AILES KNOCKS DOWN FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL RUMORS
After numerous reports that the long-rumored Fox Business Channel would launch this month, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes has told Broadcasting & Cable magazine that there simply is no truth to all the speculation. "If it's imminent," he told Broadcasting & Cable magazine, "it's imminent without me." The trade publication reported that some cable companies have agreed to carry the planned business channel only on the condition that it be packaged with Fox News Channel at a discounted fee. But Ailes told the trade publication. "We're never going to bundle it. Why negotiate down the price of Fox News? I know what the value of Fox News is. We're not prepared to lower that rate." Negotiations with the cable outlets are continuing. Meanwhile, in a surprise announcement, the London Times, owned -- as is Fox News -- by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, announced Monday that it is developing a television service.
TELENOVELAS: THE NEW REALITY?
Next season appears to be shaping up as the season of the telenovelas -- soap-opera-type serials airing from beginning to end over five days of an entire week. ABC announced Monday that it has entered into an agreement with the Mexican network Televisa to produce an English-language telenovela next season using scripts translated into English from the network's huge library. The announcement comes following word that a new network, My Network TV, will launch in September with two English-language telenovelas airing throughout each week.
VARGAS SAYS SHE WASN'T PUSHED
Elizabeth Vargas has responded to feminists who have expressed harsh skepticism over statements by ABC and Vargas herself about why she was replaced last week by Charles Gibson as anchor of World News Tonight. In an interview with TV columnist Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vargas said, "I am not a pregnant working mother wronged. ... I played a crucial and active role in this decision. It's the best thing for me and my family and my career right now. ... I have no complaints." Other than with her current health, it would seem. "I feel horrible. I have debilitating nausea every day and fatigue. ... I didn't think it was fair to give this job less than 150 percent."
CBS DISTANCING ITSELF FROM BRADLEY, RATHER, SAY REPORTS
60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley is unhappy over how he is being treated by CBS executives, and former anchor Dan Rather may soon be departing the network, according to reports circulating in print and on the Internet. According to the New York Daily News's "Rush and Molloy" gossip column, the 64-year-old Bradley is so upset at the terms of his contract renewal that he's "gone on strike ... putting off producers until his deal is resolved." Meanwhile, Broadcasting and Cable magazine observed that Rather was not present at last week's CBS affiliates meeting and that "the silence regarding Rather's future was deafening. ... His deal comes due by year-end, but nobody inside CBS will confirm whether he'll be a correspondent or even at the network this time next year."
NABET AUTHORIZES STRIKE AT FOUR MAJOR NBC STATIONS
Members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) have voted to authorize a strike against four NBC owned-and-operated television stations operating in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, and Chicago. The union has been negotiating with the company since March 31, when its contract expired. No strike date was set. Besides representing 2500 engineers and technical personnel at the station, the union also represents the stations' news writers.
THE BREAK UP BREAKS OUT
The Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn romantic comedy The Break-Up did even better at the box office over the weekend than estimates had indicated. According to final figures released Monday, Universal film pulled in an astounding $39.2 million, well above last week's winner, 20th Century Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand, which dropped an astounding 67 percent to wind up with $34 million. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. The Break-Up, Universal, $39,172,785, (New); 2. X-Men: The Last Stand, 20th Century Fox, $34,017,247, 2 Wks. ($175,348,409); 3. Over the Hedge, DreamWorks, $20,647,284, 3 Wks. ($112,357,940); 4. The Da Vinci Code, Sony, $18,610,187, 2 Wks. ($171,966,151); 5. Mission: Impossible 3, Paramount, $4,684,544, 5 Wks. ($122,669,375); 6. Poseidon, Warner Bros. $3,49,2361, 4 Wks. ($51,760,587); 7. RV, Sony, $3,204,449, 6 Wks. ($61,710,810); 8. See No Evil, Lionsgate, $2,041,172, 3 Wks. ($12,405,131); 9. An Inconvenient Truth, Paramount, $1,356,387, 2 Wks. ($1,937,361); 10. Just My Luck, 20th Century Fox, $854,653, 4 Wks. ($15,600,317).
THEATER OWNER WARNS PAPERS: DROP AD PRICES OR WE'LL DROP YOU
Landmark Theaters (and Dallas Mavericks) owner Mark Cuban has warned newspapers and magazines that they face a backlash by the entertainment business unless they reduce the cost of advertising. "The pricing in the movie and TV sections of print media is outrageous," Cuban wrote on his blog Monday. "Every single company in the entertainment business is looking for a way to never ever have to spend a nickel with you again," he continued. "Our entire business knows we have to spend money with you now, but we are experimenting with every option possible to pull that money from you and spend it elsewhere." Cuban warned the print media that they can either "watch movie and TV ads go the way of your classifieds, or you can create a price point or programs that take money away from the [Inter]net and other media."
JEWELERS PREPARE FOR THE BLOOD DIAMOND
The diamond business is getting set to launch a massive campaign to counter allegations in the upcoming film The Blood Diamond that profits from the sale of diamonds are being used by African dictators to fund wars. The Warner Bros. movie, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, is due to be released next January. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) New York Post, Eli Izhakoff, chairman of the World Diamond council, claimed that "conflict diamonds" now account for only 0.2 percent of diamonds sold. "The movie is going to come out and tell a story from the 1990s, but people may think this is still going on today," he said. But Corina Gilfillan of Global Witness, which campaigns against the diamond business, expresses doubt about such claims. "Anyone can pass out a 'confidence card,'" she said, "but we haven't seen any real policy measures to back up this warranty."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE OMEN
Movies rarely open on a Tuesday night, unless the movie is a horror flick and the Tuesday happens to fall on 6/6/06 -- a date with evil implications key to the movie's storyline. Such is the case with today's release of Fox's remake of its 1976 hit The Omen, with Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles stepping into the roles originally played by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. David Seltzer, who wrote the original film, wrote the remake, one reason, perhaps that Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times praise it for being "faithful" to the original. Ebert applauds director John Moore for pulling it all off "with mood and style" and Chocano notes that he "has ratcheted up the boo factor, more or less absent from the original." On the other hand, Gene Seymour of Newsday remarks that the new film "isn't a remake so much as a half-smudged, half-faded duplicate of the 1976 original." There's a lot of light side/dark side reviewing accompanying the film's opening. Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer calls it "creepily efficient," while Chris Kaltenback in the Baltimore Sun remarks that "there's not much to the film that a repeat viewing of its earlier incarnation couldn't provide." Kyle Smith in the New York Post pronounces the new Omen "a karaoke version" of the original, but remarks that Moore "has added some creepy visuals and assembled an unusually strong cast for a horror flick." But Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News remarks,"All remake and no new ideas make Damien a dull boy."