ABC'S FOOTBALL FOILS NBC'S SEASON LAUNCH
NBC launched its fall season Monday night with season premieres of Fear Factor and Last Comic Standing 3 in 90-minute editions. But they took a back seat to ABC's Monday Night Football preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans and a slate of reruns on CBS. (CBS, in fact, moved into the lead in the 10:00 p.m. hour with a CSI: Miami. repeat) ABC averaged a 7.0 rating and an 11 share for the night, followed closely by CBS with a 6.6/11. NBC finished third with a 5.6/9, while Fox, which unsuccessfully premiered its new reality series The Complex, averaged a mere 2.4/4. However, among adults 18-49, NBC came out ahead, with a 4.1 rating. ABC was second with a 3.7, followed by CBS's 3.3 and Fox's 1.7.
TIVO USERS REMAINED "LIVE" FOR OLYMPICS
Despite the fact that nearly all of the primetime Olympic Games telecasts were tape-delayed, users of the TiVo digital video recorder increased their "live" viewing by 20 percent over the amount that they did earlier, according to TiVo. As reported by MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews, more than 25 percent of TiVo owners used their slow motion function while replaying some of the contests. Twenty-two percent also used the fast-forward function, presumably to return to the "live" action after playing back the results in slow motion.
BIG KATZ DEFENDS BIGGER CATS
Jeffrey Katzenberg has blamed NBC's promo department for the "bad buzz" surrounding tonight's (Tuesday) debut of the DreamWorks-produced Father of the Pride. Asked about negative reaction to the series among advertisers when it was previewed for them during the network's "upfront" presentations earlier this year, Katzenberg said, "I think NBC has one of the most incredible and most successful promo departments of anybody in television today, but, unfortunately, they had never worked on a show like this before, so they struggled to find a good promo. Whatever ended up being shown at the upfronts, by their own standards and goals and ambitions, fell short. So we paid the price for that."
TV REVIEWS: FATHER OF THE PRIDE
Television critics are mauling tonight's (Tuesday) premiere episode of NBC's Father of the Pride, the computer-animated series dreamed up by DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg and shepherded by NBC chief Jeff Zucker. The series, about a pride of lions and their working relationship with the Siegfried and Roy magician team in Las Vegas, has evoked some of the following critical descriptions: Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Sun-Times: "ill-advised;" Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe: "Euw;" Robert P. Laurence of the San Diego Union: "too blue for kids, too dumb for grown-ups;" Mike Duffy in the Detroit Free Press: "a puerile, raunchily misbegotten exercise in corporate entertainment stupidity." On the other hand, the show is receiving a handful of positive notices, as well. Bill Goodykoontz in the Arizona Republic remarks that the show "isn't the train wreck you may have heard about" and comments that "there are some real laughs in the first couple of episodes." And Mike McDaniel in the Houston Chronicle calls it "one of the few original delights for fall, an amusing, handsomely drawn, computer-animated tale."
COMPUTER MAKERS BEGIN TURNING OUT FLAT-SCREEN TV SETS
Computer manufacturers have begun an attempt to make inroads into the potentially lucrative market of flat-screen LCD and plasma TV sets, with Dell planning to announce today (Tuesday) a 26-inch LCD model priced at $2,000, some 25 percent below the price for a similar model from Sharp. Gateway has already introduced a similar set. In addition, today's Wall Street Journal reported that Hewlett Packard is planning to introduce four LCD models by October and that Gateway is planning to release a 30-inch LCD set at about the same time, all priced below models of similar sets from established TV manufacturers.
NBC PREVIEWS NEW SERIES ON WAIKIKI BEACH
One day after a preview screening of the new ABC series Lost at the outdoor Sunset on the Beach at Waikiki Beach, NBC screened a preview of its own produced-in-Hawaii series, Hawaii, at the same location Sunday night. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the crowd of 3,000 gave the film a warm reception. It quoted Chris Lee, chairman of the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii as saying, "It looks good, moves fast, and the writing is solid. ... They do a very good job of integrating Hawaii into the show."
MARTIAL ARTS FILM MARSHALS TICKET BUYERS
The decision by Miramax to open the Chinese-language martial-arts saga Hero in more than 2000 theaters over the weekend paid off in spades -- or in swords, as the case may be -- as the film collected more than $18 million at the box office, nearly twice what most analysts had expected. Although the Jet Li-starrer opened to exceptional reviews, many analysts expressed doubt that it would attract a mass audience, and they also pointed out that aficionados of martial arts movies had likely obtained DVD copies of the film, which was released in Asia more than two years ago. Sony's Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid took second place at the box office as it debuted with $12.8 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. Hero, Miramax, $18,004,319, (New); 2. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Screen Gems, $12,812,287, (New); 3. Without a Paddle, Paramount, $8,582,417, 2 Wks. ($27,739,646); 4. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Disney, $8,084,138, 3 Wks. ($75,065,898); 5. Exorcist: The Beginning, Warner Bros., $7,081,057, 2 Wks. ($31,167,046); 6. Collateral, DreamWorks, $6,470,109, 4 Wks. ($80,158,380); 7. Alien Vs. Predator, 20th Century Fox, $4,907,613, 3 Wks. ($72,173,237); 8. Open Water, Lions Gate, $4,759,727, 4 Wks. ($23,261,943); 9. The Bourne Supremacy, Universal, $4,646,125, 6 Wks. ($157,748,855); 10. Suspect Zero, Paramount, $3,446,375, (New).
TARANTINO PLANNING TO COMBINE KILL BILL MOVIES
Quentin Tarantino (this week's box-office winner Hero is being released under the banner "Presented by Quentin Tarantino," but it is not clear what involvement the director had with the release) is expressing optimism that the two Kill Bill movies will be released theatrically as a single film. In an interview with USA Today, Tarantino said that the success of the DVD release of the two films has made it possible for him to realize his dream of bringing a combined version to the screen, possibly by next year. "It's not just like slapping the two together," he told the newspaper. "There are slight changes, and it has an intermission."
STUDIOS INSECURE ABOUT SECURE DVD PLAYERS
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) may join the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to distribute Cinea's S-View secure DVD players to members voting in the organization's annual film awards. "We are very pleased to be working with Cinea to give our members the opportunity to receive secure screeners. The British Academy takes the threat of piracy very seriously, and we welcome any solution that can reduce the risk of unauthorized copying," BAFTA Film Committee Chairman David Parfitt said in a statement. The specially encrypted DVDs will only play on a Cinea SV300 DVD player. Nevertheless, today's (Tuesday) Hollywood Reporter observed that "many of the studios remain skeptical about the practicality" of the encryption system and concerned about its cost. The trade publication said that it could not find a single studio that was willing to commit to using the Cinea technology for screeners. Cinea is a unit of Dolby, the sound-system company.
MOORE THANKS GOP FOR MORE PUBLICITY
filmmaker Michael Moore was seated in the press gallery at New York's Madison Square Garden during Sen. John McCain's address to the Republican National Convention Monday night when McCain referred to him as "a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace" before the U.S. invasion. (In his film, Moore shows peaceful scenes of children at play in Baghdad in the hours preceding the U.S. invasion, then contrasts these to scenes of injured civilians, including children, following the U.S.-led invasion.) As convention delegates cheered and shouted "four more years," Moore, who is credentialed as a journalist for USA Today, doffed his familiar baseball cap and laughed. Later, he told the Washington Post, "Hey, the film's doing $120 million right now. ... When McCain mentions it, I have a chance to do $150 million. It just creates more interest, more excitement."
ACTRESS, DIRECTOR ARRESTED FOR FILMING SCENE DURING PROTEST
Actress Rosario Dawson and director Stephen Marshall were arrested Sunday while using a protest demonstration near the Republican National Convention as the backdrop for a scene in their upcoming movie This Revolution, according to published reports on Monday. The two were each charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration. In a statement, Dawson's publicist maintained that she was "merely performing a scene" for the movie when she was arrested. She added: "This is a simple misunderstanding that will be remedied as soon as possible."
PROTESTERS DEMAND THAT CAT DOCUMENTARY BE SLAUGHTERED
Organizers of the Toronto Film Festival have rejected demands by local animal-rights activists that they cancel the screening of a 90-minute documentary about three men who killed a stray cat. In an interview with the Toronto Star, festival programmer Sean Farnel called the film, Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat, "an intelligent, responsible film about a difficult subject." Linda Feesey, the producer and co-director of the film, told the newspaper that the men involved "really do regret the whole thing. ... They're not trying to glorify themselves." However, Suzanne Laise of the group Freedom for Animals, commented: "Anybody who allows this video to go around is just as cruel as the killers," and she insisted that the film promoted "sickness and cruelty."