GET SET FOR AN AVALANCHE OF OLYMPICS COVERAGE
The NBC Universal broadcast and cable outlets have scheduled a record 416 hours of coverage of the Torino Winter Olympics, the company said Tuesday. The figure amounts to an 11 percent increase over the previous record of 375 1/2 hours set during the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. NBC will carry 182 hours of coverage, while the rest will be divided between the CNBC (61 hours), MSNBC (71 hours), and USA (101 hours) cable networks as well as two HDTV (high definition) channels, NBC HD and Universal HD, which will simulcast programming from the other outlets. NBC has set Bob Costas to anchor the primetime coverage, while Jim Lampley has been set to anchor the daytime and late-night telecasts. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol indicated that as much as 75 percent of its coverage will be live, including all 54 games of both the men's and women's hockey tournaments. "Our hockey coverage is a fan's dream come true," Ebersol said. In addition NBC has agreed to supply espn.com with two-minute highlight videos each day narrated by Costas.
ABC SCORES A BIG RATINGS WIN
ABC's telecast of Wednesday's Rose Bowl game between the University of Southern California and the University of Texas produced the highest ratings for a college football game in 19 years, according to final ratings figures released Tuesday. It also helped produce ABC's best primetime ratings in three years and knocked CBS out of first place for the week. (CBS had previously won every week of the season). Football games and football-related telecasts dominated the ratings, taking seven of the top-ten positions on Nielsen's ratings list. ABC averaged a whopping 12.0 rating and a 19 share for the week, well ahead of CBS's 8.6/13. NBC finished third with an average 6.1/9, while Fox trailed with a 3.8/6. The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Rose Bowl, ABC, 21.7/35; 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 16.7/25; 3. Rose Bowl Pre-Game, ABC, 15.5/25; 4. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 14.6/21; 5. AFC Wildcard Post-Game, CBS, 14.3/23; 6. AFC/NFC Playoff Game 2: Jacksonville vs. New England, ABC, 13.9/24; 7. AFC/NFC Showcase 2, ABC, 13.6/25; 8. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.5/22; 9. Fiesta Bowl, ABC, 12.9/21; 10. Orange Bowl, ABC, 12.3/21.
EISNER TO HOST CABLE TALK SHOW
Michael Eisner, who succeeded Walt Disney as the host of The Magical World of Disney (later called The Wonderful World of Disney), will return to television as a primetime host on the NBC Universal cable channel CNBC. The former Disney chairman and CEO will reportedly appear every other month in a program called Conversations With Michael Eisner in which he plans to interview politicians, businessmen, and entertainers. "It doesn't have to be media people, it doesn't have to be CEOs," Eisner told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times. "It could be architects, it could be political personalities, whatever -- people I think are inventive, so to speak." In a separate interview with the New York Times, Eisner said that he had agreed to do the show because "it was a good way for me to stay at the top of my game. ... Like everything else in my life it's like, 'Let's go put on a show.' ... Frankly, I want to have a good time." A start date was not disclosed.
BRITISH SATELLITE SERVICE TO BEAM MOVIES TO PC'S
News Corp-controlled BSkyB, the U.K./Ireland home-satellite service, has launched a new service allowing subscribers to download movies and sports programs via the Internet. Some 200 movies are included in the initial package, including recent films like Spider-Man 2 and The Day After Tomorrow and classic films like Alien and Dr. Strangelove. Subscribers will have the choice of watching the movies on their personal computers or on mobile phones but will not be able to transfer them to DVDs or watch them on portable video players like the iPod or PlayStation Portable. They will also be able to access dozens of news stories and video clips from Sky News and Sky Sports. In a statement Sky COO Richard Freudenstein said: "Families' entertainment needs are changing fast and audiences increasingly expect to be able to access content whenever and wherever they want. We are giving millions of viewers the ability to download movies legally or to keep up with Sky on the move."
CBS BLOG AGREES WITH NBC BLOG ON "TRANSPARENCY"
Public Eye, the CBS blog that assertedly seeks to bring greater transparency to the workings of the CBS Evening News, has reprinted a statement posted on NBC's The Daily Nightly, a blog that likewise seeks to bring greater transparency to the NBC Nightly News. Vaughn Ververs, who oversees the CBS blog, in a commentary preceding the NBC statement, observes that the NBC statement suggests that sometimes "'transparency' has its downsides, too." In it, Lisa Green, an NBC broadcast standards executive, attempts to explain why the Daily Nightly removed a segment from a posted transcript of an interview between correspondent Andrea Mitchell and James Risen, a New York Times reporter, about his investigation into government eavesdropping. Mitchell had asked Risen whether he was aware that CNN's Christiane Amanpour had been spied upon. Green observed that Mitchell had put the question to Risen based on "an unsubstantiated tip." She added: "It's important to point out that Andrea was doing exactly what good reporters do, namely, follow leads including those that go nowhere and then report only verified information. We never intended to share unsubstantiated material with the public." Green further suggested that the incident demonstrates that the goal of achieving greater transparency sometimes "collides with our professional responsibility to pursue the truth. We're not trying to hide anything; but when we keep hearsay off the air and off the web, we feel we are simply doing our jobs."
BRITISH JOURNALIST DESCRIBES ARREST BY U.S. FORCES
The British television journalist who was taken into custody by an American special task force in Iraq last weekend says that he was released after authorities informed him that they had mistakenly charged into the wrong house. Writing in Britain's Guardian newspaper, Dr. Ali Fadhil described how U.S. soldiers first blew apart the entrances to the house, then blazed into his bedroom where he slept with his wife and three-year-old daughter, confiscated his tapes, threw him to the floor, tied him up, hooded him, and took him away. He says he was finally told by an officer, "There was a mistake in the address and we apologize for the damage." Fadhil commented: "They blew three doors apart with explosives, smashed the house windows, trashed all our furniture, damaged the car, risked our lives by shooting inside rooms aimlessly, hooded me and took me from my family who didn't know if they would ever see me again -- and then, with a smile, they dismissed it as a small mistake." He said that the tapes for the documentary that he was shooting for Channel 4's Dispatches program have yet to be returned.
HOLLYWOOD WIRETAP PROBE SNARES TWO
In what may be shaping up to become the top Hollywood scandal of the year, the former wife of actor David Carradine and a veteran Beverly Hills police officer have pleaded guilty to lying to a grand jury about alleged wiretapping practices by private-eye-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano. According to published reports, Sandra Carradine pleaded guilty to perjury charges last Friday, admitting that she lied to a grand jury about hiring Pellicano to tap her ex-husband's telephone. U.S. officials also said that Beverly Hills Police Department veteran Craig Stevens pleaded guilty to charges that he lied when he denied to FBI investigators that he illegally accessed state and federal law-enforcement databases to supply information about Hollywood celebrities to Pellicano. Stevens resigned from the BHPD on Friday. Both Carradine and Stevens are expected to cooperate with investigators in hopes of receiving lighter sentences.
WILL DISNEY BUY PIXAR?
Several top Wall Street analysts have dismissed speculation that the Walt Disney Co. plans to buy Pixar animation and install its chairman, Steve Jobs, as chairman of Disney, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. The wire service quoted David Miller of Sanders Morris Harris as saying, "I think it's absurd. ... It would have to be an enormously compelling offer to even have Mr. Jobs stop and consider it for maybe more than five seconds. ... He looks at Pixar like you and I look at our children," Miller said. "Our children aren't for sale." Doug Mitchelson, an analyst with Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., was quoted as saying, "We reaffirm our view that a Pixar acquisition by Disney makes no sense." Most analysts continue to predict that a deal between Disney and Pixar will be consummated. The A.P. observed that "the most likely reason for the delay is that a new deal with Disney is complex."
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS FEELS THE FORCE
The film that earned the most money in 2005 has also been chosen as the public's favorite film of the year. At Tuesday night's annual People's Choice awards, Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith beat out all of the Oscar favorites to win the best film title. Sandra Bullock was voted favorite female movie star, while Johnny Depp won for favorite male movie star.
SITE SELLING PORN TAPE FEATURING COLIN FARRELL SHUT DOWN
A website that reportedly was selling a 15-minute video of actor Colin Farrell having sex with his onetime girlfriend, 2002 Playmate Nicole Narain, was shut down following a court order Tuesday, Farrell's publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement. "Mr. Farrell will take legal action against anyone who tries to distribute this tape," Smith said. But almost immediately another website, www.idontlikeyouinthatway, posted blurry screen shots from the tape. It quoted the shuttered site as having declared, "Colin tried to stop us from showing you this. ... Well, here it is anyways."
FILM ABOUT CANADIAN MURDERS WON'T BE SHOWN WHERE THEY OCCURRED
Karla a controversial movie about the murders of three Canadian teenagers in 1991, has been set for release on Jan. 20. The Canadian Press wire service reported today (Wednesday) that the film will not be screened in St. Catharines, Ontario, where the murders took place, or in the surrounding area. Montreal-based Christal Films said that Karla will opening about 100 Canadian theaters. The Toronto Sun reported today that the film will include "sickening homemade movies" that the judge in the trial of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka "felt were too evil and depraved to show publicly in [court]."