THEY'RE WATCHING NOBODY'S WATCHING ... ON THE WEB
The Internet could turn out to be the savior of a TV show that was rejected in 2004 by NBC and later by The WB, the New York Times reported today (Monday). A copy of the pilot of the ironically named Nobody's Watching has been downloaded more than 300,000 times since it was posted on the YouTube.com website two weeks ago. In reporting on the rush to view the show, the Times commented, "The big story behind Nobody's Watching is that "a sitcom left for dead 18 months ago may actually spring back to life -- on actual television -- because its creators were too passionate about it to let it die, and because it really might be funnier than most everything else that is passing for comedy on television these days." The newspaper said that NBC has indicated that it wants to take a second look at the pilot and that executives at Comedy Central and ABC have also expressed interest.

CANCELED SHOW DRAWS BIGGEST RATINGS

The CBS Sunday Night Movie, which CBS has canceled, drew the biggest ratings of the night Sunday as its second hour registered a 5.8/11. The first hour of the movie, "How to Lose a Guy," recorded a 4.7/9, edged out slightly by NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which scored a 4.8/9. CBS averaged a 5.3 rating and a 10 share for the night. NBC placed second with a 4.3/8. ABC followed with a 2.9/6, while Fox trailed with a 2.5/5.

MASSIVE U.K. AUDIENCE WATCHES ENGLAND'S WORLD CUT DEFEAT

Virtually everyone with a television set in Britain had it tuned to the World Cup soccer match between England and Portugal Saturday night. The BBC said that the contest, lost by England, peaked at 19 million viewers and an 84 percent share between 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. It averaged 16 million viewers and an 81 percent share over the three-hour telecast.

STAR JONES ATTRACTS BIG RATINGS FOR LARRY KING

Star Jones's appearing on CNN's Larry King Live last Thursday Spike drew more than 3 million viewers, three times King's average for the season. The huge number of viewers who tuned in to hear the fired The View panelist also put him ahead of Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, a rare occurrence. Meanwhile it was announced that singer-actress Brandy will guest host The View on Wednesday and Friday this week and that All My Children's Susan Lucci has also been signed as a fill-in.

SPIKE TV'S BIGGEST HIT AVAILABLE FOR FREE AT ITUNES STORE

Spike TV's premiere episode of Blade: The Series is being offered for free on Apple's iTunes Music Store until July 11. The drama, which stars Kirk "Sticky" Jones in the Wesley Snipes movie role, drew 2.5 million viewers last Wednesday, the biggest audience for any program in the channel's history. MTV Networks, which operates Spike TV, said that it is also offering additional programs from Nick at Night, TV Land, and the gay-oriented Logo channels for $1.99 per download on the iTunes site.

VARGAS WANTS TO BE WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR AGAIN

Elizabeth Vargas has told USA Today that she plans to "do everything in my power" to return as anchor of a nightly network news program. She said that her decision to relinquish her post as sole host of ABC's World News Tonight was "excruciatingly difficult" and complicated, but that she had little choice. Referring to her former co-anchor, Bob Woodruff, Vargas said, "We're a team. Bob and I are both reporters and wanted to be reporters first. We wanted to take the show on the road ... traveling to war zones. Now I can't even fly" (because of her pregnancy).

NBC DUMPS ARENA FOOTBALL

The future existence of the Arena Football League appeared in doubt Friday when NBC announced that it will not renew its revenue-sharing deal with the AFL and will no longer continue to televise its games. NBC had begun televising the out-of-season indoor football league after dropping out of the costly competition to air NFL games in 1998. But in recent years, ratings for the AFL games have failed to rise; indeed they have decline significantly. Last month the Arena Bowl -- the Super Bowl of indoor football -- scored only an 0.7 rating. What's more, NBC has signed a new deal with the NFL. In an interview with Saturday's New York Times, NBC spokesman Mike McCarley said, "We gave [Arena Football] our best effort, with top production and significant promotion, but the ratings never grew."

SUPERMAN DIDN'T FLY HIGH ENOUGH, SAY ANALYSTS
If Superman Returns hadn't cost about $204 million to make and an additional $40 million to develop over the past 19 years, the $84.2 million that the movie earned since it opened late Tuesday night would be cause for celebration at Warner Bros., the studio that produced it. However, analysts pointed out that the estimated $52.2 million that it earned over the three-day weekend trailed last year's War of the Worlds' $64.9 million over the comparable weekend and Spider-Man 2's $88.2 million in 2004. Moreover, it is expected to be sunk next week by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and continue to plunge after that. Meanwhile, rival studios are reportedly upset over Warner Bros. decision to include 10:00 p.m. screenings on Tuesday in its total for Wednesday, thereby giving the appearance that the film performed far better at the box office for its Wednesday premiere than it actually did. Moreover, L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke quoted one rival studio exec as saying, "It's not unfair to note that Fox's X-Men 3 had $130 mil[lion] after five days and is ending up making $235 mil or so. If the same ratio holds and Superman Returns does 1/3 less, than it would not make $200 mil and that would be a disappointment." In fact, the actual bragging rights for the weekend belong to 20th Century Fox, whose The Devil Wears Prada opened with an estimated $27 million. "This was way beyond anybody's expectations," Fox distribution chief Bruce Snyder told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. The film helped push the overall box office some 5 percent above last year's for the same weekend. Today's New York Times quoted Bruce Friend, managing director of the research firm OTX Entertainment, as saying, "The good news is the bleeding has stopped from last year. ... But it hasn't rebounded to the levels of two years ago." The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Superman Returns, $52.15 million; 2. The Devil Wears Prada, $27 million; 3. Click, $19.4 million; 4. Cars, $14 million; 5. Nacho Libre, $6.2 million; 6. The Lake House, $4.5 million; 7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, $4.4 million; 8. Waist Deep, $3.3 million; 9. The Break-Up, $2.8 million; 10. The Da Vinci Code, $2.3 million.

POLL SHOWS MOVIEGOERS ARE BIG DVD BUYERS

A poll of moviegoers indicates that 83 percent of those who see ten or more movies per year in theaters also "frequently" or "sometimes" buy the DVD of many of the same movies, the New York Times reported today (Monday). The study, conducted by Nielsen Entertainment, concluded that seeing movies in the theater and at home "are not mutually exclusive occurrences" and appears to boost arguments by theater owners that they would be harmed significantly if movies were released in theaters and on DVD simultaneously. Thirty-six percent said they would skip the multiplex if that were to occur.

CRITIC EBERT IN SERIOUS CONDITION AT CHICAGO HOSPITAL

Film critic Roger Ebert was reported to be in serious condition in Chicago following emergency surgery to treat a burst blood vessel near the site of a previous operation to remove a cancerous growth from his salivary gland. Before undergoing the earlier operation on June 16, Ebert had described it as routine and indicated that he had undergone similar procedures previously in 2003.

ARE SOME FLIGHT CREWS SMUGGLING DVD'S?

California Congressman Howard Berman has called for an investigation of reports published recently in the Los Angeles Times that pirated DVDs from Russia are being smuggled into the U.S. by Aeroflot Airlines flight crews. "And, of even greater exigency," Berman wrote in a letter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, "I am worried about the ease with which these airline employees might be able to smuggle other products, including drugs and weapons." Last week, the Times published an interview with Dmitry Fayerman, who had been sued by Malibu-based Films by Jove for selling pirated DVDs of Russian animated movies for which Jove owned distribution rights. "Everybody who wants DVDs imports from Aeroflot," Fayerman told the newspaper. A private detective for Jove photographed Fayerman picking up two bags from an Aeroflot flight crew member at a hotel located near LAX.