ABC IS GOLDEN AGAIN
ABC's resurgence was clearly on display Monday night as it dominated the TV awards categories at the 63rd annual Golden Globes ceremonies. The network's Lost won for best drama and its Desperate Housewives, for best comedy. In addition, Geena Davis, who stars in ABC's Commander in Chief. won the best actress award in the drama category, while Sandra Oh won for best supporting actress in ABC's Grey's Anatomy. The remainder of the top awards were scattered, and included best actor awards for Hugh Laurie (Fox's House) and Steve Carell (NBC's The Office) in the drama and comedy categories respectively; a best actress award for Mary-Louise Parker (Showtime's Weeds) in the comedy category, and a best-supporting actor award to Paul Newman for his performance in HBO's Empire Falls, which also won for best miniseries or movie.
GLOBES DRAW RATINGS GOLD
There may not have been any movie blockbusters in the running for Golden Globe awards Monday night, but the telecast performed well in the ratings nonetheless. According to Nielsen overnights, the awards ceremonies, televised by NBC, drew an average 12.4 rating and an 18 share in primetime, up from an 11.3/17 last year. The awards show itself received a mixed reception from journalists. John Horn and Susan King, who covered the affair for the Los Angeles Times, called it "a dull parody of its former self." They noted that the producers of the two big winners, Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line, said nothing "about what their movies stood for but seemed to mention by name nearly every person who had a hand in their films' contract negotiations, marketing and distribution." On the other hand, Maureen Ryan, writing in the Chicago Tribune, commented that "quite a few of the speeches were a hoot." She particularly appreciated Larry McMurtry's "heartfelt" thanks to his typewriter, which he said, "has kept me for 30 years out of the dry embrace of the computer." Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times called it traditionally "the one night when even the most pompous movie stars indulge in food, wine and a bit of self-mockery."
A PARAMOUNT NAME IN A CBS WORLD?
Days after Viacom/CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone gave his blessing to direct competition between the two companies he now heads, CBS's studio arm is expected to announce today (Tuesday) that its filmed-TV unit will now be called CBS Paramount Television. Meanwhile, Daily Variety indicated that Viacom may launch its own filmed-TV unit, although no name for it was mentioned. (Variety speculated that it might use the DreamWorks banner.) In an interview with the trade publication, CBS chief Les Moonves gave this explanation for the rebranding: "We didn't want to call it just CBS or just Paramount. ... We had two great names that both represent great things. This is reflective of Paramount Television now being a part of CBS Corp."
LIFETIME LOSES LIFELINE AT DISH
Echostar's DISH satellite system has apparently severed its ties with the Lifetime network for good. With Lifetime urging its viewers to drop DISH and sign up for cable instead, DISH, which had claimed Lifetime was demanding an exorbitant fee increase, dropped the women's channel and replaced it with Oxygen instead.
7TH HEAVEN YANKED BECAUSE OF COST, SAYS WB CHIEF
Executives of The WB network say they are not canceling 7th Heaven because of poor ratings -- it is their second highest-rated show behind Gilmore Girls, according to the Associated Press -- but because it costs too much. Speaking in Pasadena at the annual TV critics' winter press tour, WB Chairman Garth Ancier remarked that the series loses $16 million a year. "As much as we all love the show, we do have to run a business," Ancier said. The network's overall ratings are reportedly down by double-digit percentages this season.
IRAN BANS CNN, THEN UNBANS IT
Iran today (Tuesday) banned CNN reporters from the country, then lifted the ban after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked that the reporters be allowed to continue working there, effectively nullifying the earlier order. The official Iranian news agency IRNA reported earlier that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance had canceled the work permits of CNN staff following a translation error in which CNN quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that his country has the right to build nuclear weapons. In fact, he had said that the country has the right to develop nuclear energy and that "a nation that has civilization does not need nuclear weapons. ... Our nation does not need them." CNN later corrected the translation and apologized. Lesley Howard Languages, which performed the translation, issued a statement also apologizing and saying that the interpreter had been fired.
GO FOR BROKE(BACK) FOLLOWING GLOBES WIN
Brokeback Mountain appeared to gallop far ahead of the pack in the annual Oscar derby Monday as it picked up four Golden Globe Awards, including best dramatic film, director (Ang Lee), screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) and song ("A Love That Will Never Grow Old," by Gustavo Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin). The Johnny Cash bio Walk the Line received the award for best musical or comedy. It also garnered awards in that category for best actress (Reese Witherspoon) and actor (Joaquin Phoenix). In the drama category, Felicity Huffman won the best actress award for Transamerica, while Philip Seymour Hoffman won the best actor honor for Capote.
HOODWINKED: WHAT BIG BOX OFFICE IT HAS, GRANDMA
Box office analysts found themselves downright hoodwinked Monday as studio estimates for the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday indicated that the Weinstein Co.'s animated Hoodwinked managed to win the box-office crown. According to studio estimates, the Little Red Riding Hood spoof earned $16.6 million -- nearly twice what analysts had predicted -- just edging out Disney's inspiring-coach drama, Glory Road, which took in about $16.5 million. The figures were so close that the standings could be reversed when final results are announced later today (Tuesday). Third place went to Paramount's Last Holiday with $15.7 million. All three films were making their box-office debuts. A fourth newcomer, Fox's Tristan & Isolde flopped with $7.9 million. Overall results were down 7 percent from the holiday weekend a year ago. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Hoodwinked, Weinstein Co., $16.6 million; 2. Glory Road, Disney, $16.5 million; 3. Last Holiday, Paramount, $15.7 million; 4. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Disney, $12.2 million; 5. Hostel, Lions Gate, $11.7 million; 6. Fun With Dick and Jane, Sony, $10.3 million; 7. King Kong, Universal, $9.2 million; 8. Tristan & Isolde, 20th Century Fox, $7.9 million; 9. Brokeback Mountain, Focus, $7.1 million; 10. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, 20th Century Fox, $6.8 million.
UTAH ENTREPRENEUR ANGERED BY QUESTION ABOUT BROKEBACK
Utah entrepreneur Larry Miller became agitated Monday when a radio reporter approached him and asked why he had decided to cancel Brokeback Mountain at the theater he owns in the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy. Prior to the annual NAACP Martin Luther King luncheon in Salt Lake City, where he was due to speak, Miller reportedly grabbed the microphone away from the reporter and remarked, "I said everything I had to say when I pulled the movie, okay? Anything else you want to know?" Separately, he told the Deseret News, "I see the attention I'm getting is a lot more positive than negative." Among the positive attention was a commentary on Sunday's NBC Dateline by correspondent Josh Mankiewicz, who hosts a new feature called "The Mank Blog." Mankiewicz observed that Miller has the right to show any film he wants in his theaters. The film's distributor, Focus Films, has countered that the theater had already agreed to show the film and that it was pulled at the last moment, resulting in many moviegoers who wanted to see it being turned away from the theater.
FILM ABOUT CANADIAN MURDERS DEFENDED BY PRODUCERS
U.S. producers of Karla, a film based on the murder of two Canadian teenagers by Karla Homulka and Paul Bernardo in 1991 and 1992, say they were unprepared for the angry controversy that has erupted in Canada in advance of the film's opening on Friday. In an interview with the Toronto Star, producer/co-writer Michael Sellers said, "We knew that there was a lot of sensitivity up here. I don't think we anticipated ... how strong and emotional and visceral [the reaction] has been." Director/co-writer Joel Bender added that he might have understood the reaction had those who were criticizing the film seen it. "What I can't understand is why people responded in such a negative way having not seen the film. It is an extremely thoughtful film." However, Misha Collins, who plays Bernardo, told the Star that he thinks he understands why the film has generated so much furor. "This story has somehow become so personal to Canada, it's somehow like all of Canada has become the extended family of the victims ... so it seems like so many Canadians have internalized this story as personal to them. ... That's something that doesn't happen in the U.S." (The film does not yet have a U.S. distributor.) Nevertheless, in a separate interview with the Toronto Globe & Mail, Collins observed that those who charge the filmmakers with exploiting the murders ignore the fact that when Homulka was recently released from prison, "it was on the front page of every newspaper in Canada, and presumably sold a lot of copies. So to accuse us of doing something exploitative because dollars could be made off this movie holds us to a strange double standard."