SURVIVOR CAN'T SURVIVE HOUSEWIVES
CBS decided to pit its Survivor: Pilau finale against ABC's Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy Sunday night -- and lost. Without having to face such high-powered competition at 8:00 p.m., Survivor did win that hour with a 10.8/17, but at 9:00 p.m. ABC took over first place and remained there for the night, averaging a 15.6/23 for Desperate Housewives, while Survivor scored an 11.8/17. at 10:00 ABC remained in first place with Grey's Anatomy, closing with an 11.9/19. By contrast, the Survivor reunion show on CBS pulled a lowly 9.7/15.
NBC UNVEILS NEW SHOWS IN ITS UPFRONT PRESENTATION
NBC, which couldn't cut a break with new programming this past season, outlined its plans for the 2005-06 season today (Monday), pinning its comeback hopes on three new dramas and three new comedies. The dramas are: E-Ring, set at the Pentagon, starring Benjamin Bratt, Dennis Hopper and Sarah Clarke; Fathom in which researchers at sea look for mysterious creatures; and Inconceivable, a medical drama about life in a fertility clinic. The comedies include: Thick and Thin, starring Jessica Capshaw; Four Kings (from the creators of Will & Grace) and My Name Is Earl, in which Jason Lee plays a crook who wins the lottery and tries to right his life. The network also announced a slew of specials, including a miniseries titled The 9/11 Project; a sequel to the earthquake miniseries 10.5; and Elton John: Live from Las Vegas as well as specials featuring Jennifer Lopez Faith Hill, Jennifer Lopez, Jamie Fox, and Tim McGraw.
CHAPPELLE: "I'M NOT CRAZY"
Comedian Dave Chappelle has denied an Entertainment Weekly report that he had checked himself into a South African mental-health facility. "I'm not crazy, I'm not smoking crack," he told the current issue of Time magazine. However, he acknowledged, "I'm definitely stressed out. ... You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice." He said there had been "a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, 'Let me remove myself from this situation.'" Comedy Central President Doug Herzog told Time that Chappelle has "complete creative freedom."
D.C. STATION CLAIMS POLICE USED EXCESSIVE FORCE ON REPORTER
An ABC affiliate in Washington D.C. has filed an excessive-force complaint against Virginia's Prince George's County Police after one of its reporters and a photographer were arrested during what was described as a "felony traffic stop" on April 15. At the time of the incident, the reporter, Andrea McCarren of ABC affiliate WJLA, was reportedly investigating a Prince George's County police officer. In a statement on Friday, the station described the incident as perhaps "the only recorded felony traffic stop of a reporter who was in pursuit of a story." It said that police officers held McCarren at gunpoint while other officers restrained her arms, causing her right shoulder to be torn from the socket. Much of the incident was reportedly captured by the station's TV cameraman. In addition, McCarren is also seeking copies of a police cruiser surveillance tape of the incident.
TV REVIEWS: HERCULES
Apparently hoping to bulge its fourth-place ratings with bulging muscles during the May sweeps, NBC is offering the three-hour TV movie Hercules from Hallmark Entertainment tonight (Monday). (The drama was originally envisioned as a four-hour miniseries and is due to be presented in that format later in the year on the USA Network (and, of course, eventually on DVD. Critics are wrestling it to the ground. Melanie McFarland in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer uses the adjectives "boring, overwrought, pandering" to describe it and suggests that it "is easily outmatched by the worst episodes of [the syndicated series] Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." Matthew Gilbert in the Boston Globe dismisses it as "a sometimes campy pseudo-epic filled with British accents and would-be Shakespearean overacting." To Robert Bianco in USA Today, it all amounts to "three straight hours of horrid plotting, indifferent direction, hideous costumes, shoddy effects, dull sets, dreary dialogue and terrible performances." Likewise, Vince Horiuchi in the Salt Lake Tribune concludes: "The NBC movie 'event' is so full of unintentional laughs, cheap production values and, worst of all, amateurish special effects, you would think this is a high school production cast with grownups."
BOX-OFFICE SLUMP EXTENDS TO 12TH WEEK
Hopes that four new films in wide release would at last lift the box office after a nearly three-month slump faded on Sunday after preliminary estimates indicated that ticket sales were 6.7 percent below the same weekend last year. The top film, Monster-in-Law, starring Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, took in $24 million, far below the $46.8 million earned by Troy during the comparable weekend in 2004. In second place was another comedy film, Kicking & Screaming, starring Will Ferrell, which recorded $21 million. The Jet Li martial arts film Unleashed debuted in third place with a respectable $10.6 million, but a fourth new film, Mindhunters, starring Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, and L.L. Cool J, flopped with just $2 million. Star Wars: Episode III is certain to end the downslide next weekend
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Monster-in-Law, $24 million; 2. Kicking & Screaming, $21 million; 3. Unleashed, $10.6 million; 4. Kingdom of Heaven, $9.6 million; 5. Crash, $7.2 million; 6. House of Wax, $6.3 million; 7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, $4.8 million; 8. The Interpreter, $4.4 million; 9. XXX: State of the Union, $2.2 million; 10. Mindhunters, $2 million.
BLOCKBUSTER BOARD ADDS A SEAT FOR ANTIOCO
In an apparent effort to avoid a $54-million late fee, the board of directors of Blockbuster voted on Friday to restore CEO John Antioco to the board. Had it not done so, analysts said, it might have been liable for about $54 million in severance fees. Antioco agreed to remain, saying in a statement, "I look forward to working with the board and our management team to maximize our many strengths and growth opportunities." Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who had succeeded in ousting Antioco and two other board members, was not available for comment, but was known to favor the action in order to avoid having to hand Antioco the huge golden parachute.
EXPLICIT SEX SCENE RESTORED TO TEAM AMERICA
The DVD release of the animated Team America: World Police from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, will include an explicit sex scene that was removed from the original theatrical release in order to win an R rating. Home Media Retailing magazine reported on Friday that the two "originally included the extreme sex acts to distract the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) from other scenes." The ploy worked, it observed. Parker told the magazine that they had never intended to show the scenes, which feature puppets, in the film's original version, and when the DVD was being prepared, ""Matt wanted to put them in, and I didn't want to put them in," Parker said. "We were making this decision at 4 [a.m.] on a Tuesday night, when we were finishing our last South Park before vacation. And finally I was like, 'All right, I'm tired.'"
FILM ALLEGES THAT STONES FOUNDER JONES WAS MURDERED
A British film about Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones that suggests that Jones was murdered in 1969 has the backing of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, according to the film's director, Stephen Woolley. The film, shown at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, is reportedly based on three books about Jones's mysterious death. (Numerous writers have taken Jagger and Richards to task for not attempting to rescue Jones when he spiraled into drug and alcohol addiction prior to his death. "Brian was a child," Richards remarked after Jones's death.) Woolley said at Cannes on Friday that he had located a woman who was at the rock star's home on the night of his death and had new evidence.
NEW DOWNEY JR. FLICK DEBUTS WITH A BANG AT CANNES
Promoting his latest movie, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, at the Cannes Film Festival, Robert Downey Jr. managed to charm reporters in individual interviews and at a press conference over the weekend. At the news conference attended by producer Joel Silver, writer-director Shane Black and fellow stars Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan, one reporter awkwardly attempted to bring up Downey's past drug use. Downey leaped from the table, doffed his jacket, and feigned his readiness for fisticuffs. (The reporter quickly backed off, asking Downey if he had any advice for Michael Jackson on how to deal with notoriety -- at which point the moderator moved on to another questioner.) The film itself, ballyhooed in Cannes as Kees, Kees, Bong Bong (which seemed particularly amusing given Downey's past), and screened out of competition, has managed to attract considerable positive buzz.
MOVIE RUNS 500 WEEKS AT INDIAN THEATER
Bollywood flick Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Braveheart Will Take the Bride) has set a record in India by playing 500 consecutive weeks at a Bombay Theater. It opened at the Martha Mandir theater in October 1995. The film, which cost $1.6 million to make, has taken in more than $46 million in ticket sales, according to producer Yash Chopra.