WALTERS' EXCLUSIVE WITH BLAKE CAN'T MAKE PRIMETIME
A scheduled 20/20 special on Cambodian baby adoptions prevented Barbara Walters from presenting an exclusive interview with recently acquitted actor Robert Blake tonight (Friday), TV Guide reported on its website Thursday. Instead, the interview aired Tuesday on Good Morning America, where Walters was filling in for Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson. Walters said that Blake had initiated the contact "out of the blue." She said that when he agreed to appear on the morning program, "I said, 'Terrific, we'll do it by satellite.' He said, 'I don't want to do it by satellite.'" ... He flew in, got in late Monday night. ... He didn't want to meet with me until we were actually on the air. ... I said, 'Let me say hello.' He said, 'No, I'd like to see you on the air.' When he started praising me, it was very embarrassing." Walters said that she could not persuade ABC to air the interview on 20/20 on Friday but didn't argue when the network turned her down. "I've walked away from that kind of intense competition," she remarked. 20/20 has seen a steady erosion of its ratings since Walters' departure.
LIGUORI NAMED HEAD OF ENTERTAINMENT FOR FOX BROADCASTING
Fox Broadcasting confirmed on Thursday that it had selected FX President Peter Liguori to succeed Gail Berman as entertainment president. Berman is leaving the network to become second-in-command at Paramount. In an interview with the Associated Press, Liguori remarked, "I think the network is in an absolutely terrific position. ... Gail has had a wonderful blueprint that really focuses the network on mining the greatest levels of creativity."
VIEWERS CONTINUE THEIR TREK TO CABLE
More people watched cable networks than the broadcast networks during the February sweeps, according to Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wakshlag said that cable stations drew 49.4 percent of all viewers versus 48.6 percent for the broadcast networks. "Unless something extraordinary happens, broadcast networks will never win another sweeps," he predicted.
A ONE-MINUTE EDITION OF CSI?
CBS chief Les Moonves says that the network is investigating ways of integrating new technologies, including the Internet, video on demand, personal video recorders, and even cell phones, in its programming distribution system. Speaking to the Association of National Advertisers' 2005 Television Advertising Forum on Wednesday, Moonves quipped, "There's even been talk about doing a one-minute CSI [for cell phones]. ... Someone gets killed the first few seconds. The crime gets solved in the last few seconds."
ENTERPRISE TO SEGUE TO GENERATION IN FINAL EPISODE
UPN has announced the voyage of Star Trek: Enterprise will come to an end on May 13 with two back-to-back episodes, "Terra Prime" and "These Are the Voyages." A news release by the network said that "These Are the Voyages" will take place six years following "Terra Prime." In it, "an emotional Captain Archer [Scott Bakula] and the crew return to Earth to face the decommission of Enterprise and signing of the Federation charter, ratifying the newly-formed alliance of planets they helped forge. Star Trek: The Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes guest stars as Riker and Marina Sirtis guest stars as Troi in this special series finale."
HYUNDAI ADS YANKED IN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has filed a complaint against Hyundai, the Korean automaker, over an ad that was broadcast on the South African Broadcasting Corporation channels. In the ad, a young man picks up his date in a Hyundai. She then tells the nervous driver that they're both adults. "Let's skip dinner and the movie and just get on with it." The ASA complained that the ad presents the irresponsible message that it is OK for young adults to have premarital sex, a message that is particularly unacceptable in a country grappling with an AIDS crisis. The ad has been pulled by The Jupiter Drawing Room, Hyundai's ad agency in Johannesburg.
MOVIE REVIEWS: GUESS WHO
Ostensibly, Guess Who is a comedy. In reality, several critics conclude, it's not very funny. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times says that the film -- intended to be a modern update of Stanley Kramer's 38-year-old film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner -- includes "several scenes which are intended to be funny, but sit there uncomfortably on the screen." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post remarks that "Guess Who uses two-fifths of the title and gives us one-tenth the entertainment value." On ABC's Good Morning America, Joel Siegel showed several scenes from the film, then remarked: "Those are clips the studio sent, the stuff they think is funny. ... The only person I ... could recommend this movie to: Ben Affleck. He'll love it. Get him off the hook for Gigli and Jersey Girl." In print, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes some of the same scenes, then asks, "Are we laughing yet?" Her conclusion: "Guess Who isn't very smart and it isn't very funny. In fact, it isn't much of anything." The original film was the first to explore interracial marriage on the screen. (Today it seems awkward and dated, the critics agree). Boston Globe critic Wesley Morris (who is black) notes in his review: "Nothing in the new movie's press notes mentions the old one. The races are reversed, and the sermons have been replaced with slapstick. This puts Guess Who in closer company with Meet the Parents." (Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times thinks it's more like The Jeffersons, "minus its caustic wit.") Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal makes a similar case, commenting that the movie amounts to "a comic premise borrowed, turned around and dumbed down to the level of sketch or sub-sketch humor." It is, he acknowledges, "a shrewd commercial calculation [but] I must also say that its empty-headedness is appalling." Indeed, Claudia Puig is USA Today remarks that the film should more appropriately have been called, Dude, Meet the Black Parents. A.O. Scott in the New York Times suggests that the film's "blandness has less to do with caution than with comfort" since interracial marriage has found greater acceptance since 1967 -- "which may be one of the reasons this movie is so much worse than its predecessor." The film does receive some polite applause from a handful of critics. Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer asks, "What's not to like about a movie that concludes that although race can divide people, love can unite them?" And Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News concludes that "the movie is consistently funny, sometimes hilarious. Some things indeed have gotten better since the 1960s. Movies usually aren't included in that group, but in this case, I'd much rather come to Guess Who than Dinner."
MOVIE REVIEWS: D.E.B.S.
Supposedly the selling feature of D.E.B.S. (an acronym for Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength), which debuted as a short at the Sundance Film Festival, was its description as a lesbian/teen send-up of Charlie's Angels. But several critics suggest that it's all tease. Writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times: "The tepid love scenes are as erotically charged as a home movie of a little girl hugging her Barbie doll, and the satire as cutting as the blunt edge of a plastic butter knife." Similarly Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News comments that "it could be argued that everything cheesy and wince-inducing about D.E.B.S. was intended to be camp. But then, camp usually has some cleverness and energy, so that excuse won't fly." Gene Seymour in Newsday suggests that there are scenes in the film in which viewers are likely to say to themselves -- to use the expression du jour -- "This is so retarded." Nevertheless, he adds, "Even if it doesn't add up to a whole lot, the movie is content to tickle you gently more than jab you in the ribs. These days, that's saying a lot. Alas." In fact, Allison Benedikt in the Chicago Tribune remarks that the film offers "style and substance existing in unusual harmony for a spy spoof." Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times likewise applauds the film, writing, "For an unabashedly silly spoof of a girly action flick, D.E.B.S. is unexpectedly fresh." But Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post comes to the odd conclusion: "It's so spoofy it's difficult to call 'good' or even 'bad'; just say it's smooth."
MOVIE REVIEWS: MILLIONS
Danny Boyle's Millions, which opened in a handful of theaters last week and is moving into most major markets this weekend, has been attracting big audiences by word of mouth and by the glowing reviews that have greeted it. It's piling up additional raves as it expands. When it first opened in a single theater in New York two weeks ago, Manola Dargis in the New York Times described it as "a heartfelt, emotionally delicate children's movie about life and death and all the parts in between." Dargis singled out for particular praise the nine-year-old actor Alex Etel: "A gravely beautiful child, with a face splashed with freckles and pooling eyes, the young actor brings to the role the strange ethereality of those children who never fit in to the here and the now but curl into their own private worlds, giggling at jokes no one else hears." Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News called it "a family movie in the best sense; it plays to children without talking down and to their parents without pandering. Mostly, it's just good fun." Several critics express surprise that it was created by Boyle, renowned for the black comedy Transpotting and the end-of-the-world horror flick 28 Days Later. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times calls it a "lively and most unlikely film, a sweet-natured fable told with a whimsicality all its own." To Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post, the surprise is not that it comes from Boyle but that it comes to the screen at all. "It's something of an astonishment to encounter a movie about virtue that's first-rate and very funny to boot," he writes. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe seems equally stunned to encounter imaginative "scenes in 'Millions unlike anything in grown-up movies, let alone children's fare." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times is equally delighted, calling it "a family film of limitless imagination and surprising joy." And Michael Wilmington at the rival Chicago Tribune describes it as "magical ... done with wide-eyed wonder, beguiling wit and imagination, gliding along with a fairy-tale lyricism that's never too obvious or preachy."