APRIL HOLD-OVER FOR MARCH MADNESS
Demonstrating that Saturdays can still draw a crowd to TV sets if the programming is engaging enough, CBS's coverage of the NCAA basketball championship tournament scored a 10.9 rating and a 19 share Saturday, the best numbers for a Final Four contest since 1998. Ratings were up 16 percent from last year's 9.4/18, according to Nielsen overnights. The figures bode well for tonight's title game, which pits North Carolina against Illinois. Meanwhile ABC's new medical drama Grey's Anatomy showed that it could hold on to viewers in its second week as it recorded an 11.4/18 Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. It followed ABC's biggest hit of the season, Desperate Housewives, which produced the highest ratings of the night, a 14.7/22 at 9:00 p.m. Together, the two shows gave ABC an easy win for the night -- an average 10.0/16, well ahead of second place CBS's 6.6/11. NBC placed third with a 5.7/9, while Fox trailed with a 3.2/5.
WAS KOPPEL CONNED BY ABC?
Did ABC make Ted Koppel an offer that they knew he'd refuse? The question arose Friday when the Associated Press asked the veteran Nightline anchor about ABC's offer to keep him on, provided that he agree to hosting an expanded one-hour version of Nightline that would air live each night -- a proposal that he quickly rejected. Koppel told the A.P. that at the time, he was assured that he was not being pushed out the door. "But who knows?" he said. "Maybe it was. I'm too much a reporter and a realist, and have been in this business too long, not to recognize that my salary is very high, particularly for someone who only does three days a week now."
SCHIEFFER'S CHANGES SURPRISE, DELIGHT CBS BRASS
CBS chief Les Moonves has expressed surprise at the rapid changes in The CBS Evening News that have been introduced by its new interim host Bob Schieffer and exec producer Jim Murphy. "It's more different than I thought it would be," Moonves told today's (Monday) New York Times. "Clearly, they have made an effort to incorporate some of the changes we talked about." Separately, CBS News President Andrew Heyward indicated that the fact that there has been virtually no erosion in the audience for the news program -- it's drawing roughly the same number of viewers as it did with former anchor Dan Rather -- "gives us an opportunity to develop a smart plan without feeling under the gun." Meanwhile, Schieffer told the Times that even if he is asked to remain with the nightly newscast, he plans to retire in two years. "I'll be 70," he told the Times. "That's long enough."
ABC AND PRIMETIME LIVE ACCUSED OF PROMOTING GAY AGENDA
A Virginia couple has accused ABC News and its magazine program Primetime Live of setting them up for a forthcoming feature designed to "help further the homosexual agenda." Susan Farinholt has told CNSNews.com, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center, that they had originally been approached to appear on a program that would examine different parenting styles. She said that she and her husband did not learn until much later that another one of the couples was gay and that they would be compelled to attend a birthday party for the gay couple's 2-year-old son. She said that at the party she told a producer, "This was wrong, that we were told we were just going to come and observe, and you're bringing up this debate at a two-year-old child's birthday party. So we decided to leave." Farinholt added, "We're frustrated because we did not go there to help further the homosexual agenda, which is what we feel we were possibly used to do."
NEW CABLE NEWS CHANNEL TO FEATURE VIDEO FROM VIEWERS
A new cable channel called Current, founded by an investment group that includes former vice president Al Gore and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt (Hyatt Legal Services), will pay viewers $250 each for videos that it uses reflecting their opinions on topics ranging from the latest movies and videogames to advocacy journalism, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). The channel will focus on the interests of young adults. Programming chief David Neuman told the Journal that the channel will be closer to MTV and VH1 than to Fox News and MSNBC.
MORE TV SHOWS MAY BE COMING TO YOUR COMPUTER
Broadcast and cable networks may begin offering more TV shows for downloading and streaming over the Internet following the successful online presentations of such shows as Showtime's Fat Actress, Bravo's Project Greenlight, and Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica, the Chicago Tribune observed today (Monday). Bob Greenblatt, president of entertainment at Showtime, said that more than 175,000 people streamed Fat Actress on their computers before the first episode ever aired, but that it's not something he objected to, given the technique's promotional value. "We needed people to be able to see this show, to get a sense of what it was," he said.
THIS WAS YOUR LIFE
Pioneer reality-show producer-host Ralph Edwards, 91, plans to release a three-DVD collection of his This Is Your Life shows on May 31. The show, which debuted in 1952 and aired live for nine years, looked at the lives of celebrities who were unaware that they were going to be profiled until they were lured onto Edwards's set. Among the celebrities featured in the DVD set are Milton Berle, Laurel & Hardy, Bette Davis, Jayne Mansfield, Boris Karloff, Dick Clark, and Jesse Owens.
MOVIEGOERS HEAD TO SIN CITY
Exceeding expectations, Miramax/Dimension's Sin City attracted an estimated $28.1 million in ticket sales over the weekend, making it the No. 1 choice at the box office. Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel trounced second place Beauty Shop, which had been expected to become a top contender, but instead could only muster $13.5 million ($17.3 million since its Wednesday opening). Last week's winner, Sony's Guess Who, slipped to third place with $13 million. Twentieth Century Fox's animated Robots remained in fourth in its fourth week with $10 million (pushing its box office total past the $100-million mark to $104.6 million). Overall, the box office fell 14 percent to $98.3 million from the same weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Sin City, $28.1 million; 2. Beauty Shop, $13.5 million; 3. Guess Who, $13 million; 4. Robots, $10 million; 5. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, $8.4 million; 6. The Pacifier, $6.1 million; 7. The Ring 2, $5.8 million; 8. The Upside of Anger, $4.1 million; 9. Hitch, $3 million; 10. Ice Princess, $2.6 million.
THE UPSIDE OF COSTNER
Sony expanded its Upside of Anger from about 100 screens to about 1,100 in its fourth week and saw its weekend take rise some 230 percent. (The film finished in eighth place.) Kevin Costner, who costars with Joan Allen in the movie, has begun to publicize it. Asked by columnist Liz Smith why he had waited so long to embark on a publicity campaign for it, Costner replied, "I'm not going to be a donkey for a studio, even if it's a film I believe in. I say you start promoting this movie, I'll start, too. I'm not going to junket myself to death and then watch the advertising disappear."
DEMOCRATIC MPAA CHIEF CONTRIBUTING TO REPUBLICANS
MPAA chief Dan Glickman says that after serving as a Democratic congressman for 18 years and a member of the Clinton administration (Secretary of Agriculture) for six, he has recognized the "need to build bridges to the Republican Congress." In an interview with today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, he acknowledged the necessity of contributing to the campaigns of certain pro-movie-industry candidates who don't necessarily share his political outlook. "It's a reality that we have to be actively engaged in the political process," Glickman told the Times. "I've already become a much more active contributor on the Republican side of the ledger than I ever used to be." Besides, he also indicated, movie piracy, the single most important issue facing the film industry, should not be regarded as a partisan issue.
LIVE 1910 SNOW WHITE DISCOVERED IN ENGLAND
A live motion picture adaptation of Snow White, produced in 1910 and unknown to film historians, has been discovered in England among dozens of other films dating back to the 19th century, the London Daily Telegraph reported today (Monday). The cache had been accumulated by the late John Huntley, who had willed it to the British Film Institute. BFI archivist James Webster told the newspaper, "I did not really have any expectations of what we might find when we began looking through the material, but it never crossed my mind that there would be a film adaptation of Snow White which we had never even heard of. Much of the material is not labeled so we are having to work out what it might be. Obviously there are clues in the films themselves."
THE INCREDIBLES FLIES AT KIDS CHOICE AWARDS
Pixar's The Incredibles
won for best movie at the 18th annual Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards Saturday night in L.A. Adam Sandler won for best movie actor, while Hilary Duff won for best actress. UCLA's Pauley Pavilion was fairly drenched with green slime by the time the awards show concluded.