MNF THROWN FOR A LOSS
Just when ABC was making big strides with its regular entertainment program, its dependable ratings winner Monday Night Football has begun taking a pasting. In the 9:00 hour on Monday, CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men averaged an 11.4 rating and a 17 share, beating out MNF, which posted a 10.0/15. At 10:00 p.m., CBS's CSI: Miami picked up the best ratings for the night, a 13.7/22 to a 9.5/15 for MNF. Meanwhile, Fox, which continued to air Major League Baseball divisional playoff games, struck out with an average 5.4/8.
LAST LEGS FOR STANDING ON COMEDY CENTRAL
The season finale of NBC's Last Comic Standing, shelved last week because of poor ratings for earlier episodes, will air Saturday, Oct. 16 at 8:00 p.m. -- but not on NBC. Comedy Central plans to carry the show, produced and hosted by Jay Mohr, and repeat it the next day at 11:00 a.m.
DEMOCRATS SEEK TO BLOCK SINCLAIR'S ANTI-KERRY TELECAST
Sinclair Broadcast Group's plans to preempt regular network programming on its 62 TV stations just before election day to air an anti-John Kerry documentary have been caught in a pincers movement by Democratic lawmakers and party officials. The Democratic National Committee said that it plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the company's plans to carry Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, in which Kerry is lambasted by fellow Vietnam War veterans. At the same time, Democratic senators have asked the FCC to investigate the planned telecast. Today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times indicated that they will find a sympathetic in FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat, who called Sinclair's decision "an abuse of the public trust." Copps said that it represented "proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology -- whether liberal or conservative."
A&E CHANNEL TO BACK INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARIES
Documentary filmmakers are due to receive a big financial boost from A&E channel, which announced Monday that it will help finance and produce documentaries that it will showcase on the air and, in some instances, screen in theaters, too. The cable network told Reuters that it plans to stake out film festivals where it will hand out grants for intriguing projects. "We're going after well-crafted documentaries that really tell personal, factual stories," A&E president Abbe Raven told the wire service.
GIL CATES SIGNS ON AGAIN AS OSCAR PRODUCER
Veteran TV and film producer Gil Cates has been signed to produce the 2005 Oscar telecast. It will be the 12th Academy Awards ceremonies that Cates has overseen. In a statement, Academy President Frank Pierson said Monday, "No other producer, living or dead, even comes close to the depth of Gil's experience." The 77th annual awards show is scheduled to air from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Feb. 27.
EMINEM'S ANTI-MICHAEL JACKSON RAP SONG RAPPED BY JACKSON
Viacom-owned BET channel has agreed to yank Eminem's new music video in which the rap singer mocks Michael Jackson, the New York Daily News reported today (Tuesday). According to the newspaper, one scene in the video, titled "Just Lose It," shows Eminem dressed like Jackson sitting on a bed with little boys, singing, "Come here little kiddie, on my lap. Guess who's back with a brand new rap? And I don't mean rap, as in a case of child molestation." A Jackson representative told the Daily News that Jackson believes that the video is "insensitive and disrespectful" and has asked all networks and cable channels to yank it. "Michael Jackson is very angry. He feels that Eminem has crossed the line," the Jackson spokesman said. Thus far, BET, which targets a black audience, is the only outlet that has agreed to pull the video. Viacom also owns, among other media holdings, MTV, VH1, and CBS.
SHARK REMAINS BIGGEST FISH
DreamWorks' Shark Tale took another big bite out of the box office last weekend, earning $31.3 million in its second week and putting itself in position to cross the $100-million mark by next weekend. Its total gross now stands at $87.3 million. Meanwhile, Universal's critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights made its debut with a slightly higher-than-expected $20.2 million, to place second. Another newcomer, Fox's Taxi, took in a so-so $12 million. And a third new film, New Line's Raise Your Voice, hardly made a noise as it stumbled out of the starting gate with just $4 million.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Shark Tale, DreamWorks, $31,330,299, 2 Wks. ($87,350,275); 2. Friday Night Lights, Universal, $20,269,025, (New); 3. Ladder 49, Disney, $13,105,177, 2 Wks. ($41,025,820); 4. Taxi, 20th Century Fox, $12,029,832, (New); 5. The Forgotten, Sony, $7,605,742, 3 Wks. ($48,721,387); 6. Raise Your Voice, New Line, $4,022,693, (New); 7. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Paramount, $2,341,872, 4 Wks. ($33,932,601); 8. Shaun of the Dead, Focus Features, $1,708,113, 3 Wks. ($9,457,504); 9. The Motorcycle Diaries, Focus Features, $1,510,020, 3 Wks. ($3,293,132); 10. Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Screen Gems, $1,253,117, 5 Wks. ($49,010,903).
DIRECTOR RAIMI TO FILM NEW SCENES FOR SPIDER-MAN 2.5
Not only does Sony plan to release the Spider-Man 2 DVD in November, but it also plans to release Spider-Man 2.5, with additional action and effects scenes next year, director Sam Raimi has told the website IGN.com. It is really not a matter of his wanting to release a director's extended cut of the film, Raimi indicated. "Sony said to me, 'We want to release a 2.5,' because they want to make more money. It's not really that I had some scenes to put in. The movie really was the best I could make it. It's not like I think I could make it better." Asked why the studio is waiting until next year to release the extended version, Raimi responded: ""It's just a financial decision by the studio. They know that people who liked the second movie would want to own it as it is on DVD, and then it's just a gamble. 'Oh, if we spend another four million dollars, can we make another ten million dollars?' I think that's how it works."
OVITZ GAVE CAA AGENT DISNEYLAND PARTY FOR HIS KID, REPORTS SAY
Letters between former Walt Disney Co. President Michael Ovitz and numerous Hollywood personalities requesting favors from him are among documents filed in court in connection with a shareholders lawsuit against Disney, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday). Among the letters was a July 1996 request from Bryan Lourd, an executive at Creative Artists Agency, founded by Ovitz, for 40 tickets and VIP passes to Disneyland for his daughter's fourth birthday. Not only did Ovitz arrange for the tickets, the Times reported, but he also arranged for tour guides for the group, lunches for each of them, and a photo session with a Disney character.
DISNEY IN COPYRIGHT BATTLE AGAINST U.K. CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
In what was being depicted in Britain as a battle between the Walt Disney Co. and a hospital that treats sick children, the London Daily Telegraph reported today (Tuesday) that the Great Ormond Street Hospital has asked its lawyers to determine whether a Peter Pan prequel, published by Disney's Hyperion Books, violates its copyright ownership of the original J.M. Barrie book. Disney issued a statement Monday insisting that the Peter Pan copyright expired in 1998, and a spokesman for Hyperion told the Telegraph, "We are very certain that in the U.S., Peter Pan is in the public domain." Disney continues to pay royalty fees to the hospital for Pan in countries where it acknowledges that the copyright remains in effect.
INDIAN BUREAU HALTS PRODUCTION OF JACKIE CHAN FLICK
One day after its was reported that Jackie Chan had enlisted community members living near an ancient temple near Hambi, in the Indian state of Karnataka, to join him in cleaning up the temple grounds where he planned to film scenes for his new movie The Myth, the Indian Archeological Department has halted the filming. Indian press reports said that while the U.S.-based producers of the movie had received permission to shoot in the area from other government agencies, it had failed to seek permits from the state Archeological Department. Moreover, visitors to the temple have reportedly complained that their access to it was being limited by the production.
SINGAPORE IS REWARDED FOR TOUGH STANCE ON PIRATES
Attracted by Singapore's tough enforcement of intellectual property laws, a major Bollywood film company has decided to set up post-production, overseas marketing, and distribution headquarters in the city-state. The Singapore Straits Times reported today (Tuesday) that India's DLM Digital Studios, a division of Kavighalayaa Productions, would be following in the footsteps of Lucasfilm, which announced in August that it plans to set up a production studio in Singapore. Speaking at a press conference, Kandaswamy Bharathan, the company's president, said: "The greatest threat to the global film industry is the rampant video piracy. ... The Singapore government's support for protection of our library of films and TV content, as well as its strict enforcement policies to protect both physical and intellectual assets, were of great assurance to us."
SONY'S SHARES PLUNGE AS YEN SOARS
The rising yen has hit Sony hard. The consumer electronics and entertainment company, which takes in more than a quarter of its revenue in dollars, experienced its biggest stock drop in five months today (Tuesday), declining 2.8 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Concern that Sony's earnings will be eroded by the climbing yen offset the recent good news that its film division has seen ticket sales pass the $1-billion mark and that its electronics goods have been selling briskly.