CARLSON IS CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE
Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered has already been drawing complaints from PBS viewers even before its debut tonight (in most markets; times vary), the Los Angeles Times reported today. The newspaper suggested that the show, which features the conservative co-host of CNN's Crossfire -- is likely to generate even further complaints once it actually airs, even from conservatives. (Carlson has turned against the war in Iraq and has become increasingly critical of President Bush.) Nevertheless, in an interview with TV Guide Online, he indicated that the PBS show will likely touch on topics that are taboo elsewhere. "For example," he said, "there's a pretty good case to be made for torture. I don't think I buy it personally, but I'd like to hear it. There are people who support it but are afraid to speak up, and I hope we'll be a place where you can."
TIVO USERS WATCH VIDEO-ON-DEMAND, TOO
A new study from Newton, MA-based Lyra Research indicates that people who own digital video recorders (DVR) like the TiVo are more likely to watch video on demand (VOD) from their cable companies than those who don't own such recorders. The findings surprised Steve Hoffenberg, Lyra's director of electronic media, who told Video Store magazine, "We had anticipated that the DVR users would particularly watch less free VOD than the non-DVR users because DVR users can readily time-shift and control their TV shows without using VOD." He said that he suspected that the reason may be that DVR users are "more comfortable operating menu-driven systems for selecting programs" than other viewers.
PRODUCERS OF REALITY CRIME SERIES ARE ROBBED
The producers of the British reality series Swag, which uses hidden cameras to capture thieves in action was itself robbed Wednesday night. Camera equipment reportedly worth tens of thousands of dollars was carried from the show's London editing rooms. Series editor Syeda Irtizaali told the Associated Press. "It would have been better if the Swag camera crew had been around and on the case. (In one episode, a thief is seen attempting to rob a delivery truck after the driver leaves to deliver a package. As he enters the truck, the door is slammed shut behind him. As he frantically attempts to force it open, curtains on the sides of the truck pull back revealing prison-like bars, while the voice of the host blares out over loudspeakers, "Ladies and gentlemen, step right up ... a thief caught in his natural environment.") The program is produced by director Guy Ritchie, Madonna's husband.
BRITISH BIG BROTHER TRIES TO PACIFY CONTESTANTS
Following an all-out fight between two of the contestants on the British version of Big Brother early Thursday morning (Britain's Guardian newspaper called it "alcohol-fueled"), Endemol, the producers of the show, and Channel 4, the network carrying it, issued a statement saying: "The Big Brother production team has been talking to all housemates individually over the course of today with a view to sorting out tensions in the house and are closely monitoring them. They will be encouraging the housemates to work through their issues as a group. If they do not feel this is feasible they will consider an alternative course of action to guarantee the welfare of the housemates. As always professional psychologists are monitoring the situation and are on hand if any of the housemates wish to speak to them." The fight was blacked out on the 24-hour Internet feed of the show after it broke out but not before some viewers, alarmed by its fierceness, phoned police. The incident produced a ratings bonanza for the show, which reportedly drew more than 6 million viewers.
CZECH AUTHORITIES TO CHARGE PUBS FOR SOCCER TELECASTS
Local bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic have been warned that they must pay license fees to show Czech Television's (CTV) telecast of the Euro 2004 soccer tournament in Portugal, now underway. The network said that it is sending supervisors onto the streets to ensure compliance. "When someone runs public showings in order to attract customers and to increase profits, it is a commercial activity that requires a business contract," CTV spokesman Martin Krafl told the Prague Post. But bar and restaurant owners have denounced the orders and have reportedly threatened to carry other countries' coverage of the soccer contest.
BRADBURY BURNING OVER FAHRENHEIT
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 managed to evoke outrage from two new sources Thursday -- neither of which have any discernible political affiliation. Ray Bradbury, whose 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 served as the inspiration for Moore's title, expressed indignation over the fact that Moore never asked his permission to use the title. "No. 1, he didn't ask, and, No. 2., he took it -- period," Bradbury said in an interview with People magazine. Moore was unavailable for comment. A similar complaint was lodged by Tempe, AZ-based America West Airlines, which issued a statement Thursday saying, ""We live in America, where everyone enjoys the right to express whatever opinions they want, without fear of repercussion from the government. We wish Mr. Moore would have asked for our permission to use our plane in his footage, but he didn't." In an email to the Arizona Republic, America West spokeswoman Elise Eberwin remarked, "Basically, we're trying to make lemonade out of this one. ... Hey, at least we'll appeal to the far, far left and Hollywood!" It was not clear how the plane was used in the film. Meanwhile, Lions Gate Films announced Thursday that the movie will open in New York on Wednesday, two days ahead of its official opening nationally.
SPIELBERG AND STILLER TO SLUG IT OUT AT BOX OFFICE
The latest Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaboration, The Terminal, will be opposed by the goofy Ben Stiller comedy DodgeBall at the box office over the weekend, with analysts offering mixed predictions about which will wind up on top. A third new film, Disney's new version of Around the World in 80 Days opened on Wednesday, but has drawn small crowds, suggesting that the film is not likely to challenge the slew of family films that are already in release, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Shrek 2, and Garfield: the Movie.
Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: THE TERMINAL
Critics are treating Steven Spielberg's Terminal the way air traffic controllers deal with airplanes, some sending them soaring; others, bringing them down. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times awards it three and a half stars, saying that Spielberg and his star, Tom Hanks, have made "a sweet and delicate comedy, a film to make you hold your breath, it is so precisely devised. It has big laughs, but it never seems to make an effort for them; it knows exactly, minutely and in every detail who its hero is and remains absolutely consistent to what he believes and how he behaves." A.O. Scott in the New York Times observes that in a day when air travel often represents a sometimes scary and frustrating experience, Spielberg has turned an airline terminal "into a friendly, artificial garden of escalators and food courts and expands toward the farthest horizon of the human imagination." Although expressing some concern about a plot point, Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune finds The Terminal on the whole "a delight in many ways: an unabashed romantic comedy and Cap-raesque fable that takes Spielberg into realms he's rarely traveled before." On the other hand, Jami Bernard in the New York Daily News says that while the movie "manages to entertain" it nevertheless "feels disingenuous and dogmatic." Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal has a harsher verdict, calling it "a terminally fraudulent and all-but-interminable comedy." John Anderson in Newsday is harsher still, describing it as "so flaccid and pedestrian one can hardly believe it comes from the director whom a majority of Americans would presume is the best this country has." Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post refers to it as "minor Spielberg on a major budget." And Glen Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News has this advice: "Avoid this troubled film in the same way you might avoid the airport on Thanksgiving weekend."
Movie PictureMOVIE REVIEWS: DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY
"It's perfect. It's funny. Get out of the way, DodgeBall is a hit!" raves ABC-TV film critic Joel Siegel about the new Ben Stiller comedy DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Then there's Mark Caro in the Chicago Tribune, whocalls it Ben Stiller's "fourth stinker of 2004." In between, there's Glenn Whipp of the Los Angeles Daily News, who describes it as "an agreeably stupid comedy." Most of the critics appear to agree with Whipp.
MIRAMAX MAY LAY OFF 20 PERCENT OF STAFF
During its first three fiscal quarters, Miramax Films has run through most of its $700-million annual budget and may have to lay off as much as 20 percent of its 450-member workforce by September, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Friday), citing people familiar with the plans. "This is just speculation at this point," Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik told the newspaper. The report comes as Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein are engaged in negotiations with the Walt Disney Co. over funding for the company and other issues in advance of the expiration of their employment contracts next year.
BOLLYWOOD PRODUCER CARRYING GUN ARRESTED AT AIRPORT
A top Bollywood producer was arrested in Bombay Thursday after he allegedly attempted to board an Air India flight to Paris with a loaded pistol in his hand baggage. The weapon was discovered during a routine security check and was seized by Central Industrial Security Forces. The producer, Mohammed Gulam Ali Morani, most recently produced Dum, a box-office dud despite its starring Bollywood heartthrob Vivek Oberoi. During the past year, reports of numerous violent incidents involving Bollywood producers and stars on the one hand and Indian mobsters on the other have been reported.