FOX BITES BACK
Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed, which blisters the Fox News Channel, was screened for the press Monday, even as Fox representatives stood outside the doors handing out statements denouncing the film. "Some of the 'sources' for this documentary never worked for Fox News Channel. Some others left because of incompetence, and none expressed concern about the editorial policy while employees," the statement said. It objected to the use of clips from Fox News programs in the documentary but did not indicate whether it planned to take action against the filmmaker. "Any news organization that thinks this story is legitimate is opening itself to having its copyrighted material taken out of context for partisan reasons," the statement said. However, reporters did not hesitate to quote extensively from the footage in the documentary, including one scene in which Fox White House reporter Carl Cameron is seen chatting with President Bush before an interview and telling him about his wife's satisfying work for the Bush campaign.
THE DAYS: BACK TO THE FUTURE?
Television executives are likely to keep close tabs on Sunday's debut of ABC's new drama The Days, which is being produced, funded, and sponsored by a group of advertisers represented by the media-buying firm MindShare. As today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times observed, the program hearkens back to the days when entire programs were sponsored by a single advertiser. In this case, the family drama is being packaged by MindShare, which has taken an ownership stake in it with clients who include Unilever and Sears. ABC, which did not see a pilot, has committed to airing six episodes and, based on their results, will decide whether to commit to a full season. Steve McPherson, ABC's president of prime-time entertainment, told the Times: "We will judge it entirely on its creativity and how it performs. Who owns the show is of absolutely no importance to me."
ABC TO LAUNCH FULL-TIME ELECTION CHANNEL
ABC is planning to devote one of its digital channels to full-time political coverage, beginning with gavel-to-gavel coverage of the party conventions on July 26 (the opening of the Democratic convention in Boston), and ending with election results on Nov. 2, it said Monday. For those who are unable to access the digital channel, ABC plans to stream its content online for a nominal fee, executives said.
ABC COPIES NBC'S COPYING CHARGE AGAINST FOX
ABC has joined NBC in condemning Fox for its plans to produce several forthcoming reality shows that bear striking similarities to shows being mounted by its rivals. Speaking via satellite to the Television Critics Association meeting in Los Angeles Monday, ABC Primetime President Stephen McPherson (who is honeymooning in Paris), warned producers and writers about taking their projects to Fox. "They will steal it, plain and simple," he said. Reporting on McPherson's remarks, which come following similar comments from NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker, the Times observed: "While networks routinely snipe at one another privately, the open display of vitriol in this case is unusual."
SNL VET KATTAN OUT OF BROADWAY SHOW
Chris Kattan, who co-starred on Saturday Night Live for eight seasons, has either quit or been fired from the cast of the new Broadway musical The Frogs, now in previews and scheduled to open in 10 days. Most news reports said that Kattan "withdrew" from the show in which he was to star with Nathan Lane, and the Los Angeles Times observed that he had recently expressed dismay that his role had been cut considerably. But today's New York Daily News said that Kattan had been "bounced" from the show and quoted Lincoln Center Theater exec producer Bernard Gersten as saying, "It's a tough split. ... It's painful for us and it's painful for Chris. ... We felt things weren't working out with Chris."
ISABEL SANFORD OF THE JEFFERSONS DEAD AT 86
Isabel Sanford, who starred as Louise ("Weezie") Jefferson on the long-running CBS sitcom The Jeffersons died Friday in Los Angeles of natural causes at the age of 86, her publicist said Monday. In 1981, she became the first black woman ever to receive an Emmy for best actress in a sitcom.
NEARING OLYMPICS, GREECE PARALYZED BY POWER OUTAGE
A massive power outage hit central and southern Greece Monday, paralyzing Athens, the site of the upcoming summer Olympics, for nearly two hours. However, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) quickly issued a statement maintaining that a similar outage would not affect the Games since five power substations will be operational by then. "This system is designed to allow the continuous supply of power for systems including results, scoring, lighting, information technology and television broadcast," the statement said. "As such, a similar incident would not affect the competition schedule and the broadcasting of the Games."
ANCHORMAN MAKES NEWS
As expected, Spider-Man remained atop the box office over the weekend as it set another record -- the first film to reach $250 million in just 12 days. Its weekend take came in at $45.2 million. But the news was particularly sweet for Will Ferrell's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which premiered with a higher-than-expected $28.4 million. However, Disney's latest film, the $120-million epic King Arthur turned out to be another expensive dud for the studio, as it opened with just $15.2 million, to place third. Slipping to fourth place was Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which drew another 11 million in its third week to raise its total to $80.1 million. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Spider-man 2, Sony, $45,180,743, 2 Wks. ($256,438,326); 2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, DreamWorks, $28,416,365, (New); 3. King Arthur, Disney, $15,193,907, 1 Wk. ($23,623,758 -- From Wednesday); 4. Fahrenheit 9/11, Lions Gate, $11,030,898, 3 Wks. ($80,121,002); 5. The Notebook, New Line, $6,538,093, 3 Wks. ($43,083,691); 6. White Chicks, Sony, $6,231,112, 3 Wks. ($56,912,356); 7. DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, 20th Century Fox, $5,709,817, 4 Wks. ($97,865,599); 8. The Terminal, DreamWorks, $4,974,197, 4 Wks. ($65,262,144); 9. Shrek 2, DreamWorks, $4,450,316, 7 Wks. ($418,517,158); 10. Sleepover, MGM, $4,171,226, (New).
FAHRENHEIT HEATS OVERSEAS BOX OFFICE
As it did in the U.S., Fahrenheit 9/11 has begun setting new box office records for a documentary in key markets overseas. According to the Fellowship Adventure Group, the company set up by Miramax co-founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein to oversee distribution of the film, the documentary took in $2.4 million during its opening weekend in the U.K. (a remarkable $18,321 per theater). In France, where it received the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the film took in $3.7 million ($16,087 per theater).
IMELDA MARCOS LOSES BATTLE TO BAN FILM ABOUT HER
Efforts by former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos to prevent the release of a film about her from being shown in her native country were frustrated Monday when a Philippine court lifted an injunction against its screening. The film, titled Imelda, had been scheduled to open last week, but Marcos won an injunction after claiming that she had only given her permission for the filmmaker, Ramona Diaz, to use it for a college thesis. But Judge Maria Cristina Cornejo held that Marcos had signed a document permitting the movie's release. Following the ruling, Marcos released a statement saying that she was dropping the case "in the spirit of freedom and everyone's right to bear respective perception."
LEGAL LINUX DVD SOFTWARE?
Turbolinux 10F, $69.00 software that, its developers claim, will allow users of the Linux operating system to watch encrypted DVDs legally, began being commercially distributed on Monday. Among other functions, it will also allow Linux users to upload and download music files on Apple's iPod. In the past, users of the DeCSS software, which breaks the DVD encryption code, had argued that the software was necessary in order to allow persons who run Linux to play DVD movies.