CBS LEADS CONVENTION COVERAGE
Each of the three major networks' coverage of Day One of the Democratic National Convention predictably drew few viewers Monday. Somewhat surprising, howeever, was the fact that CBS, the network that draws the smallest audience for its nightly newscast, pulled the biggest ratings for its convention coverage -- a 4.2 rating and a 7 share. On the other hand, ABC, which recently became the leader among the nightly news contenders, ranked last with the convention, scoring just a 2.8/5. NBC averaged a 3.3/6. Lead-ins appeared to be the controlling factor, with CBS's 9:00 p.m. CSI: Miami scoring the highest numbers for the night -- a 7.1/12. NBC placed second in the 9:00 hour with a 3.7/16, while ABC wound up last with a 3.2/6.
NBC LAUNCHES CELL-PHONE NEWSCASTS
With little fanfare, NBC on Monday began transmitting two-minute-long video newscasts to cell phone users with video compatibility. In an internal memo to NBC News staff, disclosed by the online site TVNewser (accessible through MediaBistro.com), NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley said that the newscasts, which will initially be provided to Sprint customers, will be updated several times a day. "The overall service is called NBC Mobile and will eventually include material from other NBC entities. We expect it to develop into an increasingly important part of what we do," Wheatley's memo said.
TNT DOES DYNAMITE BUSINESS FOR TIME WARNER
Boosted by the increasing popularity of its TNT network, which now leads all other cable networks in ratings, according to Nielsen Research, Time Warner plans to report its sixth consecutive quarterly profit on Wednesday, some $533 million on $1.7 billion in net income. Bloomberg News reported today (Tuesday) that the company's cable networks, acquired during the merger with Turner Broadcasting, now account for 11 percent of the company's revenue and 14 percent of its operating income. Nevertheless, its AOL unit continued to blemish the company's overall financial portrait as its subscriber base continued to decline -- with some 650,000 exiting in the last quarter alone. Hoping to stem the exodus, AOL is planning to provide its broadband customers the ability to preview new shows airing in the fall on the WB Network. PC users will be able to watch the initial episode of Jack & Bobby on their computers two weeks before the show actually goes on the air in September, the company said.
AILES ATTEMPTS TO OUTFOX CRITICS
Fox News Channel Chairman Roger Ailes has fired back at the growing number of liberal critics who have accused the news channel of conservative and Republican bias. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Ailes said the critics "drove our ratings up 10 percent" and maintained that "their assumption is people made us No. 1 because people are stupid." He expressed outrage over Robert Greenwald's documentary Outfoxed, in which he used Fox News Channel's footage. If such use should become widespread, he said, "We could take a month's worth of video from CNN International and do a documentary 'Why does CNN hate America?' You wouldn't even have to do the hatchet job Outfoxed was. You damn well could run it without editing. CNN International, Al-Jazeera and BBC are the same in how they report -- mostly that America is wrong and bad." (Al-Jazeeera also got the back of the hand from Democrats on Monday. Reuters reported that the Democrats ordered the Arab news channel to remove a $30,000 banner hanging from its skybox at the Democratic convention "for aesthetic reasons." It was replaced with one for JohnKerry.com.)
DUMPED CSI STARS RETURN TO THE FOLD
CBS confirmed on Monday that Jorja Fox and George Eads has been reinstated as members of the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Reuters reported that the pair had agreed to give up their demand to receive a salary hike before the expiration of their contract. "We are thrilled that both Jorja and George could work things out with CBS and return to the show," CSI producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Carol Mendelsohn said in a statement.
NBC ASSIGNS A NET VALUE TO GREEK JUNKETS
People in the entertainment and related businesses who accept junket invitations without reporting them on their tax forms may have been in for a shock Monday when NBC announced that it plans to place an explicit value on the junkets it is providing to Summer Olympics advertisers and media buyers in Greece this year. The online MediaDailyNews commented Monday that the development "could expose NBC's Olympic guests to thousands of dollars of personal income tax liability and could have a chilling effect on the gifts, chachkas [trinkets], entertainment and travel boondoggles that are commonly bestowed on buyers by media companies in exchange for being good customers."
BOX OFFICE IS RE-BOURNE
Surprising box-office analysts, Universal's The Bourne Supremacy, starring Matt Damon, has debuted with $52.5 million, almost twice what the original, The Bourne Identity, took in during its first weekend in 2002. The film trounced the only other film opening wide, Warner Bros.' Catwoman, which had been expected to give Bourne a run for the money. The Halle Berry-starrer, which reportedly cost nearly $100 million to produce, wound up with only $16.7 million, barely more than Sony's Spider-Man 2 took in during its fourth weekend. The Spidey sequel, which sold $15 million in tickets, placed fourth as its gross expanded to $328.5 million. Last week's box-office winner, 20th Century Fox's I, Robot, slipped to second place with $21.7 million, putting it on course to top $100 million by next weekend. Meanwhile, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 knocked down another barrier for a nonfiction film as it crossed the $100-million mark. After five weeks, its total now stands at $103.1 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. The Bourne Supremacy, Universal, $52,521,865, (New); 2. I, Robot, 20th Century Fox, $21,728,525, 2 Wks. ($95,123,749); 3. Catwoman, Warner Bros., $16,728,411, (New); 4. Spider-Man 2, Sony, $15,015,872, 4 Wks. ($328,468,763); 5. A Cinderella Story, Warner Bros., $7,834,289, 2 Wks. ($29,608,773); 6. Anchorman, DreamWorks, $6,974,614, 3 Wks. ($71,060,084); 7. Fahrenheit 9/11, Lions Gate, $4,759,921, 5 Wks. ($103,115,645); 8 . The Notebook, New Line, $4,268,634, 5 Wks. ($62,318,684); 9. King Arthur, Disney, $3,036,114, 3 Wks. ($45,169,967); 10. Shrek 2, DreamWorks, $2,316,663, 10 Wks. ($429,441,294).
BOX OFFICE HEADING TOWARDS NEW RECORD
Thanks primarily to the astounding success of Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the summer box office is now running 14 percent ahead of last year, when a new record was set, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Tuesday). According to the trade paper, the first eight weeks of the summer period has seen $2.12 billion pour into the box office versus $1.85 billion during the same period a year ago.
AUSTRALIAN MILITARY BAN FAHRENHEIT
The Australian Defense Force has banned the screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 on all of the country's military bases, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today (Tuesday). A spokesman for the defense department told the newspaper: "It is not appropriate for Defense to be seen to be supporting any film of an overtly political nature." The newspaper said that the film's Australian distributor, Hopscotch, had received a request from a soldier to show the film. Troy Lum, managing director of Hopscotch, told the paper: "This guy said everybody on the base was talking about the film and they want to see it. ... He also said it was the first time that anything had been censored. He is disgusted. We are appalled and surprised."
N.Y. TIMES HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IS RETIRING
Veteran New York Times Hollywood correspondent Bernard Weinraub has informed the newspaper that he plans to retire from the newspaper at the end of the year, LA Weekly reported today (Tuesday). Executive editor Bill Keller told the publication, "Bernie is now enshrined in our short-term memories as the guy who pretty much invented serious newspaper coverage of Hollywood. That's a valid memory -- he's still the bar new Hollywood beat reporters are urged to get over." Weinraub has spent 13 years covering Hollywood; however, his scope became somewhat restricted when his wife, Amy Pascal, became president of Columbia Pictures in 1997. In his letter of resignation, Weinraub indicated that he has plans "to embark on a new adventure," but he did not describe what that adventure might be.
JACKSON'S RETURN OF THE KING DVD ADDS 50 MINUTES
Director Peter Jackson has added 50 -- count 'em, 50 -- minutes to the DVD version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, due out in December, New Line Entertainment has announced. The additional footage includes 300 new special effects, the studio said.
SANTA CRUZ OFFICIALS SMOKE 'EM OUT
Officials in Santa Cruz, CA plan to ask the MPAA to hand producers an R rating automatically if their films portray people smoking, television station KSBW reported Monday. Santa Cruz City Councilman Tim Fitzmaurice told the station, "There's a new culture out there doing product advertisement inside those movies. They're getting paid for these advertisements and they're profiting off of that and profiting off an audience that's composed primarily or young people."