CBS DOMINATES RATINGS RACE AGAIN
CBS may have seen one of the three final hours of Survivor: Vanuatu beaten by ABC's Desperate Housewives, but the Survivor finale, combined with a regular episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation helped lead the network to another weekly ratings triumph and pushed it well ahead of its rivals for the season. It was the network's fifth consecutive weekly win. More impressive: the network led in all the key demographic groups for the week. ABC also had plenty to boast about as its new dramas Lost and Desperate Housewives, along with Monday Night Football,continued to draw impressive ratings. The network also pulled big numbers with a Barbara Walters celebrity interview special. Overall, CBS averaged an 8.3 rating and a 13 share for the week, far ahead of second-place ABC's 6.7/11. NBC dropped to third with a 6.5/10, while Fox trailed with a 4.5/7.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 18.4/28; 2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 13.5/19; 3. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.0/21; 4. E.R., NBC, 12.2/20; 5. Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS, 11.7/18; 6. Lost, ABC, 11.4/18; 7. Survivor: Vanuatu Finale (Sunday), CBS, 10.9/16; 7. Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 10.9/16; 7. Monday Night Football, ABC, 10.9/16; 10. Law and Order, NBC, 10.7/17.
ACTIVISTS DENOUNCE FOX'S UPCOMING WHO'S YOUR DADDY?
Child rights and adoption advocates have reacted angrily to the upcoming Fox reality series Who's Your Daddy?, in which adopted children must select their real parent from a group of eight men, seven of whom are pretending to be the father. Adam Pertman, author of Adoption Nation, told BBC News: "This isn't just offensive, it's destructive. ... How can anyone think to turn such a personal, involved and poignant experience into a game show?" But coo-exec producer Kevin Healey commented: "I can understand the reservations. ... But the people came to it with great excitement and a willingness to play the game. It's a fun and healthy way to get to know this person that they've never met." The series is set to debut with a 90-minute special on Jan. 3.
OUTFOXED DIRECTOR MAY TAKE ON SINCLAIR BROADCASTING
Robert Greenwald, who produced the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which targeted the Fox News Channel, indicated Tuesday that he may produce a follow-up film about Sinclair Broadcasting. Greenwald has joined a group of liberal watchdog groups, including MoveOn and Media Matters for America, to demand that Sinclair balance its conservative commentary "The Point," which runs on 62 Sinclair stations. Sinclair first drew fire from the left when it refused to air an edition of ABC's Nightline in which anchor Ted Koppel read off the names of U.S. servicemen who were killed in Iraq. It drew further flak in November when it said that it would air a documentary critical of Sen. John Kerry's service during the Vietnam War. It later decided to air only segments of the film as part of an election special.
FOX NEWS CHANNEL SIGNS ZELL MILLER
Georgia's outgoing Senator Zell Miller, who butted heads with MSNBC's Chris Matthews during the Republican National Convention, has been signed by Fox News Channel as a regular contributor. A news release from FNC said only that Miller will be seen on a variety of programs staring Jan. 6. Today's (Wednesday) Washington Post quoted FNC program director Kevin Magee as saying, "We will plug him in wherever we can use him."
NBC WON'T APOLOGIZE FOR COURIC INTERVIEW ABOUT SHEPARD MURDER
NBC has told the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family that Today show co-host Katie Couric will not comply with the group's request that she apologize for suggesting that biblical teachings on homosexuality may have contributed to the kind of hate that led to the murder of Matthew Shephard. In a letter to the group, NBC broadcast standards chief David McCormick observed that Couric "was quoting 'gay activists' who were quite vocal at the time of Mr. Shepard's death. ... She was not making a statement of fact and she was certainly not insinuating that" Christians were responsible for the murder. However, in an interview with the conservative website GOPUSA, Focus on the Family President Don Hodel pointed to an recent ABC 20/20 feature in which Shepard's killers recanted a previous confession that they were motivated by gay panic. He added: "Ms. Couric's tone and manner were not that of an impartial journalist seeking the truth about a tragedy. It was the tone and manner of an advocate intent on repeating an unfounded accusation disguised as a question."
NEWSPAPER WANTS TO SEE COMPLAINTS ABOUT OLYMPICS "INDECENCY"
The New York Post
said today (Wednesday) that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the FCC to make public the complaints that it had received about NBC's telecast of the 2004 Athens Olympics. The newspaper disclosed that that FCC probe of the telecast had been touch off by nine complaints of indecency.
FORMER BBC CHIEF SAYS HE WOULDN'T HAVE INSTITUTED CUTS
Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, said Tuesday that the massive personnel cuts that were announced by his successor, Mark Thompson, last week would not have been carried out on his watch. In an interview on the BBC program Newsnight Dyke said that the job cuts were designed to "appeal to the government." He added: ""I think the creativity of an organization is based on the morale and enthusiasm and the energy of the staff. And it's hard to do when you're making big cuts."
BLOCKBUSTER ENDS LATE FEES
Tacitly admitting that one of the greatest attractions posed by its online rivals is that they permit customers to rent movies for an unlimited time, Blockbuster announced Tuesday that it is eliminating late fees -- sort of. The movie rental company will continue to set due dates for the return of videos, but customers will be allowed a one-week grace period. After that period expires, the entire price of the video will be charged to the customer's credit card at the lowest price offered in the store. Even then, the customer will be able to return the video and have the charge removed less a $1.25 "restocking" fee.
ICAHN AIMS TO FORCE BLOCKBUSTER-HOLLYWOOD MERGER
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has increased his stake in Hollywood Entertainment Corp, parent of the Hollywood Video chain, to nearly 10 percent of the company. He also holds an undisclosed number of shares in Blockbuster and is pushing for a merger of the two companies. In an SEC filing, Icahn said, "Because of the synergies that would be involved in a combination of Blockbuster and [Hollywood], Blockbuster would be in a position to offer the greatest amount of consideration to [Hollywood's] shareholders." But media analyst Dennis McAlpine told Video Store magazine that he doubted regulators would allow a Blockbuster/Hollywood merger to go forward. "The interest in the industry would pretty much dry up because there would be no competition," McAlpine said. "As much as Blockbuster has said all these wonderful things [about a merger with Hollywood], they are the same things I would say if I thought I had a problem [with federal regulators]. And I think they do."
MPAA SUING BIGGEST FILE-SHARING NETWORKS
Undeterred by the record industry's failure to convince the courts that Internet file-sharing networks enable copyright infringement and should therefore be held legally accountable, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday that it is suing the BitTorrent and eDonkey file-swapping services and will work with law enforcement and civil authorities around the world to shut down servers on their networks. In a statement, the MPAA said, "The operators being targeted by these actions have helped online pirates steal hundreds of millions of illegal copies of movies and TV programs." Rejecting the claim by operators of the networks that they can be used for legitimate purposes, John Malcolm, head of the MPAA's anti-piracy operations, said, "The operators of these servers exercise total control over which files are included on their servers and even determine if some kinds of files aren't allowed."
DIRECTOR SAYS HE WAS OVERWHELMED BY TECHNICAL PLANS FOR FILM, QUITS
Only days after acknowledging that he had removed references to God and the Catholic church in the movie adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, Chris Weitz has removed himself as director. In a statement, Weitz said, "Though I remain honored to continue serving as caretaker of Philip Pullman's work on the page as this project's screenwriter, the technical challenges of making such an epic are more than I can undertake at this point." Today's (Wednesday) Hollywood Reporter quoted New Line production president Toby Emmerich as saying, "Chris over-delivered on the script, and I can only respect him for being realistic about the physical, emotional, and technical demands of the project."
SIDEWAYS PICKS UP ANOTHER BEST PICTURE NOD
Suddenly the Fox Searchlight comedy Sideways has taken a big leap in front of its rivals in the Oscar race as the Toronto Film Critics Assn. became the latest movie group to honor it as best film of 2004. The movie also has won more nominations than any other for the Golden Globes and Independent Spirit awards. In addition, the Toronto critics named Paul Giamatti best actor for his performance in the movie. Imelda Staunton won for best actress for her role in Vera Drake. Michel Gondry took the best director award for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while Charlie Kaufman won the best screenplay honor for the same movie.
MIRAMAX EMPLOYEES NOT IN A PARTY MOOD
Miramax employees are criticizing Bob and Harvey Weinstein for allegedly spending $30,000 on a New York Christmas party at a time when the company is engaged in massive cutbacks. Today's (Wednesday) "Page Six" column in the New York Post quotes an unnamed Miramax employee as saying, "Why doesn't he just give us a cash bonus and say, 'Hey, it's been a rough year, but I appreciate everything?'" A Miramax spokesperson told the newspaper, "Bob and Harvey are grateful for their staff's contributions to Miramax's 15 Golden Globe nominations. There will be bonuses and, as for the party, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. They are just trying to do something nice."