Tiger Woods tanked on primetime TV Monday night as ABC's live golf exhibition, Battle of the Bridges, averaged only a 3.5 rating and a 6 share. The telecast, in which the team of Woods and Hank Kuehne beat out their rivals, never rose from third place during the night, falling well behind CBS's lineup of reruns, which averaged a 7.3/13, and NBC's 4.8/8.
CSI'S FOX SAYS FAILING TO SIGN LETTER GOT HER FIRED
Jorja Fox has denied that she was fired from the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation because she was attempting to force producers to up her salary. In an interview with syndicated columnist Liz Smith, Fox said: "I can say that it absolutely wasn't over money. But I can also say it is still something of a mystery to me. I mean, I don't act for money. That's not where I live, so to speak. I've done other things, had other jobs where it was about money and putting a roof over my head and eating, but I don't put a price on my acting. Although, naturally, I think everybody's entitled to a raise when that time comes." Asked why she believes she was axed, Fox replied: "Well, it was over this letter, that we were all asked to sign, about reporting to work, and I'd really never seen such a letter in my life -- my professional life, and I think they didn't like my response . . . I just don't think the punishment fit the 'crime.' No threats were being made, nobody was asking for the sun, moon and stars . . . and then, just as suddenly, CBS offered an olive branch. I really see this as a misunderstanding." At the time, Daily Variety described the letter as one in which the actors were asked whether they had any plans not to show up for work.
CHAPPELLE IS COMEDY CENTRAL'S $50-MILLION MAN
Underlining the continued financial vitality of cable television networks, Comedy Central has signed a five-year deal with comedian Dave Chappelle said to be worth $50 million. Today's (Tuesday) Hollywood Reporter observed that the deal would vault "Chappelle into the rarefied realm of television's top earners." The deal also includes an agreement for Chappelle to star in a Paramount movie biography of the singer Rick James, whom he has parodied on his TV show. Chappelle's Show is the highest rated program on Comedy Central among men 18-34 and counts 3.1 million total viewers, a smallish number by broadcast standards, but huge by cable standards.
FRANKEN'S RADIO SHOW WILL AIR ON TV, TOO
Liberal satirist Al Franken, whose talk show on the fledgling Air America radio network, which has outlets in only 17 markets, is likely to see his audience expand when an hour of highlights from the show are aired by the Sundance Channel beginning Sept. 7. Although the Sundance Channel has scheduled it to run only through the November election (at 11:30 p.m. nightly, with repeats at 2:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.), Franken told the Associated Press, "It would be nice if it were a permanent home." Similar attempts to present radio talk shows on television -- Don Imus's and Howard Stern's have been the most prominent -- have experienced mixed results. "''I don't know how much I'm going to make an effort to adapt the show to TV,'' he told A.P. ''Imus does nothing to adapt to TV but sit up straight."
YANKEES AND RED SOX TEAMING UP ON TV DEAL
On the surface, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox may appear to be the bitterest of rivals, but behind the scenes the management of the two baseball clubs are considering joining their cable networks to create a regional company, the New York Post reported today (Tuesday), citing sources familiar with the matter. One source told the newspaper, "There's a desire of both ownerships to do it. It would make for a powerhouse regional network."
INDONESIA CAN'T FIND SPONSORS, WON'T TELEVISE OLYMPICS
Of 201 nations that will be sending athletes to the summer Olympics in Athens, Indonesia will be the only country not broadcasting any of the event live, the Singapore Straits-Times reported today (Tuesday). "We wanted to air the games but we couldn't get enough interest from advertisers,' Mr Teguh Juwarno, spokesman for local TV station RCTI, told the newspaper. Indonesia plans to send 39 athletes to Greece, who will participate in 12 sports.
DISNEY HIT FAILS TO LIFT STOCK
Although Disney finally saw one of its movies top the box office last weekend following a long string of failures, the success of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village did not translate to a rise in Disney shares. The company's stock was up a mere 1 cent to $23.10 on Monday. Analysts appeared unimpressed by the box-office results, pointing out that the movie, which earned $50.8 million, opened on 3,780 screens, the fifth widest release ever. It is not expected to come close to equaling Shyamalan's biggest hit, The Sixth Sense, which grossed nearly $300 million domestically. Meanwhile, Universal's The Bourne Supremacy slipped to second place with $24.2 million, while Paramount's The Manchurian Candidate debuted with $20 million. Stoners didn't turn out in big numbers to see New Line's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. The movie premiered with $5.5 million, while Universal's Thunderbirds opened outside the top ten, crashing on take-off with just $2.8 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. The Village, Disney, $50,746,142, (New); 2. The Bourne Supremacy, Universal, $24,167,895, 2 Wks. ($98,830,075); 3. The Manchurian Candidate, Paramount, $20,018,620, (New); 4. I, Robot, 20th Century Fox, $10,355,190, 3 Wks. ($115,039,036); 5. Spider-Man 2, Sony, $8,613,693, 5 Wks. ($344,440,594); 6. Catwoman, Warner Bros., $6,445,488, 2 Wks. ($29,776,003); 7. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, New Line, $5,480,378, (New); 8. A Cinderella Story, Warner Bros., $4,868,485, 3 Wks. ($40,322,944); 9. Anchorman, DreamWorks, $3,132,946, 4 Wks. ($78,167,043); 10. Fahrenheit 9/11, Lions Gate, $3,109,038, 6 Wks. ($109,442,647).
MOVIEFONE PRESSES THE STAR KEY
MovieFone, the granddaddy of telephone and online movie theater ticketing, has decided to transfer its ticketing business to MovieTickets.com, presumably with neither cash or stock involved in the deal. Analysts saw it as a recognition of the slow growth of the online and telephone ticketing business. Today's (Monday) Washington Post pointed out, for example, that only 4.3 percent of all movie-ticket sales occurred online last year. Although MovieFone, which is owned by America Online, plans to provide a seamless link to MovieTickets.com on its site, it now intends, it said, to focus on revenue producers such as movie promotions and trailers. Analysts have observed that one of the reasons for online ticketing's failure to take off is that the Internet companies that sell tickets are backed by separate theater chains, requiring consumers to check them all.
EX-OVITZ AIDE MUST PAY HIM $3.6 MILLION
Cathy Schulman, who served as production chief for Michael Ovitz's now-defunct Artists Production Group, has lost her lawsuit against Ovitz in which she charged that he fired her for telling Vivendi Universal auditors that APG was using funds from a joint venture with Vivendi's Studio Canal for other projects not related to the venture and creating fraudulent reports about its activities. Moreover, an arbitrator has ruled that Schulman will have to pay Ovitz $3.6 million in compensatory damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. According to the Hollywood Reporter's account of the ruling, the arbitrator concluded that Studio Canal did not terminate its deal with Ovitz over accounting irregularities, that Schulman had not been fired but had resigned, and that she experienced problems with colleagues, filmmakers, and potential co-production partners. The trade paper's account of the arbitrator's decision commented that it amounted to "a revisionist history of published reports of what went wrong at APG."
LUCASFILM COMPLETING STUDIO IN SINGAPORE
One week after it was reported that U.S.-based Studios International planned to build a 60-80 acre complex of studios, offices, post-production and animation facilities, and a film studies academy in Thailand, Lucasfilm said that it had opened an animation studio in nearby Singapore. The entertainment company created by producer-director George Lucas said that the studio plans to produce animated movies, TV shows and video games at the studio that would be influenced by both Western animation and Japanese "anime." Micheline Chau, president and chief operating officer of Lucasfilm, told today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times:: ""This is an opportunity to blend East and West and create something that's really different." Separately, Chau told the New York Times that the company has no plans to move jobs to Singapore that would otherwise be filled by American workers.