ABC HAS ITS BEST WEEK SINCE THE OSCARS
For the second consecutive week, ABC drew the most 18-49-year-old viewers, the demographic group that advertisers prize the most, Nielsen Research said Tuesday. Moreover, it scored strongly against CBS in overall households, placing five shows in the top ten and capturing the top two with Desperate Housewives and Monday Night Football. ABC released a statement saying that it was the network's best showing since the week of Feb. 21, 2005, the week that it aired the Oscars. NBC failed to place a single show in the overall top ten. (Its The Biggest Loser 2 finale placed ninth among adults 18-49, however.) In overall ratings, CBS finished first with an average 8.3 rating and a 13 share. ABC followed close behind with a 7.8/12. NBC placed third with a 6.7/10, followed by Fox, with a 4.4/7.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 15.7/23; 2. NFL Monday Night Football, ABC, 14.8/23; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.5/22; 4. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 13.0/20; 5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 12.9/20; 6. Lost, ABC, 12.3/18; 7. 60 Minutes, CBS, 11.6/18; 7. NFL Monday Showcase, ABC, 11.6/17; 9. Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 11.4/18; 10. NCIS, CBS, 11.3/17.
CRITIC DEMANDS THAT GIBSON "COME CLEAN" ON HOLOCAUST
A report in Tuesday's New York Times that Mel Gibson's Icon productions is involved in producing a four-part miniseries set against the World War II Holocaust has predictably raised eyebrows among critics. Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, was assailed for allegedly including anti-Semitic elements, and Gibson has never repudiated comments by his father, Hutton Gibson, whom critics describe as a "Holocaust denier." Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Melrose Park, PA told the Times: "For [Gibson] to be associated with this movie is cause for concern. ... He needs to come clean that he repudiates Holocaust denial." In an interview with Daily Variety ABC exec Quinn Taylor responded that critics ought to "shut up and wait to see the movie, and then judge." The film is being adapted from the memoir Flory: Survival in the Valley of Death, written by a Jewish woman who, like Anne Frank, was sheltered in Holland by a gentile family during the German occupation.
TRADE PAPER PREDICTS DISNEY WILL REAP $3 BILLION FROM RADIO SALE
The Walt Disney Co. could realize as much as $3 billion from the sale of its radio properties, Radio & Records reported on its website today (Wednesday). The trade publication reported that the current front-runner in the bidding is Pennsylvania-based Entercom Communications, which owns and operates stations in mostly secondary markets. (It also owns stations in Boston, Seattle, Denver, and Portland.) It values its current portfolio of stations at $1.3 billion. In an interview with R&R, Entercom CEO David Field declined to discuss the progress of the negotiations with Disney, except to say, "We have publicly stated that we are very interested in those stations, and if we can work out a deal that makes sense and creates value for our shareholders, then we will do it."
CNN'S PIPELINE A PIP, SAY CRITICS
CNN's new Pipeline service, which allows viewers to watch four "pipes" of live television at any time of the day, is receiving much applause from reviewers. The service was launched Monday with live coverage of Saddam Hussein's trial and the presentation of the 9/11 Commission's final report. On its website, PC Magazine called the service "breathtaking" and remarked that it is "certainly the most impressive video offering the Web has ever seen." But Stephen Bryant, associate editor of Publish.com, which tracks developments in online publishing, while acknowledging that Pipeline is "technically impressive," complains that it is nevertheless "based on the one-to-many broadcast model of television. And in an online world that increasingly favors participation and interactivity, that's actually a step backward."
NARNIA: THE FIRST REVIEWS
The first British reviews of Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are the kind movie ads are made of. Consider Peter Bradshaw's five-star review in the Guardian, which includes these opening comments: "The result is a triumph. It is gorgeous to look at, superbly cast, wittily directed and funny and exciting by turns. It unfolds the slim book into a rich visual experience that is bold and spectacular and sweeping, while retaining its human intimacies. I can't see how it could be done better." Under the heading "A Winter Wonderland," David Edwards comments in the London Daily Mirror: "Boasting astonishing special effects, great performances from the cast and the wickedest witch of all time, films don't get much better than this." Sukhdev Sandhu's review in the Daily Telegraph, which includes the observation that "this must be the first Hollywood picture in ages to feature baddies -- wolves, in fact -- who speak with American accents," is much more restrained, but it concludes this way: "Look at it too closely and it tends to fall down. But the same could be said for the first couple of Harry Potter films, and that series has improved hugely over time. This is a worthy opening salvo." The first reviews in the U.S. have also begun trickling in. They are not nearly so passionately enthusiastic as the British ones, but most are quite positive. Writes Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times: "What's best about it is that it seems real by the logic of childhood -- it looks as things should look, if kids had it their way."
TIME WARNER'S PARSONS RESPONDS TO CARL ICAHN
After weeks of avoiding a public confrontation with corporate raider Carl Icahn, Time Warner Chairman Dick Parsons on Tuesday responded indignantly to Icahn's charges that the Time Warner board and Parsons in particular had failed to be aggressive enough in lifting the company's depressed stock price. Meeting reporters in advance of a Town Hall address in Los Angeles, Parsons said: "Carl and I agree that the stock is undervalued." However, he continued, "I don't think he has any great ideas, and I'm not even sure he thinks he does" for boosting the stock price. Later, in his address to the group, Parsons said that he has no intention of following Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone's lead in splitting up the company in the hopes that investors would regard the individual parts more highly than the whole. He predicted that Redstone and others "who tried to disaggregate [will] be nimble and efficient re-aggregating." On the other hand, Parsons appeared to side with Disney chief Robert Iger on the issue of closing the window between the time a film is released in theaters and the time it is released on DVD. "Windows are inevitably going to collapse over time," Parsons told reporters. "But managing that transition in a way that is respectful of our distribution partners is the challenge." Meanwhile Robert Clark, the former dean of Harvard Law School, said Tuesday that he has resigned as a director of Lazard, the company that Icahn has hired to advise him in his battle with Time Warner. Clark is also a member of the Time Warner board and his presence on both boards had posed a conflict of interest.
PUBLISHER DOWLING QUITS HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Robert Dowling resigned Tuesday as editor-in-chief and publisher of the Hollywood Reporter. Today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times attributed his departure, which will become effective on Dec. 31, to upheavals at the trade paper's parent company, Dutch-based VNU, whose CEO, Rob van den Bergh, stepped down last month after losing a battle with activist shareholders. Alex Ben Block, the editor of the trade publication Television Week, who worked for Dowling as an editor for eight years, remarked, "Changes at the top of VNU have rocked the whole company and may have been a precipitating factor." Dowling himself told the Times: "Nobody was the catalyst; it just kind of got to that spot."
MUSICAL SETS BOX-OFFICE RECORDS IN CHINA
Perhaps Love, the first Chinese musical to be produced in more than 40 years, is setting box-office records on the Chinese mainland, China Daily reported today (Wednesday). The film, which reportedly cost $10 million to produce, earned $2.2 million in its first weekend -- $332,000 in Shanghai alone. The film, which closed the Venice Film Festival in September, was produced and directed by Hong Kong director Peter Chan Ho-sunis and stars Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung, South Korean actor Ji Jin-hee, Taiwanese-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Chinese actress Zhou Xun. Hong Kong has submitted the film for a best-foreign-film Oscar nomination.