BIG NUMBERS FOR NUMB3RS
CBS's Numb3rs on Friday pulled bigger ratings numbers than most analysts had expected, recording a 9.8 rating and a 17 share -- the highest figure for any show of the night. The new series had drawn a big audience last Friday as well, but many analysts had attributed that showing to the fact that it followed the NFL playoffs. Also performing well was a rare, two-hour edition of NBC's Dateline devoted to a single topic -- the serial murder spree of Gary Ridgway, who was convicted in 2002 of killing 48 women. The program won the 8:00 p.m. hour with a 6.9/12 and increased the size of its audience at 9:00 with a 7.6/13 but placed second to a rerun of CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which drew an 8.1/14. Reruns dominated all of the networks' schedules on Saturday and Sunday in the run-up to the February sweeps, which arrive on Thursday.
BUSH: WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?
President Bush, while calling himself a "free speech advocate," nevertheless said that the FCC must "call to account" any television program that "gets over the line" of decency. In an interview with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN Sunday, the president also said that he would ask candidates to succeed Michael Powell as head of the FCC: "Please tell me where the line is." Later, he commented, "Look, we are a great society because we're a free society. On the other hand, it is very important for there to be limits, limits to what parents have to explain to their children." Referring to bills that were introduced in the House and Senate last week that would significantly raise the fines for broadcasting indecent programs, Bush said, "Well, they're going to collect a lot of money when some of these TV shows are still on." Meanwhile, today's Los Angeles Times quoted lawmakers of both parties as predicting that fines will be raised this year. "This bill is noncontroversial, bipartisan," Massachusetts Congressman Edward J. Markey, a Democrat, told the newspaper.
JACKSON BLASTS TV NEWS MAGS FOR AIRING GRAND JURY TESTIMONY
Michael Jackson has decried recent television features that have quoted from testimony given to the Grand Jury by his accusers. Appearing in a video on his official website, www.mjjsource.com, Jackson called the quotes cited on the TV shows, "ugly, malicious." He added, "This information was leaked through transcripts in a grand jury proceeding where neither my lawyers, nor I, ever appeared. The information is disgusting and false." Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, who is presiding at Jackson's trial in Santa Maria, CA, permitted Jackson to post the video statement on his site. Jury selection in his child molestation case is due to begin today (Monday).
ADELPHIA GOES ON THE BLOCK
A joint bid by Time Warner and Comcast is likely to be the only offer that will be placed before the board of directors of bankrupt Adelphia Communications today (Monday), the Los Angeles Times reported. The newspaper said that the amount of the joint bid has not been disclosed but that it was likely to fall far short of the $17.5 billion demanded by Adelphia bondholders.
VIACOM DISMISSES SPIKE TV CHIEF
Citing creative differences, Viacom has fired Spike TV chief Albie Hecht. Broadcasting & Cable magazine said that Viacom was upset with recent figures showing that the channel, originally aimed at attracting male viewers was increasingly attracting a female audience, which, with the decision to run nightly episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, now totals 42 percent of the channel's viewers.
LETTERMAN TO HONOR CARSON TONIGHT
A week after Jay Leno paid tribute to Johnny Carson on the Tonight show and attracted one of his biggest audiences ever, David Letterman returns from vacation tonight to offer his own tribute to the man who preceded him when he hosted Late Night on NBC from 1982 to 1992. Among Letterman's guests tonight will be former Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen, who will lead the orchestra in a special composition he has written for Carson, and former Tonight show executive producer, Peter Lassally.
QATAR, UNDER U.S. PRESSURE, MAY PRIVATIZE AL-JAZEERA
Qatar, under pressure from the U.S., plans to privatize the Arab all-news channel al-Jazeera, the New York Times reported Sunday, citing an unnamed senior Qatari official. The news channel, popular throughout the Middle East, has frequently drawn criticism from the Bush administration for its coverage of the war in Iraq. It has also drawn flak from Arab governments, including the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. In an interview with today's (Monday) Washington Post, Jihad Ballout, a spokesman for the network, called the U.S. pressure on Qatar to dump al-Jazeera "unprecedented" and observed that the news channel had explored topics that were considered taboo in the Arab world and provided a platform for diverse views not otherwise evident in the Arab media. "The vast majority of the criticism of al-Jazeera has been politically motivated," Ballout said.
COME OUT, COME OUT...
Producers of the thriller Hide and Seek may have wanted to hide from film critics, who almost unanimously drubbed the film, but moviegoers sought it out nonetheless, buying about $22-million worth of tickets to see it over the weekend. Alone in the Dark, another new bump-in-the-night movie, pretty much lived up to its name as most theaters showing it remained virtually empty. It took in just $2.5 million. Are We There Yet?, last week's top box office performer, remained strong in its second outing as it earned about $17 million, down just 8 percent from last week. Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby went into wide release and nabbed third place with $11.8 million. The critically praised Sideways also expanded to about 1,700 theaters and increased its ticket sales by 122 percent as it landed in seventh place with $6.3 million. Ticket sales for the top 12 films totaled $103.5 million, up 41 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Hide and Seek, $22 million; 2. Are We There Yet?, $17 million; 3. Million Dollar Baby, $11.8 million; 4. Coach Carter, $8 million; 5. Meet the Fockers, $7.6 million; 6. The Aviator, $7.5 million; 7. Sideways, $6.3 million; 8. In Good Company, $6.2 million; 9. Racing Stripes, $6 million; 10. Assault on Precinct 13, $4.2 million.
DGA NAMES EASTWOOD YEAR'S BEST DIRECTOR
Clint Eastwood has won the Directors Guild of America's top award for Million Dollar Baby, making him the front-runner for a best-director Oscar. It was the second time Eastwood has been so honored, having landed the DGA trophy in 1993 for Unforgiven. (He also won the Oscar that year.) In the documentary category, the DGA passed over Michael Moore and handed their trophy to Munich film school students Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni for their The Story of the Weeping Camel, a film about a group of Gobi Desert camel herders who rescue a young camel after he is rejected by his mother.
INCREDIBLE NIGHT FOR THE INCREDIBLES
Shrek 2 proved to be no match for The Incredibles Sunday as the Disney/Pixar superhero movie won 10 Annies at the annual International Animation Society's annual awards. Three of the awards were captured by Brad Bird, who directed, wrote and even provided the voice of one of the characters in the movie.
FREE PRODUCT PLACEMENT -- BUT NO PRODUCT
Adidas sneakers with blue and aqua stripes, yellow laces, and the word "Zissou" stitched on the side may have been featured in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but they were never made by the company, and it has no plans to produce them, Advertising Age reports in its current edition. Nevertheless, the appearance of the shoes in the movie has, according to the trade magazine, sparked a brisk consumer demand for them. Adidas did not pay for the product placement in the movie nor did it co-promote the movie. And although the film certainly has its avid fans, who have already mounted an Internet petition asking Adidas to produce the shoes (it has collected about 600 names), the company notes that it could take months to make and market the shoe. In the meantime, it has posted a notice on its Web site that the Limited Edition Team Zissou shoes has been discontinued and sold out.
FORTY SHADES OF BLUE WINS AT SUNDANCE
Ira Sachs' Forty Shades of Blue was the surprise winner of the American Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday, while the Audience Award went to Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow. In the documentary category, Eugene Jarecki won the Grand Jury Prize for his Why We Fight, an appraisal of the military-industrial complex. Jarecki's brother Andrew, the founder and voice of Moviefone, won the same award two years ago for Capturing the Friedmans.
NETFLIX FOUNDER PROMISES MOVIE DOWNLOADS THIS YEAR
NetFlix founder Reed Hastings says that although he expects to launch a video-on-demand service on the Internet sometime this year, he expects that studios will make only a limited number of movies available and that therefore customer interest will be modest. "We expect DVD, both standard DVD and high-def, to have an exclusive window through at least this decade," he told Home Media Retailing magazine. Nevertheless, some analysts predict that the VOD service may prove to be crucial to NetFlix's survival. Mark Mahaney, an analyst for American Technology Research, told today's (Monday) San Francisco Chronicle, "Two years from now, I think we'll be looking back more at how Netflix handled the challenge of video on demand than how it responded to [challenges to its online subscription service by] Blockbuster, Amazon and Wal-Mart."
BECKHAM BENT OVER BENCHING
Soccer player David Beckham, arguably the world's most famous sports star, has encountered a hurdle in his endeavor to become a movie star as well. Wanderley Luxemburgo, the coach of his Real Madrid team has barred him from leaving training to appear in the first part of a reported $100-million trilogy titled Goal!, from Mel Gibson's Icon Productions (The Passion of the Christ). The London Sunday Mirror quoted an unnamed source as saying, "Beckham was gutted. He was really looking forward to doing the film. This was due to be his first Hollywood break and it's about his big passion -- football. ... It's made it difficult for Beckham as he's signed the deal to star in the film. But Luxemburgo has made it very clear his acting career is not his top priority while he's at Real Madrid."
VALENTINO, SWANSON TO RETURN TO THE SCREEN IN APRIL
The Amsterdam Filmmuseum announced today (Monday) that the 83-year-old movie Beyond the Rocks, the only film ever to costar film legends Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson, will be screened at the second annual Filmmuseum Biënnale on April 5, then released in Dutch theaters on May 26. A date for a U.S. release has not been set. The film, which has been fully restored and given a score by composer Henny Vrienten, had been lost for more than 75 years when a copy was discovered in the collection of a Dutch movie collector following his death.