ADVERTISERS WELCOME TV'S MOVE TO THE WEB
Advertisers have responded favorably to efforts by the major broadcast networks to migrate their programming to the Internet, despite the fact that each network is employing a different model to do so. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times following Thursday's debut of CBS's Innertube website, Stacey Lynn Koerner of Interpublic Media said, "They are throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. ... That's the beauty and the frustration of the times that we live in: It's not one-size-fits-all anymore." Meanwhile, Nancy Tellem, president of the CBS Paramount Network Television Group, told the Associated Press that the website could serve as a testing ground for new programs. "This gives us a whole new opportunity to develop new ideas on a platform that doesn't demand the high costs that we're seeing on the network side," she said.
FOX NEWS HELPED ELECT BUSH, STUDY CONTENDS
Fox News Channel significantly boosted the Republican Party's share of the popular vote in 2000 and delivered the presidency to George W. Bush, according to a study by Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California at Berkeley and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University, reported in today's (Friday) Washington Post. The study concluded that in Florida alone, which Bush carried by fewer than 600 votes, the influence of Fox produced more than 10,000 additional votes for him.
WOODRUFF PROGRESSING, "EXERCISING" HIS BRAIN
ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who suffered serious head and body injuries while covering the Iraq war in January, is now able to converse normally and has not suffered the kind of "alterations" that afflict those with serious brain trauma, Woodruff's brother David has told the Los Angeles Times. However, he added, his brother is still undergoing therapy aimed at restoring cognitive functions. "It's exercising the brain," he said. He also tires easily. David Woodruff said that it's still too early to predict when Bob will be able to return to the air. "He's 100% committed to getting back to work and getting back to where he was before the attack," Woodruff told the Times. "But he's got a lot of work ahead of him."
CONGRESS, ANGRY AT SMITHSONIAN'S DEAL WITH SHOWTIME, CUTS ITS BUDGET
One of the effects of the controversial deal between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime has been a cut of $5.3 million from the museum's proposed budget, the Washington Post reported today (Friday). The newspaper said that N. Carolina Congressman Charles H. Taylor, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the government's contribution to the Smithsonian's budget, has sent a letter to Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small, expressing disapproval of the deal. The subcommittee has also included language in the appropriation bill forbidding the Smithsonian from entering any new contract that would "limit access by the public." Taylor further expressed indignation over not being consulted about the deal with Showtime. Wisconsin Congressman David R. Obey, the ranking minority member of the full House Appropriations Committee, told the Post: "No matter what Mr. Small is paid, and he is paid an exorbitant rate for someone running a public institution, he does not have the right to virtually sell the Smithsonian collections."
COST OF MUSIC BARS CLASSIC TV SHOWS FROM COMING TO DVD
Several hit TV series of the past, including WKRP in Cincinnati, The Wonder Years and Beverly Hills, 90210, have not been released on DVD because they contain popular music on their soundtracks and the producers did not purchase rights to use the songs for home-video, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Friday). Owners of the shows have since learned that relicensing the rights now is either too expensive or too difficult to negotiate. Sony has produced DVD versions of four seasons of Married ... With Children, but without the theme, Frank Sinatra's Love and Marriage, because it was unable to reach a licensing deal for it, the newspaper said.
AUDIENCES NOT READY FOR (RETURN OF) PRIMETIME
ABC returned Primetime to its former Thursday-night spot after moving it to Fridays and installing Commander in Chief in the time period for two weeks. While the Geena Davis series bombed in the timeslot, the magazine show fared even worse Thursday night, recording a lowly 3.8 rating and a 6 share. Earlier in the evening CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation once again took top honors for the night as it recorded a 16.1/25.
BOX OFFICE ON A MISSION
Box office analysts are suggesting that this weekend's debut of Mission: Impossible 3 will provide some indication of what the summer season holds in store for the industry. They note that the film has everything going for it -- a recognizable franchise, the star power of Tom Cruise, decent-to-excellent reviews, and 4,054 screens (170 of which are digital), making it the fourth-widest opening in history. Its predecessor, M:I2, grossed $57.8 million over the first three days of the Memorial Day weekend in 2000. Analysts have low expectations for the other two films opening this weekend, the kids-oriented Hoot, and the horror film An American Haunting. Also debuting in limited release is the Chinese epic, The Promise, the most expensive film ever produced in that country (and a blockbuster hit on the Chinese mainland).
BOOTLEGGERS HAD BEEN PLANNING TO DISTRIBUTE MISSION, SAYS MPAA
DVD bootleggers have been advising their customers that they plan to provide pirated versions of Mission: Impossible 3 beginning today (Friday). Daily Variety reported that during a series of raids by the L.A. Sheriff's Department and the Motion Picture Association of America on Thursday, authorities confiscated a number of package inserts that indicated the pirates were undoubtedly planning to camcord Thursday night's midnight screenings and begin duplicating them today. The raids were the start of what the MPAA is calling a "Summer Blitz" aimed at cracking down on DVD piracy worldwide. It came after some publications were commenting that the studio organization had sat on a report indicating that enforcement efforts have failed and that piracy has grown considerably worse since they began. One report in the British publication The Inquirer observed that some members of the MPAA has urged that the report not be released because they feared it would "damage their stock prices and make a laughing stock of its enforcement efforts."
MOVIE REVIEWS: HOOT
More than a few critics liken the movie Hoot to an after-school special. It deals, after all, with a group of kids who set about to save burrowing owls from a development project. And while one would imagine that those critics, by and large, would welcome such content, the fact is that most of them can't give a hoot about it. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times refers to the movie as "an inane dead zone of sitcom clichés." Kyle Smith in the New York Post writes: "The movie pretends to take a kids' point of view, but it treats kids like idiots." What's really idiotic is the message, Jami Bernard suggests in the New York Daily News. She maintains that it "tacitly encourages kids to vandalize property and behave like little ecoterrorists. What's subversive about the movie is that it comes off as squeaky-clean, when in fact it's irresponsible." Adds Susan Walker in the Toronto Star: "If the burrowing owls and other threatened species in southern Florida have to depend on movies like this to raise public sympathy and awareness, they really are in trouble." A few critics are somewhat less harsh For example, Chris Kaltenbach in the Baltimore Sun calls it "harmless-enough fluff." And Ty Burr in the Boston Globe gives the film outright praise, noting that the movie "tells kids they can make a difference in this world."
MOVIE REVIEWS: AN AMERICAN HAUNTING
Kyle Smith in the New York Post begins his review of An American Haunting by quoting a line by a character in the film to her daughter: "The attic is off-limits!" Comments Smith: "Too bad An American Haunting didn't heed its own warning. Its images came from a dusty box in the horror-movie attic, and the attic is where the entire picture will be in a month." Nathan Lee in the New York Times suggests that the scariest thing about the film is that Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek agreed to appear in it. "Their participation can be explained only by some unfathomable deal with Satan," he writes. Ty Burr also remarks on the appearance of Sutherland and Spacek in a film that he calls "cringingly awful." On the other hand, Gene Seymour in Newsday calls it "a crafty mystery with a lot of joy-buzzer jolts sliding through it somber mood."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE PROMISE
The Promise certainly doen't live up to its promise, several critics suggest. The film may very well be the biggest moneymaker in the history of Chinese cinema, but it's not likely to attract much of a crowd to theaters here, they observe. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times dismisses it as "pretty much a mess of a movie" and refers to it as "a disappointment from [director] Chen Kaige." V.A. Musetto in the New York Post notes that it is regarded as China's most expensive movie ($35-45 million), then comments, "What a waste of money!" Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal writes that it is "absurdly overproduced." A.O. Scott in the New York Times remarks that the film "occupies a curious landscape somewhere between opera and cartoon," then adds that some of the scenes "are breathtaking; others, merely out of breath." But Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail concludes that the film lives up to its billing as a spectacle. "Whatever the picture may lack, it sure won't shortchange you on sheer beauty," he remarks. "Some might find it a cold beauty, more likely to delight the eye than fire up the heart. But what delight it is." Likewise, Bruce Westbrook in the Houston Chronicle praises the film's "lavish visuals, fierce emotions and magical action."