NBC QUAKE FLATTENS CBS'S HITS
NBC's 10.5 miniseries shook things up on Sunday and Monday nights, overcoming devastating reviews, to wind up with an average 12.3 rating and a 20 share on Sunday and a 12.8/18 on Monday. The earthquake disaster flick, which ranked first in its two-hour time period, put the network in front of its rivals on both days. On Monday it topped such CBS winners as Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, and CSI: Miami. .
KEVIN REILLY NAMED PRESIDENT OF NBC ENTERTAINMENT
Kevin Reilly, appointed head of primetime development for NBC a year ago, has been named president of NBC Entertainment. He will continue to head development efforts for the network, telling today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times: "Sure, it would be easier to stoke the fires and keep that No. 1 machine cranking [referring to the network's ratings lead among 18-49-year-old viewers]. But the fun part comes when you find that new face that pops off the schedule, or when you pick a new show and have the magic come together." NBC apparently decided to put Reilly's appointment front and center in advance of next week's expected announcement of a large new roster of executives who will head the various units of the merged NBC Universal. .
VIEWERS WITH PVR'S DON'T SKIP BEER COMMERCIALS, SAYS STUDY
Viewers who have access to personal video recorders don't always skip commercials and are more likely to stay with ads for some products -- like beer -- than they are for others -- like credit cards and fast food, according to a study conducted for the British media management firm Mindshare. In a study of 1,000 homes equipped with PVRs, researchers discovered that while only about one-third of viewers skipped beer ads, 93 percent skipped those for fast food and credit cards. The study suggested that, as PVRs proliferate, some advertisers may withdraw from the medium or insist that their spots only be included in live broadcasts, like sports events, when viewers are less likely to record programs for later viewing, or they may switch to product placement. .
TV GUIDE EDITOR QUITTING, BLASTS REALITY SHOWS
The editor in chief of TV Guide has confirmed that he's stepping down after just one year in the position, saying that he has completed the job he was brought in to perform -- reworking and redesigning the publication. Michael Lavavore told Advertising Age: "I'm not into living the world of reality television for another year. Who wins on The Bachelor and who doesn't is not, to be perfectly honest, something I can get very excited about." During Lavavore's term on the job, the magazine's list of subscribers continued to erode and the number of ad pages continued to decline. Lafavore said that he will continue to show up for work until his replacement is found. .
SINCLAIR RAISES RED FLAG ABOUT MEDIA MERGERS
The decision by Sinclair Broadcasting to order its six ABC affiliates not to broadcast ABC's Nightline last Friday when host Ted Koppel read the names of some 700 soldiers who died in Iraq has again raised the question of whether allowing media companies to grow unfettered by government regulation will allow them too much power over what viewers can see. In a statement on Monday, Common Cause President Chellie Pingree declared, "Sinclair's censorship is only a taste of the choke hold on information that media giants are able to achieve." Writing in Television Week, TV critic Tom Shales of the Washington Post observed: "Sinclair is the broadcast group that has tried to centralize in one easily controlled location the 'local' news of many of its affiliates, a painfully clear example of the evils of media consolidation. Don't expect Michael Powell, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, to come out strongly against Sinclair's actions, since that would only tend to highlight the flaws in his own laissez-faire attitude toward Big Media -- really, The-Bigger-the-Better Media." Surprisingly, the Nightline program proved to be a big ratings draw, despite Koppel's own earlier assertion that few people were likely to watch. Ratings were 30 percent higher than the average for the rest of the week and 22 percent higher than they were on the previous Friday. Since ABC ran the show without commercials, it will not qualify to be included in the May sweeps. .
CBS AGREED TO DELAY BROADCASTING TORTURE TAPES
CBS News held off broadcasting its reports about alleged abuse of Iraqi POWs for two weeks after receiving a request to do so from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the Associated Press reported today (Tuesday). According to the wire service, Gen. Richard B. Myers called CBS anchor Dan Rather to point out that airing the report could jeopardize the safety of American hostages and encourage insurgents in the city of Fallujah. 60 Minutes II executive producer Jeff Fager said that he agreed to delay the report until days before The New Yorker was due to appear on newsstands with a similar story. Fager told AP that although he felt "terrible" about withholding the story, "the circumstances were quite unusual and I think you have to consider that." However, the Poynter Institute's Bob Steele, a specialist in journalistic ethics, commented. "Two weeks is a long time, particularly with the nature of the allegations in the video." He also criticized the network for failing to disclose that the images had been withheld. .
MNF'S LISA GETS THE BOOT
The much-lampooned Lisa Guerrero has been booted off the sidelines by Monday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli. In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Gaudelli said, "The sideline reporter role is an incredibly hectic environment, nothing is predictable, you can be ready to do one thing and a second later we're doing something 180 degrees in the other direction. ... In the end the talent and the role were not compatible." Guerrero is being replaced by ESP's Michele Tafoya, who told the conference: "I got criticism in the past and I'll get it in the future. It comes with the territory. ... You hope to minimize it by doing a good job but it's something that will be there."
BOX OFFICE SEES A MEAN STREAK
Mean Girls turned out to be very mean indeed -- to rival films -- at the box office over the weekend. The Paramount film debuted at No. 1 with $24.4 million, exceeding analysts' forecasts. It was the best opening of a Paramount film in two years. Four other new films had mediocre premieres. The Robert De Niro thriller Godsend took in only $6.8 million to place fourth, slightly more than New Line's Laws of Attraction, which came up with just $6.7 million. Envy, from DreamWorks, was in sixth place with $6.1 million, while Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, whiffed with just $1.2 million. (The film, which stars Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, was outperformed by Passion, which in its 10th week took in $1.4 million and brought its total gross to $367 million.) . The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Mean Girls, Paramount, $24,432,195, (New); 2. Man on Fire, 20th Century Fox, $15,012,405, 2 Wks. ($44,295,221); 3. 13 Going on 30, Sony, $9,876,246, 2 Wks. ($35,060,728); 4. Godsend, Lions Gate, $6,800,617, (New); 5. Laws of Attraction, New Line, $6,728,905, (New); 6. Envy, DreamWorks, $6,160,886, (New); 7. Kill Bill: Volume 2, Miramax, $5,858,536, 3 Wks. ($52,654,119); 8. The Punisher, Lions Gate, $3,499,450, 3 Wks. ($29,740,972); 9. Home on the Range, Disney, $2,306,510, 5 Wks. ($45,597,280); 10. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Warners, $2,289,484, 6 Wks. ($79,672,914). .
MITCHELL QUITS AS FILM CRITIC OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
Elvis Mitchell has quit as film critic for The New York Times, reportedly miffed at Executive Editor Bill Keller's decision to name Mitchell's colleague A.O. Scott lead film critic. Today's (Tuesday) "Rush and Molloy" column in the New York Daily News says that although the newspaper has been trying to convince Mitchell to return, they may have been unaware that he had been talking to Columbia Pictures President Amy Pascal about running the studio's New York office even while he was reviewing the studio's films. "He never said a word to the people at The Times," a source told the Daily News. "If they knew the truth, they may not have wanted him [to return]." .
FIRST REVIEW FOR TROY
More than a week before its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 13 and nearly two weeks before it is released in the U.S., a review of the $200-million Troy has been published in the London Daily Telegraph. Critic John Hiscock writes that the Warner Bros. film "comes close to justifying the enormous amount of money spent on it." The film's principle shortcoming, he remarks, is the casting of Brad Pitt in the role of Achilles. "It needs an actor with the presence of a Richard Burton to carry off the limp and clichéd dialogue," he writes. "Unfortunately Brad Pitt does not quite fit the bill. Although he looks the part, with a shoulder-length mane of blond hair and a winning way with enemy princesses, he cannot make the often portentous lines ring true." Hiscock particularly praises the performance of Peter O'Toole as Priam, the king of Troy. "One particular scene, when Priam goes to Achilles' tent to plead for the return of his son Hector's body after Achilles has slain him, has an emotional resonance lacking in the rest of the film and it makes one realize what a fine Achilles Peter O'Toole would have made 40 years ago." .
SCIENCE FOUNDATION SUPPORTS FILM ABOUT HEDY LAMARR
The austere Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded a $48,000 grant this year to Los Angeles writer Gretchen Somerfeld to refine her screenplay about the 1940s movie star Hedy Lamarr, who was also a less-well-known inventor. The Foundation made the award as part of its remit to support the understanding of science and technology. Today's (Tuesday) New York Times reported that excerpts from Somerfeld's screenplay, Face Value, were read by actors on Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival.Doron Weber, director of the Sloan program for the public understanding of science and technology, told the newspaper: "There are great opportunities here, great characters, great stories that have been largely unexplored. And when I speak of opportunities, I don't mean in an educational sense. We're speaking of what we believe are box office opportunities."