revenue from its webcasts of the NCAA basketball tournament.
CBS NO LONGER WOOING UNIVISION OWNERS
CBS has dropped out of discussions to acquire Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcasting company in the U.S., the New York Times reported today (Thursday), while noting that the Walt Disney Co. is continuing to discuss a merger with Univision's management. The Times observed that during a conference call with investors to discuss the company's latest earnings figures, CBS CEO Les Moonves remarked Wednesday, "We're not looking for an acquisition of that size." The newspaper noted that Univision has taken the position that will not sell itself for less than $49 a share, or about $14 billion. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa SA may be joined by a group of U.S. private-equity investors in to for the network. s s
EMMY VOTERS WILL HAVE TO SCREEN CSI SHOWS ONLINE
Instead of sending screeners of its three CSI dramas to Emmy voters this year, CBS plans to stream them on its CBS.com website, the company said Wednesday. The programs -- episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York -- will not require any special password to be viewed, so virtually anyone can watch them. "We wanted to have easy access to get people to watch the shows, and not put up too many roadblocks," company spokeswoman Lauri Metrose told today's (Thursday) Daily Variety.
NBC BUYS NEW GAME SHOW FROM DUTCH COMPANY
Endemol, the Dutch-headquartered company behind Big Brother, Fear Factor, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and Deal or No Deal has sold another game show to NBC -- 1 Versus 100, the network announced Wednesday. In a statement, NBC Entertainment exec Craig Plestis said, "We've heard hundreds of pitches on game shows since Deal or No Deal became a hit, but this was truly the first one that knocked my socks off. ... Knowing this is the same team that made Deal clinched the deal for us." Versions of the show are already airing in the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Argentina and Portugal. There was no indication when it would launch in the U.S.
HORROR FLICKS ARE HOT ON DVD, TOO
Demonstrating that horror movies can produce a sales bonanza not only at the box office but also at the video store, Sony's Hostel took the top spot on VideoScan's First Alert DVD sales chart for the week ending April 23. The movie, marketed as a "sicker and more twisted unrated" version of the R-rated theatrical release, pushed the family film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to No. 2 on the sales chart after holding the top spot for two weeks. Hostel placed second on Home Media Retailing's video rental chart, narrowly losing out to Fun With Dick & Jane, which remained the leader for the second straight week.
THE PELLICANO BRIEFS (PT. 1)
The Department of Justice and the FBI will investigate who leaked confidential FBI memos in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case to the New York Times, the legal newspaper The Los Angeles Daily Journal reported Wednesday, citing sources close to the case. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are blaming each other for the leaks, made in violation of an order by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer that the information be kept confidential. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday) that director John McTiernan, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI when he said that he had no knowledge of Pellicano's alleged wiretapping, had been sued by Bauer Martinez Studios for failing to disclose his involvement with Pellicano when he was hired to direct Crash Bandit. The breach-of-contract suit demands that McTiernan return $2 million already spent on preproduction.
THE PELLICANO BRIEFS (PT. 2)
Universal Studios President and COO Ron Meyer has been identified as the "studio president" referred to in a Vanity Fair article who offered to help support Anthony Pellicano's children when the detective was incarcerated on weapons charges. L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke also identified Madonna's one-time manager Freddie DeMann as the "producer" who also agreed to contribute to a Pellicano family fund. The VF article said that Pellicano gave the studio president a list of 20-30 Hollywood power players who he thought might contribute as well, but none agreed to do so except the studio exec and the single producer. The VF article commented: "As pressure grows on Pellicano to testify against his former clients, a lot of people may wish they had been more charitable."
PARAMOUNT GOING DIGITAL WITH M:I 3
Of some 3,500 theaters that will be screening Paramount's Mission: Impossible 3, at least 135 will be using digital projectors, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday). It will mark Paramount's entry into digital exhibition. It is the last studio to release a digital print in theaters, the trade paper observed. It credited the move to the ascendancy of former DreamWorks distribution chief Jim Tharp to the same role at Paramount, where he replaced Wayne Lewellen, who reportedly viewed digital projection skeptically.
THAI HORROR FILM PRODUCERS APOLOGIZE TO CAMBODIANS
A Thai horror film about a group of gameshow contestants who agree to stay in a prison supposedly haunted by victims of Cambodia's murderous Khmer Rouge regime, has ignited a dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, which has announced it will ban the film. Thai filmmaker Napat Pavaputanont has apologized to the Cambodian people, according to the French news agency Agence France Presse, which quoted him as saing, "We are sorry that our movie has drawn complaints from Cambodian people who are concerned about the history of the country. We had not given this enough serious thought. ... We also regret if the film affects the good relationship between Thailand and Cambodia."