NO HOLY SEE FOR CBS
Even the Pope was no match for ABC's Desperate Housewives Sunday night as the racy drama scored a 15.7 rating and a 22 share, to produce the biggest audience for the night and the week. On the other hand, CBS's competing movie about Pope John Paul II, starring John Voigt in the title role, drew just over a third of that figure, registering an average 5.3/8. ABC also overwhelmed the Pope movie at 10:00 with Grey's Anatomy, which delivered a 13.1/21, to the movie's 5.1/8.
POST COLUMNISTS: WHO HAS INSIDE TRACK ON NEW ABC ANCHOR?
Two New York Post columns are dueling over who will wind up as the anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. On Friday, the paper's "Page Six" column, citing unnamed sources, said that Charles Gibson, who currently co-hosts Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, "will get the anchor chair." But Cindy Adams responds in today's (Monday) edition, "Forget the ... hogwash you've read. ... Peter Jennings' anchor seat will be shared by ... Elizabeth Vargas ... and Bob Woodruff."
CNN OPENS ITS "PIPELINE"
After some free previews over the weekend, CNN Pipeline officially launched at 8:00 a.m. today (Monday). CNN describes the service as a totally different product from anything it has offered on the Internet in the past -- and, for that matter, different from anything it has offered on cable. The feature will provide live coverage, without an anchor -- sometimes offering raw, unedited footage -- over four "pipes." By contrast, CNN's website has been providing taped newsclips. CNN reportedly plans to charge $25 a year for the Pipeline service. (Only recently the news channel dropped fees for the videos at CNN.com.) PC users who download free software will be able to collapse the picture into a small box that can sit in the corner of a computer screen while they attend to other work. (Mac users will only be able to view the service over the Web.) In order to cover the costs of the service -- which will be provided without commercials -- several hundred thousand subscribers will have to sign up. But David Hazinski, a faculty member at the University of Georgia who has consulted with CNN, told today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is skeptical about Pipeline. Without an anchor, Hazinski said, "it's wallpaper. ... I don't get it."
LOW-RATED REALITY SHOW HAD HIGH-RATED PRODUCT PLACEMENTS
The shortlived reality series The Contender was the champ when it came to product placements during the first nine months of this year, according to Nielsen Research's Place Views. According to the measuring service, the NBC reality series (which reportedly cost $2 million per episode to produce but attracted only a small audience) recorded 7,514 product placements between its premiere in February and its finale in May. By contrast, the second-place holder, Fox's American Idol, presented 3,497 product placements. The WB's What I like About You ranked third with 2,544, followed by ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition with 2,480 and CBS's King of Queens with 2,139.
CRITICS RAIN ON NBC'S PARADE COVERAGE
NBC's decision to allow its entertainment division to produce its coverage of the New York Thanksgiving Day parade was being strongly criticized by journalism Brahmins after anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer made no mention of an accident in which two children were injured when a balloon knocked down a street lamp on the parade route. By contrast, NBC's cable news channel, MSNBC, quickly reported on the accident and rival CBS halted its parade coverage to report on it. The Associated Press observed Sunday that in virtually every news production control room there's a monitor or two tuned in to the competition, but that wasn't case while NBC's entertainment unit was calling the shots during the parade. On the other hand, CBS's Hannah Storm told the wire service, "We blew off the parade coverage, literally. ... We covered it as a news event extensively. We didn't even go back until the parade coverage was ending, when Santa Claus was coming through." Newly appointed NBC News President Steve Capus dismissed the criticism, telling A.P.: "I think viewers are sophisticated enough to know that Katie and Matt are covering a parade. ... They're not covering the State of the Union. There's a difference." But former CBS News correspondent Deborah Potter, who now heads the think tank Newslab, says that while it is difficult to blame Couric or Lauer for failing to cover the incident, the network "messed up big-time" and someone should be taken to task for what occurred. "I wouldn't be surprised if, upon getting off the air and finding out this happened, somebody didn't blow their top," she said.
ABC GETS HIGH GRADES FROM HISPANIC ACTIVIST GROUP
ABC has received the highest marks for any network yet for its diversity efforts from the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition -- in particular for its efforts to increase Hispanic presence in front of and behind the cameras. The National Latino Media Council, a member of the coalition, awarded the network a grade of B for airing two shows with Hispanics as title characters, The George Lopez Show and Freddie, starring Freddie Prinze Jr., and for including actress Eva Longoria as one of the leads in Desperate Housewives. The group gave NBC, CBS and Fox C+ grades. On the other hand, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition gave ABC a C+ for its efforts concerning Asian Americans, while handing out C- grades to the other major networks. A third group, American Indians in Film and Television, gave the networks F grades across the board.
HARRY'S FIRE ISN'T DOUSED YET
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire became the only film of 2005 to hold on to first place at the box office for three consecutive weekends, taking in an estimated $20.5 million, a drop of 63 percent from a week ago. It has now earned $229.9 million domestically since its opening. Overseas, the Warner Bros. film has grossed $330.6 million. Surprisingly, Paramount's sci-fi flick Aeon Flux, which the studio declined to show to critics, opened in second place with about $13.1 million, beating out Walk the Line, which had been holding strong for its first two weeks, particularly at midweek screenings. The Johnny Cash biopic dropped 48 percent to $10 million. The family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours took the fourth spot with $9.4 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, $20.45 million; 2. Aeon Flux, $13.1 million; 3. Walk the Line, $10 million; 4. Yours, Mine & Ours, $8.4 million; 5. Just Friends, $5.9 million; 6. Pride & Prejudice, $4.62 million; 7. Rent, $4.6 million; 8. Chicken Little, $4.5 million; 9. Derailed, $2.4 million; 10. In the Mix, $1.9 million.
MOVIE REVIEWS: AEON FLUX
A day after Aeon Flux arrived in theaters, the newspaper reviews arrived at front doors. They were everything the studio, Paramount, apparently expected when it decided not to allow critics to get an advance look at it. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense," A.O. Scott wrote in Saturday's New York Times, thereby succinctly describing the reaction of most other reviewers. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post went so far as to brand it as "by far the year's worst movie." Commented Bob Longino in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Aeon Flux [is] as enjoyable as acid reflux." Several reviewers concluded that Aeon Flux is for Academy Award winner Charlize Theron what Catwoman was for Academy Award winner Halle Berry ... a dreadful blotch on her résumé. Observing that Theron has become the latest actress to squander her "Oscar clout by appearing in terrible films" Misha Davenport in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Quicker than you can say Oscar Mayer, today's Oscar winners become tomorrow's wieners." Nevertheless, a few reviewers praised the film, some of them obviously realizing that they were standing against the tide. "There's no way to say it but to come right out with it: Aeon Flux is a good movie. Actually, it's a really good movie," wrote Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News. And Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel concluded with this left-handed compliment: "It's just a good looking, empty-headed, empty-hearted sci-fi failure. And there's no shame in that."
IGER SAYS DISNEY MAY BATTLE THEATER OWNERS ALONE
Disney CEO Robert Iger appears to be bracing himself for a war with theater owners over his determination to eliminate the delay between the time a film is released in theaters and the time it is released on DVD. In an interview with today's (Monday) Walt Street Journal, Iger said that he had hoped that other studio chiefs would side with him, but he said, "No movie studio really wants to be first because it's like going over the hill first in battle. They don't want to take the most bullets." He said that theater chains have threatened to reduce the number of screens his movies are shown in if he attempts to narrow the gap between their theatrical and DVD release. "We'll have a conversation with theater owners to see whether we can move them more peacefully," he told the Journal. "But I think in the end, it's going to have to be more by force than through negotiation or diplomacy." Iger indicated that he recently proposed to the theater owners that they sell Chicken Little DVDs in their lobbies and share the profits from the sales. "But there's so much fear now about change that no one wants to sit down and have a frank discussion." In the same interview, Iger also indicated that Disney plans a substantial cutback in its feature output in the coming year, remarking, "I don't think the talent pool has expanded enough to feed the number of movies being made. ... At Miramax, we're using the opportunity of ending the relationship with Harvey and Bob Weinstein to cut back our investment in that business by hundreds of millions of dollars."