INDECENT SHOW CAN BE SEEN ON FOES' WEBSITE
Although CBS claimed in an FCC filing this week that complaints about an episode of Without a Trace were invalid because they all came via websites operated by the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association from people who had never seen the show, the scene in question had in fact been posted on the PTC website. In its filing, CBS asked the FCC to rescind its record indecency fine of $3.3 million, maintaining that "there were no true complainants from actual viewers." Viewed on the PTC website, the clip, which lasts about a minute, would seem to bolster the network's case that, contrary to claims that it depicts a teenage orgy, it shows no nudity, simulated sex, or offensive language. Moreover, it aired after 10:00 p.m. In its filing on Monday, CBS further observed that according to FCC rules, complaints must come from someone actually watching an offending show in the broadcast area of the station at issue. In a statement on Tuesday, L. Brent Bozell, who heads the PTC and the AFA, charged that CBS was engaging in "stupid legal maneuvers" and remarked, "Every complaint filed comes from a United States citizen who, last I heard, had the constitutional privilege to petition his government."
COURIC HAS ALREADY PAID FOR HERSELF, SAYS MOONVES
Even before she takes over the anchor's post on the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric has already brought in $15 million in additional revenue -- the amount CBS agreed to pay her each year, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves said this week. The online edition of Advertising Age magazine, reporting on overlooked comments by Moonves at an investors conference in Santa Monica, CA Tuesday, quoted Moonves as saying, "Katie probably paid for herself in the first week of our upfront" sales to advertisers. "We brought in about $15 million more for the Early Evening News (sic) in the first week. ... She will be one of the best bargains. I've already made my money back. There aren't too many Katies."
RATHER WOULD RATHER STAY AT CBS -- BUT DOES CBS WANT HIM?
Despite numerous reports that CBS will not renew Dan Rather's contract when it expires in November, Rather himself insists he will not leave voluntarily. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, the former CBS Evening News anchor said, "I don't quit. It's not in me. ... As long as there's any chance I can stay and do meaningful work, that's what I want to do. Not every day can be bliss." Rather further acknowledged that he has had no conversations at all with Sean McManus since McManus was named president of CBS News in October. "I have no feelings about it," Rather told the newspaper. "He's busy." The Inquirer noted that the network also appears to have pushed Rather out of meaningful contributions to 60 Minutes, where he fronted only eight pieces last season. "We've had no conversations about carrying on at 60 Minutes," Rather remarked. "My position is, I want to work. Maybe it's my hubris, but I still think there are things I can contribute, and I want an opportunity to do that." Today's Washington Post observed that with Katie Couric set to report six stories a year and the hiring of CNN's Anderson Cooper as a contributor, there was simply no room for Rather at 60 Minutes.
MY NAME IS EARL: THE DVD EPISODE
The complete first season DVD of My Name Is Earl will include an entirely new episode created specifically for the DVD when it is released on Sept. 26, Home Video Retailing reported today (Thursday). The trade paper said that the episode is kind of an "alternate" to the pilot, in that instead of repenting for his past misdeeds, Earl decides to get back at anyone who's ever wronged him. Ethan Suplee, who plays Earl's brother in the series, told HVR that the performers were able "to play around a bit" with the DVD extra. "I don't think we said f*** or anything like that, but I definitely don't think you could air it on television."
NIELSEN TO RATE VIEWERS WATCHING TV ON PC'S
Sensing that the days of watching television programs at appointed times on conventional TV sets may be numbered, ratings giant Nielsen Research disclosed on Wednesday that it is embarking on a plan dubbed Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement to create a comprehensive system to measure TV viewing whether it be on TV sets, personal computers, cell phones, or on mobile devices like video iPods or PlayStation portable players or in bars or dorms. Nielsen said it will begin a test this summer to measure the number of people watching TV shows on PCs via the Internet.
IRANIAN OFFICIAL USES FOX NEWS AS DIPLOMATIC INTERMEDIARY
The growing political clout of Fox News Channel was demonstrated Wednesday when an aide to Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an FNC executive that Iran would be willing "to help" the U.S. with Iraq. Fox News, reporting on the conversation between the aide and John Moody, senior vice president of Fox News Editorial, described the remark as "a surprising if not astounding overture to the United States." Moody later appeared live from London, saying, "We went in to talk about covering the news in Iran and came out with a boldfaced statement from the representative of the supreme leader. He said, 'We can help the United states in Iraq if they want us to.'" No details about the nature of the "help" were provided.
WORLD CUP OVERFLOWS IN L.A.
Ratings for World Cup telecasts from Germany have soared over those held in 1998 and 2002 but nowhere is the rise more conspicuous than it is in Los Angeles, home of the nation's largest Hispanic population. Today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times reported that Sunday's World Cup match between Mexico and Iran was watched by 1.4 million viewers on Spanish-language TV station KMEX, an outlet of Jerry Perenchio's Los Angeles-based Univision. An additional 423,000 viewers watched the English-language telecast on KABC-TV, the newspaper said, citing figures from Nielsen Research. The Latino population of Los Angeles is estimated to be about 5 million, second in size only to Mexico City's.
YOU SAY YOU WANT AN EVOLUTION?
Proving that horror flicks can have a lucrative afterlife, Sony's Underworld: Evolution debuted last week at the top of the DVD sales chart, dropping the previous week's top seller, 20th Century Fox's Date Movie to No. 7, Home Media Retailing reported today (Thursday). The trade publication gave no sales figures. It also noted that the Harrison Ford thriller Firewall from Warner Bros. debuted in second place. In rentals, the two films reversed positions, with Firewall earning $10 million in rentals, edging out Underworld's $9.5 million.
AFI AGREES: IT'S A WONDERFUL FILM
Frank Capra's 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart, has been voted the most inspirational film of all time in balloting by the American Film Institute. The top five also included: 2. To Kill a Mockingbird; 3. Schindler's List; 4. Rocky; 5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The vote was conducted among 1,500 filmmakers, actors, critics and other movie professionals.
DENEUVE TO PRESIDE AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL
Veteran actress Catherine Deneuve has been named to head the jury at this year's Venice Film Festival. In a statement, Venice artistic director Marco Mueller and Biennale president Davide Croff remarked, "Her magical charisma and her knowledge of cinema will give serenity and balance to the jury." The festival organizers also announced that the festival, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9, will host the world premiere on Sept. 7 of Kenneth Branagh's English-language adaptation of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
U.S. GETS TOUGH WITH RUSSIA OVER PIRACY
The U.S. is putting its diplomatic muscle behind efforts by the entertainment industry to crush international piracy of movies, music, and video games, the Washington Post indicated today (Thursday). Specifically, U.S. officials have told the Russian government that unless it shuts down bootleg CD and DVD manufacturing plants allegedly operating on abandoned Soviet military bases and takes action against a website called Allofmp3.com, the U.S. will veto Russia's application to join the World Trade Organization. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Espinel told the Post that shutting down Allofmp3.com "is right at the top of the agenda. This is a top-priority issue in terms of our discussion with Russia and the WTO."
FIRST MOVIE EVER SHOT ON A CELL PHONE
For the first time, an entire theatrical documentary has been shot using a standard video cell phone, the Associated Press reported today (Thursday). The wire service said that the 93-minute Italian film New Love Meetings from co-directors Marcello Mencarini and Barbara Seghezzifeatures clips of interviews with about 100 people talking about their sex lives. (About 700 people were actually "filmed.") "To use a small instrument that belongs to people's daily routine allows you to establish an intimate dialogue, instead of using a regular camera," Seghezzi told the A.P. "The interview becomes more like a chat." To offset the relatively low technical quality of the Nokia N90, the directors said they used mostly close-ups. The A.P. described the film as "clear overall" but that it appears "slightly shaky."
AUSTRALIAN M.P. DENOUNCES LATEST FAST AND FURIOUS SEQUEL
Tokyo Drift, the latest edition of producer Neal Moritz's The Fast and the Furious film series, was attacked by a member of the Australian parliament today (Thursday) as a movie that promotes "reckless behavior behind the wheel" by young people. MP Gerard Martin told the Australian Associated Press that the film, which opens on Friday, should serve as a warning to parents. "I'm urging parents to take an interest in the films their kids are seeing and, if it's drivel like this, do as much as you can to drive home the safety message," he said. Labeling the film "American trash," Martin said that what offends him most about such movies "is they are based around stolen cars, illegal modifications and street racing -- which communities ... are trying to stamp out."