CBS WINS THE SUPER BOWL
An exciting Super Bowl contest that saw the New England Patriots defeat the Carolina Panthers boosted ratings for the game slightly over last year's contest. According to Nielsen overnights, the game drew a 44.2 rating and a 63 share, up from a 43.8 rating a year ago and the highest in six years. The latest figures translated to an audience of 89 million versus 88.6 million a year ago. CBS Director of Research David Poltrack, who tracks ratings for the network, predicted that final ratings figures, due later today (Monday), will show a total audience of over 89 million. Poltrack also observed that the game pleased all sponsors, especially those who paid a slightly lower price for ads in the final quarter of the game, when audiences generally lose interest and tune out if the game turns out to be a rout. In this case, the outcome of the game was uncertain until almost the end, and ratings reflected the building excitement. The first half-hour of the game drew a 42.8/62. Second half-hour: 44.0/62. Third half-hour: 45.2/62. Fourth half-hour: 45.1/61. Fifth half-hour: 44.9/60. Sixth half-hour: 46.6/62. Seventh half-hour: 50.5/57. Final 15 minutes: 35.0/50. Survivor All-Stars, which got the post-game time period averaged a 20.2/33 from 10:45 p.m. to 12 midnight.
JANET JACKSON UPSTAGES NFL
Apologies were being issued all around Sunday after Janet Jackson's breast was exposed during a halftime performance during CBS's telecast of the Super Bowl. Justin Timberlake, who appeared to tear off part of her bustier, called it a "wardrobe malfunction" and maintained that what occurred "was not intentional and is regrettable." MTV, which produced the halftime show, said that the incident was "unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance." The cable network did not indicate who had given it such assurances. NFL Executive Vice President Joe Browne added: "It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime.
EBERT DENIES DISNEY CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Roger Ebert has fired off an angry letter to Editor & Publisher after an article by media critic Allan Wolper commented that Ebert and his on-air partner Richard Roeper hosted the annual Disney-sponsored Film Festival at Sea and that their television show is syndicated by a unit of the Walt Disney company. Those connections with Disney represent a clear conflict of interest, the article said. Today's (Monday) New York Post's "Page Six" column quotes Ebert as saying in the letter: "Whether I go easy on Disney films he can ascertain by checking my reviews, something he did not bother to do. ... Roeper and I are not paid for hosting the Festival at Sea . . . Yes, we are syndicated by Disney. Can he suggest a syndicator who does not have a tie to the movie industry?"
GILLIGAN LATEST TO BE SWEPT INTO BBC BLOODBATH
BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan on Friday became the latest victim of a bloodbath at the publicly funded broadcasting corporation. Gilligan's BBC report claiming that the Tony Blair government "sexed up" an intelligence dossier to make the case for war against Iraq instigated an official inquiry that culminated in a report by Lord Hutton, a British law lord, concluding that the report was unfounded and that the BBC's editorial supervision had been defective. In a statement, Gilligan said: "I and everyone else involved here have for five months admitted the mistakes we made. We deserved criticism. Some of my story was wrong as I admitted at the inquiry, and I again apologize. My departure is at my own initiative. But the BBC collectively has been the victim of a grave injustice." Meanwhile, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke, who also stepped down in the aftermath of the Hutton report, has warned that the Hutton report could result in widespread self censorship. And Labor Party Member of Parliament Austin Mitchell told Britain's Guardian newspaper, "Good journalism cannot be carried on as if it was a legal process with affidavits and cross checking."
DAWN OF THE NEW ITV
The new ITV -- Britain's merged Carlton and Granada -- formally came into existence this morning (Monday) as it began trading shares on the London stock exchange. Meanwhile, it was reported over the weekend that ITV is in talks with News Corp-controlled BSkyB concerning the launch of a third ITV channel aimed at older viewers.
FOOTBALL CLOBBERS BOX OFFICE
Filmgoers once again deserted theaters over Super Bowl weekend as the top ten films together generated less than $70 million in ticket sales. The top film at the box office was the poorly received musical You Got Served, which earned an estimated $16 million. Two other entrants -- which received equally dismal reviews -- barely made a showing. The Perfect Score came in at No. 5 with $5 million, while The Big Bounce failed even to make it into the top 10, finishing twelfth at $3.3 million. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. You Got Served, $16 million; 2. Along Came Polly, $10.1 million; 3. The Butterfly Effect, $9.95 million; 4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, $5.3 million; 5. The Perfect Score, $5 million; 6. Big Fish, $4.6 million; 7. Cold Mountain, $4.53 million; 8. Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, $4.5 million; 9. Mystic River, $4.4 million; 10. Cheaper by the Dozen, $4.1 million.
THEATERS EXPERIENCE BIG DROP-OFF IN JANUARY ATTENDANCE
With studios appearing to dump productions with marginal potential into theaters in January, the box office registered its worst performance for the month in four years, coming in at $643.8 million. Actual ticket sales for the month were down 3 percent from last year and nearly 10 percent from 2002, according to the Hollywood Reporter. More than half the total -- $340 million -- was generated by ticket sales for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
GIBSON SENDS ASSURANCES TO ADL LEADER
Mel Gibson has sent a letter to Rabbi Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), assuring him that "I do not take your concerns lightly." As reported Saturday in the Los Angeles Times, Gibson referred to public comments made by Foxman after he sneaked into a closed preview screening of Gibson's The Passion of the Christ in Orlando, FL last month. At the time Foxman said that the film had the potential to foment antisemitism and called upon Gibson to make numerous changes to it before its scheduled release on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. Gibson's letter, obtained by the Times, called upon Foxman to set an example "that the truest path to follow, the only path, is that of respect and, most importantly, that of love for each other despite our differences." The Times reported today (Monday) that Gibson is expected to lock in a final version of Passion this week.
ANALYSTS EXPRESS DOUBT ABOUT PIXAR'S NEAR-TERM PERFORMANCE
Analysts following Pixar Animation Studios were expressing disappointment Friday in the company's announced breakup with the Walt Disney Co., even as Pixar shares climbed on the announcement and Disney shares fell. Barron's cited a Morgan Stanley analyst who observed that Pixar now must produce two additional films for Disney under the terms of its old contract. It had been anticipated that if a new deal had been struck, more favorable terms would have been negotiated for those films, as well. Moreover, when Pixar produces its first movie in 2006, it will evidently have to bear all the initial production costs itself. Nevertheless, Pixar stock rose 3.4 percent on Friday to $66.39. Analysts seemed to conclude that Disney would be harmed most of all by the divorce, and its stock declined 1.8 percent to $24. Randy Alvarado of Fitch Ratings told the Los Angeles Times that the breakup "raises questions about whether Disney will have the creative talent to be able to produce box-office hits comparable to Pixar's." It also appeared to strengthen the hand of Roy Disney, who has been leading a campaign to unseat Michael Eisner as CEO and who had warned that the company was bungling the negotiations with Pixar. "This just proves, sadly, that we were right," Roy Disney told the Times.
CANADA HAS A BIG DAY IN THAILAND
Canadian Denys Arcand's much-acclaimed French-language drama, The Barbarian Invasions, was named best film Sunday at the second annual Bangkok International Film Festival. Today's (Monday) Toronto Star observed that the festival was programmed this year by Canadian Jennifer Stern and that the Canadian Embassy in Thailand supplemented the travel budgets for Canadian-based filmmakers who attended. In an interview with the Star, Michelle Maheux, managing director of the Toronto Film Festival, who served as a judge in Bangkok, remarked: "Having a programming director who is Canadian certainly gives the Canadian filmmakers an opportunity to show their work in an area of the world where they might not ordinarily be readily available."
ITALY HOLDS RECORD IN PIRATED DVD'S
With 30 percent of all videos sold in Italy exchanging hands on the black market, the country now leads the western world in film piracy, according to the British trade publication Screen Daily. Efforts to control film piracy in the country have reportedly been stymied by underworld threats. Aurelio De Laurentiis said that his national producers' union had been warned off chasing pirates. "I got a phone call from two judges who told me I'd probably be killed by the mafia," he told Screen Daily.
MOVIE-TRAILER MOGUL KUEHN DEAD AT 66
Andrew J. Kuehn, who was credited with coming up with the line "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water" for the Jaws 2 trailer and who developed trailers for the original Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler's List, The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "Star Wars," "Aliens," and "Top Gun," died Thursday at the age of 66, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). In an interview with the newspaper, Bob Harper, vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, remarked, "[Kuehn] came into the world of previews when they were done very conventionally, and he reinvented them. He pioneered the idea of previews as a stand-alone piece of entertainment."