JANET TAKES BACK HER APOLOGY

Janet Jackson says that she regrets apologizing for the "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show that enraged family organizations, politicians, and TV regulators. "I shouldn't have apologized," she told Genre magazine. "You don't apologize for an accident. It just makes you look guilty." Furthermore, she suggested that the to-do was made over the incident in order to distract the country from President Bush's policies in Iraq. As for the threats of an FCC fine over the incident, she responded, "I think it's all stupid. ... It's all so contradictory. Here you have commercials about Viagra [during the Super Bowl], and all the beer commercials -- they're all very sexual."

OLYMPICS RATINGS REACH NEW HEIGHTS ON SUNDAY

Ninety-five million individual viewers in the U.S. tuned in to at least some part of the TV coverage of the Summer Olympics on Sunday, another record for a non-U.S. Olympics. In primetime Sunday night, NBC once again pulled in an audience larger than that of all the other networks combined as it averaged a 15.5 rating and a 27 share. That figure is slightly less than the 15.8/28 it has averaged over ten days. According to Nielsen Research this year's Games have been seen by 185 million thus far, 9 percent more than tuned in for the Sydney Olympics four years ago during the same period.

CHRYSLER PULLS OUT OF APPRENTICE

Chrysler will no longer be the exclusive automotive sponsor of NBC's The Apprentice. Joe Eberhardt, head of Chrysler sales and marketing, told the Detroit News Monday that the company objected to NBC's huge rate increase for the show. "You would have hoped that given the fact that we were the founding sponsor ... that would count for something. But they were asking for way too much money," Eberhardt told the News. At least one marketing analyst, Michael Tchong of Trendscape, suggested that Chrysler had made a wise move and predicted that the reality show would not draw the enormous audience that it did in its first season. "A retake is never going to be as valuable as the first time out of the gate," Tchong told the newspaper.

TV STATION AND NEWSPAPER COMBINE OPERATIONS IN PHILLY

Raising new questions about cross-media control of local markets, the Knight-Ridder owned Philadelphia Inquirer and the NBC-owned WCAU-TV ("NBC 10") in Philadelphia began what they called a groundbreaking editorial partnership in the nation's fourth largest city Monday. Knight-Ridder, through its subsidiary Philadelphia Newspapers, already owns Philadelphia's two dailies, the Inquirer and the Daily News, as well as a plethora of local weeklies in the area. While FCC rules currently prohibit newspaper-TV cross ownership on the grounds that it could limit diversity of viewpoints, they do not apply to partnerships of the sort that went into effect in Philadelphia, which might also tend to inhibit such diversity.

BRITISH COMIC WANTS TO STAY IN U.S.

Flamboyant British comedian Graham Norton, who launched a U.S. version of his late-night BBC comedy show on Comedy Central in July, is talking about walking away from a multi-million dollar deal with the BBC and remaining in America. "I have no interest in going home," he told the London Sun. Referring to the BBC's plan to feature him in primetime, he remarked, "The idea seemed interesting two months ago [before he came to the U.S.], but now that we're here, we couldn't be more bored by the idea of going home."

TALK-SHOW HOST SAYS HE WAS "PISSED OFF" AT BBC

Veteran British talk-show host Michael Parkinson has acknowledged that he quit the BBC earlier this year because he was "really, really pissed off" at the way he was being treated after 30 years with the broadcaster. Parkinson, whose defection to rival ITV produced front-page headlines in the British press, said in an interview with the U.K.'s Heat magazine: "The problem with the BBC is that, if you're in a show like my own -- or any show indeed -- you're looking for some kind of promotion, some kind of enthusiasm, some backup to be shown from them." Not only wasn't his show being promoted, he maintained, it was being "shoved to one side" to make room for soccer telecasts. With five days remaining on his contract, no decision had yet been made on a time slot for his program, he said. "I got really, really pissed off about his. Then I got a call from ITV saying, 'There's something going on,' and I said, 'You're right, something is going on.' And they said, 'Well, talk to us.' And I did." Parkinson's ITV show debuts this weekend with an interview with Tom Cruise.

SATAN RULES BOX OFFICE

The box office went to hell over the weekend, in more ways than one. The top film, Exorcist: The Beginning debuted with $18.1 million, while all of the films in the top ten generated modest ticket sales, comparable to those in late winter. The low-brow comedy Without a Paddle opened in second place with $13.5 million, while the $500,000 Open Water opened wide to take in $11.4 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. Exorcist: The Beginning, Warner Bros., $18,054,001, (New); 2. Without a Paddle, Paramount, $13,528,946, (New); 3. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Disney, $13,051,560, 2 Wks. ($61,217,735); 4. Alien Vs. Predator, 20th Century Fox, $12,409,624, 2 Wks. ($62,962,235); 5. Open Water, Lions Gate, $11,413,017, 3 Wks. ($14,493,924); 6. Collateral, DreamWorks, $10,156,357, 3 Wks. ($69,721,408); 7. The Bourne Supremacy, Universal, $6,469,275, 5 Wks. ($150,393,515); 8. The Manchurian Candidate, Paramount, $4,017,560, 4 Wks. ($54,543,247); 9. The Village, Disney, $3,722,806, 4 Wks. ($107,049,072); 10. Yu-Gi-Oh!, Warner Bros., $3,245,167, 2 Wks. ($15,514,005).

STAR WARS SEQUELS?

The Star Wars fansite Theforce.net has posted a message claiming that employees of Lucas's special effects company Industrial Light and Magic have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements promising not talk about the possibility of a trilogy sequel. The message reads: "You didn't hear this from me, but you might be curious as to why everyone at ILM just signed NDA's saying that they will not discuss Star Wars episodes 7, 8, or 9." Lucas had previously said that when the current prequel trilogy is completed, he will shut down the franchise for good. However, the poster remarked: "Since they're [the sequels] not being made, why the NDA's?"

TORONTO FILM FEST TO PREMIERE BOBBY DARIN BIOPIC

The Toronto Film Festival has landed the world premiere of Beyond the Sea, the film biography of singer Bobby Darin, produced, directed by, and starring Kevin Spacey, the Toronto Star reported today (Tuesday). The festival reportedly plans to present the film on Sept. 11, with Spacey on hand for the premiere. In reporting on the festival acquisition, the Star observed that the screening of the movie is expected to answer the question of whether, at age 45, Spacey is too old to play Darin, who was 37 when he died and was in his 20s when many of the events depicted in the movie occurred.

MPAA SUES CHIP MAKERS

The MPAA has opened a new front on its war against piracy, this time suing two DVD chip makers for selling their products to DVD equipment manufacturers who do not include "appropriate security features" in their players. In announcing the lawsuit against Sigma Designs of Milpitas, CA and MediaTek of Taiwan, MPAA Chief Technology Counsel Dan Robbins said, "There is no leniency for irresponsible companies that seek to circumvent the system and operate outside of the law."

NEW YORK TIMES NABS VARIETY'S ISHERWOOD

In its latest raid on Los Angeles publications, the New York Times has hiredtheater critic Charles Isherwood away from Variety. Isherwood, chief theater critic for the trade publication since 1998 and a member of its staff since 1993, will replace Margo Jefferson. Ben Brantley is the New York Times's lead critic. Isherwood is the author of Ecstasy and Wonder Bread, a book that examined the gay porn film industry, focusing on the death of one of its stars, Joey Stafano. In recent weeks, the Times has lured away several top journalists from the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly.

SPIELBERG DOCUMENTARY TO AIR IN U.K.

Britain's celebrity magazine Empire has teamed with the U.K.'s Monkey Productions to produce a documentary biography about Steven Spielberg, which is due to air on the Channel Five network on Sept. 3, coinciding with the U.K. release of Spielberg's The Terminal. The film includes interviews with Spielberg and actors Bob Hoskins, Haley Joel Osment, and Richard Attenborough. Meanwhile, the Asian distributor of The Terminal announced today (Tuesday) that the movie will have its Singapore premiere at the nation/city's Changi Airport. Proclaiming that it will be the first time a movie has ever been premiered at an airport, the distributor said that passengers waiting for their flights will be able to watch the film in the Sky Lounge on Aug. 28 and again on Aug. 29.

WANT TO WRITE A SEQUEL TO PETER PAN?

London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is largely supported by revenue from its ownership rights to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, has begun a search for a writer who can come up with a sequel to the story before the copyright on the original runs out in 2007, Reuters reported Monday. The hospital said that it is looking for established authors willing to submit a synopsis and a sample chapter.

MULTIPLEX THEATERS SHUT DOWN IN BOMBAY

Multiplex movie theaters in Bombay (Mumbai), India have decided to shut down during the daytime following a government directive ordering them to raise ticket prices for matinee performances, which had been going for half-price. The government directive was aimed at protecting single-theater operations. One multiplex theater owner told a local television station, "The theaters are empty [during the day]. The government should try and understand our problems."