RETURN OF THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE?
The controversy over Dan Rather's discredited report about George W. Bush's National Guard service, Sinclair Broadcasting's effort to air an anti-John Kerry documentary before the election, and the revelation that conservative commentator Armstrong Williams was paid by the Bush administration to promote its controversial No Child Left Behind program have resulted in bipartisan efforts to restore the Fairness Doctrine, Salon magazine observed Tuesday. The Fairness Doctrine had required broadcasters to present both sides of controversial issues but was jettisoned during the deregulation days of the Reagan administration. New York Democratic Congresswoman Louis Slaughter, who introduced the Fairness and Accountability in Media Act, indicated that it has a reasonable chance to be passed. "It's a lot different now since Armstrong Williams," Slaughter told Salon. "The airwaves should be used for public benefit. It's broadcasters' one obligation for condition of license. There's no question they don't operate in the public good." The magazine also pointed to a recent poll by Garin Hart Yang Research indicated that 74 percent of conservatives and 71 percent of Republicans believe that broadcasters should be required to present issues in a balanced way. However, the National Association of Broadcasters is lobbying strenuously to block the revival of the Fairness Doctrine. A spokesman told Salon: "We think it's dangerous for the government to be dictating what's on radio and television programming."
IS SUPER-BOWL AD WORTH $80,000 PER SECOND?
Advertisers can justify spending $2.4 million for a Super Bowl ad ($80,000 per second) since the telecast is the only one in which consumers watch ads for fun and talk about them rather than trying to avoid them, the research director for ad buyer OMD, a division of Omnicom Group, has told Advertising Age. Mike Hess said: "It's well known in experimental psychology that if you discuss something after seeing it ... it helps reinforce the memory." Unfortunately, the magazine noted, memories can be faulty. Last year it noted, the best-remembered spot was one for the new Schick razor Quattro. The problem was that 40 percent of respondents in a poll recalled that it was an ad for Gillette while 39 percent thought it was for Schick.
TIVO SHARES REWIND AS ANOTHER TOP EXEC QUITS
Shares in TiVo plunged more than 4 percent on Tuesday and an additional 6 percent by midday trading today (Wednesday) to $3.62 following Tuesday's resignation of Marty Yudkovitz, the company's second-in-command, only weeks after the resignation of co-founder and CEO Mike Ramsay. One year ago, shares in the company were being traded for three times that amount. Today's (Wednesday) San Jose Mercury reported that Yudkovitz had quit because he was unable to command support within the company for his goals. The newspaper quoted Sean Badding, president of the consulting agency Carmel Group as saying, "Marty had a hard time convincing the company to capture more cable and satellite companies" as partners. In particular, the newspaper added, Yudkovitz had difficult convincing Ramsay, who will remain as chairman. It quoted Phillip Swann, president and publisher of TVPredictions, as saying the Yudkovitz was "infuriated" when Ramsay scrapped a deal that would have put TiVo's personal digital recorders in the homes of Comcast subscribers. "He spent more than a year landing the Great White Whale. And when he serves it up on the platter, Mike throws it in the trash. These fellows couldn't see eye to eye ever again," Swann said.
CBS HOLDS OFF HEAVIEST COMPETITION OF SEASON
Even in the face of huge numbers for Fox's American Idol and the fact that its own top dramas and comedies were in rerun mode, CBS remained the most-watched network last week, although it failed to capture the top position among adults 18-49. Overall, CBS averaged an 8.4 rating and a 13 share for the week. NBC placed second with a 7.1/11, followed by Fox with a 6.2/10. ABC was close behind with a 6.1/10. Especially encouraging to CBS was the performance of its new Numb3rs drama on Friday. After getting a big send-off following the AFC championship game the previous week, Numb3rs drew a 9.9/17 in its regular Friday slot at 10:00 p.m., the best performance by CBS during that period in ten years. The network also got a surprising boost from a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on Sunday, which registered the best ratings for a Sunday-night movie on the network since January 2000.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 15.8/24; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 15.2/23; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.0/21; 4. E.R., NBC, 13.0/21; 5. Hallmark Hall of Fame: "The Magic of Ordinary Days", CBS, 12.4/19; 6. CSI: NY, CBS, 11.5/19; 7. Cold Case, CBS, 10.6/16; 8. CSI: Miami, CBS, 10.3/16; 9. Medium, NBC, 10.2/16; 10. Numb3rs, CBS, 9.9/17; 10. Without a Trace, CBS, 9.9/16.
AMERICAN IDOL A BIG WINNER IN SECOND WEEK
In its second week, American Idol has lost none of its steam, recording a 16.0/24 on Tuesday night for an audition episode. It was by far the highest-rated show of the night and kept Fox ahead at 9:00 with its new medical drama House, although, with an 8.0/12, House lost about half of Idol's audience.
TV SHOWS MAY GO TO INTERNET VIDEO ON DEMAND
DVD distributors who are encountering resistance from already overstocked retail stores to carrying boxed sets of TV shows may turn to the Internet to ply their wares, according to Home Media Retailing magazine. The trade publication said that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment may be pointing the way by offering an eight-episode set of the Fox network's Playing It Straight and CBS's Big Brother 3 on the CinemaNow website. It pointed out that five of the episodes of Playing it Straight, in which a woman had to guess if the men she was dating were gay or not, have never aired following controversy over the show.
PORN MOVIES FIND NEW OUTLET -- VOD
Bankrupt cable company Adelphia Communications will begin offering porn movies to its Southern California customers via video-on-demand (VOD) technology, which is now available to about two-thirds of its 1.2 million subscribers, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Wednesday). "People want it, so we are trying to provide it," Adelphia spokeswoman Erica Stull told the newspaper. "The more Xs, the more popular." The films are being provided to Adelphia by Playboy Enterprises. The decision reverses one by Adelphia founder, 79-year-old John Rigas, who once booted the Spice channel off his cable systems, calling it immoral. Rigas was convicted last summer of using the company as his own personal bank, drawing millions of dollars out of it and attempting to hide the withdrawals through a maze of accounting plots. He faces a 30-year sentence.
ACTORS PROMISE KING KONG WON'T BE WALL-TO-WALL FX
The cast of the forthcoming King Kong is giving director Peter Jackson high praise for being as concerned with their performances as he is in creating what is expected to be one of the most complicated special-effects films of all time. In an interview with MTV News, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott), remarked, "You expect him to be so concerned about the technicalities of the scene, what he's gonna do in post-production with the effects and blue screen," Bell said. "But he has an ability to store all of that inside of his head and still be able to approach an actor and tell him what's wrong with a scene or how he should do it differently." Co-star Adrien Brody added, "Peter Jackson is a genius. ... I am really thrilled to be a part of it." Naomi Watts called Jackson, "a clever man and he's obviously introduced great new ideas and has made it incredibly modern." In the 1976 remake, producer Dino De Laurentiis boasted that his company had created an anamatronic ape to play the title role. It turned out, however, that the ape failed to work, except for a brief 30-second sequence, and that makeup artist Rick Baker donned an ape costume to play the (uncredited) role.
DISNEY TO BUILD NEW FACILITY TO CREATE SEQUELS TO PIXAR FILMS
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook says that the company is planning to construct a new building to house the computer-animated unit that will create sequels to the movies Disney made with Pixar. In an interview with Reuters in Orlando, Cook said that the complex will be built in Glendale, near Disney's Burbank plant. Cook insisted that the the studio intends to release the films theatrically, not (as has been rumored) as straight-to-DVD offerings. Later, in a conference call with analysts, Cook remarked, "We're not falling on our swords anymore. ... This is a new beginning for feature animation."
LAS VEGAS CHIPPER OVER HOLLYWOOD
The decision of Las Vegas to promote itself as a hot spot for movie production has paid off in spades, Nevada officials reported Tuesday. The Nevada Film Office said that the movie industry spent $116 million in the state last year, up 10 percent from the previous year. It marked the fifth consecutive year in which revenue exceeded $100 million. "I think right now it is probably one of the hottest cities for TV work, outside of L.A.. and New York," Charles Geocaris of the Nevada Film Office told KLAS-TV. Geocaris also noted that the movie studios "all hire local people, They use hotels, they rent cars. ... [They enjoy] the restaurants and entertainment that we have here in Las Vegas."
BRANDO INITIALLY REJECTED OSCAR-WINNING GODFATHER ROLE
Veteran writer Budd Schulberg (What Makes Sammy Run, On the Waterfront, A Face in the Crowd) says that originally Marlon Brando refused to play Don Corleone in The Godfather, because, "It's about the Mafia. I won't glorify the Mafia." Schulberg, who turns 91 next month and was a longtime friend of Brando, recalls in the new issue of Vanity Fair magazine that when Brando's assistant, Alice Marchak, after repeatedly prodding him to take the part, urged him to read the Mario Puzzo novel, he threw the book at her, shouting, "For the last time, I won't glorify the Mafia!" It was not clear what changed his mind.
THE ROCK SAYS MAGUIRE AIN'T NO SUPERHERO
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (The Scorpion King, The Rundown, Walking Tall) says that he's unimpressed with the actors that studios have hired to play superheroes. Possibly courting the studios for a superhero role for himself, The Rock says in an interview with Playboy. "Men find an action hero believable if they say, 'Wow, I believe this guy can really kick some [bleeping] ass, mine included.' ... I loved Spider-Man, but I'm not too sure Tobey Maguire could kick a lot of people's asses."
20TH CENTURY FOX TO QUIT INDIA
Twentieth Century Fox has closed down its Indian distribution office in Mumbai (Bombay) after 73 years, citing a decline of interest in dubbed movies on the subcontinent. Fox's marketing manager in Mumbai, Paresh Manjrekar, told the website WebIndia: "It is a fact that the market for dubbed English films is not the same as it used to be once upon a time. A majority of English films, apart from a handful few, have got a poor response at the box-office in recent times. Considering the publicity costs and the efforts involved in releasing a film, it may not be a profitable proposition."
KOREAN FILMMAKER FEELING "MISERABLE AND GRIM" OVER CENSORSHIP
The President's Last Bang, a black comedy about the assassination of Korean President Park Chung Hee, will be shown in the country with 3 minutes and 50 seconds of blank screen -- representing scenes removed from the film that a Korean court ruled gave an unfair impression of the former president. Producer Shim Jae-myung said, "We cannot break our promise made to our audience, our advertisers and theaters on releasing the film on the promised date, so we are agreeing with the court's decision even though we feel miserable and grim over the ruling." The legal battle over the movie was mounted by Park's children. Director Lim Sang-soo told the Seoul newspaper Hankyoreh that they "will only be remembered as those who destroyed a film."
IM KWON-TAEK TO BE HONORED AT BERLINALE
Korean director Im Kwon-taek will be honored at the Berlin Film Festival next week with an honorary Golden Bear award for his 40 years at the forefront of the Korean film industry. Im, who has directed 99 films during his career, some of which are to be screened during the festival, is the first Asian director to receive the honorary Berlinale award.