ABC REMAINS NO. 1 ON SUNDAY
ABC's Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy delivered a Sunday punch to its opponents last night and put the once foundering network on top again for the night. Housewives registered a 17.4 rating and a 25 share, while lead-out Anatomy pulled its best numbers to date with a 13.0/20. CBS took the 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. hours with 60 Minutes and Cold Case, but not by the same sort of overwhelming numbers. Minutes scored an 8.3/16, while Case managed an 11.3/18. Pt. 1 of CBS's Elvis miniseries pulled a second-place 9.2/14 in its 9:00-11:00 p.m. time period.
COURT LOWERS BROADCAST FLAG
The Consumer Electronics Assn. on Friday lauded an appellate court decision that held that the FCC had "exceeded the scope of its delegated authority" when it ordered manufacturers to include anti-piracy technology in their TV recording devices that would recognize a so-called broadcast flag and thereby prevent certain digital broadcasts from being copied. "Courts are right to be wary when government institutions seek to regulate the specific features and functions of safe, useful consumer technology," the organization's CEO, Gary Shapiro, said in a statement. In its ruling, the court said that the FCC had no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices unless they are being used for broadcast transmission -- not reception. "In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before asserted such sweeping authority," the court said. Congress, it added, "never conferred authority on the FCC to regulate consumers' use of television receiver apparatus after the completion of broadcast transmissions." The matter now appears headed back to Congress where content producers are likely to demand that lawmakers do just that.
KENTUCKY DERBY TELECAST IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE
The proliferation of Internet betting sites helped draw viewers to NBC's telecast of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Overnight Nielsen ratings indicated that the telecast, won by longshot Giacomo, drew an 8.2 rating and a 19 share, off only slightly from the ratings for the record-holding 2001, 2003 and 2004 broadcasts, each of which drew an 8.3/19. (In Louisville, the race pulled a 30.6/62.) Churchill Downs put the combined on- and off-track betting total at $103.3 million, making it the first time that more than $100 million was wagered on a horse race in North America.
ROBIN NESTS IN GMA ANCHOR'S CHAIR
Reporting on a move with far reaching ramifications at ABC News, the New York Times said today (Monday) that Good Morning America news reader Robin Roberts is being made a co-host of the program. The move, disclosed to the newspaper by two network sources, was apparently partly designed to give co-host Charles Gibson, who has been substituting (along with Elizabeth Vargas) for the cancer-stricken Peter Jennings on the evening World News Tonight, some additional rest. The Times observed that it would also make it easier to make Gibson or GMA cohost Diane Sawyer the permanent anchor of the nightly newscast if Jennings is unable to return.
STAR TREK WEB EPISODE A BIGGER DRAW THAN THE REAL THING
Demonstrating the continuing interest in Star Trek (the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise is due to air on Friday), the latest amateur production of an hour-long Trek episode posted on the Internet has attracted 22 million viewers, the Washington Post reported today (Monday). The episode, which can be downloaded from www.newvoyages.com, was produced by James Cawley, an Elvis impersonator, who also stars in the role of Kirk. An earlier episode drew 6 million downloads, and Cawley has lined up Walter Koenig, the original Pavel Chekov, to appear in a third episode due to start shooting in September. Paramount reportedly allows the site to exist provided it makes no money. However, Cawley told the Post, "It blows my mind that if we charged even a dollar a download, that would be $22 million. ... I'd be happy to give Paramount three-quarters of that."
ABDUL: SNL SPOOFERS NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
Paula Abdul appeared to have successfully deflated the scandal over her alleged romantic relationship with an American Idol contestant by an appearance on Saturday Night Live in which she treated the entire matter as a joke. Introducing a sketch in which she was portrayed by SNL's Amy Poehler and the contestant, Corey Clark, was portrayed by Finesse Mitchell, Abdul said, "What you're about to see is a reenactment of some events of this week's biggest news story. Now, all the facts have been changed to get laughs at my expense. I hope you enjoy it." She later "judged" the actors' performances, telling Mitchell: "You have a great voice and a great style, but I think you need to focus on coming over to my hot tub and letting me rub your feet." To Poehler: "You need to perfect the clap a little more and be a lot more sexier so contestants will be willing to sleep with you."
MY KINGDOM FOR A HOUSE
The box office for Ridley Scott's $130-million Kingdom of Heaven may not have been heavenly in the U.S., where it took in only $20 million over the weekend, but it certainly was overseas, where it garnered $56 million. Twentieth Century Fox, which released the film in early May in order to give a wide berth to its upcoming Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, which debuts worldwide (except Japan and South Korea) on May 18, said that it was "delighted" with the figures. Opening in second place domestically was the remake of the horror film House of Wax, which earned just $12.2 million. Analysts figured that Heaven and Wax would run neck-and-neck. Lions Gate's Crash debuted with $9.1 million, to place third, tied with last week's leader, Disney's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- which dropped 57 percent in ticket sales. Still, theater houses were mostly empty. "It was quite an underwhelming week," Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. "This is theoretically the first weekend of the summer and it doesn't feel like one." It marked the 11th straight week in which box office totals remained lower than they were in the comparable period a year ago, the longest slump in five years. Attendance is down eight percent from last year; revenue, down five percent.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Kingdom of Heaven, $20 million; 2. House of Wax, $12.2 million; 3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, $9.1 million; 4. Crash, $9.1 million; 5. The Interpreter, $7.5 million; 6: XXX: State of the Union, $5.4 million; 7. The Amityville Horror, $3.2 million; 8. Sahara, $3.1 million; 9. A Lot Like Love, $3 million; 10. Fever Pitch, $2 million.
LUCAS PROMISES A SITH CHRISTHMITH
George Lucas has indicated that he expects the Star Wars: Episode 3 -- Revenge of the Sith DVD to be released at Christmas time this year. Lucas made the comment in an interview with MTV.com, which reported that the DVD will offer five or six deleted scenes. Rick McCallum, a producer of the three sequels, told the website: ""They were great scenes, but they just had nothing to do with getting straight and cutting to the chase of the story. They were more plot-orientated and more setting up of Coruscant, more setting up of the war and kind of understanding where all the politics were."
FOX JUMPS ON PSP BANDWAGON
Twentieth Century Fox has joined Sony and Disney in releasing movies for Sony's new PlayStation Portable device in the UMD format in July. The studio's home video unit said today (Monday) that it plans to release I, Robot, Napoleon Dynamite, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Super Troopers, and Predator. In a statement, Fox said it had "a burgeoning catalog of releases immediately scheduled for subsequent waves."
HBO HOPES CANNES CAN POLISH ITS NEW IMAGE AS MOVIE DISTRIBUTOR
HBO executives are hoping that the appearance of Gus Van Sant's Last Days among the 20 films competing at the Cannes Film Festival will boost their company's reputation among filmmakers. (Van Sant won the festival's Palme d'Or in 2003 for his film Elephant, based on the Columbine school massacre.) The film marks HBO's first foray into the theatrical film market since the pay TV channel and corporate sibling New Line Cinema acquired Newmarket Films in March to form their own distribution company. "I hope it's a way of saying to filmmakers that there are a multitude of ways you can work with HBO," Colin Callender, president of HBO Films, told the Associated Press, noting that the company is keenly aware that the move could alienate subscribers. "We were and continue to be very conscious of our obligation to and unwritten contract with subscribers that we would provide them with exclusive and original movies," Callender said. "We had always resisted going out theatrically because it seemed at odds with that promise."
MONTY PYTHON JOINS BROADWAY'S INNER CIRCLE AT OUTER CIRCLE
Monty Python's Spamalot, the Broadway musical based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, received four Outer Critics Circle Awards Sunday, including best Broadway musical; best director, musical (Mike Nichols); featured actress, musical (Sara Ramirez), and costume design (Tim Hatley).