SCHIEFFER ROLLS OUT CARPET FOR COURIC
Bob Schieffer, the "interim" anchor of the CBS Evening News, has taped several promos, which began airing Monday, trumpeting the arrival of his Sept. 5 replacement, Katie Couric. Apparently aimed at dispelling Couric's "perky" image, the promos feature Schieffer ad-libbing such comments as, "She's tough. She's fair. She's a straight shooter. She'll be terrific. Just watch." There are also some shots of Couric herself, looking serious. The Associated Press quoted CBS News President Sean McManus as saying that "phase two" of the Couric campaign will begin later this month, showing Couric "talking about the news and how to cover it."
EX ABC NEWSMAN WINS, THEN LOSES, IN BRITISH COURT
Former ABC London correspondent Richard Gizbert, who sued the network claiming he was fired because he refused to accept an assignment in Iraq, won a pyrrhic victory Monday when a British employment tribunal, which had ruled in his favor, awarded him only $180,000. He had been seeking more than $3.7 million. Gizbert said on Monday that the tribunal's award "does not reflect the significant loss of earnings I and my family will suffer in the coming years after my unfair, and unlawful, dismissal." He said that he and his lawyers were "perplexed with the compensation figure," given the tribunal's earlier "unanimous, strongly worded and precedent-setting judgment" in his favor. Gizbert had been fired from ABC's London bureau in July 2004 after 11 years at the network.
ABC TRIUMPHS WITH NAVEL VICTORY ON TWO FRONTS
ABC, which has never before run original programming from one of its cable outlets during primetime, scored with the pilot episode of the sci-fi drama Kyle XY on Friday. On a slow summer Friday, Kyle came in second in overall ratings with a 3.4/7, translating to 5.2 million viewers. More important, it came in first among adults 18-49, the demographic group that advertisers covet. Earlier in the week, the show, whose title character lacks a navel, aired on ABC Family, which earned the channel its biggest ratings ever for an original series as 2.6 million tuned in. ABC plans to repeat three additional episodes of Kyle before the series begins exclusive airings on ABC Family Channel.
COMEDIAN JAN MURRAY DEAD AT 89
Showman Jan Murray, one of the numerous "borscht-belt" comics who later found fame during the early days of television, has died in Beverly Hills at age 89. In the 1950s, he seemed to host a different New York-based TV game show each year. In 1950, it was Sing It Again; in 1951, Go Lucky; in 1952, Meet Your Match; in 1953, Dollar a Second; in 1955, Charge Account. Then, in 1956, he became the host of Treasure Hunt, which lasted four years. In 1960, he came to Hollywood and appeared on dozens of TV shows in guest roles. In the early '70s, he was a frequent substitute host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.
AUSTRALIAN P.M. CALLS FOR REALITY SHOW TO SHUT DOWN
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has demanded that the local version of the Big Brother reality series by shut down, following accusations that two male "housemates" on the show forced a female contestant, Camilla Halliwell, into a sexually overheated situation. Halliwell then described the incident before the cameras, seeming to play it down. "There was no malice intended ... and when I said very specifically to John, 'Don't. No,' he didn't do it," she said. On Monday, the prime minister said, "Here's a great opportunity for Channel Ten to do a bit of self-regulation and get this stupid program off the air." The two accused housemates, Michael Cox and Michael Bric, were ordered to leave the Big Brother house.
PIRATES PREMIERES IN LONDON
Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, the stars of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, attended Monday night's premiere of the movie in London. The stars spent more than an hour in front of the Leicester Square theater, mingling with fans and signing autographs in 90-degree heat. Early British reviews are just shy of ecstatic. Critic Baz Bamigboye in today's (Tuesday) London Daily Mail commented, "There's a lot to enjoy in this high-priced piece of popcorn. Mind you, it's the best popcorn you're likely to find this summer. ... [It's] wall-to-wall fun, full of pure silliness." The BBC's Nev Pierce fairly shouted, "Brace the mainsail and shiver those timbers, etc, for this is a superb swashbuckler -- rousing, funny and spectacular." Steve Rose, writing in Britain's Guardian, has plenty to complain about, however, including a slow, convoluted opening. "It takes a tortuously long time to get all the narrative plates spinning," Rose writes. But, he concludes, "Despite all the fits, starts, and flaws, there's enough invention and energy here to make you want to see the next installment."
Ticket sales for Superman Returns amounted to $13.1 million on Monday, dropping 27 percent from Sunday, to bring the film's gross to $97.6 million since its opening last Tuesday night, according to the entertainment industry site, Showbiz Data. If the traditional steep decline on the actual Fourth of July holiday holds, the film may not be able to reach the $110-million target that Warner Bros. had been aiming for as recently as Sunday. (Last year's War of the Worlds plunged 42 percent on July 4th.) Meanwhile, second-place The Devil Wears Prada dropped a moderate 19 percent from Sunday, to take in $7.1 million and bring its four-day gross to $34.5 million.
PRODUCTION CONTINUES ON MOVIE IN WHICH CAMERAMAN DIED
Location shooting concluded near Cedar Rapids, Iowa Monday on the movie The Final Season after being shut down Friday following the crash of a helicopter being used to film a parade scene. "We chose to complete the movie in honor of the fellows that were on the helicopter," co-producer Steve Schott told the Associated Press. The cameraman, Roland Schlotzhauer, who specialized in filming helicopter scenes, was killed in the crash, which occurred when the chopper became entangled in power lines. Producer Tony Wilson and pilot Richard Green remain in critical condition.
EBERT'S CONDITION: SERIOUS BUT STABLE
Film critic Roger Ebert's condition is being described as "serious but stable" as he continues to recover from emergency surgery to repair a burst blood vessel near the site of a recent operation to remove a cancerous growth on his salivary gland. His wife Chaz said Monday that doctors had told her that he is "responding well" to treatment, while Richard Roeper, his Chicago Sun-Times colleague, who co-hosts Ebert and Roeper at the Movies, told the Associated Press that he has "every confidence and hope that he has thousands of movie reviews ahead of him."
CHINA BANS GAY-THEMED KOREAN BLOCKBUSTER
China's censorship board, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, has banned South Korea's biggest hit "because of the homosexual code and sexually explicit language in the movie," an official of the South Korean company that produced it has told Reuters. The movie, King and the Clown, has grossed more than $85 million in South Korea and has been seen by a quarter of the country's population. It depicts the relationship between a tyrannical king and his two court jesters, Reuters said, noting that any romance between them is only implied. The wire service pointed out that although China has hailed Ang Lee's Oscar victory this year, it has never considered permitting his gay-themed movie, Brokeback Mountain, to be shown in theaters.