NFL TAKES CONTROL OF ENTERTAINMENT
Reacting to last year's breast-baring incident involving Janet Jackson, the National football League said Monday that it plans to control all entertainment associated with its televised games and to hold performers, managers and record labels responsible if any inappropriate content winds up on the air. "We're taking control and we're not going to allow anyone to dictate to us how we use our image," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told today's (Tuesday) New York Post. The NFL's 2004 season is due to kick off on Sept. 9 (New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts) with a pregame show produced by White Cherry Entertainment, featuring Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Elton John, Toby Keith, Lenny Kravitz and Jessica Simpson.
SIMPSONS VOICE ACTOR SAYS HE'D LIKE TO LEAVE
Humorist Harry Shearer, whose disgruntled attitude in real life (and exhibited on his public radio program Le Show) is often transposed into brilliant comedy in the characters he portrays, has indicated that he is so dissatisfied with the course of The Simpsons that he'd "rather not be there now." Shearer, who voices numerous characters on the animated series, including Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Ned Flanders, also complained in an interview with the Irish Examiner that he has been relegated to essentially walk-on parts on the series. Referring to the fact that he reportedly earns $250,000 an episode for recording only a few lines of dialogue per episode, Shearer remarked, "It's possible to make a very nice living and still get totally screwed." His remarks outraged The Simpsons producer, Al Jean, who told the New York Post: "He's a guy who's been a malcontent, in my view. ... For someone earning millions off the show this year ... I just think it's unfathomable for him to take a shot at us."
FCC REJECTS COMPLAINTS AGAINST SITCOMS
In a unanimous vote on Monday, the five FCC commissioners rejected complaints from the Parents Television Council and Americans for Decency against episodes of Will & Grace and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The commissioners agreed that the scenes that the groups objected to did not violate indecency regulations, noting that they did not depict nudity and were not intended to titillate or shock the audience.
THE OLYMPICS -- ON YOUR CELL PHONE
NBC will extend its coverage of the 28th Summer Olympic Games starting Aug. 13 to the 21 million customers of AT&T Wireless. The two companies said that users of the cell-phone service will be able to access online content from NBCOlympics.com, receive text alerts concerning results, and participate in online polls, trivia contests and a $25,000 sweepstakes.
ECHOSTAR ENTICES 340,000 NEW SUBSCRIBERS IN QUARTER
Just days after DirecTV announced that it had added 455,000 new subscribers during the second quarter, EchoStar reported Monday that its DISH Network had added 340,000. The two figures together almost equal the 867,000 customers that the cable industry reportedly lost from January to July. Unlike DirecTV, which lost money during the quarter because of increased marketing expenses to acquire subscribers, EchoStar reported a profit of 85.2 million, down 33 percent from $128.7 million during the comparable period a year ago.
LATE NIGHT: THE INFOMERCIAL
In what Late Night With Conan O'Brien producer Jeff Ross called "an infomercial parody that is actually an infomercial," the Aug. 12 edition of the comedy talk show will be staged as a late-night advertisement, pitching the DVD releases of O'Brien's 10th anniversary clip show and a collection of appearances featuring Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, TV Guide reported on its website Monday. "Every cheesy aspect of infomercials will be included in the parody, from Bruce Jenner-like guests to O'Brien dressed in a really loud sweater," the publication said. However, it noted, the toll-free number will be real, and viewers will be urged to buy the DVDs for $19.98 each.
U.K. SEX SCANDAL FAILS TO DRAW VIEWERS
An ITV interview with the woman at the center of a sex scandal in Britain's Football Association drew relatively few viewers Monday night. The interview, for which the woman, Faria Alam, was paid $183,000, drew just 3.1 million viewers. By contrast, the rival Ten O'Clock News on the BBC drew 5.4 million. Reporting on the results, Britain's Guardian newspaper observed: "Before the broadcast, ITV bosses were confident they could recoup their investment through overseas sales, although this remains to be seen."
DISNEY & MIRAMAX: THE SPLIT
The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Miramax are expected to reach an agreement under which Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein would leave Disney and start a new production company using the Miramax name while his brother Bob would remain at Disney and produce movies under the Dimension Films name, the New York Times reported today (Tuesday). The newspaper said that negotiations between the two sides are expected to be conducted this week but that a deal is unlikely to be announced soon. Under the deal under discussion, the Times said, Disney would receive a licensing fee from Harvey Weinstein to use the Miramax name and his films would be financed and distributed by his brother. The newspaper observed, however, that such an agreement was "far from certain" and quoted one person involved in the negotiations as saying that there was a 60 percent chance that both Weinsteins would leave Disney.
CRUISE INFLICTS COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Tom Cruise's Collateral performed better than had been expected over the weekend, leading the box office with $24.7 million, but its success may have inflicted collateral damage on its rivals, particularly last week's winner, Disney's The Village, which dropped 68 percent to $16.5 million. (The Associated Press described the drop-off as "catastrophic.") The Bourne Supremacy placed third with $14.4 million, dropping a respectable 40 percent in its third week, but The Manchurian Candidate took a 49-percent plunge in its second week, collecting only $10.3 million. Sony appeared ready to close the books quickly on Little Black Book, its newest entry, which earned just $7.1 million. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Collateral, DreamWorks, $24,701,458, (New); 2. The Village, Disney, $16,468,564, 2 Wks. ($85,612,284); 3. The Bourne Supremacy, Universal, $14,388,915, 3 Wks. ($124,602,435); 4. The Manchurian Candidate, Paramount, $10,526,421, 2 Wks. ($37,965,327); 5. Little Black Book, Sony, $7,075,217, (New); 6. I, Robot, 20th Century Fox, $6,516,075, 4 Wks. ($126,922,313); 7. Spider-Man 2, Sony, $5,431,777, 6 Wks. ($354,501,860); 8. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, New Line, $3,191,701, 2 Wks. ($12,320,632); 9. Catwoman, Warner Bros., $2,901,301, 3 Wks. ($36,065,841); 10. A Cinderella Story, Warner Bros., $2,878,301, 4 Wks. ($46,889,566).
PROTESTS FORCE CANCELLATION OF BIRTH OF A NATION
The owner of the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood canceled a planned screening of D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation after the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP and a group called the National Alliance for Positive Action vowed to picket the theater. Although owner Charlie Lustman had planned to show the film with a disclaimer stating that he does not endorse the racist content of the film but wants to honor its place in cinema history, the two groups had charged that the film would continue to poison race relations. Lustman said that he had also received threatening phone calls and was concerned about the safety of patrons and 92-year-old Bob Mitchell, the onetime leader of the famed Mitchell Boys Choir, who was to provide organ music to accompany the film.
SAG SUES MAKEUP ARTIST OVER BULK EMAIL
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) said Monday that it had filed a lawsuit in federal court charging Emmy-winning makeup artist John Vulich with sending out "bulk" emails to its members last year in an attempt to persuade them to vote no on merging with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). Vulich is not a member of SAG. His attorney denied the charges but acknowledged that Vulich may have allowed union dissidents to use his computer and other software for the mailings. In the end, union members narrowly rejected the consolidation referendum by just 2 percent.
FAHRENHEIT DVD TO HIT VIDEO STORES ON OCT. 5
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 , which fell out of the top-ten list at the box office over the weekend, will land in video stores on Oct. 5, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment said Monday. Amazon immediately began taking online orders for the film at $18.82, 35 percent below the suggested retail price of $28.95. Barnes and Noble had it priced at $20.98. Since the DVD will be released less than one month before the presidential election -- which Moore has publicly stated he hopes to influence -- TV ads for it will no doubt be watched carefully by supporters of President Bush. Although Bush was featured in ads for the theatrical release, federal election laws would bar similar ads from appearing during the election campaign.
BLOCKBUSTER EXPANDING MOVIE TRADING COMPANY
Blockbuster is planning to expand its The Movie Trading Company stores rapidly following tests of the concept in Utah and additional tests planned for this month and September in Georgia, Colorado, and Texas. Video Store magazine reported Monday that the chain, which buys and sells used DVDs, is expected to open between 45 and 50 stores nationwide by the end of the year.
LUCAS ON COLORIZED STOOGES MOVIES: NUTS TO NYUCKS
George Lucas, a longtime foe of "colorized" movies, has sharply criticized Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's decision to release two Three Stooges DVDs today (Tuesday) that will allow viewers to watch them in either their original black-and-white or digitally colored versions. In an interview with the Associated Press, Lucas said, that the Stooges' slapstick comedy belongs in a black-and-white universe. "Would color distract from their comedy and make it not as funny anymore?" Lucas said. "Maybe just the fact that they're in black and white makes it funny, because their humor is dated. But by putting it in black and white, it puts it in a context where you can appreciate it for what it was. But you try to make it in full living color and try to compare it to a Jim Carrey movie, then it's hard for young people to understand. ... It's not fair to the artist."
IMAX AND STUDIO DISCUSS TIE-UP
Canadian-based IMAX said Monday that it is in advanced negotiations with an unnamed major Hollywood studio to release its films in the giant-screen format. During the past year, IMAX has made several deals with studios for individual movies, like Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Sony's Spider-Man 2, but it has never had an ongoing multipicture deal with any studio. Meanwhile IMAX also announced deals with exhibitors National Amusements and Cinemark USA to install some 20 new IMAX theater systems in unnamed locations.
KING KONG STAR FAY WRAY DIES AT 96
Fay Wray, who appeared in more than 70 films dating back to the silent movie era but who is best remembered as the captive of King Kong in the 1933 classic, died in New York Monday at the age of 96.