WALTERS SAYS STAR JONES "BETRAYED" HER
Barbara Walters, who produces The View, said Tuesday that she felt "betrayed" when Star Jones announced during the show that she was leaving the show. It had earlier been reported by People magazine that Jones had told the magazine that she ad been "fired." In an interview after Tuesday's broadcast, Walters told the Associated Press that she had been "try to do everything I possibly could" for The View panelist "up until this morning when I was betrayed." She said that she had tried to intervene on Jones's behalf when ABC chiefs decided last fall not to renew her contract after research showed that controversy over her dramatic weight loss -- she claimed that it was the result of diet and exercise; others claimed it was the result of a gastric bypass operation -- had upset audience members. "We tried to talk them out of it," Walters told the A.P., "and we tried to give Star time to redeem herself in the eyes of the audience, and the research just kept getting worse." Some TV writers expressed surprise that Jones was leaving the show prior to Rosie O'Donnell's joining it. O'Donnell had been publicly feuding with Jones over her weight-loss claims. Commented David Zurawik, the Baltimore Sun TV critic: "As a result, fans of the popular ABC talk show will be denied the chance to see one of the more promising celebrity showdowns of the fall."
CABLE MOVIE BEATS THE NETWORKS
In a rare instance of a cable television show beating the broadcast networks in the ratings, Sunday night's telecast of Broken Trail, starring Robert Duvall, wound up as the highest-rated program of the night, drawing 9.8 million viewers. The first part of a two-parter (the second installment aired on Monday), drew more than twice the number of viewers who tuned in to watch Desperate Housewives on ABC (4.5 million). It was the first original film produced for the movie channel -- and produced the biggest ratings in its history. For the week, CBS led in the overall rankings with a 5.1 rating and a 9 share. NBC placed second with a 4.1/7, edging out Fox with a 4.0/7. ABC placed fourth with a 3.8/7. Among the news shows, ABC's World News Tonight with Charles Gibson, with 7.5 million viewers, narrowed the gap with the perennial leader, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which recorded 7.6 million viewers. The CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer remained in third place with 6.9 million viewers. The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. NBA Finals (Tuesday), ABC, 10.1/18; 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 8.1/14; 3. America's Got Talent, NBC, 7.7/13; 3. CSI: Miami, CBS, 7.7/13; 5. Without a Trace, CBS, 7.2/13; 6. Law and Order: SVU, NBC, 6.7/11; 7. CSI: NY, CBS, 6.6/11; 8. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.2/12; 8. House, Fox, 6.2/10; 10. NCIS, CBS, 5.9/11; 10. So You Think Can Dance (Wednesday), Fox, 5.9/10.
WORLD CUP AD BUYERS CONFESS: THEY FAILED TO TARGET FEMALE FANS
Advertisers have been stunned by research indicating that large numbers of women are tuning in to World Cup coverage, although commercials have been targeting male consumers almost exclusively. "We've certainly missed an opportunity" to reach women, Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, the world's fourth-largest ad conglomerate, told Reuters Tuesday. Kevin Alavy, an analyst for media buyers Initiative, predicted that "by the end of the tournament, the female [audience] share will be well in excess of 39 percent," the average for the 2002 World Cup. Richard Pinder of ad agency Leo Burnett suggested that even ads that targeted women did not address them as fans. A spot for the Swiss tourism board featured shots of handsome young men, while an announcer intoned, "Dear girls, why not escape during this summer's World Cup to a country where men spend less time on football and more time on you?" More than $1 billion is believed to have been spent on ads airing during the current contest, which ends next month.
VAYA CON UNIVISION?
Shares in Spanish-language Univision rose more than 6 percent Tuesday on word that the company's board had accepted a cash buyout by an investor group led by former media mogul Haim Saban reportedly worth $12.3 billion plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in debt. Meanwhile, analysts were speculating about what rival bidder Televisa might do after being edged out by the Saban group. Some speculated that it might attempt to make a significantly higher bid; others foresaw the Mexican broadcaster as selling its 11-percent stake in Univision and trying to set up a rival Spanish-language network. In a statement, the company said, "Notwithstanding our repeated offers to discuss all aspects of our proposal including price, Univision and its advisers refused to enter into any discussions with us after we submitted our initial bid. Given this action by Univision's board, Televisa has a number of alternatives it is considering."
BUCHWALD SATIRE ON RATHER CONFUSES BLOGGERS
Satirist Art Buchwald, whose stock-in-trade is the imaginary interview, has apparently pulled a great deal of wool over the eyes of some bloggers who fell for his supposed interview with Dan Rather that appeared in his syndicated column Tuesday. In the takeoff, Buchwald asked Rather whether he thought Katie Couric would do as good a job as he had done in the anchor's chair on the CBS Evening News. "Dan said, 'In time, I think she will. It took her 15 years to make the Today show a hit. I'm sure it will take her longer than that to beat Charlie Gibson and Brian Williams.' I asked, 'Is it accidental that you and Mike Wallace are leaving at the same time?' Rather said, 'We were the great ones. Mike and I will go down in history with Walter Cronkite and Maury Povich.'" The column was another instance of Buchwald, who until recently, had been living in a hospice awaiting death after being diagnosed with acute kidney disease, showing that there was still a great deal of life left in him. One blog published what it called Buchwald's "juicy quotes" from Rather.
MIGHTY RETURN (AND RETURNS) EXPECTED FOR SUPERMAN
Superman Returns is expected to leap over all its rivals in a single bound over the Fourth of July weekend, but analysts are divided over how high it will fly. The film will have the widest release of any in Warner Bros.' history -- 4,065 theaters and about 8,500 screens. In addition, the film is being featured on 77 IMAX screens (about 20 minutes of the IMAX prints are in 3-D), the widest release in that theatrical format. Director Bryan Singer has acknowledged that the film cost about $204 million to make (some studio insiders have told trade publications that the figure was actually much higher), but Warner Bros. is believed to have spent $40-50 million over the years developing the new film. Reviews of the film have been decidedly mixed, and while reviews may have little effect on the size of opening crowds they often do reflect word of mouth and thus, how a film will perform in the long term. The film faces strong -- if not overwhelming -- competition from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest next week. Moreover, according to Daily Variety, many female moviegoers have indicated that they'd prefer The Devil Wears Prada, which opens on Friday. Still, it's a long holiday, since the Fourth falls on a Tuesday, and it's always been a big holiday for movie-going. There's a strong possibility that there will be a run on tights, capes and Prada. In an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman observed, "A lot of people are taking off this week, so we think we can do extremely well on Wednesday and Thursday, then go into a long five-day weekend. A lot of businesses will be closed Monday and Tuesday next week."
FALWELL: YOU "GOT TO BE A HOMOSEXUAL" FOR HOLLYWOOD SUCCESS
The Moral Majority's Jerry Falwell, who has campaigned for stronger regulations on racy film and television content, has told a church audience in Lynchburg, VA that the entertainment industry is riddled with "moral perverts." The Associated Press quoted Fallwell as saying during a televised sermon at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, where he serves as senior pastor, "You know, you almost got to be a homosexual to be recognized in the entertainment industry anymore." He suggested that the industry has caused the world to go "sex crazy," then added: "Movie stars not married to each other, having babies and making headlines all over the world as though they were doing some great thing. Big deal! Just another moral pervert. And for them to become heroes for our kids."
DIAMOND INDUSTRY STEPS UP PROTESTS AGAINST DICAPRIO FLICK
The diamond industry is expressing increasing concern that the upcoming movie The Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will make it appear as if "conflict diamonds," whose sales have been used by African dictators to fund military campaigns against insurgents, remain a significant factor in the diamond trade. Speaking to Reuters at the World Diamond Congress in Tel Aviv, Shmuel Schnitzer, outgoing president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, maintained that the conflict diamond problem was "practically over." He said that producing a film that will lead the public to believe that the situation remains at it was six years ago "is an injustice to our industry which has done so much." He noted that in particular the industry instituted a system of certification for rough diamonds in 2000 called the Kimberley Process and that it has begun negotiations with Warner Bros. aimed at calling attention to the system in the movie. Eli Izhakoff, chairman and CEO of the World Diamond Council, told Reuters: "They are hearing us and getting documentation and evidence. ... When all is said and done, they want to be fair."
APPLE VICTIM OF PIRATES
Apple Computer, which has long maintained that the best way to combat Internet piracy is to offer music and video at reasonable prices, found itself the victim of pirates Tuesday. The trailer for Spider-Man 3 was supposed to premiere at Apple's iTunes Music Store Tuesday night, at about the same time it was to debut in theaters in advance of late-night screenings of Superman Returns. However, it appeared earlier in the day on the YouTube.com website. One blogger speculated, "It looks like a projectionist or an inside source at a movie theater was able to videotape the trailer and upload it to the Internet."
TORONTO FILM FEST: CANNES II?
Organizers of the 31st annual Toronto Film Festival, which opens on Sept. 7, unveiled a slate of films Tuesday that gave the Canadian festival the appearance of a rerun of May's Cannes Film Festival. Nearly all of the films, which will be making their North American debuts, were originally screened at Cannes, including Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which won the Palme d'Or,and Alejandro González Iñárittu's Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, which won the best director award.