ALL-STAR GAME STARS IN RATINGS

Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, together with a double play of So You Think You Can Dance and a strong performance by the out-of-left-field reality series Hell's Kitchen, easily gave Fox a win for the week among the key 18-49-year-old demographic group, while CBS continued to attract the most viewers overall. NBC's America's Got Talent remained the top show of the week among younger adults, while the All-Star Game hit a home run among total viewers, pulling in an audience of 14.4 million, 17 percent more than a year ago. Of the four major networks, only ABC had little to boast about, as its ratings for the summer season dropped 17-percent from last summer. On cable, USA Network paced its rivals, thanks to Saturday's telecast of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which drew 7.37 million viewers -- more than most network programs. (Five of the top ten cable shows last week were carried by the USA channel.) In overall ratings, CBS finished the week with an average 4.7 rating and a 9 share. Fox placed second with a 4.3/8, edging out NBC, which recorded a 4.2/8. ABC trailed with a 3.5/6.

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

1. MLB All-Star Game, Fox, 9.3/16; 2. CSI: Miami, CBS, 7.3/12; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 7.0/12; 4. America's Got Talent, NBC, 6.8/12; 5. All-Star Game Pregame Show, Fox, 6.7/13; 6. Without a Trace, CBS, 6.5/12; 7. CSI: NY, CBS, 6.4/11; 8. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 6.3/10; 9. Dateline (Sunday), NBC, 6.2/12; 10. So You Think Can Dance (Thursday), Fox, 6.0/10; 10. (tie) So You Think Can Dance (Wednesday), Fox, 6.0/10.

EMMY VOTING SHOULD GO BACK TO DRAWING BOARDS, SAYS ABC HEAD

ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson lashed out at the current voting system for Emmy nominations, clearly miffed that the network's two top dramas, Lost and Desperate Housewives, which performed strongly at last year's awards ceremonies, received short shrift when it came to this year's nominations. Under the new system, a blue-ribbon panel reviews the votes of TV academy members, then makes the final selection of nominees. McPherson told TV critics at their semi-annual tour in Pasadena, CA Tuesday that he hopes the academy will review the new procedure "and realize that maybe the changes that they made aren't all good and that they need to go back to the old system." He indicated that he was particularly upset that the TV academy ignored Lost this season. "It's sad for a show like that," he said. "It's one of the best shows on the air and maybe one of the best shows of all time."

PBS SHINES IN NEWS EMMY NOMINATIONS

Although it operates with a budget that is only a fraction of that of the major broadcast networks and cable news networks, PBS received 33 nominations Tuesday for the 27th annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. Its nearest competitor, NBC, had 19, ahead of CBS, with 16 and ABC, with 14. Among cable networks, the History Channel received the most -- 12. CNN netted only 6 nominations.

AP WINS BATTLE WITH FOX

The Associated Press has won its battle with Fox TV, which had issued an edict barring all news photographers from covering its press conferences at the Television Critics Association sessions in Pasadena, saying that it would provide its own photographs of the sessions. The AP had threatened to send neither reporters or photographers to the press conferences, scheduled on July 24 and 25, unless the ban was lifted. Fox later agreed to allow photographers to cover the first few minutes of each session, following the modus operandi of other networks. A Reuters editor later said that his wire service would have also boycotted the Fox news conferences if the ban had not been lifted.

FOX TO DEBUT NEW MORNING SHOW

Fox plans to launch a morning show next January that will go head-to-head against the third hour of Today on NBC and Live with Regis & Kelly on ABC, published reports said today (Wednesday). The show, focusing on entertainment and lifestyle features, will reportedly be produced by Fox News Channel and will be co-hosted by Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, the current hosts of FNC's DaySide. It was not clear whether the show will be simulcast on both the cable and broadcast networks. Fox TV stations operations president Dennis Swanson also said that the program "ties into our Internet strategy."

TV NEWS ANCHORS SEE ROCKETS' GLARE

NBC News anchor Brian Williams and Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith were forced to flee to safety Tuesday as rockets dropped perilously close to where they were covering the latest hostilities in the Middle East. Williams reported on his experiences on a new daily video blog that was introduced on the MSNBC website on Monday. While TV news executives have been criticized for "parachuting" star anchors to international hot spots while closing up important foreign bureaus and reducing the number of full-time correspondents overseas, Paul Slavin, senior vice president of ABC News said Tuesday that it was "absolutely critical" that anchors go to where the action is. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Slavin said, "When you send an anchor, you focus not only the program, but the entire news division, on an important issue. And there is no more important an issue now than what's going on in Israel and Lebanon, because this is all wrapped up in our broader Middle Eastern policies. ... For Charlie to go and cover this firsthand not only informs today's broadcast, but it will inform his reporting and his program in months to come." Slavin also told the newspaper that he's keeping closer tabs on where Gibson is going than he did when Bob Woodruff went to Iraq (and was subsequently wounded). "We discuss what stories [Gibson] plans to cover," Slavin said, "and we discuss the level of risk and how he's going to transit. ... It is probably a bit more bureaucratic than it used to be."

REPORTER SUES YOUTUBE.COM FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

Helicopter pilot/broadcast reporter Bob Tur has sued the video-sharing site YouTube.com, charging copyright infringement and claiming that the website encouraged users to post copies of his news footage. Tur claims that his footage of the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1994 Los Angeles riots has been downloaded thousands of times and has wrecked demand for the copyrighted footage. A spokesperson for YouTube said that it had removed the footage from its site after it heard from Tur's attorneys.

PINK SLIPS RAIN AT DISNEY

The long-expected axe fell at the Walt Disney Co. Tuesday, with roughly 650 employees -- or about one in five employees -- receiving pink slips, half in domestic operations, half overseas. Among those caught in the purge was Nina Jacobson, president of Buena Vista Motion Picture Group, the studio's top decision maker for live-action films. She will be replaced by Oren Aviv, who, as part of a company-wide reorganization, has been named president of production of Walt Disney Pictures. The firing of Jacobson stunned Hollywood, coming as it does just months after her contract with the studio was extended three more years and slightly more than a week after Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest became the biggest hit of the year. Several reports mentioned that it also came on the same day that her partner gave birth to their third child. L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke reported Tuesday that Jacobson had called Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook to share the news and was told in the same conversation that she had been fired. Commented Finke: "Not since Dawn Steel learned she was ousted as president of production while on maternity leave from Paramount has a top woman movie executive found out this brutally she'd been axed in Hollywood." Today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times reported that Cook offered her a production deal at the studio. However, Jacobson told the newspaper that she had declined, saying "I would rather start fresh with something new. ... I feel very sad to be leaving a job that I have loved." She added that she had always tried "to treat the job as a privilege, not an entitlement."

DISNEY CUTTING NOT ONLY JOBS BUT FILMS, TOO

The Walt Disney Co. also confirmed Monday that it would be slashing film production to 10 films per year, focusing on family films and released under the Walt Disney studio banner, and two or three under its Touchstone banner. The studio has been averaging around 18 films per year. Its Pixar and Miramax units will not be affected by the shake-up, the company indicated. Oren Aviv, who has held the title of chief creative officer, will oversee live-action development and production. Wall Street reacted favorable to the shake-up. Since news reports first began leaking word of the impending shakeup, shares in the company have inched up daily, unretarded by downgrades by a couple of key analysts. In early-morning trading on the NYSE, the stock was up about 1 percent. It has risen nearly 5 percent since Monday.

NEW MOVIE DOWNLOAD SERVICE LAUNCHES TODAY

Beginning today (Wednesday), PC owners will be able to download movies from four major studios onto their computers, burn them onto DVDs, then play them on their TV sets -- all for about $9 per movie, depending on how recently they were released. The service saves a trip to the video store and salves the conscience of those who previously could only obtain movies online by downloading pirated copies. A similar movie download service is expected to be announced soon by Apple computer. Still, the studios are not embracing the new service wholeheartedly and are releasing only about 100 movies that can be burned to DVD, most of which have already endured a long shelf life. Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff told the Los Angeles Times that the selection reminded him of "what's left at the video store when you arrive too late and the shelves are picked clean."

ABC CRITIC SIEGEL AND DIRECTOR KEVIN SMITH CLASH OVER CLERKS II

Today's (Wednesday) New York Post prints director Kevin Smith's online rant over ABC critic Joel Siegel's noisy departure from a press screening of Smith's Clerks II. According to the newspaper's "Page Six" column, Siegel rose from his seat 40 minutes into the movie and declared, "Time to go! ... First movie I've walked out of in 30 [expletive] years." In the scene in question the characters discuss hiring a woman to have sex with a donkey. Siegel described it as "foul and mean and repulsive." Smith responded on his MySpace blog, attacking Siegel's use of puns in his reviews and adding, "How about a little common [expletive] courtesy? You never, never disrupt a movie, simply because you don't like it. Cardinal rule of moviegoing: Shut your [expletive] mouth while the movie's playing." (Clerks received an eight-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in May.)

MPAA UNVEILS NEW RATINGS WEBSITE

Faced with persistent complaints that the movie ratings system provides too little information to parents about the content of films, the MPAA said Tuesday that it will launch a new email service, Red Carpet Ratings, that will provide additional descriptions about a film's language and content. Parents can sign up for the new weekly service at www.filmratings.com.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.