CBS ADMITS IT AIRED PHONY REPORTIn what may well prove to be the most glaring debacle in the history of broadcast news, CBS admitted Monday that it was "deliberately misled" by a former Texas National Guard officer who claimed that George W. Bush had shirked his duties in the Guard in the early 1970s. The network also admitted that it had not completely authenticated the documents that the officer, retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett had provided to support his claims. On the CBS Evening News, anchor Dan Rather, who had fronted the 60 Minutesfeature in which the allegations were aired and who had described the source of the allegations as "unimpeachable," apologized on behalf of the network. "Also, personally and directly, I am sorry," he said. The stain on the network's reputation appeared to spread particularly wide over its 60 Minutesnews magazines. In June a decision was made to give the Wednesday edition, which had been called 60 Minutes II, the same name as the Sunday edition. Correspondent Steve Kroft told today's (Tuesday) edition of the Washington Post: "The overwhelming feeling among correspondents and producers on the Sunday program is that we would not have made the same mistakes. ... It's hard to know at this point exactly what went wrong, because the Wednesday show is an entirely separate broadcast with entirely different people, and brand-new management. But something clearly went wrong with the process." Some analysts suggested that the report represented not only a blow to CBS and Rather personally but a blow to mainstream news media in general, coming, as it does, at a time when polls indicate that the public believes that the media are driven by a liberal agenda. Chicago Sun-Timescolumnist Phil Rosenthal wrote: "This is the kind of lapse that hurts all legitimate news outlets by widening the credibility gap." CBS and Rather appeared to find little sympathy within their profession. Onetime ABC Pentagon correspondent Robert Zelnick, now dean of Boston University's journalism school, told today's Boston Globe that CBS had compounded its own blunders. "They didn't fully authentic the documents; they ignored caveats from the people who had been hired to authenticate them," Zelnick said. "They attacked their critics when their critics were some of the most fair-minded and reputable news organizations in the country."
CBS WINS FIRST DAY OF NEW TV SEASON
CBS was the winner of Nielsen's officially designated first night of the 2004-2005 season. The season debut of Still Standingwith a 7.5 rating and a 12 share and the series debut of Listen Up with a 7.9/12 were the winners of the 8:00 hour, beating NBC's Fear Factor(6.2/10) and ABC's The Benefactor(5.9/9). ABC won the 9:00 p.m. hour with Monday Night Football, which averaged an 11.8/18, but CBS actually scored higher ratings in the first half hour of the time period with a 12.0/18 for the season premiere of Everybody Loves Raymond. Two and a Half Menfollowed with a solid 11.1/16 to place second behind football. CBS returned to first place in the 10:00 p.m. hour with the season premiere of CSI: Miamiposting a 14.5/23, well ahead of MNF, which delivered an 11.5/18 in the time period. In the same hour, NBC's LAXskidded to a 5.6/9 in its second week. Overall, CBS won the night with an average 11.2/17, followed by ABC with a 9.7/15. NBC was third with a 6.5/10. The WB finished fourth with a 4.0/6, beating Fox, which managed a lowly 3.1/5.
BRITISH TV WATCHDOG DISMISSES COMPLAINTS BY GAY ACTIVISTS
OFCOM, Britain's official TV watchdog, has rejected complaints by gay activists that the Sky One TV show How Gay Are You?presented offensive stereotypes of gay men. The show brought straight men together with gay men, who advised them on how certain traits "commonly associated with gay men" could improve their relationships with women. "We thought that the program was not intended to be malicious or mocking. It was also neither negative nor pejorative towards gay people," OFCOM said in its ruling.FALLING SKYSky Captain and the World of Tomorrowflitted to No. 1 at the weekend box office. Far from delivering a soaring performance, Paramount's $70 million sci-fi fantasy starring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie earned just $15.6 million, some $600,000 less than previously estimated. Most other films also performed well below expectations on Sunday, producing a box office total that was nearly 30 percent below the comparable weekend a year ago. Disney's Mr. 3000, starring Bernie Mac,opened in second place with $8.7 million, while Universal's Wimbledondebuted in fourth place with $7.1 million. Last week's winner, Sony's Resident Evil: Apocalypse, dropped to third place with $8.7 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. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Paramount, $15,580,278, (New); 2. Mr. 3000, Disney, $8,679,028, (New); 3.Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Screen Gems, $8,656,591, 2 Wks. ($37,031,262); 4. Wimbledon, Universal, $7,118,985, (New); 5. Cellular, New Line, $6,792,821, 2 Wks. ($19,706,847); 6. Without a Paddle, Paramount, $3,631,754, 5 Wks. ($50,325,875); 7. Hero, Miramax, $2,836,698, 4 Wks. ($46,090,351); 8.Napoleon Dynamite, Fox Searchlight, $2,286,541, 15 Wks. ($33,343,529); 9. Collateral, DreamWorks, $2,265,532, 7 Wks. ($95,970,209); 10. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Disney, $1,943,265, 6 Wks. ($91,894,122).
EISNER SAYS HE WON'T REMAIN ON DISNEY BOARD
In an effort to dispel speculation that he plans to seek the chairmanship of the Walt Disney Co. once he steps down as CEO in 2006, Michael Eisner has told Fortunemagazine in an interview to be published next week that he won't remain on the company's board of directors after his departure. Today's New York Timesreported that Disney's board, meeting in Burbank today (Tuesday), is expected to name an executive-search firm to seek a potential successor to Eisner and to decide whether to ask Eisner to leave before 2006 if they find one.
LUCAS DEFENDS STAR WARS CHANGES
George Lucas has defended the changes he included in the DVD package of original Star Warsmovies released on Monday. In an interview with Britain's Empiremagazine, Lucas said: "When Star Wars came out, any interview I did for Star Wars, I'd say it didn't turn out really the way I wanted -- it's only about 25% of what I thought the movie should be -- and I was very very depressed about it because it never got finished. People said, 'You're out of your mind, it's the greatest movie ever made! Everybody loves it! Why would you wanna do anything more?' But there are things that need to be in there that aren't there." However, J.P. McCormick writes in today's (Tuesday) Boston Globe: "His artistic vision is apparently more important than those of us who have loved the films, just as they are, for decades. ... The Star Wars trilogy was a huge part of my childhood. It is still the ruler by which I judge the heroes and villains from other stories. What it meant to fans such as me apparently has no effect on Darth Lucas."
FORMER FILM AGENCY HEAD GETS PROBATION
Cody Cluff, the former head of the Los Angeles Entertainment Industry Development Corp, a quasi-public organization, was sentenced Monday to three years' probation after his no contest plea to charges of embezzling public funds. The EIDC acts as a kind of one-stop permit office for the industry while promoting Los Angeles as the ideal site for producing movies. In its report, the county probation department observed that Cluff had dipped into the agency's funds to support a lavish lifestyle and had acted "in a brazen and reckless fashion, with no regard for the consequences or the ultimate victim in this matter -- the taxpayers."
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