IDOL CAN'T STOP CBS
CBS' telecast of the Grammy Awards on Sunday, plus an episode of CSI: Miami that attracted the show's biggest audience of the season, put CBS back on top in the overall ratings for the week. Fox, however, which continued to draw big audiences for American Idol (30 million viewers on Tuesday), won the week among adults 18-49. In fact, the Idol dominance may be harming NBC and ABC, which intently target younger viewers, far more than CBS. Ratings for those networks' shows airing opposite Idol are down dramatically. [On Tuesday, Idol again ruled, racking up a 16.8 rating and a 24 share, despite facing competition from CBS's Navy NCIS (9.2/13) and a "supersized" version of Friends moved to Tuesday night (7.2/10).] For the week, CBS averaged an overall 9.7 rating and a 15 share. NBC placed second with a 7.7/12. Fox followed in third place with a 7.0/11, while ABC trailed with a 5.6/9.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 17.7/26; 2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 16.8/25; 3. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 16.5/24; 4. Friends, NBC, 16.0/24; 5. Grammy Awards, CBS, 15.7/24; 6. E.R., NBC, 14.5/23; 7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 13.2/21; 8. Survivor: All-Stars, CBS, 13.1/19; 9. American Idol (Monday), Fox, 12.2/18; 9. (tie) Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 12.2/18.
REGIS LOOKING TO SAVE ABC AGAIN
Regis Philbin is forecasting that a new Super Millionaire game show that he'll be hosting beginning Feb. 22 will lift ABC out of the doldrums the way the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire did in 1999. "I hope to do it again," he said during a conference to promote the $10-million version of the quiz show, adding, "I'm going for the same salary that I had the last time, trying to help the network all I can." (Philbin reportedly signed a $20-million-a-year pact to do Millionaire in 2000.)
BOCHCO SAYS HE WON'T LET ABC CUT NYPD BLUE
Producer Steven Bochco has expressed outrage over reports that ABC is planning to edit parts of a forthcoming NYPD Blue episode in the Mountain and Central time zones, where it airs at 9:00 p.m. "It's a hysterical overreaction" to the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident, he told the Los Angeles Times. "There's a general taste level we impose on what we do, and that's what our loyal audience has come to expect. Nobody who watches NYPD has a problem with it." Bochco threatened to pull the episode entirely rather than permit the network censors to edit it.
NBC CLAIMS BUSH CAMPAIGN INFRINGED ON ITS COPYRIGHT
NBC on Tuesday demanded that President Bush's reelection campaign remove from its website <www.georgewbush.com> a promotional video that included clips from the president's appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday. The campaign complied, although it maintained that it had broken no laws. A spokeswoman for the campaign said, "Out of respect to NBC and our friends at Meet the Press, we are working to dismantle it." While clips from newscasts are often used in political campaigns under the "fair use" doctrine, NBC said that the latest blurb represented a different set of issues. "This promotional video is set to music, edited for impact, and mixed with other images, graphics and footage unrelated to the interview," it said in a statement. "NBC News did not, and does not, authorize this misuse of our copyrighted material. As a news interview program, Meet the Press takes very seriously the unauthorized use of its content for partisan political purposes.
DR. BOB ARNOT SAYS NBC FIRED HIM BECAUSE OF HIS IRAQ REPORTS
Dr. Bob Arnot has claimed that NBC News did not renew his contract as a correspondent after he clashed with news producers who shunned his reports about positive rebuilding efforts in Iraq. The New York Observer is publishing excerpts from an email message sent by Arnot from Baghdad to NBC News President Neal Shapiro, saying in part, "NBC Nightly News routinely takes the stories that I shoot and uses the footage, even to lead the broadcast [but] refuses to allow the story to be told by the reporter on the scene [himself]." He indicated that he was particularly offended when, while the statue of Saddam Hussein was being toppled, news anchor Tom Brokaw declined to put him on the air, even though he was the only NBC reporter on the scene, and instead turned to a British reported who was also there.
ANNA NICOLE'S SHOW TO DIE AFTER SECOND SEASON
E! Entertainment channel has decided to drop The Anna Nicole Show as a weekly feature but continue to keep the buxom blonde around for a number of specials, beginning with Anna Nicole Bares All on Feb. 22. In an interview with CNN's Larry King on Monday, she remarked that she "hated" the second season of the show. "The first season I thought was OK. You know, it was good, because it wasn't prepared or anything. But the second season, they were telling me like, oh, like do this and do that, and it just didn't work."
COMCAST WANTS TO TRAP A MOUSE
In a move that stunned Wall Street, Comcast, the largest cable operator, launched a hostile bid for Disney for about $54.1 billion in stock. The company said that it was making its takeover bid after Disney CEO Michael Eisner declined to enter negotiations. (Comcast made public a letter from Comcast president and CEO Brian Roberts to Disney CEO Michael Eisner, in which he remarked: "It is unfortunate that you are not willing" to enter merger discussions.) Although the initial bid represents a 9 percent premium over Disney's current price, analysts regarded it as only an opening gambit and forecast that it would be raised. "It will take a good deal more than that for such a large company like Disney," Davenport & Co. analyst Gorge Smith told CNN. "A premium closer to 30 percent could really heat up the talks." Some analysts predicted that the merger would succeed. "The Disney board is under tremendous pressure from former dissident members Roy Disney and his supporters, which would indicate that the board may be receptive to this buyout offer," Timothy Ghriskey of Ghriskey Capital Partners told Reuters. Nevertheless, Merrill Lynch analyst Amy Dickenson immediately downgraded Comcast from Buy to Neutral, pointing out that such acquisitions initially create "deal limbo." However, she concluded, "We regard Comcast and Disney as perfect merger partners."
DISNEY LOOKING TO FIND A SUCCESSOR TO EISNER
In letters filed with the SEC on Tuesday, a Disney board member has indicated that the company is stepping up its effort to find an heir to Michael Eisner. Disney board member George Mitchell said that the company's discussions to find a strong successor have become "more formal and frequent, and extremely detailed." Eisner has said that he himself has nominated a successor and that the name has been placed in a sealed envelope, to be opened only if Eisner leaves the company.
ORIGINAL THREE STAR WARS FILMS TO BE RELEASED ON DVD
Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox plan to release the original three episodes of Star Wars in a special boxed DVD set on Sept. 21, published reports said today. Although Lucasfilm issued no formal announcement of its own, it did confirm the reports. The three films will reportedly be accompanied by a separate DVD, featuring a documentary about how the films were made. Company execs have not yet decided what to charge for the set, although most analysts have predicted that it will be priced at about $70. The versions included in the set will not be the ones that originally were screened in the 1970s and 80s, company officials acknowledged, but are ones resulting from reediting with new digital recording equipment. The news was welcomed by both Star Wars and DVD fans. "Star Wars is easily the most requested DVD ever, as well as the most bootlegged," Bill Hunt of <thedigitalbits.com> told the Boston Globe. "This is by far the biggest news to date in our industry, and one that's been a long time coming."
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ASK GIBSON TO ALTER ENDING OF PASSION
A group of evangelical Christians have asked Mel Gibson to append a repudiation of anti-Semitism to his movie, The Passion of the Christ, due to be released on Feb. 25. Speaking for the group, Dallas-based evangelical minister Mike Evans told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, "I believe there is a serious crisis building here... Without an addition of the kind we're urging, this film will be used to fuel anti-Semitism around the world." Evans, who was invited to view an early cut of the film, said that afterwards he told Gibson, "I don't want my savior to be used as a sword to injure Jewish people." Evans recalled: "He appeared genuinely moved, and I sensed his pain when he looked at me and asked, 'Well, what can I do?'" Evans said that he suggested that following the last scene, Gibson display the following sentence on screen: "During the Roman occupation, 250,000 Jews were crucified by the Romans, but only one rose from the dead." He said that Gibson responded: "I've been looking for something like this and I'm going to do it."