TV-BY-PHONE TO SCORE AT WORLD CUPMobile phone operators throughout the world are expected to take in as much as $300 million during the World Cup soccer matches this year as fans download clips of matches involving their favorite teams, according to a report by British analysts Informa Telecoms and Media. Handset makers are releasing phones using a number of incompatible technologies that will be put to the test during the contests, which draw more television viewers by far than any other sporting events in the world, including the U.S. Super Bowl. Use of mobile phone video is expected to be highest in Japan and Korea, where the roll-out of video handsets has begun to approach critical mass. The report predicts, however, that 210 million people will have purchased video handsets by 2011 and that sales of such sets will reach 87.5 million annually by that year. Still undetermined, says the report, is how much users will be willing to pay for mobile video and how much time they'll devote to watching it.


In what today's (Wednesday) New York Timesdescribed as "a highly unusual instance of a United Nations official singling out an individual country for criticism," U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, accused the U.S. of encouraging the U.N.'s harshest detractors to undermine the world organization. "Much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," he said. Malloch Brown, who is British, made his remarks in an address in New York. He suggested that news organizations in the U.S. were ignoring or underplaying the fact that the U.S. now supports 18 peacekeeping operations abroad. "To acknowledge an America reliant on international institutions is not perceived to be good politics at home," he said.


NBC executives must have waxed nostalgic Tuesday as one of its shows topped the weekly Nielsens among total viewers for the first time since the network aired a Datelinereport about Hurricane Katrina last September. During a low-rated week because of the Memorial Day holiday, NBC's game show Deal or No Deal, hosted by Howie Mandel,drew 13.8 million viewers and helped pull the network out of the cellar and into second place for the week with an average 4.8 rating and an 8 share. (However, in a ratings anomaly, CBS's CSI, which drew 13.6 million viewers,actually wound up with higher household ratings than Deal.) CBS remained in first place overall for the week with a 5.9/10. ABC placed third with a 3.8/7 while Fox trailed with a 3.6/6. The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 9.2/15; 2. Deal or No Deal (Monday), NBC, 8.4/15; 2. Without a Trace, CBS, 8.4/14; 4. CSI: Miami (Monday), CBS, 8.0/14; 5. NCIS, CBS, 7.5/13; 6. Two and a Half Men (Monday 9:00 p.m.), CBS, 7.1/11; 7. Criminal Minds, CBS, 6.8/11; 7. Deal or No Deal (Wednesday), NBC, 6.8/11; 9. 48 Hours Mystery (Tuesday), CBS, 6.7/11; 10. 60 Minutes,CBS, 6.5/13; 10. CSI: NY, CBS, 6.5/11.


Charlie Gibson's first week as anchor of ABC's World News Tonight saw the news program regain second place from the CBS Evening News.However, both programs saw a downturn in audience numbers with ABC drawing an average 5.1 rating and an 11 share (7,170,000 viewers) and CBS, an average 4.7/10 (6,780,000 viewers). The number of viewers tuning in to the leader, NBC Nightly News, was up, however, as the show averaged a 5.7/12 (8,010,000 viewers).


Fox may have lost American Idolon Tuesday nights, but back-to-back rerun episodes of Housenevertheless gave Fox a win for the night among adults 18-49. CBS, however, beat Fox in overall ratings as NCISregistered the highest ratings for the night with a 6.2/11 at 8:00 p.m.


Despite months of negotiations, Dan Rather and CBS have been unable to come to terms on a new contract and the former anchorman is likely to leave the network at the end of this year, the New York Postreported today (Wednesday) citing an industry insider. The newspaper observed that Rather had hoped to finish his career as a correspondent for 60 Minutes. "But it doesn't seem like [CBS] wants him there," the insider was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, in a column posted on Arianna Huffington's liberal blog, fired 60 Minutes IIproducer Mary Mapes, who worked with Rather on the infamous "Memogate" report, commented that his come-down was part of "decades-long blood feuds still going strong [at CBS News], ancient hatreds triggered by big egos, big salaries and sometimes, big emotional problems." CARS CRASH?One online oddsmaker is predicting that Disney/Pixar's Carswill earn more than 77 million this weekend. In order to win on the Curaçaon-based Pinnacle Sports website, winners will have to bet that it will make less than that amount. Another website,, is not quite so extravagant in its prediction, forecasting a take of more than $41.5 million for the three-day opening. Meanwhile, early reviews of the film are not encouraging. Varietycomments, "With Cars, Pixar's enviable run of creative triumphs comes to a skidding stop." The Village Voicesays that the movie moves at "a turgid pace, with all the traction of a boxcar going uphill in molasses." David Ansen in Newsweekwas somewhat kinder, writing, "Cars inspires more admiration than elation. It dazzles even as it disappoints." On the other hand, Richard Corliss in Timepronounces Cars, "the first great movie of the summer."


Hand-drawn animation may not be dead, after all. Pixar's creative chief, John Lasseter, has told Timemagazine that he may restore Disney's traditional animation unit, which the studio dismantled in response to the success of computer-generated animation, like that employed by Pixar. "Of all studios that should be doing 2-D animation, it should be Disney," Lasseter said in an interview with film critic Richard Corliss. "We haven't said anything publicly, but I can guarantee you that we're thinking about it. Because I believe in it."


The classic Popeye cartoons, caught up in legal squabbles over who owns the actual copyrights, will finally be coming to DVD, the result of an agreement between Warner Home Video and King Features -- the Hearst-owned company that has syndicated Popeye almost from the character's inception in 1927. The first Popeye cartoon was created in the New York studios of David and Max Fleischer in 1933, whose films were released by Paramount. In all, 231 Popeye cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios were released theatrically by Paramount from 1933-57. The Hollywood Reporterreported today (Wednesday) that Warner Home Video has also licensed additional Popeye cartoons produced for television from 1960-1987 (although the number of such cartoons indicated for those years appears dubious; for example, the Reporterarticle mentions that 220 animated shorts were produced for TV from 1960-62).


In the latest blow to Sony's Blu-ray high-definition DVD technology, Japan's Pioneer Corp. said today (Wednesday) it will postpone its U.S. launch of Blu-ray players because of delays in Sony's completion of the system's development. Pioneer said it expects to begin shipping Blu-ray players late this year instead of this month. The delay increases the advantage of Toshiba's rival HD-DVD standard. Toshiba began shipping HD-DVD players in Japan in April.


Peoplemagazine has reportedly paid $4.1 million for U.S. rights to publish the first pictures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's daughter Shiloh; the European gossip publication Hello!was said to have paid an additional $3 million for rights outside of the U.S. Proceeds from the photos, taken by the picture agency Getty Images in Namibia, were reportedly earmarked for various charities. A storm of controversy raged early today (Wednesday) when what appeared to be the cover of Hello!, showing the proud parents and their infant, appeared on the websites OhNoTheyDidn't and Defamer. Hello! and Getty threatened to sue the sites unless the picture was removed.