WAS KOPPEL SQUEEZED OUT?
In an interview with New York magazine, Ted Koppel has implied that he was squeezed out of ABC's Nightline when ABC made him an offer "that they knew I wouldn't accept." Koppel also has indicated that he had been at odds with ABC News chief David Westin and other ABC network officials who had wanted to revamp the late-night news program. "I'm not a stupid guy," Koppel told New York. "I have long understood what the pressures are that cause people up the line at Disney to say, 'Could we be making a lot more money if we didn't have a news program?' David confronts the issue of 'How do I best keep Nightline alive?' I'm not the easiest guy in the world to convince that you need to be doing the program a different way." In a separate interview with the magazine, Westin remarked, ""I would have loved for Ted to stay, and I think he knows that. ... I tried everything I could within reason to make it possible." (The magazine took note of the "within reason" qualifier.)
CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein is predicting that the days of the traditional news anchor are numbered and that "within five years" delivery of news content will be completely refashioned. In an interview with New York magazine, Klein said that when that time comes, "People will be saying, 'I want the news about Jordan,' and they'll type 'Jordan' into their handheld device and up will pop the news about Jordan that they want, nothing else. ... There won't be anchors. There won't be people introducing the stories. Consumers won't have the time or the need for that. They'll just be getting the news they want, when they want it, in whatever form they want it."
COOPER FAILING TO CAPTURE NEW VIEWERS
Despite being showered with kudos and free publicity, Anderson Cooper's move into Aaron Brown's 10:00 p.m. timeslot on CNN has not been accompanied by rising ratings. Far from it. A look at Cooper's numbers for his first 11 days in that period shows a 19 percent overall decline when compared with Brown's final week. Still, CNN observes that Cooper's ratings in the 25-54-year-old demographic group is up, leading the cable network's spokesperson, Christa Robinson, to tell MediaWeek magazine: "We can't really extrapolate much from the data thus far, but having said that we're extremely pleased with the quality and performance of the show."
TIVO TO OFFER COMMERCIALS ON DEMAND
TiVo, which has induced much hand wringing over its ability to allow users to skip commercials, is planning to introduce a search system that will permit them to search for commercials around a specific topic, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). TiVo President Tom Rogers told the newspaper, "We're flipping the dynamic. ... If you are in the market for a product, and you have no idea when commercials related to that kind of product are going to appear, [the traditional model] doesn't help you very much."
CBS FEASTS ON BIG THANKSGIVING NUMBERS
As usual, the television networks saw audiences for their usual Thursday-night fare dip sharply on Thanksgiving night -- even more sharply than in previous years. But CBS still managed to produce impressive results, overwhelming the competition in every half hour, and drawing an audience that was bigger than that of ABC, NBC and Fox combined. ABC, which usually places a distant third in the ratings on Thursday, moved into second place with its network premiere of its parent company Disney's Finding Nemo. CBS averaged a 12.3 rating and a 23 share, while ABC registered a 4.5/8; NBC, a 4.4/8; and Fox, a 3.4/6. Once again, the top-rated show of the night was CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which recorded a 14.4/27. On Sunday night, ABC's Desperate Housewives, with a 15.8 rating and a 22 share,once again helped the network win the night, despite strong competition from the CBS movie Silver Bells, which scored a 10.4/15. ABC also won the 8:00 p.m. hour with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the 10:00 hour with Grey's Anatomy.
REVENUE HIGH FOR HARRY; LOW RENT
The latest Harry Potter movie may have dropped 47 percent in its second weekend; five new films couldn't do as well as two new ones a year ago; one of them, Rent, may have opened like a house on fire, but it quickly fizzled out; Daily Variety may have reported that for the first time in eight years, only one film earned more than $20 million over the Friday-Sunday period. And yet, despite all that bad news, if estimates hold, the Thanksgiving box office will rank second only to 2000's as the highest ever for the holiday. No one doubted that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire would lead the pack. It took in $81.3 million over the five-day holiday period, bringing its 10-day total to $201.1 million. (The BBC reported that worldwide ticket sales have topped $408 million.) What surprised many was the strong second-week performance of Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic, which earned $27.6 million over the holiday to bring its total to $54.7 million. And while the critics may have dumped on Yours, Mine & Ours, moviegoers spent $24.5 million to see it, making it the leader among the five films released wide over the weekend. Opening in limited release in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, the George Clooney-Matt Damon thriller Syrania took in an astounding $553,372 in just five theaters over the five days. Its three-day take of $372,725 ($74,429 per theater) was the best ever for a Thanksgiving weekend, Variety observed. The film is due to go nationwide on Dec. 9.
The top ten films for the Friday-Sunday period of the holiday weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, $54.9 million; 2. Walk the Line, $19.7 million; 3. Yours, Mine & Ours, $17.5 million; 4. Chicken Little, $12.4 million; 5. Rent, $10.7 million; 6. Just Friends, $9.3 million; 7. Pride & Prejudice, $7 million; 8. Derailed, $4.7 million; 9. In the Mix, $4.5 million; 10. The Ice Harvest, $3.7 million.
JAPANESE, CHINESE ANGRY OVER GEISHA CASTING
Although it features an almost entirely Asian cast, Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha has evoked anger and calls for a boycott among some of those who have seen advance screenings of the film in Japan and China, Reuters reported today (Monday). According to the wire service, some Japanese are outraged that the leading roles in the film are played by Chinese actresses Ziyi Zhang and Gong Li and Chinese-Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh. On the other hand, some Chinese are upset that Chinese film stars would favorably portray Japanese, who are still remembered for their brutal occupation of China in World War II. Reuters quoted one blogger as saying of Zhang, who plays the title role: "She's sold her soul and betrayed her country. Hacking her to death would not be good enough."
MASS MERCHANTS IN DVD PRICE WAR
Instead of clearing out their overloaded shelves of DVDs by returning the product to distributors, many retailers were blowing them out at bargain prices to holiday shoppers over the weekend. Home Media Retailing reported Sunday that Wal-Mart was selling some 40 titles, including Minority Report and Road to Perdition, for just $3.44. At The Warehouse, Shark Tale, Shrek, The Ring, Casino, Meet the Fockers and other Universal and DreamWorks titles were going for $5.99. Customers could buy such recent hits as The Incredibles, Kingdom of Heaven, Napoleon Dynamite and Robots for $8.99 at Circuit City. Even new arrivals War of the Worlds and Polar Express could be had for $14.99 at CompUSA, the trade publication observed.
FIRST "REVIEW" OF KING KONG
Newsweek writer Devin Gordon has written the first unofficial review of King Kong, after accepting an invitation from director Peter Jackson to see it in New Zealand. Gordon -- dare we say it? -- has gone ape over the movie, writing early in his article that it "is a surprisingly tender, even heartbreaking film," then, anticipating complaints about its three-hour length -- nearly twice that of the original -- he writes, "While Kong may be indulgent, it's not pretentious. And it's certainly never dull. Jackson has honored his favorite film in the best possible way: by recapturing its heart-pounding, escapist glee."
NEW STORAGE SYSTEM MAY MAKE ALL DVD'S OBSOLETE
Threatening to make both competing high-definition DVD systems, Blu-Ray and HD DVD, quickly obsolete, a holographic storage system that can store up to 300GB on a single disc is expected to hit the market by this time next year, Britain's New Scientist magazine is reporting in its current issue. The magazine noted that the technology behind it could eventually be developed to store up to 1.6 terabytes on a disk, the equivalent of 300 DVDs. Moreover, it noted, the system employs a laser light unit that allows information to be transferred in a single flash, thereby lowering production costs. The system is being developed jointly by InPhase Technologies and Hitachi.
DISNEY IN NEW DEAL WITH APPLE -- THIS TIME OVER A MOVIE
Broadening its deal with Steve Jobs' Apple Computer company, Disney announced today (Monday) that it will post trailers for its The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Apple's iTunes online store and the film's website, together with clips from the film, behind-the-scenes features, and other content. The videos can be viewed either on home computers or on Apple's video iPod without charge.