ALL-STAR GAME SCORES STRONGLY

Ratings for Fox's telecast of Tuesday night's All-Star game averaged a 10.6 rating and an 18 share, 7 percent above last year's 9.9/16, according to Nielsen overnights. The telecast won every half hour of primetime, including the 8:00 p.m. pre-game hour. The ratings results reflected the continuing resurgence of baseball as the national pastime, also signaled by record rises in attendance at many ballparks. Last week Fox announced that it had sold out all its available spots for the All-Star Game at a record average price of $375,000 for a 30-second spot -- a figure that was nearly 10 percent above last year's.

BASEBALL SIGNS NEW $3-BILLION DEAL WITH FOX, TBS

Major League Baseball on Tuesday confirmed reports that it had signed a new seven-year deal with Fox and TBS, indicating the the package was worth almost $3 billion. Commissioner Bud Selig also provided further details of the deal, which was first reported by Bloomberg News earlier in the day. Speaking to reporters in Pittsburgh prior to the All-Star Game, Selig said that beginning next season the World Series would begin on Tuesdays instead of Saturdays. (Fewer viewers watch television on Saturday night than on any other night of the week.) The deal also calls for TBS to reduce its package of Atlanta Braves games, showing 70 games next year, then 45 each year after that. TBS and the Braves are corporate siblings of Time Warner; however, there have been persistent reports that the company would like to sell the team. (Braves games were once the backbone of TBS programming and helped launch TBS -- then WTBS -- as a satellite "superstation" in the 1970s.)

BROADCAST TV RATINGS SINK TO RECORD LOW

Never in television history have the four major television networks drawn fewer viewers than they did last week, according to the latest Nielsen ratings. CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox together averaged just 20.8 million viewers, the lowest number since the last week of July last year. Only NBC's hot America's Got Talent pulled in more than 10 million viewers. CBS won the week with a lowly average of 4.4/8. NBC was close behind with a 4.1/8, while ABC and Fox tied with an average 3.3/6.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. America's Got Talent, NBC, 7.4/12; 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Thursday 10:00 p.m.), CBS, 6.5/11; 3. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.1/12; 3. (tie) So You Think Can Dance (Wednesday), Fox, 6.1/10; 5. Law and Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 6.0/10; 6. CSI: Miami (Monday 10:00 p.m.), CBS, 5.9/11; 7. Cold Case, CBS, 5.8/10; 8. Grey's Anatomy (Thursday 10:00 p.m.), ABC, 5.6/10; 8. (tie) Law and Order, NBC, 5.6/10; 10. CSI: Miami (Wednesday 9:30 p.m.), CBS, 5.5/9.

KOPPEL RETURNS TO NIGHTLINE

Former Nightline

anchor Ted Koppel returned to the program Tuesday night, interviewed via satellite by current co-anchor Terry Moran in Washington. Koppel, standing outside the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba where the U.S. continues to detain men and children rounded up in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, made only fleeting mention to his reappearance on the program, noting that Moran was "standing where I used to stand a few months ago," while he was standing where Moran was recently when he reported from Guantánamo. In a six-minute-long feature, Koppel discussed recent court rulings affecting the detainees in Guantánamo and the scheduled Congressional hearings on the prison. He also got in a plug for his three-hour special Discovery Channel documentary about the aftermath of 9/11, due to air on the five-year anniversary of the attacks.

RATHER SAYS HD NET WILL GIVE HIM "UNPRECEDENTED" FREEDOM

Dan Rather said Tuesday that he agreed to appear on billionaire Mark Cuban's HD Net after Cuban assured him that he would have "complete, absolute and total creative and editorial control" over his programs. He told reporters attending the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA that to be given that sort of free hand was "unprecedented in my own career." At CBS, he observed, he was forced to deal with "a chain of command that looks like the wiring of a nuclear plant." But on HD Net, he said, "the chain of command begins and ends with me." Cuban, who became rich during the days of the Internet "bubble" by selling his online company before it burst, said that he was aiming to offer an antidote to what currently passes for news. "We've got such a bad case of Internet and broadband ... where everyone thinks the Internet is the cure, and we've forgotten about what journalism is about." Meanwhile, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw described Rather's departure from CBS as "a train wreck you could see coming for months."

AXE TO FALL AT DISNEY

Despite the back-to-back success of Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars, the Walt Disney Co. plans to announce within the next 10 days that it will slash the number of films it makes to eight per year from the current 18 and reduce its workforce accordingly, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday). The trade publication also observed that in the future, all films will bear the Disney brand. Variety indicated that despite the recent successes of Pirates and Cars, they may not have offset some of the studio's "major misfires" this year, including Stick It, Annapolis, Stay Alive, and The Wild.

PIRATES SETS ANOTHER RECORD

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

is no peg leg. The movie appeared to show sturdy legs Monday when it grossed an additional $18.1 million -- the most ever earned on a non-holiday Monday. The previous record of $14.4 million was set last year by Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith. The film has now raked in $153.8 million in four days. Several writers are now speculating that it could go on even to surpass the current domestic box-office record gross of $600.8 million set by Titanic in 1998.

JAPANESE COURT RULES PRE-1953 MOVIES IN PUBLIC DOMAIN

A Japanese company that has released at bargain prices DVDs of movie classics produced prior to 1953 may continue to do so, a Japanese court ruled Tuesday. Kyodo News said that the Tokyo District Court rejected a request by Viacom's Paramount Pictures that it order a halt to the sales, ruling that copyrights to the movies had expired and that they were now in the public domain. Paramount had argued that a 2004 law extended the copyrights by 20 years; however, the Japanese court said that the law could not be applied retroactively. The movies in question are being sold by First Trading Corp. in the DVD format for as low as $4.40, while the price for the Paramount-distributed copy of the same movie is about $36.70.

DVD MERCHANTS HAND OUT UNIQUE AWARDS

The Entertainment Merchants Association handed out its 2005-2006 DVD awards Tuesday night in categories that hardly resembled those for other awards ceremonies. For example, Paramount Home Entertainment's Titanic: Special Collector's Edition received trophies for Best Video Transfer From a Non-Digital Source and Best Supplementary Material. Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Lost: The Complete First Season picked up awards for Best Commentary and Best Overall Presentation for a TV release. Warner Home Video's two-disk Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Special Edition received honors for DVD Extras of the Year and Sellthrough Title of the Year from a Major Studio.

FEWER DVD'S LANDING IN STORES

More than 740 million DVDs were shipped to retail stores during the first half of this year versus 772 million during the first half of 2005, according to figures compiled for the Digital Entertainment Group. In an interview with today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Daily News, Steve Nickerson, senior vice president of market management for Warner Home Video, observed, "What we've seen in the first half of the year is a natural, expected slowing of DVD sales." But Ralph Tribbey, editor of DVD Release Report, told the Daily News that the slight decline in sales could simply be attributed to the fact that there were few blockbusters released theatrically in 2005. "But I think in the third and fourth quarters, things will go up and offset the early decline," Tribbey said.

BRUSH FIRE RACES THROUGH TOWN USED FOR WESTERN SET

A raging brush fire in Yucca Valley, CA spilled into Pioneertown, the site of numerous Western movies dating back to the 1930s. Since the effective demise of the Western in recent years, the site has been used for filming music videos and TV commercials. Firefighters said that the blaze destroyed several structures but were unable to say whether they included any of those that were used in filming. Temperatures were hovering near the 100-degree mark today (Wednesday) as efforts to control the fire continued.

U.K. NEWSPAPER GIVES AWAY SUPERMAN RETURNS "BONUS" DVD

British newspapers, which have been vying with one another over which can give away the most elaborate CD or DVD as a promotion, saw the competition move in a new direction today (Wednesday) as the Scottish-based Daily Record began giving away what it called "an unmissable DVD," the Superman Returns Bonus DVD. The newspaper did not indicate just what is included on the DVD. Unlike similar newspaper promotions, the Record does not include the actual DVD but instead two tokens that must be attached to a "collector voucher" printed in Tuesday's paper, then taken to an Asda supermarket, where it can be redeemed for the DVD.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.