UPN HOPING VIEWERS WILL DEVELOP A LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP
UPN has launched what it claims is its most expensive promotional campaign in its ten-year history to support the Sept. 22 debut of Chris Rock's Everybody Hates Chris. In an interview with today's (Friday) Daily Variety, CBS/UPN marketing chief George Schweitzer noted that the promotional campaign will include showing the pilot to some 4 million American Airlines passengers during September. "They won't have to pay a thing [to see it]," he remarked. "And we know they're going to see it. They have no place to go." Moreover, millions of DVDs of the pilot are being handed out at movie theaters and sports events and will be included in the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly. Nevertheless, although critical reaction to the show has been superb, writers have noted that it has been programmed in a tough period -- Thursday night at 8:00 opposite Survivor on CBS, The O.C., on Fox, and Joey on NBC.
REALITY SHOWS FINALLY BEING RERUN -- ON DVD
Reality shows rarely are rerun by the networks, primarily because the winning contestants have already been revealed, but they are now getting a second life on DVD. Home Media Retailing magazine reported Thursday that by adding bonus features Paramount Home Entertainment has successfully marketed full-season compilations of Survivor. Ken Ross, CBS's consumer products chief, told the trade publication, "You've got to provide consumers with compelling footage that they did not see in the broadcast. ... We go to great lengths and expense to provide not only extra footage and commentaries and insights, but also special things a fan of the show will want to see and own. Essentially, what we're selling on DVD is what you saw on television plus a whole lot more, so if you're a true fan or looking to give a gift to a true fan, these reality DVDs fill that void." However, the publication also observed that numerous TV-to-DVD transitions have failed and that those who are producing them are conscious of the need to give buyers something more than what they had seen on TV. For example, Anne Parducci, marketing chief for Lions Gate Home Video, said that the company has turned The Biggest Loser into two workout videos. "We realized that the name recognition for the television series, combined with people's desire for a workout video that is fun and can be done by anybody, gave us the perfect opportunity to launch an all-new fitness brand that is different from anything else on the market," she said.
NBC AGREES NOT TO AIR INTERVIEW WITH NATALEE HOLLOWAY SUSPECT
NBC on Thursday said it would comply with an Arbuban judge's order not to air a jailhouse interview with Joran van der Sloot, suspected of being involved in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. News reports said that the interview took place as warden Fred Maduro was giving NBC correspondent Michelle Kosinski a tour of the jailhouse. Approaching Van der Sloot's cell, Kosinki spotted the suspect reading a book and asked how he was doing. He replied that he was doing OK. When she then asked if he had anything to say, he replied that he had been advised not to discuss the case. Apprised of the interview, Van der Sloot's attorneys went to court claiming that their client's right to privacy had been breached. The court agreed and barred NBC from airing it. Outside the courthouse, lawyer Antony Carlo old reporters, "The only aim of what NBC has done was to try to tarnish and further prejudice the good name of our client." In a statement, the network said, "As the judge affirmed last night, we did, in fact, have permission to be inside the prison. ... While we respect the court's decision, we are considering our next course of legal action."
THERE SHE GOES -- MISS AMERICA
With no major network contract and with its very existence on life support, the Miss America contest has asked for -- and received -- permission to leave its home in Atlantic City, NJ and stage its beauty pageant in some other city. It will mark the first time in 84 years that the pageant, once the world's most-watched beauty contest, will not be staged in Atlantic City. While there was no announcement about where it will be staged next year, reporters speculated that it will wind up in Nashville, headquarters of the CMT channel, which has agreed to air it.
BBC TO PUT ITS PROGRAMS ON THE INTERNET
The BBC is planning to put all of its programs on the Internet within the next year and to produce extra content to accompany certain specials, BBC Director of Television Jana Bennett has told the British Guardian newspaper. The programs will be available on demand for seven days after the original broadcast. "This isn't the end of linear television, it complements it," Bennett said. The Guardian observed that it may also raise new questions about the continued viability of the annual license fee that British owners of TV sets are required to pay, a fee that underwrites the BBC. For example, would a person with no TV set but with a personal computer capable of receiving the BBC telecasts be required to pay the license fee?
THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
Once upon a time, studios rarely held out much hope for films debuting during the weekend before Labor Day. Kids were preparing to return to school. Adults were out shopping for them. And everyone was pretty much saturated with a summer-full of movies. But that was "once upon a time," and over the past couple of years, the top film has managed to draw more than $18 million in ticket sales, a better-than-average amount for this time of year. Miramax/Dimension is betting that its debut of Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, will do equally well, although many of the reviews have been, well, grim.
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Terry Gilliam, the American member of Monty Python who gave the group its quirky graphic designs but who did not perform with them, is back with The Brothers Grimm, and several critics are remarking that Gilliam is still providing more design than content with his films. Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post remarks that Gilliam's films, which include Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "are jammed with stuff and all but empty of drama." In The Brothers Grimm, he writes, "The art director has replaced the director. Yes, it looks terrific, yet it remains essentially inert." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times makes a similar point, praising the film as "a work of limitless invention," but noting that "the movie seems like a style in search of a purpose." Manohla Dargis in the New York Times suggests that Gilliam badly serves his two stars, Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, who are required to "shout their lines and run circles around each other as they try to advance the plot." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post observes that the movie has rested on Miramax's shelves for more than a year, becoming "just one of a series of duds [Co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein] are dumping before they leave Miramax next month." The movie does receive a few left-handed plaudits. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe calls it "an absurd mess that's more entertaining than it has any right to be." Similarly, Jami Bernard in the New York Daily News describes it as "a bit of a mess: sometimes delightful, sometimes tedious, always creative." Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News says that the problem with the film can be boiled down to two words: "Excessive imagination." But Jim Fusilli in the Wall Street Journal gives it an all-out rave, calling it "a wildly wondrous reinvention of the story of the chroniclers of dark, occasionally horrific, child-pleasing fairy tales ... a celebration of the power of stories."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE CAVE
The Cave is one of those thrillers thrown onto the screen at the end of summer that studios have little hope for -- except the hope that they might, for no reason at all, catch on. It is also the kind of film that is generally not even screened for critics, whose reactions are likely to be predictable -- predictably negative, that is. Teresa Wiltz in the Washington Post begins her review by writing: "The Cave isn't just a bad movie, it's a very, very, very bad movie, so bad that it can't even redeem itself by turning into high camp." Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star begins his review this way: "Somewhere deep beneath the Carpathian mountains, something unholy stirs: It's an unspeakable stinker of a movie called The Cave." Claudia Puig's opening line in USA Today: "'Something's not right here,' proclaims one of the characters exploring the creepy depths of The Cave. We couldn't have said it better ourselves." John Anderson in Newsday observes: "First-time director Bruce Hunt plays too fast and loose with his special effects and editing for the viewer to know what's going on about half the time. A sense of chaos and mayhem is what he's after, and confusion is what he gets."
MOVIE REVIEWS: UNDISCOVERED
The reviews aren't any better for the third feature opening this week, Undiscovered, starring Pell James, Steven Strait, and Ashlee Simpson.In fact, they're worse. Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post calls it "the dumbest movie of 2005." Jan Stuart's take on it in Newsday is even harsher: "Rancid movies, like celebrity deaths, tend to come in threes. We can breathe easy. The terrible burden of suspense that we have had to bear since the openings of The Dukes of Hazzard and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo has finally been lifted with the drop of the third, poo-smeared shoe." Harsher yet is Peter Howell's review in the Toronto Star, whichconcludes: "When Hollywood suits conduct their autopsy on what went wrong at the box office this summer, they may wish to exhume the corpse of Undiscovered for a closer inspection. If they can stand the stench."
A PLETHORA OF FILMS AT MONTREAL FILM FESTIVAL
The 29th edition of Montreal's World Film Festival opens today (Friday) with more than 400 features scheduled to be shown during the ten-day event. (Two other film festivals are scheduled over the next three months -- the New Montreal FilmFest in September, and Le Festival du nouveau cinéma in October.) The Toronto Globe and Mail on Thursday commented, "Quantity has overtaken quality," and quoted Odile Tremblay, film critic for Le Devoir, as saying, "It's too much, too much, too much. ... The public can't keep up with it. The media can't keep up with it."
DISNEY TO RELEASE DVD MOVIE FOR SALE AT WAL-MART ONLY
Walt Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment has given Wal-Mart exclusive sales rights during the holiday season to the DVD version of The 3 Wise Men, an animated feature released in Spain and France in 2003 and reworked with an English soundtrack featuring the voices of father and son Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Friday). The trade publication note that the limited exclusive demonstrates "the growing clout of big retailers." Santiago Pozo, CEO of Arenas Entertainment, which produced the film, told the publication that the deal with Wal-Mart "will help us bring our product to the public, from day one, in a very exclusive and special way." Pozo added, "Wal-Mart is treating this as a special thing that no one else has."