HIDING HER ANKLE, MARTHA PLUGS NEW TV SERIES
Martha Stewart herself was on hand Monday as her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, gave advertisers a preview of her upcoming syndicated home making show, titled Martha, due to debut on Sept. 12. At one point, some of those attending the news conference thought that they would finally get a glimpse of Stewart's electronic tracking anklet when she lifted a leg to reveal -- golden clogs! "I'm wearing my lucky shoes. Something's under here, but I'm not going to show you," she said, "but you can be guaranteed that whoever is watching that thing on my ankle knows exactly where I am. This is an approved event."
WILL PAULA ABDUL BE NEXT TO BE BANISHED FROM IDOL?
Numerous published reports cropped up today (Tuesday) speculating that Paula Abdul could be replaced on Fox's American Idol following Wednesday night's Primetime Live exposé that will reportedly allege that she had an affair with Randy Clark, a former contestant, and that she advised him on everything from his choice of material to his choice of clothes. Although Abdul has denied such speculation and has called Clark "an admitted liar and opportunist," some reports are now indicating that he secretly recorded conversations with Abdul and that portions of the conversatons may be played during the Primetime telecast.
RAYMOND CONTINUES TO DRAW BIG AUDIENCES IN FINAL WEEKS
With just two weeks to go before its finale, Everybody Loves Raymond scored a 12.3 rating and an 18 share Monday in its regular 9:00 p.m. time slot. A "best of" episode at 8:30 p.m. drew a 7.7/12. Each episode ranked first in its time period and helped CBS easily win the night with a 10.6/16. No other network came close. NBC placed second with a 7.0/11. Fox placed third with a 5.9/9, which ABC trailed with a 5.5/8.
RAYMOND PRODUCER, WRITERS GOING ON THE ROAD
After Everybody Loves Raymond airs its final episode on CBS on May 16, the show's producer and writers plan to go on the road with a stage production called Secrets of a Number One Sitcom: Inside the Writers Room at Everybody Loves Raymond, the New York Daily News reported today (Tuesday). The show features writers' reminiscences along with clips from the show. "This is something I wanted to do," executive producer Phil Rosenthal told the newspaper. "We're all comedians and comic actors, and we all have a ball doing this." Meanwhile the TV Land channel, which airs reruns of classic sitcoms, said that it plans to preempt its programming during the Raymond finale and show a room filled with 210 men wearing T-shirts with the titles of each of Raymond's episodes. Each man will simply stand and read the title on his shirt. TV Land President Larry Jones told the associated Press: "TV Land wants to be sure that no viewers will accidentally miss this historic television event" on CBS.
EMMY SMILES ON NBC SPORTS
NBC Sports on Monday won eight Emmy Awards, six of them related to coverage of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Sports announcer/interviewer Bob Costas received an award for his work during the Olympics and also for interviewing and hosting duties on HBO. It was his sixth Emmy.
SINGER TOUCHES OFF OUTRAGE FOLLOWING TONIGHT APPEARANCE
Jay Leno, who has frequently denied accusations that he favors political conservatives, presented Omaha singer Conor Oberst of the band Bright Eyes Monday night, who offered a scathing satirical song titled "When the President Talks to God." Sample: "When the president talks to God/Are the conversations brief or long?/Does he ask to rape our women's' rights/And send poor farm kids off to die?/Does God suggest an oil hike/When the president talks to God?" The song immediately touched off debate on numerous Internet blogs. One writer commented: "This guy is clearly confused about the majority of, if not all of, the issues. I saw him on Leno and literally laughed my ass off at how idiotic he was." Another writer remarked on a different blog: "I can't recall hearing a more overt and harsh denunciation of the president in song. ... I'm no Jay fan, but I've got to give him full credit for making elements of his audience squirm."
A SINGLE MEDIA SYSTEM?
The British media regulator OFCOM is weighing comments from all sectors of the media industry, including television, film, music, video, and the Internet, about its proposal to introduce a single, one-size-fits-all ratings system. Today's (Tuesday) London Financial Times reported that the proposal has drawn mixed reaction, with the BBC favoring it and most commercial broadcasters and Internet groups opposing it. A single ratings system was first introduced in the Netherlands.
NEW TROUBLES FOR TIME WARNER
Just when Time Warner was allowed a bit of clear sailing following the disaster of the AOL merger and numerous accounting scandals, the company was hit in the course of a single day with two new bombshells. First, Larry Cockell, the company's chief security officer, sent an email to all employees notifying them that an outside firm hired to ship and store its computer back-up tapes away from the company's main site, had lost a container of the tapes that included the names and Social Security numbers of all 600,000 current and former Time Warner employees. The message did not indicate when the loss occurred and noted that an investigation had not found evidence that the missing tapes had been accessed or misused. The Secret Service has been called in to participate in the investigation. Later in the day, reports indicated that Time Warner was likely to report a whopping 18-percent plunge in first-quarter profit, largely attributable to the fact that it had no movie in theaters this year that came close to equaling last year's performance of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The Rings trilogy, produced by the company's New Line division, had fattened Time Warner's earnings for three consecutive years.
DESPITE PIRATES, MOVIE INDUSTRY HAS A RECORD YEAR
The motion picture industry, which continues to claim that its profits are being seriously impinged by pirates churning out illegal copies of movies and others posting them online, nevertheless saw worldwide revenue from ticket sales, home video and TV rights reach $44.8 billion in 2004, up 9 percent from 2003, the Motion Picture Association of America reported on Monday. DVD sales in particular boosted industry revenue with sales on DVDs up 14 percent in the U.S. and 46 percent worldwide.
DISNEY KEEPS AHEAD
The Walt Disney Co. was over the moon Monday about the success of its The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which opened in first place at the box office over the weekend with $21.1 million in ticket sales. It was the only film that performed solidly, as Sony's XXX: State of the Union, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube, which some analysts had predicted would become the first big summer smash instead landed in third place with only $12.7 million. Slipping to second place was Universal's The Interpreter, with $13.8 million. Ticket sales for the top 12 films fell 14 percent to $80.9 million from the comparable weekend a year ago, marking the 10th weekend in a row of lower results.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Disney, $21,103,203, 1 Wks. ($21,103,203); 2. The Interpreter, Universal, $13,833,815, 2 Wks. ($43,152,385); 3. XXX: State of the Union, Sony, $12,712,272, 1 Wks. ($12,712,272); 4. The Amityville Horror, MGM, $7,862,157, 3 Wks. ($54,816,999); 5. Sahara, Paramount, $5,708,332, 4 Wks. ($56,885,831); 6. A Lot Like Love, Disney, $5,084,727, 2 Wks. ($14,561,119); 7. Fever Pitch, 20th Century Fox, $3,532,813, 4 Wks. ($36,317,491); 8. Kung Fu Hustle, Sony Classics, $3,317,955, 4 Wks. ($12,653,318); 9. Robots, 20th Century Fox, $2,269,605, 8 Wks. ($123,300,061); 10. Guess Who, Sony, $2,151,446, 6 Wks. ($65,434,348).
A FIVE PART TRILOGY?
Could The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy become a "trilogy in five parts" like the books? The film, which topped last weekend's box office, is based on the late Douglas Adams's original radio series and subsequent novels, which he described first as a trilogy in four parts, and later as a trilogy in five parts. Although producer Robbie Stamp told today's (Tuesday) Financial Times that he expected that at least three Hitchhiker movies will be produced, Disney exec Robert Mitchell would only say, in an interview with BBC News, that sequels were "a possibility given the wealth of source material, although no decision had yet been made."
CHINESE ACTRESS SAYS SHE LEARNED ABOUT HER DAUGHTER VIA THE INTERNET
Chinese actress Bai Ling, who stars opposite Nick Nolte in the upcoming The Beautiful Country, has told the New York Post that she was cut out of the final installment of Star Wars after George Lucas learned that she had posed topless for Playboy. The newspaper reported that she burst into tears after getting word that her scene had been removed. "I just found out that my part has been completely cut out," she told the Post. "I do not know what happened." However, she speculated that it may have had something to do with her layout in June's Playboy. "I did not know that Playboy was going to come out the same time as Star Wars. I saw them as separate projects. I see the human body as beautiful and not pornographic, but maybe the Star Wars producers did not see what I did. I am in shock."