IT'S LADIES NIGHT ON WORLD SERIES DAY
Post-season baseball once again fell victim to the ladies of Wisteria Lane Sunday as ABC's Desperate Housewives drew a 15.8 rating and a 22 share in the 9:00 p.m. hour, while the second game of the World Series posted a 10.1/15 on Fox during the same hour. The Desperate ladies also continued to boost the ratings of Grey's Anatomy, which followed at 10:00 p.m. with a 12.2/19, while the Series registered a 10.5/16. Earlier in the evening CBS won the 7:00 p.m. hour with a football overrun and the start of 60 Minutes pulling a 10.9/18, while Fox's pregame show was coming in a distant second with a 6.8/11. At 8:00 p.m., CBS remained ahead with Cold Case drawing an 11.1/16 while the series posted a 9.4/14.
LAWSUIT MAY DEFINE "NET PROFITS"
A lawsuit filed by two talent agencies against Paramount questioning how the company can claim that the TV series Frasier, which grossed $1.5 billion, is actually $200 million in the red may shed more light on Hollywood's accounting systems, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Monday). The lawsuit, filed by the Jim Preminger Agency of Los Angeles and the Kaplan Stahler Gumer Braun Agency of Beverly Hills, claims that Paramount contrived ways of funneling to itself hundreds of millions of dollars into production and distribution expenses, leaving no "net profits" to those persons who were promised "back end" deals. The two agencies represent Peter Casey and David Lee as well as the late David Angell, who created Frasier, the TV series that ran on NBC for 11 seasons. The Times noted that although there have been numerous similar lawsuits in the past, there remains no hard-and-fast definition of "net profits" and most of the lawsuits have wound up in out-of-court settlements.
TV ON INTERNET NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME, CONCLUDES WALL STREET JOURNAL
Despite the enormous amount of publicity that attended the announcement by Disney and Apple that Disney would make a handful of ABC and Disney Channel programs available for downloading onto Apple's new video iPod, no television network is considering making a substantial part of its programming available online, and the video that is available still takes an unacceptably long time to download and fails even to come close to matching the quality of conventional analog television when viewed on a personal computer, the Wall Street Journal observed today (Monday). A Journal reporter said that it took him 43 minutes to download a version of Desperate Housewives from Apple's iTunes website and that the video, when shown on a PC monitor, appeared "slightly blurred and jagged."
CBS'S MIKE WALLACE TO PROMOTE BOOK ON NBC
60 Minutes' Mike Wallace will be promoting his new book, Between You and Me, first on NBC's Dateline, because, said Wallace, "Nobody was interested at CBS. It was quite apparent." Wallace, whose book was published by Hyperion, a corporate sibling of ABC, told today's (Monday) Philadelphia Inquirer. "CBS knew the book was coming. It's really strange. Nobody reached out." Instead, Wallace said he was contacted personally by Katie Couric, who offered him the chance to discuss his book with her on Dateline and on Today. Wallace said, "I thought to myself, 'This would be kind of interesting." The interview is scheduled to air head-to-head against CBS's 60 Minutes on Oct. 30 and conclude the following day on Today. (The Boston Herald reported today that the first segment of the interview will air on Friday's edition of Dateline, not Sunday's.) CBS said that it has booked Wallace for an appearance on The Early Show on Nov. 1.
SAG FIRES ITS EXEC DIRECTOR
Signaling a more aggressive stance by the Screen Actors Guild towards producers, the union on Sunday fired its national executive director, Greg Hessinger, as Hessinger was preparing to lead SAG's negotiating committee on a basic cable contract and on a commercials contract next year. Hessinger had been hired only six months ago. His firing, along with that of three former executives from AFTRA that he recently hired, marked the first significant action of SAG's board since it was taken over by the activist Membership First faction, headed by Alan Rosenberg, who became the union's president last month. In a statement, Rosenberg said, "The recent election made clear that our membership expects concrete results, particularly in our collective bargaining and our nationwide organizing efforts." He said that the firings "will allow us to focus our resources more intensely in these areas." Daily Variety reported that the board also decided not to pay Hessinger the $1.4 million he's owed for the remainder of his contract. In response, Hessinger said, "SAG members, who depend upon the enforcement of their own contractual protections for their very livelihood, should understand the sanctity of a contract. If their elected leaders choose not to do so, I will take all steps necessary to enforce my rights." In an interview with today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, Paul Christie, head of SAG's New York branch, called Hessinger's firing "probably the most unethical and dishonorable thing I've ever seen done here."
DOOM GLOOM STRIKES BOX OFFICE
Doom appeared to be fulfilling its destiny over the weekend as the $60-80-million movie earned just $15.4 million at the box office, mostly from fans of the videogame on which it is based. (USA Today reported that 59 percent of those who bought tickets to the movie said they had played the game.) With its fan base sated, ticket sales for the film are expected to plunge next week. Still, Doom performed better than a slew of other new releases this weekend, none of which was even able to top the $10-million mark. DreamWorks' Dreamer placed second with $9.3 million; Warner Bros.' North Country came in fifth with $6.5 million; and Fox's Stay stayed out of the way, unable even to make the top 10 as it drew just $2.2 million. It was beaten even by Warner Independent's Good Night, and Good Luck, which screened at only 225 theaters but managed to take in $2.3 million. Meanwhile DreamWorks Animation's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit declined just 24 percent from last week and ended up in third place with $8.7 million. Overall, the box office took in $117.4 million, down 8 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Doom, $15.4 million. 2. Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, $9.3 million. 3. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, $8.7 million. 4. The Fog, $7.3 million. 5. North Country, $6.5 million. 6. Elizabethtown, $5.7 million. 7. Flightplan, $4.7 million. 8. In Her Shoes, $3.9 million. 9. A History of Violence, $2.7 million. 10. Two for the Money, $2.4 million.
SONY OPENS MOVIE IN CHURCHES, NO THEATERS
Sony Pictures opened Left Behind: World at War, starring Louis Gossett Jr.,at 3,200 churches across the country on Friday, but no commercial theaters, the Washington Post reported today (Monday). The newspaper observed that the studio has recognized the growing trend towards large churches with professional-quality projection and sound systems. (While just 25 years ago, fewer than 50 U.S. churches attracted more than 2,000 people each week, the number has now grown to more than 1,200, the newspaper noted.) Smaller churches were showing the film on large-screen TV sets and taking orders for DVD copies. "We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language," the Rev. Richard Edgar, pastor of Reality Gospel Church in Alexandria, VA told the Post.
MPAA VOWS TO FIGHT "CULTURAL EXCEPTION"
MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman has warned that his organization intends to wage a legal battle against a UNESCO convention passed last week that would allow countries to protect themselves against what they regard as a cultural invasion by America. "If countries start passing laws that are in contravention of World Trade Organization rules, there will be conflict," Glickman told a film industry conference in Beaune, France on Friday. He expressed concerns that some nations will use the UNESCO "cultural exception" to impose limitations on the number of U.S. films that can be distributed in their countries or to impose special taxes on films from abroad. Earlier, however, French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres told the convention that nothing less than his country's identity was a stake. "Our battle has nothing to do with [economic] protectionism," he said, pointing out that U.S. films already account for 85 percent of movie ticket sales worldwide.
PINK PANTHER PRODUCER TONY ADAMS DEAD AT 52
Tony Adams, who became a wunderkind filmmaker in 1975 when Blake Edwards hired him at age 22 as associate producer on The Return of the Pink Panther, died of a stroke on Saturday in New York at age 52. Adams went on to become the producer of most of Edwards' films, including the rest of his Pink Panther movies as well as 10, S.O.B., Victor, Victoria, and Switch. In recent years, Adams partnered with David Garfinkle in Hello Entertainment, to develop and produce off-Broadway musicals.