NOW, RATHER BOOTS CBS
Dan Rather asked that he not be associated with CBS News when he appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper's 360 last week to comment on his recent tip to North Korea, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported today (Monday). The newspaper reported that a staff member of the Cooper show sent an email message to CNN producers the day after the interview aired urging them to use clips from Rather's appearance, but adding, "Mr. Rather requests that his font not associate him with CBS News. So no 'Former CBS Anchor.' We thank you and Dan thanks you." The memo is all the more remarkable for the fact that Rather's comments on CNN were accompanied by what appeared to be CBS News footage of his North Korean trip. Rather had reportedly sought use of archived news footage in which he appeared as part of his exit settlement with the network."
BROKAW "FLUNKS" RETIREMENT
Tom Brokaw, who is narrating a documentary on global warming on the Discovery Channel next Sunday and is also working on a documentary about illegal immigration and yet another about the black underclass, says that he has "flunked" his retirement. In an interview with the Associated Press to promote the Discovery documentary, Brokaw said that despite the numerous TV projects, it feels freeing not to have to show up in a studio every night to anchor the NBC nightly newscast. Asked how he believes Katie Couric will do as the anchor of the CBS Evening News, Brokaw maintained his loyalty to Brian Williams, his successor, responding, "I'm sure a year from now she will have a secure lock on second place."
NBC SHUTS DOWN MOSCOW BUREAU
NBC has disbanded its bureau in Moscow, fired correspondent Preston Mendenhal, and moved resources of the bureau to Beijing, according to the TVNewser website, which quoted an unnamed tipster. The website said that it had received at least two other messages that also indicated that the bureau had been closed. ABC News has not been operating in Moscow since its staff was sent packing following an interview with Chechen terrorist leader Shamil Besayev on Nightline last year.
ABC WITH CHARLES GIBSON CLOSING IN ON NBC NEWS LEAD
ABC has narrowed the ratings gap with NBC in the contest for nightly news viewers, according to the current issue of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, which cited Nielsen Research figures for the last week of June. The trade publication noted that ABC's World News Tonight with Charles Gibson tied with NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in the advertiser-desired 25-54 age group, although NBC attracted a slightly larger audience, 7.74 million viewers to ABC's 7.4 million. CBS placed third with 6.8 million viewers.
BBC OVERWHELMS RIVALS WITH WORLD CUP COVERAGE
The total audience in the U.K. for the World Cup final match between Italy and France Sunday peaked at 20.5 million Sunday, with 17 million watching coverage by the BBC and just 3.5 million on the commercial rival ITV, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today (Monday), citing unofficial overnight figures. The ITV figures not only represented the biggest gap ever against the BBC for shared coverage of a sports event but also the worst all-day ratings ever recorded for the commercial channel. The BBC also scored strongly with its coverage of the Wimbledon's men's finals Sunday, which peaked with 7.1 million viewers -- 44.8 percent of the viewing audience. In the U.S., final figures were not immediately available for the two sports contests, but published reports indicated over the weekend that audiences for the World Cup games in the final rounds on ABC and ESPN have averaged about 3.8 million, up more than 75 percent over the 2002 World Cup, while ratings for the games on Spanish-language Univision stations are up about 134 percent over the 2002 contest.
SAG REACHES CABLE AGREEMENT
The Screen Actors Guild has reached a new two-year contract with producers of cable-TV producers that includes a 21 percent increase in residuals, SAG President Alan Rosenberg said Friday. In a statement, Rosenberg said, "For many members of the Screen Actors Guild, these extra dollars mean the difference between whether or not they pay rent, qualify for health care or earn points toward their pensions." It was the first new cable-TV contract that has been negotiated since 1990 when an open-ended deal was concluded. ""After 16 years of extraordinary growth in the cable TV industry, in which actors helped producers generate billions of dollars in profits, our members deserved a new contract that protects their health and pension plans and puts more money in their pockets to support their families," Rosenberg said.
EARLY REALITY-SERIES HOST JACK SMITH DEAD AT 92
Jack Smith, the all-American handsome singer of the 1930s and '40s, who went on to host the TV series You Asked for It in 1958, died of leukemia July 3 in Westlake Village, CA at age 92, the Associated Press reported Sunday. You Asked for It was an early reality series, with the announcer opening the show each week with the billboard, "Whatever it is, wherever it is, at home or around the world, you see it here. You asked for it! And here's your host, Jack Smith."
PIRATES SHAKES ITS BOOTY
Box office records became so much cannon fodder for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest over the weekend as the Disney sequel opened to a stunning $132 million. It broke the previous record for a three-day weekend set by Spider-Man in 2002 with $114.8 million. It was even greater than the record for a four-day weekend, set by X-Men: The Last Stand, which garnered $122.9 million over the Memorial Day holiday. Its $55.5-million gross on Friday represented the biggest single-day take in box-office history. The $100.2 million it took in by the end of Saturday represented the biggest two-day gross. (It also became the fastest film ever to cross the $100-million mark.) Its $31,945 per-theater average was the biggest ever for a wide release, even though it played in 4,133 theaters (about 8,500 screens), the fourth-widest release in history. "A franchise like Pirates elevates the entire company," Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook told the Wall Street Journal. The movie also helped the overall box office set a new record -- a total of some $217 million, according to Nielsen EDI -- well above the $188 million set in June 2004, when Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban led the field. With moviegoers hoping to avoid sold-out theaters, online ticket sellers MovieTickets.com and Fandango.com each set records. (Fandango said that on Friday it was selling an average of nearly 10 Pirates tickets per second and that the movie represent over 90 percent of its weekly ticket sales.) In an interview with today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, Anthony Valencia, an analyst with money manger TCW, said, "This is great news for [Disney] and for the industry. ... The first thing people are going to say when they see these record numbers is, 'Gee, I don't want to be the only person who hasn't seen that movie.'" As for Disney, Valencia said, "This puts the company back where it was for a long time -- at the forefront of family entertainment." (While Pirates was drawing most of the attention, Disney's Cars was quietly crossing the $200-million mark as it dropped just 29 percent to $10.3 million, to bring its total gross to $205.5 million.) As expected, the big loser was Superman Returns -- but it lost more than analysts had anticipated, dropping a whopping 58 percent in its second weekend to wind up with $21.9 million. (Superman Returns dropped as much as 70 percent in some overseas markets where it competed with Pirates.) The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, $132 million; 2. Superman Returns, $21.85 million; 3. The Devil Wears Prada, $15.6 million; 4. Click, $12 million; 5. Cars, $10.3 million; 6. Nacho Libre, $3.3 million; 7. The Lake House, $2.8 million; 8. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, $2.5 million; 9. Waist Deep, $1.9 million; 10. The Break-Up, $1.6 million.
PIRATES SETS SAIL OVERSEAS, CAPTURES SEVEN COUNTRIES
Equally astonishing as its domestic debut, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest reportedly broke records in many overseas markets. (In order to avoid having to compete with the World Cup finals, the opening was delayed in most European and Latin American markets.) The film took in $46.6 million in seven countries: Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and Uruguay. In Britain, despite the avid interest in the soccer matches in that country, the film earned $25 million, more than any other film this year. Meanwhile the Chinese tabloid Beijing News reported Friday that the State Film Bureau, which oversees the content of all films shown on the mainland, has rejected Pirates on the grounds of supernatural content, including scenes in which souls of the dead are depicted, a character appears with an "octopus face," and a scene depicting cannibalism.
COURT HALTS SALES OF CLEANED-UP MOVIES
A federal court has halted the further sales and distribution of motion picture videos that have been edited to remove sex, violence, and offensive-language scenes. Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled that four companies that engaged in bowdlerizing the films were violating the copyright holders' rights "to control the reproduction and distribution of the protected work in their original form." Companies named in the suit include CleanFlicks, Family Flix, Play It Clean Video and CleanFilms. In an interview with Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News, Daniel Thompson, who owns four CleanFlicks outlets in Utah, said, ""I think it's ridiculous that you can't watch a movie without seeing sex, nudity or extreme violence. I don't understand why they're trying to keep that in there." But in a statement, Michael Apted, president of the Directors Guild of America, said, "Audiences can now be assured that the films they buy or rent are the vision of the filmmakers who made them and not the arbitrary choice of a third-party editor. ... We have great passion about protecting our work, which is our signature and brand identification, against unauthorized editing."