EMMY LOVES ELLEN
Advertisers, who once shunned Ellen DeGeneres's sitcom after the actress -- as well as her character -- revealed that she is a lesbian, are now expected to spend big bucks for ads on CBS's telecast of the Sept. 18 Primetime Emmy Awards following the announcement that DeGeneres had been selected as its host. CBS is reportedly currently asking $500,000-$600,000 for a 30-second ad to run dring the awards ceremony. DeGeneres received high praise for her performance as host of the 2001 Emmys. However, last year's show dropped to a 9.4 rating and a 15 share, its worst numbers since 1990. Such a "price tag for a 9-rated show is pretty steep," commented the online MediaDailyNews, citing unnamed executives. However, it noted, the Emmys are likely to make a comeback this year because of the strong competion from ABC's Desperate Housewives and Lost.
JUDGE ABDUL FOUND INNOCENT
Paula Abdul will retain her seat as a judge on Fox's American Idol after an investigation concluded that there was no evidence to show that she had a sexual relationship with former contestant Corey Clark. The investigators concluded that Clark's claims of a sexual relationship "have not been substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses, including those provided by Mr. Clark, and Ms. Abdul expressly denies that any such relationship ever existed." Abdul said in a statement, "I'm grateful this ordeal is over, and I'm so looking forward to getting back to the job I love." Following the decision, Fox announced that it would institute "an enhanced non-fraternization policy" to its contracts with judges and contestants.
COOPER-ABRAMS SQUARE OFF
CNN's Anderson Cooper has touched off a name-calling battle with cable-news rivals after taking them to task for their intense coverage of the Natalee Holloway case. On his report last Thursday, Cooper remarked, "Well, in Aruba, not much happened in the 11th week of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, but you'd never know that if you listen to just about every other cable news channel.... We've been kind of stunned, because every night, our cable competitors devote hours and hours to this story, even though, sadly, nothing new is happening." On Friday, MSNBC legal expert Dan Abrams shot back. that while Cooper may have cut back his coverage, two other CNN stars, Larry King and Nancy Grace, have not. He then added facetiously, "But at least Anderson's show is only covering the most important of stories, right? I mean that sort of holier-than-thou attitude must come from a host devoting his precious hour exclusively to domestic policy initiatives and the threat of nuclear proliferation? I guess he is -- if you consider the disappearance of the newlywed on a cruise ship in Turkey, women who love killers and the Jackson jurors the most important stories of the day. Those are just a few of the stories he covered this week. ... Anderson, you might want to take a 360-degree look around your own house and clean it up, before telling us which disinfectant we should use in our kitchen."
TV ACADEMY TO HONOR ABC'S MCPHERSON FOR "DIVERSITY"
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, long accused of making only token gestures to encourage diversity within the television industry, says it plans to present an annual Televisionary Award each year to an industry executive who promotes ethnic, cultural and gender diversity. ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson is scheduled to become the first recipient of the award. Meanwhile Dick Askin, chairman and CEO of the academy, told the Los Angeles Times withat promoting diversity at his network "It is going to take a lot of work, and we will change things over the long term. ... This will require constant vigilance and industry cooperation, and we are just starting the process."
JERRY SHOUTED DOWN BY BRITISH ARTS COUNCIL
The British Arts Council has denied claims that it decided not to fund a national tour of the hit musical Jerry Springer the Opera because of protests and threats by Christian conservatives. Numerous theaters that had originally agreed to present the musical had pulled out because of threats. A private investor also has pulled out, reportedly after receiving complaints from an evangelical group called Christian Voice that has condemned the musical, based on Springer's TV talk show, as "filthy and blasphemous." The Arts Council said in a statement that the reason for its decision to drop funding was confidential. However, it added, "The council is very proud to have been one of the original funders. It absolutely supports freedom of expression and believes that must not be compromised in the light of what has happened."
BOX OFFICE SINKS FURTHER
The box-office slump began to resemble an expanding bog over the weekend as the top 12 films took in just $103 million, 16 percent below the same weekend last year. The No. 1 film, the R-rated Four Brothers, recorded ticket sales of just $20.7 million, while the thriller The Skeleton Key debuted with only $15.8 million. Last week's No. 1 movie, The Dukes of Hazzard, took a 58-percent dive, winding up in third place with $13 million. Another newcomer, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, recorded only $9.4 million in ticket sales as it landed in fifth place, behind the fifth week of The Wedding Crashers, which remained relatively strong with $12 million. Miramax's The Great Raid, which had been gathering dust for the past three years before finally being released, barely made it onto the top-10 list as it took in $3.4 million. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Four Brothers, $20.7 million; 2. The Skeleton Key, $15.8 million; 3. The Dukes of Hazzard, $13 million; 4. The Wedding Crashers, $12 million; 5. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, $9.4 million; 6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, $7.3 million; 7. March of the Penguins, $6.7 million.; 8. Sky High, $6.1 million; 9. Must Love Dogs, $4.6 million; 10. The Great Raid, $3.4 million.
GAMES, DVD'S RESPONSIBLE FOR BOX-OFFICE COLLAPSE, SAY EXPERTS
Observing that "ticket buyers are avoiding the box office like stale Jujubes," the Chicago Sun-Times observed Sunday that competition from home entertainment may be the primary cause of this year's slump. ("This is definitely the most pontificated summer ever," Universal Pictures vice Chairman Marc Shmuger told today's Los Angeles Times.) The Sun-Times noted that video game sales alone are now rivaling the take of many movies, pointing out that "Halo 2" took in $100 million in sales its first day out and that Netflix, the online video-rental service, saw its subscriber list expand to 3.2 million, up 54 percent from a year ago. "About 70 million people in the United States have DVD players. That gives people a greater flexibility than they have had," Andy Wing, president and CEO of Nielsen Entertainment, told the Sun Times "There is no sense of urgency to see a movie in the theater anymore." Moreover, moviegoers interviewed by the newspaper indicated that as people invest in sophisticated sound systems and high-definition monitors, the home-theater experience is becoming more enjoyable than anything the multiplex can offer. "I find that I can just be more comfortable at home," said one. "There's the problem of rudeness in the theater," said another, who complained about "people who use cell phones, people who ... talk during the movie, even someone who laughs at inappropriate times during the movie. Where are the ushers?"
IGER SAYS EISNER IS GIVING HIM A FREE HAND
Incoming Disney CEO Robert Iger says that outgoing chief Michael Eisner has approved his efforts to effect a rapprochement between the company and Pixar animation's Steve Jobs and former dissident directors Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold. In an interview with the New York Times, Iger remarked, "Not only did he stand down and get out of the way, but he supported me all along." Iger said that he had been particularly concerned about how Eisner would regard his talks with Disney and Gold, who agreed to drop their lawsuits against the company last month. But he said that Eisner "didn't allow his personal feeling or the perception that 'he couldn't get it done and I could' get in the way." For his partner, Eisner told the Times: "I wanted Bob to get on with it and start running the company as soon as possible. ... I'm glad the unnecessary distractions are over."
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
DreamWorks film execs Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have learned that no man is an island -- and neither is any website. Writing on their website last week, the husband-and-wife team blamed the stars of The Island, Ewen McGregor and Scarlet Johanson for the film's quick collapse. "Those are superstars of the future, those two actors, they're not superstars of the present," said Parkes. Of Johanson, the two said, "Even lesser television actresses, quite honestly, would have more connection to [the moviegoing] audience." The remarks did not go unnoticed by Johanson. A spokesman for the actress told the New York Post: "This is a clear-cut example of the producers' passing the buck and not taking responsibility for their part in making calculated mistakes throughout the film's marketing." The Post, citing unnamed insiders, said that the producers were only on the set three times during the movie shoot and were "basically uncontactable" just before it was about to open.