WALLACE SAYS RATHER SHOULD HAVE QUIT
In an interview with Katie Couric on the Today show, 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace said that Dan Rather should have resigned from CBS when the scandal broke over his report about President Bush's National Guard service. "It seems to me that Dan should have said, 'If they go, I go.' If the people on whom he depended are fired, lose their jobs...he was the guy on camera. Absolutely he should have resigned." Today's online edition of Radar magazine reported that Wallace advised Rather of his taped remarks for Today while both were standing at urinals at CBS and that a 20-minute shouting match between the two ensued in the men's room. Wallace later denied that any such confrontation occurred. "Dan and I are friends," Wallace told Radar, "I figured, whatever I said to Katie Couric, if he were to see it on the air for the first time without having heard it from me, he would be upset. Therefore, I felt that it was important that I let Dan know what I had said. There were no fights -- he's a much younger and bigger and stronger man than I." In a separate interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wallace, who's promoting his new memoir, Between You and Me, said that President Bush's chief adviser Karl Rove has blocked his access to Bush. Wallace, who has interviewed every U.S. president since Truman, told the newspaper that he had spoken to Rove several times, including "fairly recently." "It's a stonewall," he said. "I don't know why it should be personal. ... It's a strange, secretive White House."
GREY'S ANATOMY STANDS ON ITS OWN
Desperate Housewives remained the No. 1 show in the 9:00 p.m. hour Sunday night, even though ABC aired a rerun. The show pulled a 10.7 rating and a 15 share, beating a Halloween movie, Vampire Bats (4.3/7), on CBS. At 8:00, ABC led with a 9.8/14 for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, edging out a 9.3/13 for a repeat of CBS's Cold Case. At 10:00 p.m., ABC's Grey's Anatomy improved on its lead-in's numbers as it scored the biggest ratings of the night, a 12.6/20. Early in the evening, CBS won the 7:00 p.m. hour with 60 Minutes (10.4/16).
ACTRESS WHO PLAYED PRESIDENT TO PLAY FEMALE PRESIDENT'S MOM
Polly Bergen, who herself played a female president of the United States in the 1964 film Kisses for My President, has been cast as the mother of a female president in the ABC hit Commander in Chief. Daily Variety observed today that the drama, the biggest new hit of the season, has been on what it called "a hiring spree" since Steven Bochco replaced the show's creator Rod Lurie to become the de facto executive producer two weeks ago.
EMBOLDENED FOX PLANS TO QUADRUPLE ITS FEE
Fox News Channel plans to quadruple the fee it charges cable and satellite operators next year, the online trade publication Multichannel News reported Sunday. According to the publication, FNC will ask $1.00 per subscriber per month versus its current fee of 25 cents. Its competitor, CNN, currently charges 60 cents per subscriber, but it attracts fewer than half the number of subscribers as FNC.
FOOD CHANNEL TO PRODUCE PROGRAM FOR THE WEB
Cable TV's Food Network is planning to premiere a new show that can only be viewed on its website. The network said it will debut Eat This With Dave Lieberman on Nov. 21, featuring the 25-year-old host crossing the country in search of good eats. Microsoft is the exclusive advertiser on the half-hour webcast.
ISLAMIC RADICAL THREATENS OMAR SHARIF
Veteran actor Omar Sharif has been threatened with death on an Arab website that often contains messages from al-Qaeda. The Italian news agency Adnkronos International, which closely monitors Arabic media, said that the writer of the message objected to comments made by the actor about his role as St. Peter in a two-part Italian miniseries that aired last week. Sharif, who was born a Christian but converted to Islam when he married an Egyptian film actress in the 1950s, said that after playing Peter, "It will be difficult for me to play other roles from now on." In response, a radical Muslim wrote, "Omar Sharif has stated that he has embraced the crusader idolatry. ... He is a crusader who is offending Islam and Muslims and receiving applause from the Italian people. I give you this advice, brothers, you must kill him."
AUSSI BROADCASTER DUMPS ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation cut the amount of dramatic programs it produced to just 3 hours for the one-year period that ended on July 1, down from 83 hours a year ago. The public broadcaster said it had been forced to reduce original programming due to budget cuts.
SAW II WINS DUEL WITH ZORRO
The blades that audiences wanted to see over the weekend did not belong to the dashing hero in The Legend of Zorro but to the slashing villain in Saw II. The horror movie grossed, you'll excuse the expression, $30.5 million -- well above most forecasts by box-office analysts. It was the biggest Halloween weekend opening in history and the best opening for any Lions Gate film, exceeding the $23.9 million earned by last year's Fahrenheit 9/11. By contrast, The Legend of Zorro earned just $16.5 million, well below the $22.5 million earned by the original The Mask of Zorro in 1998. Two other new films were not expected to draw much of a crowd -- and they didn't. The Meryl Streep-Uma Thurman comedy Prime picked up a not-so-prime $6.4 million, while the Nicolas Cage film The Weather Man washed out with $4.2 million, slightly above last week's winner, Doom, which sank to $4.1 million. Once again, the overall box office total slipped below the comparable week a year.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Saw II, $30.5 million; 2. The Legend of Zorro, $16.5 million; 3. Prime, $6.4 million; 4. Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story, $6.3 million; 5. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, $4.4 million; 6. The Weather Man, $4.3 million; 7. Doom, $4.1 million; 8. North Country, $3.65 million; 9. The Fog, $3.3 million; 10. Flightplan, $2.6 million.
WILL THE SKY FALL ON DISNEY ANIMATION THIS FRIDAY?
Analysts are awaiting Friday's release of Chicken Little to see whether the computer-animated movie will be able to save the Walt Disney Co.'s animation unit. (Disney itself suggests as much in its ads for the movie, which say "A whole new era in Disney animated entertainment begins.") Producer Randy Fullmer told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cindy Pearlman that the film marks the formal transition by Disney from hand-drawn to computer animation. "You show kids two-dimensional [hand-drawn] animation, and they act like you're showing them a black-and-white movie," he said. Meanwhile, Sunday's New York Times reported that "serious negotiations" between Disney and Pixar have been put on hold as both sides wait to see how Chicken Little performs next weekend. Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, told the Times that investors don't expect Chicken Little to perform as well as Pixar's big hits, and if that proves to be the case, they will want to see a Pixar deal at once. "It's all about numbers," he said, "and both sides -- Disney and Pixar -- are looking for leverage." Other analysts have noted that even if Chicken Little becomes a moderate hit, grossing, say, between $150 million and $200 million, that will not be sufficient to allow Disney to go it alone in computer animated movie-making. It will need to take in at least $300 million for that to happen, they say.
OPPOSITION MOUNTS TO 50 CENT MOVIE
A grass-roots (or more accurately a street-pavement) campaign is spreading across the nation to promote a boycott of the upcoming 50 Cent movie Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Last week community activists in Los Angeles were successful in their campaign to force Paramount to remove billboards for the film from areas around local schools. On Saturday, the New York Daily News reported that a similar campaign has been launched in Brooklyn -- not only against the billboard ads but against the film itself. City Councilwoman Letitia James said that it appears to her that the message of the movie is basically, "Do whatever you can to get ahead and advance yourself -- even if it includes violence." The singer/actor's response to the controversy was, "I do appreciate it. ... They are helping me out." Gannett columnist Deborah Mathis, writing on the BlackAmericaWeb website, commented that films like Get Rich "create the illusion of young black men with power, when all they really have is weaponry. With their glocks and their snarls, it's fear they engender, not respect."
RKO SUES ROD STEWART
RKO Pictures, which once was one of Hollywood's greatest studios -- turning out such classics as Citizen Kane and King Kong -- is suing singing star Rod Stewart, claiming he infringed on RKO's trademark with the logo for his 2004 tour and his latest CD. The logo looks much like RKO's, featuring a radio tower, emitting lightning-like signals, but with "ROD" replacing "RKO." The company, now owned by Post cereals heiress Dina Merrill and her husband, producer Ted Hartley, claims in its lawsuit that Stewart capitalized on RKO's logo and even admitted in an interview that his was intended to look like the original.