VIEWERS CELEBRATE 4TH WATCHING FIREWORKS ON TV
In what could be attributed to the huge rise in sales of big-screen HDTV sets over the past year, some 8.52 million Americans chose to watch fireworks from the comfort of their living rooms Tuesday night, as NBC's coverage of the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show at 9:00 p.m. ended up as the highest-rated show of the night with a 5.2 rating and an 11 share, beating last year's numbers by 22 percent. At 10:00 p.m., viewers switched to the annual Boston Pops Fireworks special, which drew an audience of 7.04 million and registered a 4.5/9 on Nielsen's overnight ratings, behind a 5.5/11 for NBC's Law & Order: SVU in the same hour. Overall ratings were down for the holiday, with NBC leading with a 4.6/10, followed by CBS with a 4.2/9. Fox finished third with a 3.7/8, while ABC trailed with a lowly 2.9/6.

APPRENTICE CONTESTANT TO HEAD TRUMP TV COMPANY

Donald Trump has chosen a former contestant on The Apprentice to head a West Coast TV production company that he is setting up in Los Angeles, Daily Variety reported today (Wednesday). According to the trade publication, the as-yet-unnamed company will be overseen by Andy Litinsky, who has spent the last 2 1/2 years since his initial appearance on Trump's reality show working in the Trump real estate business. Trump told Variety: "There are so many things being thrown at me, a lot of them based in L.A., I just thought it would be appropriate. ... It's a business I like."

MSNBC FUMBLES COVERAGE OF N. KOREAN MISSILE LAUNCH

The Dan Abrams regime at MSNBC got off to an embarrassing start on Tuesday as the cable news channel was caught unprepared to cover Korea's test launch of a long-range missile in defiance of U.S. warnings. The channel aired mostly canned programs while rivals Fox News Channel and CNN presented live telecasts dealing with the launch throughout the day. TV news bloggers excoriated MSNBC for failing to devote appropriate coverage to the affair, with one writing, "Now, it's not really even a cable news channel after ignoring an international crisis."

FIRED STAR JONES POINTS FANS TOWARDS ABC COMPLAINT SITES

Star Jones apparently has no intention of going gently into the night following her dismissal from ABC's The View. Over the weekend, her website, StarJones.com, posted a message saying that it had received requests from "several thousand visitors" about how to contact ABC about her firing. The website then gave the business address of Disney CEO Robert Iger at the Walt Disney Co. (ABC's corporate parent); Brian Frons, president of ABC Daytime; and Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, the executive producers of The View. It also listed an ABC-TV web address where complaints can be posted. In addition, the website included a message from Star Jones to her fans, saying in part that "had it not been for all of your emails and letters, this past week would have been very difficult."

NUDE IN BRITISH TV AD NOT INDECENT, SAYS U.K. AUTHORITY

Britain's official Advertising Standards Authority has refused to censure a TV commercial for Ultralase Medical Aesthetics, a laser cosmetic surgery outfit, in which a woman is seen posing à la Botticelli's painting of Venus, with one arm across her breasts and her opposite hand across her genital area. The ASA said that it had received complaints arguing that the ads were inappropriately aired during the day when children could be watching. Some argued that they should not have been aired at all, regardless of the time. The Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre said on Tuesday that members of the standards group had concluded that "while children might question the visuals, they could see no reason why a child should not see a woman's body when it was sensitively portrayed and decently covered."

DEVIL MAY BE MORE PROFITABLE THAN SUPERMAN
The devil was certainly in the details of the holiday box office, as The Devil Wears Prada surpassed all expectations by taking in $27 million over the weekend and an estimated $39.6 million over the five-day holiday. No #2 movie opening on a Fourth of July weekend has ever come close to earning that amount. It reportedly cost $35 million to produce. On the other hand, Superman Returns, although taking in nearly twice that amount -- $52 million for the weekend; $74 million for the five days -- was regarded as something of a disappointment, given the fact that its budget came to a reported $204 million plus $40 million to develop. Many of the Marvel-based superhero movies have shown more muscle at the box office, including those based on Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and The Hulk. It also fell behind last year's Fourth of July tentpole, War of the Worlds, which grossed $112.7 million in its first six days. By contrast, Superman Returns has grossed $106 million in its first seven days. Moreover, Superman is expected to be hit by a sizable amount of Kryptonite next weekend loaded aboard a certain chest on Jack Sparrow's pirate ship. Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is expected to earn more in its first three days than Superman Returns did in its first seven. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported that Superman Returns "opened solidly rather than spectacularly" in Australia and Asia, earning $20 million in 11 countries. Warner Bros. decided to delay opening it elsewhere overseas until after the conclusion of the World Cup. The top ten films for the five-day Fourth of July weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Superman Returns, $74 million; 2. The Devil Wears Prada, $39.6 million; 3. Click, $29 million; 4. Cars, $22.1 million; 5. Nacho Libre, $9.5 million; 6. The Lake House, $6.3 million; 8. Waist Deep, $4.7 million; 9. The Break-Up, $4.6 million; 10. The Da Vinci Code, $3.7 million.

DEPP KNOWS HE CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS, BUT IF HE TRIES HARD...

Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp, who has previously said that he modeled his Jack Sparrow character after Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, told a London news conference Tuesday that Richards will play his father in the third Pirates movie, which is scheduled to resume production next month. Richards is 62 (but looks older); Depp is 43 (but looks younger). "We're all looking forward to the idea of Keith coming in and doing a cameo," Depp said at the news conference, without explaining his use of the term "idea." Richards has been recovering from a serious head injury that he suffered in Fiji last April, which caused postponement of the Stones' European concert tour. It is scheduled to resume next week in Milan. There was no indication when Richards would film his Pirates cameo.

MCDONALD'S ENDS EXCLUSIVE TIE WITH DISNEY WITH PIRATES PROMO

The beginning of the end of the Walt Disney Company's decade-long exclusive relationship with McDonald's came Tuesday with the launch of "Are You Mac Enough?," a Pirates of the Caribbean game promotion that will be featured at the fast-food giant's outlets through July 31. The promotion marks the windup of the Disney-McDonald's tie that saw McDonald's pay Disney $100 million a year in royalties to promote 11 Disney films, videos and TV shows, with seven aimed directly at the Happy Meal set. In the current promotion, McDonald's customers purchasing a Big Mac, large fries or large drink will receive "Are You Mac Enough?" game pieces that could fetch additional fast-food items at future visits or even a new Volvo car (one car will be given away each day of the promotion). Other big prizes include Sony PlayStation Portable game players, video iPods, Magellan GPS systems, portable DVD players, and a walk-on part in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

CROWE NAMED TO VENICE JURY

American writer-director-producer Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) has been named to the jury at the 63rd annual Venice International Film Festival, which runs from August 30 to September 9. Crowe's Elizabethtown received its international premiere at the festival last year. He'll be joining a jury headed by French actress Catherine Deneuve that also includes South Korean director Park Chan-wook, Spanish director Bigas Luna, Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, and Italian actor-director Michele Placido.