CBS SCORES A CLEAN SWEEP IN SWEEPS
With a slew of season finales packing its schedule, CBS won every primetime half-hour Monday night, averaging a 10.9 rating and an 18 share. Well behind in second place was Fox with a 6.1/10. NBC was third with a 5.0/8, while ABC trailed with a 4.5/7. The top-rated show of the night was CSI: Miami, which closed out the season with a 13.5/22 in the 10:00 p.m. hour. The figure was about three times that of NBC's competing Law & Order: SVU, which registered a 4.7/8 to place second. An hour earlier, at 9:00 p.m. CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men dominated, with an 11.8/18 for each of them.
BASEBALL BOOSTS ITS BATTING AVERAGE
Baseball appears to be making a significant comeback on television. Newsday reported today (Tuesday) that Fox's major-league games on Saturday afternoons have shown a 20-percent increase in ratings over last year, with last Saturday's 3.5 rating topping the 2.4 rating for the PGA Tour on CBS; the 1.8 rating for the track-and-field contest on NBC; and the 1.0 rating for the WNBA season debut on ABC. Newsday pointed out that, with a 4.1 rating, the New York Yankees have seen a 32 percent rise in their ratings on the YES cable network, while in Los Angeles, ratings for the Angels are up a whopping 78 percent.
CBS TOSSING REALITY SERIES IN TRASH
NBC has relegated Mark Burnett's reality series The Restaurant to Saturday nights, television's equivalent of Siberia -- the least watched night of the week. The current season of the show, featuring Rocco DiSpirito, debuted on Wednesday nights with low ratings last month and was pulled off the air during the May sweeps. At the time, NBC said it would restart the series beginning Wednesday, June 9th, with the first episode. However, on Monday, the network announced that it will resume with the fourth episode on Saturday, May 29th at 8:00 p.m., followed by the fifth episode at 9:00 p.m. and the final episode, a week later at 8:00 p.m.
CLARK IS BRINGING BACK HIS BANDSTAND
Dick Clark is planning to bring American Bandstand back to television again in the summer of 2005, this time featuring a dance competition, Reuters reported Monday. Clark told the wire service that he has teamed up with American Idol's Simon Fuller to update the music show and has begun searching for a host. (He said that at 74, he himself is "a little bit out of the demographic" to return as host.)
CHARTER TO TRY INTERACTIVE TV
Charter Communications, the cable company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has signed a deal with Movielink that will allow customers to download movies on demand, presumably using either Charter's powerful settop box or a PC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Charter said that it expected to offer movies on the new service for $1.99 to $4.99. They can be stored for up to 30 days but, once accessed, can be viewed within a 24-hour period only.
SONY CHAIRMAN PREDICTS MGM DEAL
Looking into the future of his giant corporation, Sony Chairman Nobuyuki Idei envisioned a motion picture division that would include MGM and a TV manufacturing business that would employ the Cell chip -- something he referred to as "the most powerful chip in consumer electronics." In an interview with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, Idei said that Sony was particularly interested in MGM's library. "The importance of software made in the past is growing now that many sales channels are available, including broadcasting, DVDs and the Internet," he said. He predicted that the cost to purchase MGM, generally said to be about $5 billion, will in reality "not be as large as some people may estimate." Of the Cell chip, which Sony is developing with IBM and Toshiba and which is sometimes called a "supercomputer on a chip," Idei said that it would be incorporated into the company's TV sets in 2006. Previously the company had been hyping the benefits of the Cell chip for its PlayStation game units.
BIG CROWD EXPECTED FOR IDOL FINALE
Analysts are predicting that 30 million viewers -- or more -- could turn out to watch the season finale of American Idol tonight (Tuesday) and Wednesday, when 19-year-old Fantasia Barrino and 16-year-old Diana deGarmo belt it out for the top prize. The figure would fall below the 38 million who tuned in for the final bout between Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard last year.
Final weekend box-office figures for DreamWorks' Shrek 2 so surpassed anything that analysts had imagined that they seemed like a fairy tale in their own right. The animated film ended up with $108 million, almost twice what analysts had forecast and even $3.7 million more than the studio had estimated on Sunday. The results rank as the second-biggest opening of all time, behind only 2002's Spider-Man, which earned $114.8 million in its debut. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Shrek 2, DreamWorks, $108,037,878, 1 Wk. $128,983,060 (From Wednesday); 2. Troy, Warner Bros., $23,925,330, 2 Wks. ($85,960,779); 3. Van Helsing, Universal, $10,561,655, 3 Wks. ($100,526,335); 4. Mean Girls, Paramount, $6,907,627, 4 Wks. ($64,706,896); 5. Man on Fire, 20th Century Fox, $3,680,522, 5 Wks. ($69,461,524); 6. Breakin' All the Rules, Screen Gems, $2,845,368, 2 Wks. ($9,053,501); 7. 13 Going On 30, Sony, $2,512,234, 5 Wks. ($52,080,216); 8. New York Minute, Warner Bros., $1,302,152, 3 Wks. ($12,622,044); 9. Kill Bill: Volume 2, Miramax, $1,078,811, 6 Wks. ($62,711,658); 10. Super Size Me, Roadside, $973,644, 3 Wks. ($2,941,708).
HOPES SAG AT SAG FOR DUE ADVANCE
Early votes tabulated by the Screen Actors Guild indicate that a dissident campaign against proposed dues increases appears to be ahead, raising the possibility that the guild will not be able to build a strike fund in advance of its negotiations with TV and film producers, Daily Variety reported today (Tuesday). The trade publication did not indicate how it had gotten wind of the early vote count. In an interview with Variety, SAG president Melissa Gilbert said she was "scared" contemplating what would happen to the union if the dues increases are not passed.
FORMER L.A. FILM OFFICIAL GOES TO JAIL
The former head of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. (EIDC), which acts as a kind of one-stop clearing house for movie permits in Los Angeles, pleaded no contest Monday to charges that he embezzled public funds while serving on the agency. Cody Cluff also agreed to repay $80,000 to the city and to serve a 90-day prison sentence, during which correction officials will determine whether he should remain in prison for up to three years or be released on probation. An investigation had determined that Cluff had used public funds to attend strip clubs, to attend a fantasy baseball camp, and even to establish a rival film office in Pittsburgh headed by his girlfriend, Dawn Keezer. "It wasn't just the nature of how he spent the money," Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley told the Los Angeles Times. "It was the fact that he spent the public's money for things that were not in the public interest, not authorized by law and not authorized by the governing entity."
FAHRENHEIT CONTINUES TO KEEP THE HEAT ON AT CANNES
The Walt Disney company could wind up in hot water again with investors if Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 turns out to be the blockbuster success at the box office that many analysts are predicting it will be, the New York Post observed today (Tuesday). The newspaper idicated that the film is likely to outperform Moore's last film, Bowling for Columbine, which was the highest-grossing documentary of all time. It quoted ReelSource analyst Anthony Kusich as saying, "A lot of people are saying that Disney investors should be mad at [Disney CEO Michael] Eisner for turning down another lucrative opportunity." Eisner rejected the film, which lambastes the Bush administration's policies following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, on the grounds that it would likely offend a substantial part of its clientele during an election year. Meanwhile, today's New York Times reported that Eisner has told friends that Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein made the movie despite his objections a year ago by hiding the $6 million budget in loan financing. A Miramax exec denied that anything had been hidden from Eisner and pointed out that Disney execs had approved the expenditure.
DIRECT FROM COMIC BOOK TO DVD
Marvel Enterprises is teaming with Lions Gate Entertainment to produce animated films based on its Marvel Comics superheroes and release them directly to video, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Tuesday). The companies initially plan to produce eight films, with the first four relying on better-known Marvel characters, then begin using "second tier" characters for the others.