CBS SWEEPS THURSDAY
CBS scored another overwhelming ratings victory Thursday night with its centerpiece attraction, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation drawing a whopping 19.2 rating and a 28 share in the 9:00 p.m. hour. Once again, CBS led in every half hour of primetime, drawing audiences that were typically greater than those of NBC and ABC combined. The network averaged a 14.7/22 for the night, the second Thursday of the November sweeps. NBC was a distant second with an 8.6/13, followed by ABC with a 4.3/7. The WB came in fourth with a 3.6/5, edging out Fox, which drew a 3.3/5.
TV DVD BUYERS: A DIFFERENT BREED
The sudden explosion in sales of DVD collections of television shows has brought about a study of TV DVD buyers. The study by Home Media Research and VideoScan indicates that they are typically women who shop at mass merchants and are more affluent, younger, and have a bigger library of DVDs than average DVD buyers. The TV DVD buyer usually buys 25.4 DVDs per year, compared to 17.8 by the average DVD buyer. Of the 25.4 DVDs, four were TV DVDs. The average collection of a TV DVD consumer was 100.3 discs versus 71.9 discs for other DVD buyers.
CBS EXEC SAYS VOD COULD BRING $5 BILLION TO NETS
The major TV networks could earn an additional $5 billion a year from video-on-demand, according to CBS's top researcher, David Poltrack. Speaking at an entertainment marketing conference in Los Angeles, Poltrack said that he based his figure on an estimate that the average household would pay $100 a year to watch VOD programming and that there are 50 million homes with VOD access. As reported by Advertising Age, Poltrack told the conference, "Some people see [VOD] as the beginning of the end for broadcast networks. ... I'd argue that's myopic. The system will not only survive, it will thrive."
STUDY: PEOPLE WON'T WATCH TV ON CELL PHONES
Television viewers are not likely to use cell phones to watch TV shows and movies on demand, according to a study by Mobinet conducted in 21 countries. The study found that just 15 percent of cell phone users would be willing to pay to watch programs on their phones. Of those, 49 percent said that they would watch news clips, while 17 percent said that they would check out sports clips. But aside from time-sensitive content, consumers expressed little desire to watch conventional entertainment programming.
TV ACADEMY TO AWARD EMMY FOR ORIGINAL CONTENT FOR IPODS
The East Coast National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is expected to announce a new Emmy award on Tuesday that will recognize original video content for computers, cell phones and other hand-held devices, like the video iPod and PlayStation Portable, the New York Times reported today (Friday). The award will be handed out at the academy's next Sports Emmys presentation, the newspaper said, but is not likely to be mentioned at the primetime Emmy Awards, produced by the National Academy's West Coast sister organization. "Television is transforming into moving images anytime, anywhere," said academy president Peter Price.
INCOME AT FOX NEWS CHANNEL SOARS 64 PERCENT
Fox News Channel appeared to be a bright star in News Corp's media galaxy as the company reported quarterly results showing that the channel saw income rising 64 percent despite increased costs associated with coverage of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. The company noted that FNC's audience increased 31 percent in primetime and 30 percent overall over last year, which saw a spurt in viewership due to the Democratic and Republican conventions. (See related item in Film section.)
GREENS ASTONISHED AND PLEASED BY FOX NEWS DOCUMENTARY
Environmentalists were left scratching their heads but expressing delight over Fox News Channel's decision to air a documentary film presenting their view on global warming. Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program, said that when he received a call from Fox News to appear in the film, "I'll admit I thought it was a prank call." The documentary, titled The Heat Is On: The Case for Global Warming, is due to air Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. on FNC. "The bad news is that our leaders in Congress and the White House are not taking the issue as seriously as Fox News is," said Becker. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent environmentalist who also appears in the documentary, commented in a separate commentary, "The portrayal of global warming in Fox's piece is both fair and accurate. ... The end product goes a long way toward putting the 'conserve' back into 'conservatism.'" However, in a letter to Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Fred L. Smith, Jr. president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote: "We sincerely hope, in the interest of fairness and balance, that the Fox News Channel dramatically retools this intentionally biased piece to fairly treat contrary perspectives."
CHICKEN CROSSES THE 'HOOD
This weekend will determine whether Disney's little chicken has legs. Most box office analysts are predicting that Chicken Little will be crowing from the top of the coop on Monday, particularly since its biggest likely rival, Paramount's 50 Cent starrer Get Rich or Die Tryin' will only be playing on fewer than half the number of screens that are showing Chicken. The gangsta-with-a-heart movie premiered Wednesday with an unimpressive $3 million. Attendance for the film may also be kept down by active opposition to it in some black communities. Warnings from local leaders that it could inspire violence seemed to be borne out in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Homestead, PA, where a man was shot and killed in the concessions area of a local multiplex showing the film Wednesday night. Loews Corp., which operates the multiplex and which, like other theaters, had beefed up security there, pulled the movie pending an investigation. West Homestead police Chief Christopher Deasy told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "As far as, did the movie influence them in any way?, we can't say that. ... We're treating this as a random incident."
MOVIE REVIEWS: ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE
It may not have received the promotional push that Chicken Little did, but Sony's Zathura: A Space Adventure, from Jon Favreau, the actor-turned-director who helmed 2003's surprise hit Elf, could prove to be another sleeper hit, several critics suggest. Indeed they are giving it the kind of praise that Disney must have hoped for when it released Chicken Little, its first fully computer-animated feature, last weekend. On Good Morning America, critic Joel Siegel called it, "The best family film so far this year." In the Baltimore Sun, critic Chris Kaltenbach writes, "Zathura is pure imagination and incalculable fun -- a guaranteed good time." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times comments that "it works gloriously as space opera." There's no hyperbole in Stephen Holden's review in the New York Times. Instead, he writes, "In the enchanted limbo between waking and sleeping, Zathura feels both real and unreal, like a dream you could shake off at any moment." On the other hand, the film also receives some scathing criticism. "Rarely is a movie audience asked to put up with so much noise for such a thankless payoff as it must with 'Zathura, a loud, endless family picture," writes Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post calls it "a singularly loud, charmless and overbearing family movie that could use a hit or two of Ritalin." Then there's Michael Phillips, who begins his review in the Chicago Tribune this way: "For a kid-aimed PG-rated fantasy you could do worse than Zathura: A Space Adventure. Now there's a ringing endorsement. You could do worse."
MOVIE REVIEWS: DERAILED
The producers of Derailed
may have been asking for trouble when they stuck with the title of their movie -- and they're getting it. Almost every critic is pitching in to derail the film, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times dismisses it as "a glossy and often risible bit of trash." Similarly, Ty Burr in the Boston Globe writes, "Derailed is a tawdry, predictable hunk of movie headcheese," but then he adds, "I still had a pretty good time with it. As I walked out of the movie theater, though, I reminded myself that critics see these things for free and that if I'd paid $9 plus Goobers and Coke like everybody else, I'd doubtless feel rooked." Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests that people just wait and add the movie to their Netflix list, while Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail says people should find it "entertaining enough if you approach it with appropriately low expectations." Or as Amy Biancolli puts it in the Houston Chronicle: "If you can turn off your powers of critical judgment you might enjoy a few of its more corkscrew revelations, but only if you don't see them coming, and likely as not, you will." But none of those disclaimers seem to make much sense to Carina Chocano, who observes in the Los Angeles Times: "Derailed is a silly, lurid, pulpy thriller that's not nearly lurid and pulpy enough to be much fun, but more than silly enough to be ludicrous."
RIDE A CAB; SEE A MOVIE
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which last year okayed a 26-percent increase in taxi fares, said Thursday that it will equip all of the city's yellow cabs with a wireless device that will allow riders not only to pay with a swipe of their credit cards but also allow them to check flight times and buy movie tickets. A touch-screen monitor mounted on the bullet-proof partition over the front seat will show movie trailers and can display a listing of local movies and their times. Passengers need only touch the name of the movie they wish to see, select a screening time and number of tickets, and the charge for the tickets will be added to their fare. "This is what we are giving to the customer in return for the fare increase," TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus told Bloomberg News. But one rider said that while he likes the idea of being able to pay for his ride by credit card, the monitors would be OK only "if you can turn them off."
20TH CENTURY FOX WEATHERS BOX-OFFICE SLUMP
Twentieth Century Fox did not experience the box office slump that the movie industry did overall in the last quarter. Far from it. In reporting its quarterly results, News Crop said that profits from its movie unit jumped nearly 25 percent in the quarter thanks largely to the performance of Fantastic Four and Transporter 2 at the box office and Robots and Hide and Seek on DVD. The studio helped boost revenue at News Corp to $5.7 billion, up 10 percent from the comparable quarter last year. However, the company reported a loss of $433 million due to a $1-billion write-down of its TV licenses, said to be a routine accounting charge. Meanwhile, an eBay member with the screen-name wabanhood has agreed to fork over $57,100 to have lunch with News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch. The money will go to Murdoch's chosen charity, the Jerusalem College of Technology.
WALLACE AND GROMIT: CURSED
"Despite being one of the best-reviewed films of the year, Wallace & Gromit [The Curse of the Were-Rabbit] has fallen short of the financial objectives we had for the movie," DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg said during a conference call Thursday as the studio reported results for the last quarter. The W&G film has earned $50.7 million domestically and nearly $100 million overseas, but only a portion of that amount figured in the quarterly results, which showed the company losing $700,000 on $87.1 million in gross revenue versus a profit of $20.3 million on $241.3 million in revenue during the same quarter a year ago. Most of the company's revenue came from its computer-animated Madagascar.
HALLOWEEN PRODUCER KILLED IN JORDAN TERRORIST BOMBING
Producer-director Moustapha Akkad, who produced all of the Halloween horror films, has died from injuries sustained during the terrorist attacks in Jordan earlier this week, al-Jazeera reported today. Akkad also directed the 1976 film The Message, starring Anthony Quinn, about the prophet Muhammad, and the 1981 film Lion of the Desert, also starring Quinn, about Omar Mukhtar, who led the resistance to Mussolini's occupation of Libya.