THE TONYS MAKE A COMEBACK
Just as Broadway appeared to come back to life during the past year -- setting box-office records in the process -- so, too, did Sunday night's telecast of the Tony Awards. Although the 2004 and 2005 telecasts set ratings lows, Sunday's show, which again aired over three hours of primetime, showed a 9 percent increase in the audience over the previous two years -- averaging a 5.9 rating and a 9 share. Even more impressive, it did so against Game 2 of the NBA Finals, featuring Miami vs. Dallas, whereas last year it had no basketball competition to fend off. The awards themselves were something of a "Boys" night out, with Jersey Boys, the musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, winning the top prize for best musical, and Alan Bennett's The History Boys winning for best dramatic play. As expected, the NBA game dominated Sunday night's ratings with a 9.1/15 average between 9:00 p.m. and 12 m, an increase of 8 percent over last year's Game 2 contest between Detroit and San Antonio.
SATELLITE TV COMPANIES TO OFFER INTERNET SERVICE
Home-satellite competitors DirecTV and DISH network, who have each unsuccessfully tested systems to provide Internet services via satellite, will try again. The two companies announced Saturday that they had agreed to resell WildBlue's Internet service for five years. WildBlue charges subscribers $49.95 per month, which delivers download speeds up to 1.5Mbps. For about the same amount of money, most cable companies deliver almost twice the download speed and ten times the upload speed. Both DirecTV and DISH said that they will initially concentrate on providing service to rural areas and small cities where Internet cable and DSL services are not readily available.
CBS LAUNCHES ONE-STOP ENTERTAINMENT SITE
CBS today (Monday) launched TheShowbuzz.com, a one-stop Internet site where the network can repurpose its own celebrity on-air coverage and combine the video with content and services from other entertainment-oriented websites. They include those operated by the trade publications The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, both owned by the Dutch media conglomerate VNU; ticket sellers MovieTickets.com, owned by the AMC theater chain; and Broadway.com, whose parent company, Hollywood Media, is controlled by CBS sibling Viacom. Today's homepage of TheShowbuzz.com carries a banner indicating that the site is sponsored by Noxzema, the medicated face cream company that primarily targets teenage girls. Although the lead story concerns Sunday night's CBS-televised Tony Awards, other items headlined include "Bonnie Hunt on Playing a Porsche," "Psychological Test Order for [Alec] Baldwin," "Brangelina and Family Leave Namibia," and "Britney: My Marriage Is 'Awesome'." In an interview with today's USA Today CBS Digital chief Larry Kramer said the site will not simply focus on CBS programs. "We're going to cover the other networks, the movie studios. ... We want the basic fundamentals of journalism to be used here."
MAURY AND CONNIE ARE FIRED
Just days after the departure of MSNBC chief Rick Kaplan, the cable news channel has decided to cancel a Kaplan brainchild -- the weekend talk show hosted by husband-and-wife team Maury Povich and Connie Chung that made its debut only last January. The website TV Newser said that the final episode will air next weekend. Today's (Monday) New York Post observed that the only time Weekends with Maury & Connie managed to draw a decent audience was a week after a former producer of Povich's syndicated talk show filed a lawsuit claiming that Povich sexually harassed her.
A (SOMEWHAT) CHECKERED FLAG FOR CARS
Disney/Pixar's Cars crossed the finish line at the weekend box office ahead of the competition, but it set no record in doing so. Its estimated $62.8 million was nearly $9 million below Pixar's Finding Nemo and The Incredibles and represented its first production that did not exceed a prior Pixar release in ticket sales. In an interview with today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, Anthony Valencia, an analyst at money management firm TCW in Los Angeles, remarked, "Pixar is like the parent who has a straight-A student: One day the child comes home with a B-plus" Nevertheless, Disney said it was counting on bigger grosses during the week -- which marks the first week of summer school vacation for most kids. Meanwhile, last weekend's top film, Universal's The Break-Up, fell 48 percent to about $20.5 million to place second. Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand appeared to be on its last legs as it dropped another 54 percent to around $15.6 million. (Nevertheless, its potent record opening three weeks ago guaranteed it hit status. It's $201.7 million gross makes it the biggest money-maker of the year.) After debuting on Tuesday with $12.6 million, Fox's The Omen took in $15.5 million over the weekend, placing fourth. Paramount's Over the Hedge and Sony's The Da Vinci Code will be fighting for fifth place as each studio estimated that its respective films took in $10.3 million. Picturehouse's A Prairie Home Companion, which opened in only 760 theaters, took in about $4.7 million and placed seventh. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Cars, $62.8 million; 2. The Break-Up, $20.5 million; 3. X-Men: The Last Stand, $15.55 million; 4. The Omen, $15.45 million; 5. Over the Hedge, $10.3 million; 5. The Da Vinci Code, $10.3 million; 7. A Prairie Home Companion, $4.7 million; 8. Mission: Impossible III, $3 million; 9. RV, $2 million; 10. Poseidon, $1.8 million.
CODE CONTINUES TO CLEAN UP OVERSEAS
For the fourth consecutive weekend, The Da Vinci Code has topped its competition overseas, earning $22 million in 84 countries. The performance was particularly impressive given that it faced competition from the televised World Cup matches. The film has now earned $453.2 million overseas and $642 million worldwide.
PROP AND SET MAKERS IN DISPUTE
The local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union (IATSE) that represents set decorators, prop makers, and special effects technicians is embroiled in controversy after its board agreed to pay $170,000 in severance to its chief, Ronnie Cunningham, even as he stood accused of misappropriating funds and taking cash from people seeking union jobs, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. As part of the settlement, Cunningham agreed to step down as business agent and never seek office with the union again. Union member Craig Raiche told the newspaper that the evidence against Cunningham, which materialized during a 15-month investigation by the Labor Department, was "very incriminating, voluminous and compelling." The Times said it had reviewed Labor Department findings that, among other things, contended that Cunningham may have received $230,000 in unauthorized overtime between 1996 and 2001. Cunningham termed the accusations "garbage," adding, "This was a way to get rid of me."
PELLICANO SAYS HE WON'T RAT ON CLIENTS
Former private detective Anthony Pellicano is aware that some of his former clients will likely testify against him if he is prosecuted under federal wire-tap laws, but, he told the Los Angeles Times, he will never do the same against them. "My loyalty never dies," Pellicano, speaking by telephone from prison, told the newspaper in Sunday's edition. "You're not going to see me take the stand against the clients and employees and other people that are going to be testifying against me. I didn't rat them out. You understand? I am never going to besmirch a client or any other person that I gave my trust to or who gave their trust to me. I'm never going to do that. I am going to be a man until I fall -- if, in fact, that happens." Pellicano also claimed that the government has exaggerated its case against him and has failed to produce tapes of alleged wire-tapped conversation. "They have never provided them to us in discovery. And they never will. Because they don't exist," Pellicano said. The jailed private eye also defended celebrity attorney Bert Fields. "There is no way in the world that any lawyer who has got any brains is going to hire somebody to do something illegal," Pellicano said. "And of all the people in the world to suspect it of: Bert Fields? Mr. Clean Jeans? Mr. Straight Arrow? My God, I don't think I've even heard him curse in the entire time I've known him -- let alone say, 'Hey, Pellicano, I want you to go out and do this or do that.' I mean, Come on."