BIG TURN-OUT FOR CLINTON
CBS's 60 Minutes may not have attracted additional viewers when it paired Bill Clinton with Bob Dole for a revival of its "Point/Counterpoint" feature last year, but Clinton's appearance on the program Sunday night for an hour-long interview with Dan Rather drew 15.4 million viewers, about 10 percent more than average. Its 10.2 rating and 14 share topped all other programs for the night and may likely lift the program into the top ten, a position it has not held since Ed Bradley interviewed Michael Jackson last December. The program also lifted CBS into first place for the evening as it averaged a 7.3/14 to top NBC's 5.2/10. ABC placed third with a 3.2/6, while Fox trailed with a 1.7.
CNN GOES SILENT
The weather on Monday was able to accomplish what Fox News Channel has attempted to do with only limited success: completely silence CNN. What was described as "extreme weather" in Atlanta, the network's home, knocked out the network's sound feed at 1:06 p.m., forcing it to run a "crawl" across the screen informing viewers that CNN was experiencing technical difficulties. Other Turner Broadcasting channels, including CNN International, CNN Headline News, TCM Digital, Cartoon Network, TNT West, TNT-HD, Boomerang, TBS-West and Turner South, were also affected by what was believed to be a lightning strike at a transmitting location, but audio on those channels was restored within four minutes. On the other hand, the CNN audio outage lasted until 1:20 p.m.
SUNDANCE CHANNEL TO AIR ANTI-BUSH DOCUMENTARY
The Sundance Channel said Monday that it plans to air Robert Greenwald's 2003 documentary Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War on Sept. 6. The documentary consists mostly of interviews with former U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers who refute claims made in the run-up to the war by top Bush administration officials, including the president, about the need for a preemptive attack on Iraq. The film was financed in large part by the liberal activist website Moveon.org. The Sundance Channel is jointly owned by actor Robert Redford, Viacom, and NBC Universal.
GROUP CLAIMS NBC NEWS REMOVED "TOUGH" QUESTIONS TO JORDAN'S KING
The conservative group CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, has accused NBC News of deleting tough questions posed by Tom Brokaw to Jordan's King Abdullah during an interview taped for NBC Nightly News on June 14. Alex Safian, the group's associate director, posted an article on the CAMERA website in which he compared what went out over the air with a transcript of the interview that NBC News posted on its website. "All the challenging questions," Safian wrote, "were excised, and all the criticism of Israel by Abdullah was left in, presumably with the express consent of Mr. Brokaw, who is the managing editor of NBC Nightly News." Safian added; "Whether NBC intended to post the unedited transcript or not, it is revealing that Brokaw had the gumption to ask challenging questions, but apparently not the gumption actually to broadcast them." Safian did not indicate whether he had asked Brokaw or NBC to comment on the matter.
NEW VOTING TO-DO OVER LAST COMIC STANDING
Last Comic Standing producer-host Jay Mohr has accused judges Drew Carey and Bretty Butler of "unprofessional" behavior for their criticism of the choices announced on the program. In an interview with TV Guide Online, Mohr maintained that when the judges unanimously agreed on a contestant, he or she automatically remained on the show. However, in one instance, Mohr said, after seven comics were chosen unanimously, it was discovered that although only three spots were left but, 11 comics were named by three of the four judges. So NBC execs picked the remaining finalists. TVGO observed that the show's producers have no say in selecting the finalists since at least two of them are managed by the show's co-producer, Barry Katz, who also manages Mohr. "NBC is smart enough to know that if Barry or I were allowed in the room [where the finalists are selected], that would be the absolute fastest way to open yourself up to litigation," Mohr said.
NBC TO DISTRIBUTE DVD VIA CORPORATE SIBLING
NBC, which in the past has had DVD and VHS versions of its programs distributed via several home video companies, announced Monday that it will release NBC News Presents: Ronald Reagan through Universal Studios Home Video (USVH), which was acquired along with the other entertainment assets of Vivendi Universal last year. "Our unprecedented access to ... the NBC News archives now allows [USHV] to offer consumers comprehensive, intriguing and entertaining DVDs on a range of timely and compelling topics," said Craig Kornblau, USHV president. The Reagan biography, narrated by Dateline's Stone Phillips, is scheduled for release on July 20.
CNN: ON THE AIR AND AT THE AIRPORT
CNN has opened shops in three airline departure lounge areas at Hartsfield-Jackson International airport in Atlanta, where travelers can watch TV sets airing CNN programs, buy newspapers and magazine, or take home a souvenir CNN mug or T-shirt, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Additional airport locations are being planned. "This wasn't entered into with the thinking, 'We are going to make a whole lot of money,'" Scot Safon, senior vice president of marketing and promotions at CNN, told the newspaper. "We want people to connect with news via CNN in lots of places."
UNDERDOG MAKES GOOD
DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, which some box-office analysts had suggested would be an underdog itself in its opening weekend, turned out to be the clear winner, as it earned $30.1 million. The Terminal, which had been expected to end up in the lead, instead opened in second place with $19.1 million, well below analysts' forecasts. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban dropped to third place in its third weekend with $18 million. Nevertheless, it is expected to cross the $200-million mark by the end of this week. DreamWorks' Shrek 2 added another $13.9 million to its gross, which now stands at $378.6 million after five weeks. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. DodgeBall: a True Underdog Story, 20th Century Fox, $30,070,196, (New); 2. The Terminal, DreamWorks, $19,053,199, (New); 3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Warner Bros., $18,027,466, 3 Wks. ($190,925,253); 4. Shrek 2, DreamWorks, $13,941,950, 5 Wks. ($378,623,263); 5. Garfield: The Movie, 20th Century Fox, $11,340,298, 2 Wks. ($42,357,064); 6. The Chronicles of Riddick, Universal, $9,415,155, 2 Wks. ($42,498,480); 7. The Stepford Wives, Paramount, $8,762,198, 2 Wks. ($39,016,446); 8. The Day After Tomorrow, 20th Century Fox, $8,104,100, 4 Wks. ($167,310,267); 9. Around the World in 80 Days, Disney, $7,576,132, 1 Wk. ($10,362,264 -- From Wednesday); 10. Troy, Warner Bros., $1,778,352, 6 Wks. ($129,031,321).
MPAA TO REWARD THEATER EMPLOYEES WHO CATCH PIRATES
The MPAA said Monday that it will fork over $500 to any movie theater employee who spots anyone in the audience operating a camcorder and notifies police. The industry's latest tactic to halt piracy was endorsed by John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), who said in a statement, "This program will give every theater worker added incentive to take action against pirates and help protect our industry from this scourge."
LOEWS CINEPLEX CHAIN SOLD
The 200-theater Loews Cineplex chain has been acquired by a group of investors including Bain Capital, Carlyle Group and Spectrum Equity Investors for $1.46 billion. Its current owners, Onex Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management, purchased the chain out of bankruptcy for $850 million in 2001. Also included in the deal is a 50-percent stake in Magic Johnson Theaters as well as its interests in the Mexican theater chain Cinemex, Megabox Cineplex of South Korea and Yelmo Cineplex of Spain. "Thanks in part to an existing theater portfolio that has been recently upgraded, Loews is well positioned to capitalize on the industry's steady growth prospects. The investor group will work closely with the talented management team to grow the business," John Connaughton, a managing director at Bain Capital, said in a statement.
MPAA WON'T ALLOW CUOMO TO REPRESENT FAHRENHEIT 9/11 MAKERS
The MPAA said Monday that it will not permit former New York Governor Mario Cuomo to represent Michael Moore and the distributors of his film Fahrenheit 9/11 in their appeal of its R rating since he was not directly involved in the film's production. Cuomo, in a letter to the distributors, Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, said that he was "surprised and disappointed" by the MPAA's decision. The MPAA's appeals board is expected to view the film and hear comments from the principals today (Tuesday) in advance of its release in New York on Wednesday and its national roll-out on Friday. Meanwhile, controversy has arisen over the number of theaters that have agreed to screen the film, with the conservative website MoveAmericaForward.org claiming that it has been booked in only 417 theaters, most of them "poorly attended 'art house' theaters." IFC Entertainment claims that the actual number will be between 750 and 800 theaters, still well below the 1,000 that the distributors had initially forecast would run it. (MoveAmericaForward.com has launched a letter-writing campaign urging theater owners not to show the film.) Reuters reported Monday that more people are looking up Fahrenheit 9/11 on the Moviefone.com website than any other film. Reuters also indicated that the trailer for the movie is the top choice of people using AOL.