KIDS RULE ON FRIDAY NIGHT
More viewers tuned in to a made-for-TV movie on the Disney Channel Friday than they did for any program on television -- broadcast network outlets included, according to Nielsen Research. The ratings company said that The Cheetah Girls 2 drew 7.8 million total viewers, edging out Disney's previous record holder, High School Musical, which drew 7.7 million viewers last January. As expected, the TV movie's primary audience was young girls who tuned in in massive numbers. It captured 61 percent of girls 6-11 and 59 percent of girls 9-14.
CABLE NEWS NETS RESUME JONBENET COVERAGE
Cable news outlets, which dumped most of its other news coverage to go wall-to-wall in reporting the arrest of John Mark Karr in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, went all-out Monday to criticize authorities for getting the wrong man, after DNA tests disclosed that Karr was not the killer. The media also came in for criticism for doing little to check out Karr's background. Appearing on Larry King's CNN talk show Monday night, comedian/commentator Bill Maher said that the news media ought to have acted as "some sort of filter" and that some of the questions they might have tried to find answers to were: "How could he have done this? How could he have known about JonBenet Ramsey? They didn't care. They didn't want to look at that. They didn't because what they wanted to do was get back into the JonBenet story because that's good eyeball-grabbing stuff." Other commentators also agreed that if the video of JonBenet performing on stage had not existed, the story would never have attracted the kind of media attention it did.
COURIC'S FIRST BIG "GET" FOR CBS: PRESIDENT BUSH
Katie Couric has landed an interview with President Bush for her debut appearance on the CBS Evening News next Tuesday night, the network said Monday. Excerpts from the interview will also be included in a CBS primetime special, Five Years Later -- How Safe Are We?, set to air the following night. Nevertheless, some of the air was taken out of the network's announcement by a separate announcement from NBC that the president will also sit down tonight for a talk with Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News. (It will also be carried on cable networks MSNBC and CNBC, the online site, MSNBC.com, and on NBC Mobile and NBC Radio.
CONSERVATIVE FAMILY GROUP TO PROTEST 9/11 DOCUMENTARY
The Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association has urged members to protest against CBS's decision to air an updated version of its 9/11 documentary in which firemen and other emergency workers are seen swearing. Although the program had aired previously without challenge from the FCC, the commission has since ruled that similar language used by blues musicians in a PBS documentary was indecent. In its letter the AFA urged members to send complaints to the FCC and their local CBS affiliates. CBS said in a statement: "In order to ensure that viewers are aware of the language, we will include warnings in the broadcast, and Robert De Niro, who will again serve as host in a newly taped introduction to the program, will also alert viewers to the graphic language. This will allow ample notice for viewers to seek other programming if they feel this broadcast is not appropriate for their household."
NBC APOLOGIZES FOR EMMY SKIT
NBC apologized Monday for the opening skit on Sunday night's Emmy Awards that included a Lost-like plane crash. The skit aired on the same night as earlier news programs described a fatal plane accident in Kentucky. "In no way would we ever want to make light of this terrible tragedy," NBC said. "The filmed opening during the Emmy telecast was meant to spoof some of television's most well-known scenes. The timing was unfortunate, and we regret any unintentional pain it may have caused." However, the Columbia Journalism Review's website noted that several blogs thought that the matter was being overblown. One blogger on the SayAnything site wrote: "It wasn't like the folks at the Emmys were trying to mock what happened in Kentucky." Another wrote: "I completely understand how Kentucky viewers were shocked by this, as the Emmys began right after a local update on the crash. But hectoring NBC for insufficient pandering to tragedy seems a mighty lame tribute to 49 people." Conservative bloggers were equally up-in-arms over this remark by Conan O'Brien when introducing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. "These two presenters have done for fake news what the Fox News Channel has done for fake news," he said. Commented one blogger: "Today's just the wrong day for the gratuitous slam of Fox News as 'fake news.' You know, because two of its journalists were just freed from the very real experience of being kidnapped while on the job and then held hostage for 13 days."
ECHOSTAR SEES STARS AFTER LEGAL CLOBBERING
EchoStar continued to lose ground against its detractors Monday as first a federal judge delayed its countersuit against TiVo Inc., which already has won a patent-infringement suit against EchoStar (which produces digital video recorders for its DISH satellite service). Then, later in the day, EchoStar said that it had agreed to pay $100 million to NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates to settle a copyright suit resulting from EchoStar's providing the signals from distant stations to some of its rural customers. Taking itself out of the settlement, however, was the Fox network, a corporate sibling of EchoStar's rival, DirecTV.
TV SERIES "KIDNAPPED" IN HUNGARY
Reports circulated Monday that an extra working on the 13-part BBC series Robin Hood broke into the studios where the tapes were being stored and "kidnaped" them. According to some of the reports, the man was demanding $1.8 million for the tapes. The London Daily Mirror quoted a BBC source as saying: "This is an absolute disaster. There's no back-up recording." Another source told the newspaper: "With the master tapes gone, there's no way the series can start as planned."
YOUTUBE PULLS OFFICE "TRAINING FILM"
YouTube on Monday said that it had yanked a funny training video for Microsoft produced by and starring Ricky Gervais, the star of the British version of The Office. Playing his role of David Brent, Gervais is seen arriving at the British offices of Microsoft and commenting on "Sir William of Gates," who, he says, did not make "his fortune by spending time in meetings with idiots. I bet no one watching this has ever spoken to him. It would be easier to talk to Osama bin Laden." A spokesman for Gervais told the BBC that the idea of the training film "was to show how not to do it." Despite being pulled by YouTube, which said it had done so "at the request of copyright owner Microsoft," the video was still being circulated on other websites, including GoogleVideo.