ANATOMY OF A SUNDAY-NIGHT WIN
Once again, ABC's Grey's Anatomy surpassed lead-in Desperate Housewives to become the most-watched television show Sunday night and help give ABC a solid victory for the night. Grey's scored an overwhelming 13.5 rating and a 21 share at 10:00 p.m., nearly equaling the combined ratings of NBC's Crossing Jordan (7.1/11) and CBS's CSI:NY (7.0/11). Grey's slightly improved on Housewives' 13.2/20 in the 9:00 p.m. hour. Earlier in the evening, CBS held sway at 7:00 p.m. with 60 Minutes (7.5/14), retaining the lead at 8:00 p.m. with Cold Case (9.3/25).
MEDIA COMPANIES FILE CHALLENGES TO FCC'S INDECENCY RULINGS
Challenging the FCC's decision to fine KCSM-TV, a PBS outlet in San Mateo, CA, for including indecent language in a program about the origins of blues music, Martin Scorsese, who produced the program, said Friday, "The language of blues musicians often was filled with expletives that shocked and challenged America's white dominated society of the '40s, '50s, and '60s. To accurately capture the essential character of the blues music and the subculture in which it originated and flourished, it was important to preserve in the film the actual speech and discursive formations of the participants." The FCC also heard from CBS, which accused the commission of overstepping its authority by making "content and viewpoint-based judgments" in appraising an episode of Without a Trace that included scenes of a teen sex party, which the FCC deemed indecent.
ABC AFFILIATES TO SHARE IN DOWNLOAD REVENUE
Hoping to pacify affiliates angered at having to compete with video-on-demand episodes of top ABC shows made available on the Internet, ABC said Friday that it will provide those shows to affiliates' websites in Dallas, Orlando, Milwaukee, and Knoxville, TN. The shows will also be posted on KABC.com, the website of ABC's owned-and-operated station in Los Angeles. "Having these affiliates participate in, and share research from, this experiment will help us to best determine a successful model for all of our businesses as they continue to evolve," John Rouse, ABC senior VP for affiliate relations, told Reuters. Among the shows that will be posted online by the ABC stations are Desperate Housewives, Lost and Commander in Chief. (However, last week the network yanked the final episodes of Commander in Chief from its lineup.) Meanwhile, in a separate deal, Warner Bros. has notified local stations that buy reruns of Two and a Half Men that they'll also be allowed to feature the content on their website, provided that online ad revenue be shared equally.
VIDEO SITE YOUTUBE UPSET OVER C-SPAN DEAL WITH GOOGLE VIDEO
The video site YouTube.com has expressed consternation over C-Span's demand that it remove its video of Stephen Colbert's remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner last month and the cable channel's subsequent decision to make the same video available to YouTube's rival, Google Videos. In an interview with today's (Monday) New York Times, YouTube marketing director Julie Supan, noting that the Colbert performance had been viewed 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours, commented, "This was an exciting moment for them in a viral, random way. ... To take it down from one site and uploading on another, it is perplexing." The Times observed that C-Span's Google deal requires that not only the Colbert speech be included in the download, but also other speeches, including a routine by President Bush and a Bush impersonator.
LOST CREATOR PROMISES "GREATEST FINALE" EVER
Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams, who temporarily left the series to direct Mission: Impossible III, says that those who took over the show have created an "incredible" season finale, due to air on May 24. In an interview with the New York Post, Abrams said: "The ending of this year in Lost blows the ending of last season out of the water." Abrams gave no hint about how the episode will unfold. "It's not out of the blue," he said, "but what happens at the very end of this year, for me, it's the greatest finale I have ever heard."
JUNK-FOOD-FREE KIDS NETWORK PLANNED
Ion Media Networks, which until last February had been known as Paxson Communications, is heading a consortium of media companies planning to launch a 24-hour children's channel that will be free of junk-food ads, the New York Post reported today (Monday). Among the partners in the new channel will be NBC Universal, which owns a 33-percent stake in Ion, but which has been feuding with Ion's principal owner, Bud Paxson, over his decision to turn his PAX-TV network into essentially an infomercial outlet. An unnamed person working on the deal told the Post that the new, as-yet-unnamed network will be "a lot more responsible and discriminating" in providing programs for kids. "It won't be accepting certain types of advertising," the source said. "Its positioning itself as a safe place for kids and parents." (See related item in Film section.)
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED -- NOT
Tom Cruise was being blamed Monday for the failure of Paramount's Mission: Impossible III to live up to analysts' expectations at the box office over the weekend. The film took in an estimated $48 million in its domestic debut, about $10 million less than Mission: Impossible II garnered in its 2000 premiere. Analysts maintained that Cruise's sometimes outrageous behavior in recent months, including his sofa-jumping on Oprah Winfrey's show, his defense of Scientology, his confrontation with Today show host Matt Lauer over psychotropic medication, and his seemingly non-stop promotion of M:I:III may have irked fans. Today's (Monday) New York Times commented that Cruise "has evolved into a kind of cultural punch line." The New York Daily News observed that perhaps the "real mission impossible was selling a movie whose star spent the last year jumping on couches." Variety remarked that "aud[ience]s seemingly grew weary of Tom Cruise's pervasive media presence." "The summer movie season started with a fizzle," is the way the Los Angeles Times led off its report on the film's debut. Nevertheless, whatever it was that slowed ticket sales of the movie in the U.S. and Canada had little effect overseas, where the movie launched with $70.3 million. Meanwhile, the box office for United 93 tumbled 55 percent in its second week. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Mission: Impossible III, $48 million; 2. RV, $11.1 million; 3. An American Haunting, $6.4 million; 4. Stick It, $5.5 million; 5. United 93, $5.2 million; 6. Ice Age: The Meltdown, $4 million; 7. Silent Hill, $3.9 million; 8. Scary Movie 4, $3.8 million; 9. (tie). Akeelah and the Bee, $3.4 million; 9. (tie). Hoot, $3.4 million.
MCDONALD'S AND DISNEY SPLIT
Presumably concerned about being linked with the supersizing of American kids, the Walt Disney Co. and McDonald's have ended their longtime promotional partnership, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). The newspaper said that the studio's relationship with the fast-food chain will end following the summer releases of Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. While the move was welcomed by critics of the fast-food industry, industry analyst Lowell Singer of S.G. Cowen told the newspaper: "Fast food has been a very important promotional partner in promoting films to children. ... As the animated marketplace gets more competition over the next few years, Disney will need to be much more aggressive and creative in reaching children though other promotional outlets."
IT'S OFFICIAL: DISNEY AND PIXAR ARE ONE
The merger of the Walt Disney Co. and Pixar Animation was completed Friday when Pixar shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the deal. Each Pixar shareholder will receive 2.3 shares of Disney stock for each share of Pixar's. Pixar Chairman Steve Jobs thereby becomes Disney's largest shareholder with 7 percent of Disney. Jobs, who is also chairman of Apple Computer, received some additional good news today (Monday) when a British court ruled in favor of Apple in its dispute with the Beatles' Apple Corps company. In its ruling, the court said that Apple's use of the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store, where it offers music, movies and TV shows, did not breach a 1991 agreement that barred Apple Computer from entering music-related businesses. The judge agreed with the computer company's contention that it was acting simply as a data transmission service.
FILM "TRIBUTE" TO COMMUNIST LEADER BANNED IN MALAYSIA
A high-ranking Malaysian government official has overruled the country's National Film Censorship Board and banned the movie The Last Communist, described as a tribute to Chin Peng, the exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaysia. Deputy Home Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said today (Monday) that he had the right to revoke or cancel the board's approval of the film "because of public interest." In a statement, he said, "The public was not very happy about the movie."
WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT TRIBECA
Argentine director Tristan Bauer's Iluminados por el Fuego (Blessed By Fire), won the top award at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. The film, about the lives of soldiers who fought in the Falklands War, won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature. Another war-themed film, Deborah Scranton's The War Tapes, with footage shot in Iraq by members of the New Hampshire National Guard, won the award for best documentary feature. (See related story in TV section.)