CBS WINS WITH OLDIES
A raft of fresh programming by its rivals failed to loosen CBS's solid hold on the ratings leadership last week. In fact, with the exception of two Law and Order episodes that aired on NBC, CBS programming accounted for eight of the top ten shows, all of them reruns with the exception of the John Travolta-hosted special AFI 100 Years 100 Songs, which placed third. CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation turned out to be the top show overall in terms of audience pull; the only show of the week to post double-digit ratings. The network averaged a 6.1 rating and an 11 share for the week, well ahead of NBC's 4.9/9. ABC placed third with a 3.4/6, while Fox trailed with a 3.1/6. NBC led among audiences 18-49 years old.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 10.1/17; 2. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.6/15; 3. AFI 100 Years 100 Songs, CBS, 8.3/14; 4. Law and Order, NBC, 8.2/14; 5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.0/14; 6. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 7.5/12; 7. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 7.4/12; 8. 60 Minutes, CBS, 7.3/15; 9. Cold Case, CBS, 6.8/12; 10. Law and Order (Wednesday 9:00 p.m.), NBC, 6.6/11; 10. Without a Trace (Thursday 9:00 p.m.), CBS, 6.6/12.
FOX TV CATCHES SPIDEY IN ITS WEB
Fox has acted quickly to grab broadcast and cable rights to Sony's Spider-Man 2. Published reports said Tuesday that it will pay the studio $50 million for three exclusive runs of the movie over three years, beginning in December 2006. It will then be able to sell the film to other broadcast outlets through 2009.
SHATNER TO RETURN AS CAPT. KIRK?
William Shatner may reprise his role as Capt. James Kirk on UPN's Star Trek: Enterprise next season, producer Rick Berman has told the sci-fi magazine Starburst. "Bill luckily has landed a wonderful role on the new David Kelley spinoff of The Practice, but Brannon and I have plans within the next few weeks of sitting down with Bill and discussing some possible ways of his being involved in this season of Enterprise," Berman told the magazine. Such an appearance would mark Shatner's first on any of the modern-day Star Trek TV series. He played Kirk in the original series in the late '60s and in seven films.
U.K. TV WATCHDOG WON'T CITE SOAP'S GAY STORYLINE
Britain's official television watchdog Ofcom has rejected complaints about a storyline on ITV's long-running soap Coronation Street involving two gay young men. Of some 90 complaints, Ofcom said, many were written by persons who thought that the story was particularly inappropriate over a Christian holiday (Easter). In rejecting the complaints, Ofcom said that the program did not breach regulations, that it involved no explicit sexual conduct, and although it could appreciate how parents might object to "any representation of homosexual behavior whilst young children may be watching," the scenes were comparable to those involving heterosexuals on the program. It concluded: "The main focus of this storyline has been Todd's difficulty in dealing with his sexuality. Given the storyline and the inexplicit portrayal of this relationship, we consider that these scenes were acceptable."
GRADE PLANNING BBC REVAMP
Michael Grade, the new chairman of the BBC, has indicated that he intends to oversee sweeping changes in the BBC's information and entertainment programming. Presenting a statement of policy to a parliamentary panel on Tuesday, Grade acknowledged that under his predecessors the BBC had become a "closed institution" that had ignored public criticism. He assured the panel that a new system for handling complaints and for ensuring "objectivity, fairness and transparency" will be put into place. Grade said that all programming will be put to an undefined test to determine whether it is of "public value."
"COLOSSAL' OPENING FORECAST FOR SPIDER-MAN 2
Spider-Man swings in to 4,152 theaters today (Wednesday) -- and the only question is, how big will his debut turn out to be between now and the end of the July 4th weekend on Monday? The BBC observed today that the weekend box office is likely to be "colossal." Some analysts appeared reluctant to place specific dollar figures on their forecasts, but several suggested that the movie should earn $130-160 million. (The original Spider-Man grossed $144 million in its first six days.) Today's Daily Variety observed that with so many predictions of a record-shattering opening, Sony execs have become "nervous that advance expectations are so high that Spidey's eventual take may underwhelm." And indeed, Sam Raimi, who directed the movie, told the Associated Press, "Yes, I think for Hollywood, if this movie doesn't make, I don't know, some number they all have in their head, I don't know what it is, then it will be considered a failure." The film's only significant competition, analysts agreed, will come from Fahrenheit 9/11, which is expanding into more than 1,700 theaters by the weekend (and into even more next weekend). On Monday, the film continued to pack theaters as it took in an additional $4.4 million, to bring its total to $28.5 million.
LIONS GATE SAYS IT MAY NOT GET DVD RIGHTS FOR FAHRENHEIT
The success of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has become a mixed blessing for Lions Gate Entertainment. In a conference call with investors on Tuesday, Lions Gate chief Jon Feltheimer said that it is unlikely that his company will be able to obtain home video rights for the movie. "We certainly have been aggressive in trying to get [the video rights], but I believe it is going to a major studio," Feltheimer said. He maintained that he had attempted to persuade Bob and Harvey Weinstein that Lions Gate could do "as good if not better" than the major studios in marketing the film on home video. The trade publication Video Store magazine said today (Wednesday) that some analysts are forecasting that the Disney-owned Buena Vista Home Entertainment will wind up with DVD distribution rights, even though Disney rejected the film for theatrical release. Entertainment analyst Dennis McAlpine told the publication: "My guess is that there is already a deal in place [with Disney] somewhere. It may well be that Disney or Miramax had a right of first refusal on the film if they wanted" to distribute it on DVD.
EXHIBITORS DEBATE ENFORCEMENT OF R RATING FOR FAHRENHEIT
A theater owner in Oakland, CA has posted a sign on the theater's marquee saying, "We will not enforce the R rating for Fahrenheit 9/11." Allen Michaan, owner of the Grand Lake Theater, who may be the first theater owner to publicly defy the MPAA's rating code, told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Daily News: "We felt very strongly that the film did not warrant an R rating and that the audience that is being excluded, the young people 14-16 years old, it's their future that is at the most stake of anyone's." Michaan's decision was announced even as other theater chains were reportedly stepping up plans to enforce the rating. The Daily News quoted a manager at a multiplex in Long Beach, CA as saying that he's instituted "a little more of heightened security." However, he added, "I don't think there's that many younger kids who want to see a documentary. We've actually had more kids trying to sneak into Troy." However, a young caller on the Rush Limbaugh radio show Tuesday described how he and his brother sneaked into a theater showing the movie and began denouncing what they saw on the screen. Limbaugh then asked what the other patrons did? Caller: "Well, they start telling us to shut up and start cursing at us, and then a mean-looking woman ran out and called the cops on us right away." Limbaugh: "For how long were you debating while the movie was playing?" Caller: "I'd say it must have been like five minutes until the cops came. ... Limbaugh: "I'm sure they were furious. You probably ruined their night." Caller: "They wanted to kill us. They were throwing popcorn at us and everything." Limbaugh: "They wanted to kill you by throwing popcorn at you? I would love to have seen this."
LANSBURY SLAMS DECISION TO REMAKE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
Angela Lansbury has registered her strong displeasure at the decision to remake the classic 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, in which she starred with Frank Sinatra. In an interview with syndicated columnist Liz Smith, Lansbury, best known in recent years for her starring role on the TV series Murder, She Wrote, remarked: "I'm so unhappy. I'm so sorry they had to mess with something that was so perfect." In the new film, set for release on July 30, her role is played by Meryl Streep. "I have great admiration for Meryl Streep," Lansbury told Smith. "She'll probably be very interesting. I just wish she hadn't chosen to do it."
BEING JULIA TO OPEN TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL
Istvan Szabo's Being Julia has been selected to open the 29th Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 9. The film, produced by Robert Lantos, stars Annette Bening and Jermy Irons and was written by Ron Harwood (The Pianist). It is the ninth Lantos-produced film to open the festival.