IDOL BEATS BACHELOR FINALE
The last show of the season for ABC's The Bachelor was no match for the next-to-the-last show of the season for Fox's American Idol Wednesday night. Idol scored a 13.1 rating and 20 share at 9:00 p.m., while the first hour of The Bachelor nabbed a 7.2/11. During the 10:00 hour, Bachelor improved its ratings to a 9.8/16 but was nevertheless beaten by NBC's Law & Order, which recorded a 12.6/21. Earlier in the evening Fox had a second winner when That 70s Show beat the competition with a 7.6/rating.
CBS CURES ITSELF OF SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER
CBS unveiled its fall programming schedule on Wednesday. Missing from it were any original shows for Saturday night, which has become the lowest-rated night of the week for all networks. (It wasn't always so. All in the Family, one of network television's biggest hits ever, aired on Saturdays.) "It's, like, dumb to lose Saturday night,'' Moonves said. "We kept saying, 'We're the only ones putting on original programming.' Obviously, America didn't respond the way we wanted them to." Moonves also announced Wednesday that its new CSI spin-off, CSI New York, will air on Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. opposite NBC's Law and Order." "We finally have the goods," Moonves remarked. Also being added to the schedule is Dr. Vegas, another Rob Lowe starrer, in which the actor (who flopped last year in NBC's The Lyon's Den) will play a doctor working in a Las Vegas casino. Jason Alexander will also try again with a new series, this one called Listen Up, based loosely on Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser. Entertainment analysts by and large hailed the network's upcoming schedule. "They've got some really good stuff to build off of," Kristi Argyilan, an executive at Hill, Holliday in Boston, told Mediaweek magazine. "They should have a very good season."
GRAMMER, CAREY TO RETURN
Two of TV's biggest stars, both of whom have seen better days on the tube, will be returning with new series next fall. Kelsey Grammer, who tossed off the mantel as Frasier Crane after 20 years last week, will be returning in a new sketch comedy series for Fox, to be titled The Kelsey Grammer Sketch Show. (It's based on a British TV series airing on ITV.) Fox said that it had ordered six episodes. And Drew Carey, whose long-running eponymous sitcom is being kissed off this summer on ABC, will be starring in Drew Carey's Green Screen for The WB next fall, according to "the fifth network." The show will blend improvisational comedy with high-tech animation (thus the technical "green screen" that allows animators to place live actors into animated sequences. Also appearing on Green Screen will be the improvisational actors who contributed to Moore's other ABC show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
STAR TREK SERIES RESCUED AT LAST MOMENT
Just when it had seemed that the Star Trek TV franchise was doomed, it was apparently saved Wednesday following a massive fan campaign organized on the Internet as SaveEnterprise.com. The site said that producer Rick Berman would be flying into New York to make the official announcement during UPN's unveiling of its fall schedule. And indeed, when UPN released its fall schedule earlier today (Thursday), Star Trek Enterprise was listed as part of the replacement for the network's low-rated Friday Night Movie. It will share the vacated time period with a replay of the reality series America's Next Top Model.
MTV: THE CONDOM
MTV may be going where Warner Bros. feared to go to market its recent movie featuring a Trojan horse. According to the London Financial Times the youth-skewing channel will launch its own line of condoms in Europe. Bill Roedy, president of MTV Networks International said that they will be distributed to stores frequented by young people, including the Virgin Megastores. "The idea is to try and take the embarrassment out of the purchase," Roedy told the newspaper, adding that buying condoms in a record store might be especially appealing to young women who may be too embarrassed to buy them at a drugstore.
KMART IN PROMOTIONAL DEAL WITH THE WB
Kmart, marching back from bankruptcy protection, is teaming up with The WB network for a promotional campaign that will feature some of the network's stars wearing Kmart clothing, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Thursday). The newspaper said that the programs involved will include 7th Heaven, Reba and One Tree Hill. The promotions call for the actors from each show to appear in numerous Kmart ads. There was no indication whether product placements within the shows themselves have been arranged.
"TAKE THAT, MICHAEL EISNER"
Word has begun spreading at the Cannes Film Festival that Miramax chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein are not only talking to independent distributors about joining together to distribute Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but that they're also talking to the art-house divisions at each of the major studios to join in. Reporting on the scuttlebutt, the British trade publication Screen International commented today (Thursday) that should any of them ally themselves with Moore and the Weinsteins, their corporate parents "would be implicated in the dissemination of the film throughout the U.S. Take that, Michael Eisner."
EPISODE 3 NOW HAS A NAME, SAYS MAGAZINE
The final Star Wars movie (Episode 3) will be titled Birth of the Empire, Britain's Empire magazine reported on its website today (Thursday). The publication quoted an unnamed source as saying that the highlight of the movie is a battle between Ewan McGregor, playing Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Hayden Christensen, plaything Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader while maneuvering small platforms on lava as if they were surfing. Lucasfilm has not commented on the report.
CHRISTIAN GROUP NOT SAVING DAMNATIONS FOR SAVED!
MGM's forthcoming movie about a conservative Christian religious group has already begun attracting damnations from actual conservative Christian religious groups more than a week before its May 28th release. On Wednesday, Ted Baehr, founder of the Christian Film & Television Commission," called the movie Saved!, starring Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin, "a sad, bigoted, anti-Christian movie that mocks the Christian faith." Baehr, in a statement released by his organization, charged that MGM "is marketing it to Christian children to try to divorce them from their faith!" MGM has not commented on Baehr's remarks.
REDSTONE DISPUTES REPORTS HE AND KARMAZIN HAVE HAD A FALLING OUT
One week after reports began circulating that Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and President and COO Mel Karmazin had reached an impasse over the management of the company and would soon come to a parting of the way, Redstone maintained Wednesday that the reports were untrue and that he has no major strategic disagreements with Karmazin. Redstone insisted that he was tired of hearing such talk about a rift between him and Karmazin. "We have never disagreed on any major issue," he insisted. Throughout questioning during Viacom's annual shareholders meeting, Redstone appeared to go out of his way to indicate that he remained on friendly terms with Karmazin and was delighted with his management of the company.
OVITZ MAY HAVE BLOWN HIS DISNEY OPTIONS
By failing to exercise stock options that he received as part of his severance after he was fired at Disney, Michael Ovitz "lost" more than $120 million, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Thursday) after examining new documents included in the shareholder lawsuit against Disney CEO Michael Eisner and the company. According to the newspaper, Ovitz actually pocketed $109.3 million. According to the figures published by the Times, Ovitz took home $70.4 million by exercising options on 4.1 million shares during seven transactions in 1999 and 2000. But he allowed his additional 4.9 million shares to languish, so that they are now essentially worthless. In reporting Ovitz's seemingly lackadaisical attitude toward the shares, the Times wonder how "one of the entertainment industry's savviest deal makers would leave at least that much on the table."
NEW FILM ABOUT WARHOL IN THE WORKS
British director C.S. Leigh is preparing a documentary about Andy Warhol and his famed Factory that will use footage shot by seven of the Factory's constituents, Leigh told Daily Variety at the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday. The film, titled Everybody Had a Camera, is to focus on a seven-year period during Warhol's career, culminating with the artist's fatal shooting. The film is being produced by Leigh and composer John Cale.