MO' TOWN IS LESS TOWN FOR KIMMEL
Jimmy Kimmel's late-night talk show was yanked from the ABC network Wednesday following controversial comments made by Kimmel during Tuesday's NBA Finals halftime show, the Detroit News reported today (Thursday). "They're going to burn the city of Detroit down if the Pistons win," Kimmel said, touching off a flood of protesting phone calls. Grace Gilchrist, the manager of ABC's Detroit affiliate WXYZ, who was attending an affiliates meeting in Los Angeles at the time of the broadcast, immediately yanked Kimmel's show from her station, saying in a statement on Wednesday that she had done so because of his continued trash talk about Detroit. It was replaced with an episode of The Wayne Brady Show. Andrea Parqueto-Taylor, the channel's news director, told the Detroit News that it was not likely that Kimmel would be reinstated. "We think that there is a lot of discussion about how Jimmy Kimmel has jeopardized his right to have clearance in this community," she said. "Totally out of line. We have got probably one of the strongest audience bases in the country for him. An apology is not going to cut it at all. We're not going to accept that from him." Kimmel did indeed apologize, saying that his remark was intended as "a joke, nothing more." He then added: "Clearly, over the past 10 years, we in L.A. have taken a commanding lead in postgame riots. If the Lakers win, I plan to overturn my own car." The NBA telecast attracted an enormous audience in Detroit, scoring a 37.6 rating and a 53 share. Nationally, it drew a 12.3/30.
NBC SUPER-SIZES SUMMER OLYMPICS
NBC announced Wednesday that it will add 49 hours of Olympic Games coverage, to be carried by the USA Network, which NBC acquired in its merger with Vivendi Universal's entertainment unit. In addition, it said that it will simulcast 399 hours on its high-definition channel NBC HD in 124 markets. Olympics coverage will also be carried on five additional channels, including NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Telemundo. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol also said that coverage from Athens will begin Aug. 11, two days before the official opening, with a women's soccer match between the U.S. and Greece.
BBC REPORTER UNDERGOES SECOND SURGERY
BBC reporter Frank Gardner, who was shot and critically wounded on Sunday as he prepared to tape a report from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, underwent a second surgical procedure Wednesday, the English-language Arab News reported today (Thursday). Gardner's attackers are believed to be linked with terrorists. The reporter had spent 15 years reporting from Saudi Arabia and was believed to be an expert on Middle East terrorism. Arab News said that two BBC managers and a security adviser arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday.
SATELLITE SERVICE BSKYB TO LAUNCH FREE SERVICE IN U.K.
BSkyB, the satellite service controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, plans to launch a free service that will provide 200 radio and TV channels. Aside from an initial connection charge of about $275, there will be no monthly subscription fees. The service will compete with the BBC-backed satellite service Freeview, which has attracted 3.5 million users, versus 15 million for BSkyB.
SHREK 3 & 4 ALREADY IN THE WORKS
Jeffrey Katzenberg has disclosed that work on Shrek 3 began nine months ago and that work on Shrek 4 began three months ago. Katzenberg made the disclosure during an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald as he arrived in the Australian city for the local premiere of Shrek 2. "We have two more chapters to tell. Not unlike Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings. The difference is they did have the guts to make all three of them back-to-back-to-back," he said, noting that in the case of the Shrek films, 13 years will have passed from the time the original began production until the fourth film is released in 2009. "We do spend three or four years making them," he said. "The nature of the process is [that] you get to see your work and view it over and over and over again -- and redo it and remake it in a way that live action doesn't have." Katzenberg credited Pixar's John Lasseter with "carrying the Disney flame," explaining that "Lasseter has all of those qualities that Walt Disney had as a storyteller. He has very much a childlike perspective in terms of how he looks at the world and how he sees things."
WGA APPROVES NEW ELECTION RULES
Enmeshed in legal tangles over the conduct of its presidential elections, the WGA West board of directors has approved a cluster of election oversight rules. The action comes in advance of a special election set for September to choose a new guild president following the ouster of last year's election winner, Victoria Riskin. Riskin, who won out in the voting over challenger Eric Hughes, was forced to resign when it was revealed that she was ineligible to run because she had not been employed under a WGA contract during the previous four years. So many complaints about election irregularities were uncovered by the Labor Dept. following the resignation that it announced in March that it would supervise the guild's election in September.
SOME MOVIE PIRATES ARE TERRORISTS, VALENTI CLAIMS
People who counterfeit movies are not only pirates, some are actually terrorists, MPAA chief Jack Valenti charged Wednesday. Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Valenti cited an Interpol report, which, he said, concluded that "there is a significant link between counterfeiting and terrorism in locations where there are entrenched terrorist groups." According to the report, Valenti said, terrorists have turned to piracy as the preferred way to raise funds, since it is less risky than drug smuggling and money laundering. "It stands to reason that if it's low-risk, high-return and if you get caught it's a slap on the wrist, then criminals are going to do it," Valenti said. However, Daily Variety pointed out today (Thursday) that the Interpol report mentions mostly counterfeit household items like shampoos and perfume, and that the only reference to movies was contained in a section about a single individual who reportedly distributed Hezbollah propaganda films as part of his supply of pirated music and video games.
TIVO TO PROVIDE MOVIES VIA THE WEB
TiVo announced Wednesday that it will soon introduce a service that will allow its users to download movies and other content from the Internet. Details of the pay-per-view service were not spelled out, and a TiVo spokeswoman said that a date for its debut had not yet been decided upon. In reporting on the planned service, MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews observed Wednesday, "The move is the first in what is expected to be a series of moves by traditional TV players into Web-based downloading that will accelerate the much-anticipated convergence of the two media."
CALIFORNIA PENSION FIRM PLACES DISNEY ON "FOCUS LIST"
CalPERS, the country's biggest U.S. public pension fund, placed the Walt Disney Co., along with three other companies, on its "focus list" because of "continuing issues with corporate governance." CalPERS holds about 10 million Disney shares. The fund has accused Disney's board of directors of being a rubber stamp for management and has supported efforts to oust CEO Michael Eisner. CalPERS on Wednesday called for greater independence by the board and demanded that it approve a succession plan for Eisner and other top officers.
PLUSH TOY MAKER PARTS COMPANY WITH DISNEY
There has been another parting-of-the-way at Disney -- this time, it's the company's plush toy maker, Applause. Toy company Chairman and CEO Bob Solomon told today's Los Angeles Daily News, "I'm sad and torn by a piece of me passing. ... But I think for the time being, it's the best thing for both." He declined to state what had led to the breakup, saying only that while he loved the Disney characters, "it's another thing to love the way we're doing business." The announcement stunned analysts. "Companies trip over themselves to land a deal with Disney," David Joyce of brokerage firm Guzman & Co. told the newspaper, speculating that Disney's demands "pushed the margins down to uneconomic levels" for Applause. He also suspected that Disney might have insisted on "micromanaging" the toy company in order to protect the Disney characters.
CASH MOVIE PRODUCES CASH FOR MEMPHIS
A movie production about the life of Johnny Cash is expected to produce a lot of cash for businesses in Memphis, WMC-TV reported on Wednesday. The movie, Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by James Mangold, is due to begin filming on June 28th in the river country near Memphis where Cash's career began. Memphis Film Commission Director Lynn Sitler said in an interview, "It's a wonderful opportunity for a local economy to have what they call a clean industry. ... They come in, they drop lots of money, and they leave." As an incentive, the city and the county agreed to refund hotel and motel taxes to film workers. The TV station said that the movie is expected to yield about $5 million to the area and create hundreds of jobs.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment will introduce a new DVD enhancement on Aug. 10 when it releases two Three Stooges movies that includes technology that will allow viewers to watch the movies in their original black-and-white version or a new colorized version. The colorized version will use a new digital process created by West Wing Studios, which according to CTHE, "brings incredible new life to black-and-white classics and has the potential to win over a more contemporary audience for these films." A similar argument was made by media mogul Ted Turner in the late 1980s, when he began to present colorized versions of classic movies on his TV channels. But the colorized films were denounced by some movie buffs then as "cultural vandalism," forcing Turner to abandon the colorization process in 1995.
SPECIAL EFFECTS MASTER TRUMBULL DEAD AT 95
Legendary special-effects wiz Donald Trumbull, whose career spanned well over a half century of film history, died Monday in Graegle, CA at the age of 95. He was twice honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his technical innovations. Among the films he contributed to were 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek -- The Motion Picture, and Blade Runner. He also directed the 1971 film Silent Running and 1983's Brainstorm. In addition, he was the developer of ShowScan, a system that projected 70mm film at 60 frames per second, producing astoundingly realistic images. The system never caught on outside the "ride film" circuit and was eventually absorbed by IMAX, with Trumbull becoming a vice-chairman of that company.