SHORT WORLD SERIES SOCKS FOX
Fox TV executives were not among those cheering when the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years Wednesday by completing a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a score of 3-0. The Associated Press reported that as one Cardinal player after another went down, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill yelled out from a company trailer parked outside Busch Stadium, "It's sad, SAD." Later Fox Sports President Ed Goren moaned: "This is awful." AP pointed out that the Fox executives were not necessarily Cardinals fans, but wanted the series to be prolonged so that it could continue to draw huge ratings. "If it goes seven games, we could get to a 30 rating," Goren had said. Ratings for the third game on Tuesday overwhelmed the competition with an average 17.3 rating and a 25 share between 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. -- 26 percent ahead of the comparable game a year ago. According to overnight ratings, the fourth and final game averaged a 20.5/30 between 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
COMING SOON: 9/11, THE MINISERIES
NBC and ABC are each planning to air a miniseries based on information contained in the 9/11 Commission Report, according to trade reports today (Thursday). On Wednesday, NBC officially announced its own miniseries, being developed by Speed screenwriter Graham Yost. Today's Hollywood Reporter speculated that NBC made its announcement in order to be the first to unveil plans for such a miniseries. "With this most important subject matter, we're setting our sights on nothing short of a seminal event for television," NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said in a statement. ABC, according to reports, has been developing a similar project for several months. According to Daily Variety, the project will officially be announced "within days." Yost said that he expects that it will take a year to research and develop the series.
BROADCASTER REPORTEDLY GIVES $325,000 IN AIR TIME TO GOP
Days following the flap over Sinclair Broadcasting's original decision to air a documentary critical of John Kerry prior to the presidential election, it was reported Wednesday that another major broadcaster, Pappas Telecasting may have given $325,000 worth of airtime to Republican candidates running for the California state legislature. Pappas said that it had not violated the FCC's Equal Time rule because it had purchased time on its own stations to air the political spots and had consulted with the FCC to assure itself that it was operating legally. However, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that an FCC spokeswoman had denied that the agency had issued any opinion on Pappas's tactic.
ABC ASKS GOVERNMENT TO AUTHENTICATE TAPE
Unsure whether it was the victim of a hoax, ABC News has turned over to government agencies a copy of a tape in which a man declaring that he is an American member of al-Qaeda, warns in English that "blood will run red in the streets of America." ABC acknowledged late Wednesday that one of its producers obtained the tape last weekend in Pakistan but that it was unable to identify the man appearing in it and consequently sent copies to the FBI and CIA. However, word of the tape was leaked Wednesday by Internet gossip Matt Drudge in an article headlined: "ABC News Holds Terror Warning Tape." Investigative reporter Brian Ross told today's Washington Post that he believes that the existence of the tape was leaked by the Bush administration to Drudge. Responding to Drudge's allegations that ABC was holding the tape for political reasons and that it had previously broadcast other al-Qaeda tapes before authenticating them, Christopher Isham, ABC's chief of investigative projects, told the Post that the other videos featured Osama bin Laden or others who could be verified by sight.
SPANISH BROADCASTER TURNS DOWN OFFER FOR BIG BROTHER COMPANY
A $2.5-billion offer by Time Warner Inc. to buy Endemol, the Netherlands-based production company behind the international reality-show hit Big Brother, has been turned down by the company's present owner, Spanish communications giant Telefónica, published reports said today (Thursday). The offer was well below the $5.5 billion that Telefónica had originally paid to acquire Endemol in July 2000. However, the following year it wrote down its investment in Endemol, which it now values on its books at about $1.28 billion.
OVITZ: "I WAS CUT OUT LIKE CANCER"
Michael Ovitz testified Wednesday that his close personal relationship with Michael Eisner (his "life partner," as he called him) turned sour two months after he joined the Walt Disney Co. as president in 1995. "What to this day, and until the day I die, I will never be able to understand ... how I spend 25 years with a man and his family, and within 60 days of taking this position he decides ... that I'm a liar, that I have a veracity issue, that I'm a psychopath." he said during testimony at a shareholders' suit in Delaware. Ovitz claimed that he was being undermined by virtually Disney's entire chain-of-command. "I was being left out of meetings. Nobody was talking to me. I was cut out like cancer," he said. Referring to earlier testimony by Disney COO Sanford Litvack that he had to follow Ovitz around "with a shovel," Ovitz remarked, "He did walk behind me, but it wasn't a shovel he was carrying. It was a knife." In her column for L.A. Weekly, Nikki Finke, who has claimed that she lost her job with the New York Post in 2002 after writing articles that angered Disney chief Michael Eisner, observes that Ovitz testified that all of his attempts to persuade the company to branch out by buying record company EMI, Putnam Publishing, Yahoo!, and the Seattle Seahawks were quashed by Disney execs. She discloses that "when [former Disney CFO] Steve Bollenbach asked Ovitz why he wanted to buy an L.A. sports team, he replied that a big company like Disney has 'a responsibility to the city.' Fired back Bollenbach: 'No, you don't. You have a responsibility to the shareholders.'"
IPO SOARS FOR DREAMWORKS
Investors eagerly snapped up shares in DreamWorks' spun-off animation company Wednesday even though they were priced at $28 per share, well above the $23-25 per share that analysts had predicted. The IPO raised $812 million. "This was a perfect time for DreamWorks to hit the market with the success of Shrek  and Shark Tale," Jefferies & Co. analyst Robert Routh told Bloomberg News. "This is a hit-driven business. DreamWorks has the brand and the management team that people know." The deal will permit DreamWorks Animation to pay off debt and fund its own productions. It has said that it plans to release two animated features per year, twice the predicted output of Pixar, its primary rival in computer animation. It also allows some of DreamWorks' original investors, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Vivendi Universal, to cash out some of their shares. DreamWorks' three principals have maintained that they have never pulled money out of the company, working without salary since it was launched in 1994.
SPIDER-MAN TO THE RESCUE
Sony's sales of its old mainstay, consumer electronics, may have been nothing to boast about. And the rising value against the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar may have depressed its receipts from the U.S. market, but Spider-Man 2 soared high for the company in its second-quarter, Sony indicated in an earnings report today (Thursday). Net income, it said, rose to $501 million from $310 million in the year-ago quarter. Some analysts were not impressed. "They've done well recently with movies," Yuuki Sakurai of Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Tokyo told Bloomberg News. However, he added, "They can't maintain their current size on software along. You can't guarantee the number of [movie] hits we've seen in the past will continue into the future." Likewise Paul Jackson, senior analyst at Forrester Research, told CBS MarketWatch.com: "The growth is not coming from their core consumer electronics division, it's coming from their extremely seasonal, difficult-to-forecast film business."
LOST -- AND LAST -- ED WOOD FILM IS FOUND
On the same day that Tim Burton's 1994 biopic Ed Wood was finally being released on DVD, Wood's 1971 film -- long thought to be lost -- has turned up on an Internet site called Fleshbot, which is selling it by mail order for $19.99. Reuters described the movie, titled Necromania, as "a porn film documenting the sexual enlightenment of a young couple at the hands of a coven of witches." It was reportedly discovered by Rudolph Grey, the author of a biography of Wood, and movie distributor Alexander Kogan after a search lasting more than 15 years.
BLOCKBUSTER'S EXPENSES MOUNT
Blockbuster's efforts to transition from an in-store video rental company to one in which movies are also rented on line and customers have the choice of buying or trading instead of merely renting and where video games are pushed as strongly as movies -- all of those changes have proved mighty costly for the newly spun-off company. The chain posted a third-quarter net loss of $1.42 billion. Besides the slew of revamping expenses, the company also noted that its core business of video rentals was down 7.4 percent. Company executives attributed much of the downturn to competition from the Olympic Games.