Unable to whip up ratings for its computer-animated Father of the Pride, an adult-oriented cartoon about the performing tigers in Siegfried & Roy's Las Vegas act, NBC has yanked the show for the November sweeps. Although Pride is expected to return in December, it appeared doubtful that the network would continue the $2-million-per-episode DreamWorks-produced show once it has aired the initial 13 episodes. The show's Tuesday timeslot will be filled tonight by election coverage and next week by The Biggest Loser reality series, which is being expanded to 90 minutes through November.
ANOTHER BARE BREAST COSTS NEWS DIRECTOR HIS JOB
A Toledo, OH TV news director has been forced to resign after a nude photo of a local Playboy model appeared briefly on the station's early-evening newscast last Wednesday. The Toledo Blade reported Monday that Lou Hebert submitted his resignation following a WNWO-TV report in which the photo of Cara Zavaleta, a 1998 graduate of a Toledo high school, flashed briefly on the screen as a man, standing in line during a magazine-signing, was filmed flipping through the issue. Hebert blamed the incident on an editing error made in haste. But station general manager Rick Lipps told the Blade: "This is not what we stand for. ... This is not what we want on the air, and I apologize to our viewing public for that." According to the newspaper, the station did not receive a single phone call concerning the report.
LLOYD BRAUN JUMPS TO YAHOO!
Former ABC Entertainment Chairman Lloyd Braun has been signed by Yahoo! chief Terry Semel to head up the Internet portal's media and entertainment unit. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times, Braun said, "It feels like everything I've done up to now -- deal making, business skills, programming, relationships with suppliers and talent -- can be put to use here, and at a company that's doing remarkably well." Meanwhile, Semel himself appeared to take himself out of the running for CEO of the Walt Disney Co. Asked about speculation that he might succeed Michael Eisner, Semel told a Morgan Stanley investors conference in Scottsdale, AZ Monday: "I'm looking forward to at least the next bunch of years, I hope many, to continue doing what I'm doing. ... I enjoy being a builder."
WILL ABC NEWS NOW BECOME ABC NEWS THEN?
ABC News has still not indicated whether it plans to keep its experimental Internet news channel ABC News Now alive past tonight's (Tuesday) election coverage. The streaming news channel was launched in July with gavel-to-gavel coverage of the party conventions. But the network has not indicated how many people have accessed the website since then. ABC had previously indicated that it planned to shut it down following election. There was no hint of the network's plans on the site itself this morning.
BOCHCO DEVELOPING "APOLITICAL" SERIES ABOUT IRAQ WAR
Producer Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, L.A. Law) has been asked by executives of FX, the cable network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, to develop a drama about the war in Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Tuesday). Bochco told the newspaper that he had reservations about the project since he questioned his ability to produce it "without exposing your political feelings about [the war] in one way or another." He said that he decided instead to focus on the troops and their families, something that would enable him to produce a program that was "completely apolitical." In reporting on Bochco's comments about the series, the Journal remarked that it was "unclear whether a drama from a gritty producer like Mr. Bochco can avoid politics at a time when U.S. troops still face danger and the country is divided over the war."
REGULATOR SAYS AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORP WASN'T BIASED IN IRAQ REPORTS (SORT OF)
The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has rejected complaints by former communications minister Richard Alston that the country's publicly funded Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) presented biased and anti-American coverage of the war in Iraq. Nevertheless, the ABA did uphold seven of the 68 examples of alleged bias that Alston had listed in his complaint according to the Australian Associated Press. "In each case, the ABA has found that the style of presentation and language used by the presenter displayed prejudgment of the issues concerned and/or lack of consideration to alternative viewpoints," the report said.
OVITZ -- WAS TAINT NECESSARILY SO?
Michael Ovitz completed his testimony in a Disney shareholders' lawsuit in Delaware Monday, telling reporters afterwards that he was relieved to have been able to tell his side of the story of his tenure at Disney in a court of law. "I have been waiting for seven years to get this out and what better condition than under oath," he said. "I've lost seven years of my business life and coming out of that Disney thing I was tainted." He suggested that if the shareholders lose their lawsuit, he would be given the opportunity to resume his show-business career. Ovitz defended his acceptance of a $140-million "golden parachute" when he left the company, explaining that, as an agent, his deals had always involved "protecting the upside and the downside for other people. ... It's part of the whole negotiation. One doesn't negotiate for the good times; one negotiates for the contingencies."
LANSING TO STEP DOWN AS CHAIRMAN OF PARAMOUNT
Paramount Chairman Sherry Lansing plans to leave her post when her contract expires next year, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal reported today (Tuesday), citing sources familiar with the situation. The newspapers observed that the studio has experienced a three-year-long box-office slump and that there are few potential hits in its release schedule to indicate that it will soon be coming out of it. Lansing, the Times said, had considered resigning in June but was talked out of doing so by Jonathan Dolgen, who had just resigned himself when Tom Freston and Les Moonves took over as joint second-in-command at Viacom following the departure of Mel Karmazin.
KIDS FLOCK TO THEATERS ON HALLOWEEN
Millions of young moviegoers celebrated Halloween by going to the multiplex where two horror films vied for attention over the weekend. As it turned out, Sony's The Grudge scared up the most loot -- $21.8 million -- while winding up in first place for the second consecutive week. Lion's Gate's Saw was not far behind, finishing in third place with $18.3 million. The film was made by Melbourne, Australia students James Wan and Leigh Whannell for $1.4 million. Universal's Ray Charles biopic Ray was in second place with $20 million. The Taylor Hackford-directed film produced the highest per-theater average, $10,020.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1 The Grudge, Sony, $21,817,598, 2 Wks. ($70,684,627); 2. Ray, Universal, $20,039,730, 1 Wks. ($20,039,730); 3. Saw, Lions Gate, $18,276,468, 1 Wks. ($18,276,468); 4. Shark Tale, DreamWorks, $7,502,096, 5 Wks. ($146,859,079); 5. Shall We Dance?, Miramax, $6,285,963, 3 Wks. ($33,940,119); 6. Friday Night Lights, Universal, $4,085,440, 4 Wks. ($52,944,730); 7. Ladder 49, Disney, $3,256,363, 5 Wks. ($66,118,796); 8. Team America: World Police, Paramount, $3,083,704, 3 Wks. ($27,245,193); 9. Surviving Christmas, DreamWorks, $2,435,652, 2 Wks. ($7,980,427); 10. Taxi, 20th Century Fox, $2,106,136, 4 Wks. ($32,700,351).
DUTCH FILMMAKER MURDERED; SUSPECT MAY BE MUSLIM EXTREMIST
Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film director who had produced a film about violence against women in Muslim societies and who has written about the subject in his column for Metro, an Amsterdam newspaper, was shot to death while bicycling near Amsterdam's Oosterpark today (Tuesday). Following a shootout, police arrested a suspect who was carrying both Dutch and Moroccan passports. Bloomberg News reported that Van Gogh had received death threats after his film Submission had aired on TV earlier this year. Speaking at a news conference carried live by Dutch TV, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said that he was "filled with horror" by the killing.
BROSNAN MAY RETURN AS BOND AGAIN -- IN TARANTINO FILM
Pierce Brosnan might yet again star as James Bond after all. The Associated Press reported Monday that he has been in discussions with Quentin Tarantino about starring in a film version of Casino Royale, the only Bond novel that is not controlled by MGM and the Brocolli estate. (It had previously been filmed as a Bond spoof.) "We have discussed things, Quentin and I, but I don't know if it's going to be that particular project," Brosnan told the A.P. He also endorsed fellow Irishman Colin Farrell to succeed him as Bond in the MGM franchise.