FOX TROTS OFF TO A WIN AMONG YOUNG VIEWERSDespite the fact that it ran a full slate of reruns during primetime Thursday, CBS emerged as the overall winner on the first night of the summer season Thursday. However Fox got off to a strong start with the second-season debut of So You think You Can Dance, which captured the No. 1 spot among adults 18-49. NBC, which also moved into rerun mode, placed third for the night, while ABC trailed with the movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Primetime Live.
NBC WON'T PULL OUT OF THURSDAY HEAVYWEIGHT BATTLE
NBC has apparently given up hope of regaining Thursday-night supremacy. After first slotting the new Aaron Sorkin series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip into the 9:00 p.m. time slot, for years its highest-rated period on what it then called Must-See-TV night, the network on Thursday blinked -- what with two established hits already scheduled by its rivals at that time, CSI on CBS and Grey's Anatomyon ABC. Instead, NBC decided to air an additional episode of the low-cost game show Deal or No Dealat 9:00 p.m. The programming change was only one of several that NBC announced Thursday, just ten days after presenting its fall lineup to advertisers.
NBC TO START SELLING NEWS
NBC will begin selling news programming on the Internet via Apple's iTunes Music Store, becoming the first broadcasting network to do so. The programs, some off the air, some especially produced for the Web, will be available for $1.99 per download. "We're leading a trend to put our work and our journalism everywhere our viewers and users want it to be," Mark Lukasiewicz, NBC News vice president for digital media, told the Associated Press.
CBS CHIEF MOONVES PREDICTS COURIC WILL BRING PROFITS BOOST
CBS News will see "significant upside" in profits when Katie Couric takes over as the new anchor of The CBS Evening News, CBS chief Les Moonves said Thursday. Moonves made his remarks in New York at the company's first annual shareholders' meeting as a stand-alone company, following the division of Viacom earlier this year. Outside the meeting, members of the Writers Guild of America-East distributed leaflets claiming that cutbacks in the network's news division were jeopardizing the quality of its news programming.
NETWORKS, STUDIOS BATTLE CABLEVISION'S V.O.D. PLAN
Four major movie studios and three TV networks filed a federal lawsuit in New York Wednesday seeking to block cable provider Cablevision from offering a service that would allow customers to record programs on Cablevision's servers rather than on a digital video recorder in their homes. Reporting on the suit, Newsday commented, "The suit is the opening shot in what could be a bruising copyright battle," since other cable operators have indicated that they also plan to offer a similar service. (Cablevision operates in New York City and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.) Cablevision said that its system would allow customers to enjoy all the benefits of video-on-demand but at lower cost than they would incur by having to install a settop digital video recorder. Plaintiffs in the suit, which charges copyright infringement, are 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios, ABC, CBS, and NBC.
FCC PROBING P.R. CLIPS SHOWN AS NEWS
The FCC is investigating 77 television stations for allegedly airing video news releases from 49 companies on their local newscasts without disclosing their sources, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. The FCC probe was reportedly touched off by a study by the Madison-WI-based Center for Media and Democracy. "We're very happy to see that the FCC is taking this serious," Diane Farsetta, the study's co-author, told today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times. "It's an obvious breech of journalistic standards." CODE IS THE X FACTORTwentieth Century Fox's X-Men: The Last Word is virtually certain to knock off The Da Vinci Codeat the box office over the Memorial Day weekend, but most analysts agree that Codewill attract enough moviegoers to prevent the latest X-Menmovie from equaling the $85.6 million that X2collected in 2003. Moreover, with Memorial Day a typical family-day affair, DreamWorks Animation's Over the Hedgeis likely to remain a significant draw, as well.
MOVIE REVIEWS: X-MEN: THE LAST WORD
X-Men: The Last Wordis not just a comic book brought to the screen. It's a Marvel comic book with ideasbrought to screen, several critics observe. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Timesnotes that there are enough parallels with current politics "that to list them is to define the next presidential campaign." While Ebert does express some misgivings about the film, he concludes that overall, he enjoyed it. "I liked the action, I liked the absurdity, I liked the incongruous use and misuse of mutant powers, and I especially liked the way it introduces all of those political issues and lets them fight it out with the special effects." Jan Stuart in Newsday also is impressed, writing: "It is a testament to the thoroughgoing craft and seriousness of purpose with which the first two X-Men installments were made that all of the primary players have returned for this bruising and brooding go-round, which loses little in urgency, complexity or muscularity for being the shortest of the trilogy." Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal figures that the latest X-Menbeats its forerunners. "Surprise, surprise," he writes. The latest sequel "has shifted the shape of the franchise from pretty good, if uninspired, to terrifically entertaining." That opinion is not shared by Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, who complains that director Brett Ratner has failed to do justice to the Marvel superheroes the way his predecessor, Bryan Singer, had in the first two X-Menfilms. Ratner, she writes, "makes a hash of the story and characters ... delivering a pumped-up exercise in mayhem, carnage and blunt-force trauma." Similarly Geoff Pevere writes in the Toronto Star: "Seen in purely commercial terms, X-Men: The Last Stand is likely to deliver the basic goods to people merely looking to have their skulls rattled on a summer afternoon. To anyone more discerning, and certainly to those fans who cherished the way the first two movies took pains to honor what made the X-Men such special mutants, the final blowout will seem like a blown opportunity." And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post concludes: "The Last Stand isn't awful, but Ratner lacks Singer's subtlety and ability to cleanly navigate convoluted story lines crammed with super-powered characters." On the other hand, Manohla Dargis in the New York Timessees little difference between the Singer and Ratner X-Men.The latest film, she writes, "pretty much looks and plays like the first films, though perhaps with more noise and babe action and a little less glum."
BRANDO'S LAST FILM REVIVED
Brando and Brando, the last film Marlon Brando was making at the time of his death in 2004, is being revived by its director, Ridha Behi. Now retitled Citizen Brando, the film will reportedly be part fiction, part documentary. Behi told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival that he resumed shooting at the festival and plans additional shooting in Britain, the U.S., and Tunisia. The original film concerned a Tunisian boy who travels to the U.S. in hopes of meeting Brando, his hero. Behi said that Christopher Walken has been added to the cast.
HOW WILL UNITED 93 FLY ABROAD?
The director of United 93 said that he wanted the film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival a full month after it opened in the U.S. because it is "the greatest film festival in the world" and a place where "films that demand attention" are presented. At a news conference that included three members of the families of the victims aboard the 9/11 flight, British director Paul Greengrass observed that "cinema has many missions" beyond the mission to entertain. "There is the cinema of private passion," Greengrass continued, indicating that his was to help answer the question of why the 9/11 tragedy occurred and help prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. He said that at every interview he has been asked whether it was too soon to bring the 9/11 story to the screen. He dismissed such questions as "nonsense," noting that hardly a day has gone by over the past five years without the press itself referring to the events of that terrible day.
WOODY LOSES BATTLE WITH ONETIME PRODUCER
Clearly Woody Allen gives a bleep about his films, even if his onetime producer and friend Jean Doumanian, does not. Under terms of an earlier settlement he reached with Doumanian, the two agreed to submit any disagreements about how the films they developed should be edited for TV and in-flight versions. The films include Mighty Aphrodite, Everyone Says I Love You, Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity, and Sweet and Lowdown. Allen wanted to replace words that TV and in-flight executives might object to with bleeps. Doumanian wanted to replace them with different dialogue. In the end, the judge agreed with Doumanian's argument that TV networks prefer her approach.