INJURED CBS REPORTER FLOWN TO GERMANY
The CBS Evening News, which had featured correspondent Kimberly Dozier's reports from Iraq, provided some details about her condition Monday after she was critically injured by a car bomb earlier in the day. Her cameraman, Paul Douglas and James Brolan, were killed. Baghdad bureau producer Agnes Reau said that the most serious injuries were to her lower body ad that she also received a shrapnel wound to her head. Correspondent David Martin said that she underwent two separate surgeries, one at an emergency hospital in the so-called green zone and another in a hospital north of Baghdad. Martin said that the doctors were able to remove shrapnel from her head "and it did not penetrate her brain, so that does not appear to be life threatening." She was flown to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany early today (Tuesday) and was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military hospital, for further treatment. ABC's Bob Woodruff, who had known Dozier and Douglas and had worked with Brolan -- and who himself was critically injured in Iraq -- issued a statement saying that he was "devastated" when he heard the news.
COURIC: ANCHORING CBS NEWS IS "A QUESTION MARK"
Katie Couric has suggested that expectations about how she will affect the ratings of the CBS Evening News when she takes over as anchor in the fall ought to be toned down. In an interview with the Washington Post, Couric said, "I'm not going in there saying I'm going to change the face of the evening news or I'm going to be a huge success. Right now it's a question mark. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to contribute something positive." Couric, who made her penultimate appearance on NBC's Today show this morning (Tuesday) and will leave the show on Wednesday, said in a separate interview with USA Today: "I don't think anyone expects me to come in riding a white horse and save the day. I'll just try to be part of a terrific team of journalists and do as much as I can in the role I have." Others have suggested, however, that CBS does regard her as a female counterpart to the knight on horseback and that the network has no fall-back position if the CBS Evening News suffers further audience erosion after Couric joins the news program.
SAWYER QUITTING ABC?
Diane Sawyer may be planning to leave Good Morning America and perhaps the network itself next year, the New York Post reported today (Tuesday), citing reliable reports, including an item in the trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable, which noted that Sawyer had retained entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman. B&C editor Max Robbins commented that it was "not a move you make if you're a happy camper." He forecast that Sawyer will jump to CNN. Last Thursday, ABC's Primetime, the Sawyer-hosted news magazine for many years, was turned over to Barbara Walters for the first time. ABC has also indicated that Primetime will not have a permanent place on the network's schedule next fall but will instead be used to fill in for failed entertainment programming.
DEAL GIVES NBC MONDAY-NIGHT RATINGS WIN
The NBC game show Deal or No Deal not only showed no sign of waning audience interest Monday night but in fact produced the highest ratings of the night and gave NBC a rare Monday win. The Howie Mandel-hosted show registered an 8.3 rating and a 15 share in the 8:00 p.m. hour, more than twice the numbers scored by Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons, which produced a 4.1/7 in the same hour. Ratings for CBS's The King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother continued to slip as repeats of the shows drew a 4.3/8 and a 3.4/6 respectively. CBS, however, took the lead at 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., but the numbers were not strong enough to overcome the relatively huge numbers for Deal.
LAST STAND DELIVERS
Mutants jolted the box office to life over the weekend as 20th Century Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand set a record for the Memorial Day holiday, earning an estimated $120.1 million over the four days, 33.1 percent above the previous record of $90.2 million set by The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997. Between Friday and Sunday, the film drew $103.1 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing weekend ever. The film far surpassed analysts' expectations. Most had not expected it to exceed the $85.6 million that the previous sequel, X2: X-Men United, raked in, given the fact that it was competing against Sony's The Da Vinci Code, which had a spectacular opening last weekend. X2 had no such competition. As things turned out, Da Vinci Code suffered a big 56-percent decline, but nevertheless added $43 million to its total, bringing it to $145.5 million in 11 days. DreamWorks Animation's Over the Hedge dropped 30 percent to $35.3 million over the long weekend to bring its 11-day total to $84.4 million. In another surprising debut, Al Gore's global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, amassed $365,787 at only four New York and Los Angeles theaters -- or $91,447 per theater, the highest-ever average for a documentary. (By contrast, X-Men averaged $32,554 per screen.) The top ten films for the four-day Memorial Day weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
X-Men: The Last Stand, 20th Century Fox, $120.1 million, (New), The Da Vinci Code, Sony, $43.0 million, (2 weeks), $145.5 million; Over the Hedge, DreamWorks, $35.3 million, (2 weeks), $84.4 million; Mission Impossible: 3, Paramount, $8.6 million, (4 weeks), $115.8 million; Poseidon, Warner Bros., $7.0 million, (3 weeks), $46.6 million; RV, Sony $5.3 million , (5 weeks), $57.2 million; See No Evil, Lionsgate, $3.2 million, (2 weeks), $9.2 million; Just My Luck, 20th Century Fox, $2.3 million, (3 weeks), $13.9 million; United 93, Universal, $1.1 million , (5 weeks), $29.9 million; An American Haunting, Freestyle, $937,000, (4 weeks), $14.9 million.
BOX OFFICE RISES ABOVE 2005
Overall, the box office was up 5 percent over Memorial Day 2005, when Madagascar and the Longest Yard reigned. For the year, the box office is up 6 percent over last year. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times, Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian observed, "Last year, all the talk was about how people had found other entertainment options than going to movies -- video games, computers, in-home theaters. ... There's a lot more optimism these days among the distributors, and even more among the movie theater owners. What this year is showing is that given the right product, and the right marketing, there's still nothing like that 50-foot-wide screen."
X-MEN CAN'T CRACK CODE OVERSEAS
Overseas, The Da Vinci Code kept the X-Men at bay. In its second week, Code declined a moderate 40 percent to gross $90.9 million on 12,038 screens, while the X-Men sequel debuted with $76.1 million at 8,543 screens, according to trade reports, which noted that during the comparable weekend last year the second weekend of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith led with $61.5 million.
WARNER BROS. TO CRANK OUT 10-15 DIRECT-TO-VIDEO MOVIES
Warner Bros. is planning to release 10-15 low-budget movies a year directly to DVD, most of them sequels or prequels to theatrical movies, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday). The studio's first release will be a sequel to 2005's The Dukes of Hazzard, which will be produced for about $5 million or less and will not include the original cast members of the movie. The studio is expected to focus on producing sequels to films that performed relatively well at the box office but not well enough to warrant a theatrical sequel.
TWO-TIME OSCAR-WINNING PRODUCTION DESIGNER BUMSTEAD DEAD AT 91
Oscar-wining production designer Henry Bumstead, who began his career in films 70 years ago, has died in Pasadena, CA at age 91. He designed the sets of more than 100 films, including 13 starring Clint Eastwood. He was active to the end, designing the sets of two yet-to-be-released Eastwood movies, Flag of Our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand. He was awarded Oscars for the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird and 1973's The Sting. He received Oscar nominations in 1958 for Vertigo and again in 1992 for Unforgiven, another Eastwood film. At age 89 he designed the sets for Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, which won the Oscar for best picture.