ABC GETS LITTLE PLEASURE FROM MOVIE
ABC substituted Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal with the made-for-TV movie Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure Sunday night -- and saw its rating tumble. The movie scored only a 4.8 rating and an 8 share. NBC's Law & Order won the 9:00 hour with an 11.3/17, while Crossing Jordan, also from NBC, won the 10:00 hour with a 9.2/15.
CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S SHOW ROCKS ON WITHOUT CLARK
Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve special was the top show on New Year's Eve Friday even though Clark himself was continuing to rest in a hospital room following a stroke earlier in the month. The primetime portion of the ABC telecast, hosted this year by Regis Philbin, drew a 9.1 rating and a 21 share, nearly twice the numbers of second-place ABC, whose New Year's Eve With Carson Daly finished out of the money. At 11:00 p.m., the telecast also swamped the usual late-night winner, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman, although those two shows recorded their best numbers since 2002.
FOX AFFILIATE DUMPS ADOPTION SPECIAL
Following an outcry by some adoption activist groups, a TV station in Raleigh-Durham, NC has yanked Fox's 90-minute special Who's Your Daddy? from tonight's (Monday) schedule. WRAZ-TV announced that it would replace the show with a documentary titled I Have Roots and Branches: Personal Reflections on Adoption. In the Fox special an adopted woman tries to pick her biological father from a group of eight men. Fox said that despite the protests by adoption groups, which called the program insensitive and offensive, the subject matter is treated respectfully and all of the candidates were willful participants. However, it added, "Any network affiliate that feels the programming may be inappropriate for their individual market has the right to preempt the special."
TIVO LAUNCHES PORTABLE SYSTEM
Personal digital recorder maker TiVo is due to launch a version of its system today (Monday) that will allow users to transfer recorded TV shows to laptops and other portable devices, so long as no copying restrictions are attached to them, the Associated Press reported Sunday. Dubbed TiVoToGo, the system "lays the foundation of moving content out of the living room," a TiVo spokeswoman remarked. According to a company statement, the service will not work with DirecTV boxes that include the TiVo system, nor will it work on laptops using the Macintosh operating system. Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which owns DirecTV in the U.S. and the BSkyB satellite service in the U.K. is reportedly about ready to introduce technology in its settop boxes that will allow TV viewers to record their favorite programs without commercials.
IDOL CHANGES IN THE WORKS
American Idol producers will be making numerous changes to the popular talent contest when it returns on Jan 18, Daily Variety reported today (Monday), citing the show's producers. Among the most notable changes: three episodes will air each week beginning in late February and the number of initial shows devoted to mass auditions will expand to 10 episodes. As previously announced, the age limit for contestants has been raised to 28. The show will return to two episodes per week beginning March 9, when the final 12 contestants begin the last rounds of competition.
TV CLEANS UP COVERAGE OF DISASTER
Television editors were reluctant to show uncovered bodies of tsunami victims, particularly babies and children, although such pictures appeared in major newspapers, the Associated Press observed Sunday. Chuck Lustig, who coordinated ABC News' coverage of the disaster told the wire service, "What you want to do is show the horrific nature of what happened but do it in a way that you don't cause disgust among the viewers." However, AP commented in its report, "with such a decision, journalists walk a fine line between showing sensitivity and giving short shrift to the enormous human cost and scope of the event." Geneva Overholser, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri and former editor of the Des Moines Register, criticized the networks' sanitized approach, saying: "My own instinct is almost overwhelmingly that we in the news media ought to be showing the truth to people and if we don't, we are in danger of not giving them the information that they need."
THERE SHE GOES?
Miss America may have no place to go, according to Broadcasting and Cable magazine, which reports in its current issue that spokespersons for NBC, Fox, ABC, the WB and UPN have told it "categorically" that their networks have no interest in carrying the pageant. CBS did not comment.
FOCKERS STARTS NEW YEAR WITH A BANG
With no new film debuting in wide release over the New Year's holiday, Universal's Meet the Fockers remained the top movie at the domestic box office for the second week in a row, earning $42.8 million, according to studio estimates. Paramount's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events remained in second place with $14.7 million, while Miramax expanded its Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, taking in $11.2 million in the process to put it in third place. Twentieth Century Fox's Fat Albert slid to fourth place with $10.7 million, while Warner's Ocean's Twelve rounded out the top five with $9.2 million. Overall, the box office tallied $125.4 million for the top 12 films, up 4.4 percent from the comparable three-day weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Meet the Fockers, $42.8 million; 2. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, $14.7 million; 3. The Aviator, $11.2 million; 4. Fat Albert, $10.7 million; 5. Ocean's Twelve, $9.2 million; 6. National Treasure, $7 million; 7. Spanglish, $6.3 million; 8. The Polar Express, $5.7 million; 9. The Phantom of the Opera, $4.8 million; 10. Darkness, $4.5 million.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera expanded into 622 theaters, but its $4.82 million take suggested that it was not likely to make back the $60 million that Webber and his partners reportedly put into it. In an article in American Enterprise magazine, Eric Cox, a research fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, wrote that the movie, financed in large part by Webber himself, is like to go down in history as one of the greatest cinematic flops of all time."
BRAD GREY MAY HEAD PARAMOUNT
Talent manager and sometime producer Brad Grey is about to undergo the test of fire experienced by superagent Michael Ovitz a year ago -- going from seller of talent to buyer. According to a weekend report in the Los Angeles Times, Grey is about to be appointed head of Paramount Pictures, succeeding Sherry Lansing. The newspaper reported today (Monday) that officials of Paramount's parent company Viacom and Grey were finalizing a deal on Sunday that will be presented to Viacom's compensation committee for approval today.
STONE ISSUES MEA CULPA OVER ALEXANDER
Oliver Stone has accepted much of the acrimonious criticism that was heaped on his $150-million epic Alexander. Speaking in Sydney, Australia, where the film opens on Jan. 20, Stone said, "I still think it's a beautiful movie, but Alexander deserves better than I gave him." Reporting on the director's remarks, the Sydney Daily Telegraph said that in an interview Stone admitted that "the movie was too long, didn't tell the story of Alexander the Great very well and was too focused on outing the ancient Greek hero."There was clear resistance to his homosexuality. It became the headline to the movie," Stone was quoted as saying. "They called him Alexander the Gay. That's horribly discriminatory, but the film simply didn't open in the Bible Belt [of the U.S. South]. Kids weren't comfortable with men who hugged or a king who cried and expressed tenderness."