ROSIE TO RETURN
Rosie O'Donnell is expected to replace Meredith Vieira on ABC's syndicated talk show The View, the TV newsmagazine Extra reported Thursday. The Associated Press later reported that an unnamed person close to the show had confirmed the Extra story. Asked by a fan on her website whether it was true "or are you not at liberty to discuss," O'Donnell responded "NALTD." Vieira is departing the show to become the co-host of NBC's Today.
PORN STARS TO GO LEGIT IN FOX REALITY SERIES
Hoping to answer the perennial question, can female porn stars really act?, the Fox Reality Channel is planning to cast the actresses from several U.S. porn studios in a theatrical drama to be performed in London's West End. The series, My Bare Lady, will follow the actresses as they undergo acting lessons to the time they appear "before a discerning British audience," according to a Reuters report. "It's a wonderful tale of redemption," David Lyle, general manager of Fox Reality, told the wire service "Do they want lines that are a little more challenging than 'Oh, here's the pool guy...'?"
PRESS CORPS REVOLTS; FOX NEWS SWITCHED OFF
Outgoing White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has quenched a mini-revolt by correspondents traveling with the president in Air Force One over the news channel shown in the press cabin. As reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Washington Post reporter Jim VandeHei noted that requests to turn the monitors to a station other than Fox had been denied. "My question would be, is there a White House policy that all government TVs have to be tuned to Fox?" Initially McClellan denied that such a policy existed, noting that every White House television, including his own, can show four different channels at any time. Tim Sloan, a photographer for the Agence France Presse said that he had asked about switching channels in the press cabin "and I was told, the quote was, 'No,' when I asked for CNN. ... I was told, 'We don't watch CNN here. You can only watch Fox.'" A moment later McClellan remarked, "First time you brought it to my attention. I'll go see what we can do on it." After making a quick trip to the front of the plane, McClellan returned and announced: "They're going to be changing it, at your all's request, to the channel that you requested, which is CNN."
RATHER SAYS HE MAY LEAVE CBS AND GO BLOGGING
Dan Rather has disclosed that CBS has discouraged network newsmen from blogging. Dave Winer, who operates the blog Scripting News, said that Rather told him that "large companies like to control what's said about them, and that CBS is part of a large company." Winer continued, "He added something that was surprising, that I've not heard elsewhere -- he may leave CBS, and if he does, may start blogging. I offered my help and advice if he goes that route, he said he'd like that." Winer, whose blog is mostly about blogging, wondered in writing what might have happened had CBS "sought the diversity of the blogosphere" at the time of "Memogate," which brought Rather down. "What if, in addition to being the lightning rod for this event, they had also covered it, brought the blogosphere onto their nightly broadcast in 2004, in the last days of the campaign? Had they embraced the controversy instead of trying to deflect it, just followed the story like any reporter could have done, it all could have come out very differently."
ABC TO OFFER INTERACTIVE COMMERCIALS WITH ONLINE SHOWS
Although there has been some grumbling about ABC's announced plan to prevent viewers from skipping commercials when it makes some of its primetime TV shows available online beginning next week, an ABC exec predicted Thursday that many critics may change their minds. Alan Ives, vice president of interactive sales for ABC, told the website Imedia Connection that only a single interactive ad will be shown during commercial breaks. "It's a new and different ad model," he said. "We've got some pretty creative stuff. If you had unlimited time and interactivity to get your message across, what would you do?"
COKE PRODUCES AD WITH WHITE STRIPES LEADER, BUT WHERE WILL IT AIR?
Coca-Cola has confirmed that it plans to air a 100-second commercial featuring a song, "Love Is the Truth," written for the brand by Jack White of the rock group White Stripes in the U.K. It will air only once on Britain's Channel 4 at 1:55 a.m. next Sunday morning. The grainy 30-second version of the commercial popped up on the YouTube.com site last week after it was broadcast without fanfare on the MTV Australia Video Music Awards. White has frequently said that he has had a kind of obsession with Coke since he was a child, and he always dresses in red, white, and black, sort of like the colors of a bottle of Coke. The video for the commercial is intended to convey White's premise that one act of kindness begets another, as he sings: "Love is as good as it gets/ And you'll get more if you give it/ It's the right thing to do, and you know it/ It's inside of you, so just show it." Coca-Cola said it has no plans to air the commercial in the U.S. However, it has been posted on its U.K. website "for a limited time" at coca-cola.co.uk/whatgoesaround.
PELLICANO STORY WON'T FLY, SAY CELEBS
Paramount chief Brad Grey and representatives of Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, and the late Chris Farley have accused Vanity Fair of running an inaccurate story about their relationship with embattled former private eye Anthony Pellicano. The actors' representatives denied that they had ever hired Pellicano. (The magazine said that Grey had used Pellicano for work on their behalf.) Paramount issued a statement saying that "specific allegations" about Grey were "total fabrications." In addition, HBO issued a statement denying that it had ever considered replacing The Sopranos with a series based on Pellicano when series star James Gandolfini walked off the show in a salary dispute.
JOBS DENIES HE HAS EYE ON DISNEY TOP-SPOT
Steve Jobs on Thursday deflected speculation that he may have his eye on taking control of the Walt Disney Co. Jobs, who became Disney's largest shareholder when he sold his Pixar Animation company to Disney for $7.4 billion, told Apple Computer shareholders Thursday that he had heard from some investors who asked him whether "I will spend all my time at Disney -- and that couldn't be further from the truth." He noted that at the time of the sale, he was the only CEO of two public companies, Pixar and Apple, and that selling Pixar will now give him more time to focus on Apple.
MOVIE REVIEWS: RV
Barry Sonnenfeld's RV is another family vacation movie, with Robin Williams in the Chevy Chase role. It's the kind of film critics have difficulty getting a handle on. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Time doles out two stars to it and remarks, "There is nothing I much disliked but little to really recommend." He then makes the arguable comment that Williams demonstrates during "a few moments of relative gravity" that "he's more effective on the screen when he's serious than when he's trying to be funny." On the other hand, Kevin Krust in the Los Angeles Times complains that the film fails to exploit Williams's comedy talent. "Williams in a repressive role is not a pretty sight," he writes. "Flipping his and [Jeff] Daniels' parts might have added some laughs." And Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune adds, "Robin Williams is such a great comic virtuoso that it can almost hurt to see him straining to pump life into a conventional, uninspired, sometimes-goofy big-studio comedy such as RV." Kyle Smith in the New York Post gives the film a lukewarm review. "This is sharper stuff than the bunny-soft Cheaper By the Dozen movies," he writes, "and unlike Steve Martin, Williams doesn't mug too much." Philip Wuntch's review in the Dallas Morning News spills out at the same temperature: "The slapstick moments are completely predictable, but director Barry Sonnenfeld stages them with finesse. And some of the dialogue is sprightly and even witty." And Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives it this verdict: "An acceptable Big Dumb Summer Movie."
MOVIE REVIEWS: AKEELAH AND THE BEE
Akeelah and the Bee is essentially a sports movie in which the sport is spelling. Most critics are charmed. Dana Stevens in the New York Times calls it "an underdog tale that manages to inspire without being sappy." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gives it four stars and calls it "an uncommonly good movie, entertaining and actually inspirational and with a few tears along the way." (Variations of the word "inspire" are spelled out in virtually all of the reviews.) Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post describes it as "a thoroughly winning family film." It does have a few detractors. Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail is one of them. He begins his review this way: "The word to spell in this round is DERIVATIVE. Language of origin? Hollywoodese." Fellow Torontonian Susan Walker writes in the Star: "The latest spelling bee movie is a Starbucks Entertainment product, and it has a made-to-order feel about it, kind of like a compilation album." Michael Booth in the Denver Post agrees with those negtive assessments -- in a way. He writes: "Akeelah and the Bee carefully diagrams every cliché we've absorbed from sports movies, urban dramas, mentor flicks and precocious-children portraits. Yet it works."
MOVIE REVIEWS: STICK IT
Stick It is another movie that appears to borrow from previous movies with aplomb. As Nathan Lee observes in the New York Times, it "takes the usual batch of underdogs, dirt bags, mean girls and bimbos and sends them somersaulting through happy clichés and unexpected invention." (The film, as you may have deduced, is about female gymnastics.) Jami Bernard in the New York Daily News notes that the film is aimed at teenage girls. "The target audience will love it," she writes. Oddly, the actor receiving the best reviews in the movie is Jeff Bridges, who plays the girls' coach. In fact, John Anderson in Newsday remarks, "Bridges has seldom looked or acted as well in recent films as he does here." And Carrie Rickey writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "If there were any justice in the world, this performance would earn him the awards he always gets nominated for but never gets."