ABC MAY EXPERIENCE BRAUN-OUT
Lloyd Braun has begun negotiations with Disney to leave his post as chairman of struggling ABC-TV, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday), citing unnamed sources. The trade paper said that Braun, who signed a four-year contract when he was appointed chairman of the network in 2002, would likely step down by next month and be replaced by Anne Sweeney, president of the ABC Cable Networks, with cable and broadcast operations coming together under one person. Today's New York Times reported that Disney "is considering a broad overhaul" of ABC management but that it was not clear what that would mean for Braun and for Susan Lyne, the president.
ALANIS DECLARES CANADA A "CENSOR-FREE" ZONE
Declaring Canada "the true North strong and censor-free," singer Alanis Morissette Sunday night dropped a white robe on stage as she hosted the Juno Awards -- the Canadian equivalent of the Grammies -- revealing a nude-colored body suit, complete with exaggerated nipples and pubic hair. As the live audience applauded, an announcer's voice boomed, "We can't show nipples on national TV ... and you can't show your pubic hair either" -- at which point, Morissette tore off the nipples and pubic hair from the body suit. In a statement issued Monday, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) described the bit as "a pre-planned, live sketch" and said it was intended to "make light of the recent Super Bowl controversy in the United States" involving Janet Jackson's breast-baring.
FARSCAPE TO RETURN BRIEFLY AS MINISERIES
The producers of Farscape , the science-fiction series that developed an avid cult following on the Sci Fi Channel, will be allowed to wrap up story lines that were not completed when the show was canceled last year. The channel said Monday that it plans to air what it described as a "four-hour miniseries" titled "Farscape: Peacekeeper War," at the end of the year.
NBC HOPING FOR A MONSTER HIT
In its first stab at synergy since acquiring Universal Studios, NBC is planning a TV spin-off of Universal's upcoming monster movie Van Helsing, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday). Titled Transylvania, the series is expected to premiere as early as this fall, the newspaper said. NBC also expects to develop a Van Helsing video game for PlayStation 2 and Xbox; a Universal theme park attraction; an animated DVD movie featuring the voice of Hugh Jackman, who stars in the movie; and even plans to put out a line of "Gothic-style clothing." The Times further pointed out that executives at GE, NBC's corporate parent, who are famous for their penny-pinching ways, are keeping a wary eye on the box-office performance of Van Helsing, inasmuch as the movie reportedly cost about $150 million to produce.
SHOULD GRUESOME VIOLENCE BE SHOWN ON TV?
CNN editorial director Richard Griffith has acknowledged that the decision about how much footage to show of four Americans being killed and mutilated in Fallujah, Iraq last week was "a tough call." Appearing on CNN's international channel, Griffith said: "This was a particularly tough one because the images were so graphic. It was an important watershed moment. It was an important story. But the tough call for us was how do we handle it and how do we show these images?" Griffith said that the first footage of the incident aired on CNN International at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, but did not air domestically until four hours later, in order to allow the employer of the four men, a private security company, to notify next of kin.
MURDOCH TO MOVE NEWS CORP TO THE NYSE
Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, who became an American citizen in order to acquire television stations in the U.S. (which by law may only be owned by U.S. citizens), now intends to move the primary stock listing of his media company, News Corp, to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) from the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Speaking to investors Monday, News Corp CFO David DeVoe pointed out that as an Australian company, News Corp is off-limits to some U.S. investors who are barred from investing in companies based overseas. The move, he said, would allow the company to increase the scope and depth of its shareholder base.
VIDEO GAMES NOW FOURTH BIGGEST MEDIA DRAW FOR YOUNG MEN
As if to answer the folk singer's -- and advertisers' -- query "Where have all the young men gone?" a new study has indicated that video games have become the fourth most dominant medium among teens and young-adult men. As reported by MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews, 6 percent of 18-34-year-old men devote 6 percent of their time to playing video games while 15 percent of teenage males spend 15 percent of their time playing them. The study, conducted by Knowledge Networks/SRI, found that games follow TV, radio and the Internet as the major media forces attracting young men. Print media -- newspapers and magazines -- come in fifth. The study may help explain the extraordinary slide in TV viewing among young males that has been reported in the Nielsen ratings, which has provoked the consternation of television executives.
DISCOURAGING WORDS ABOUT HOME
Home on the Range may have seemed like a firing range to some Disney studio executives after weekend box-office returns showed that the $100-million animated feature had grossed only $13.9 million in its first week, putting it in fourth place behind the second week of Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times indicated that the studio may be forced to take a write-down on the film and quoted analyst Jordan Rohan of Schwab SoundView as describing the performance as "very disappointing." The result also increases the pressure on CEO Michael Eisner and his cohorts, who have promised prodigious earnings growth this year. Two other recent Disney releases, Hidalgo and The Ladykillers, also showed mediocre returns. However, several other analysts have observed that other animated features from Disney have opened poorly in the past but have gone on to become profitable -- largely as a result of strong home video sales and overseas performance. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Hellboy, Sony, $23,172,440, (New); 2. Walking Tall, MGM, $15,501,114, (New); 3. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Warner Bros. $14,788,422, 2 Wks. ($49,746,466); 4. Home on the Range, Disney, $13,880,771, (New); 5. The Passion of the Christ, Newmarket , $10,605,106, 6 Wks. ($330,856,971); 6. The Prince and Me, Paramount, $9,406,378, (New); 7. The Ladykillers, Disney, $7,090,016, 2 Wks. ($23,482,792); 8. Jersey Girl, Miramax, $5,124,554, 2 Wks. ($15,826,301); 9. Dawn of the Dead, Universal, $4,584,365, 3 Wks. ($51,759,940); 10. Taking Lives, Warner Bros. $3,495,271, 3 Wks. ($27,473,161).
BOX OFFICE WILL RISE AGAIN ON EASTER FOR PASSION SAYS CLERIC
Analysts are predicting that ticket sales for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will soar during Holy Week (this week) with huge crowds expected to turn out at theaters on Easter Sunday. Newmarket, the film's distributor, has added 194 screens this week, bringing the total to 3,408. Commenting on the success of Passion, New York Daily News film critic Jack Mathews observed today (Tuesday): "Who's to say the movie won't become a popular Easter evergreen, rereleased this time every year? Whatever misgivings critics have about the controversial movie, no one can deny Gibson has bridged film and religious culture in a way no other filmmaker has." The film is now the tenth biggest money earner in Hollywood history, having taken in $331 million to date.
STAR WARS: THE EXTRAS
LucasFilm has released a list of "extras" that it plans to include in the upcoming four-disc box set of the original Star Wars trilogy. They include a 2 1/2-hour documentary about George Lucas's "vision" for the films, another half-hour documentary about how the characters were developed, another 20-minute documentary about the special effects used in the films, a preview of Episode III, hundreds of still photos, posters, and other artwork, and "Star Wars Battlefront" -- a computer game demo. Meanwhile, LucasFilm on Monday confirmed reports that Episode III will be released domestically on Thursday, May 19, 2005, with a "near-simultaneous release around the world."