GRAMMY RATINGS: MUSIC TO THE EYE'S EARS
Sunday night's Grammy Awards scored strongly (no pun intended) for CBS, averaging a 13.7 rating and a 21 share -- well ahead of last year's results when the music awards show captured a 12.3/19. The Grammys overwhelmed the competition, peaking in the 9:00 p.m. hour with 21.78 million viewers. Even ABC's Desperate Housewives had to settle for second place this year, registering an 11.8/17 (18.13 million viewers). The awards show marked something of a comeback for the Dixie Chicks, who accepted five awards, including those for song and record of the year. The group had seen itself shut out of many country radio stations three years ago when its leader, Natalie Maines, disparaged President Bush at a concert in London. Even their song of the year, Not Ready to Make Nice, failed to find an outlet on several top country stations last year.
REPORTS: MASSIVE MTV LAYOFFS PLANNED
Saying that corporate parent Viacom has lost patience with the underperformance of MTV Networks, the New York Post reported Sunday, citing several unnamed sources, that the company may lay off as many as 500 employees by the end of the week. The Post indicated that morale at the cable unit has collapsed following last summer's firing of Tom Freston as Viacom CEO and that Chairman Sumner Redstone has stepped in to take a more direct hand in running the unit. Today's (Monday) Daily Variety reported that an unnamed Viacom insider had confirmed the layoffs but said that the number is likely to be closer to 250 than 500. The London Financial Times today put the number at 300, adding that some Viacom executives are expecting hundreds more in MTV's international division.
4,000 ENTIRE TV EPISODES TO GO ON YOUTUBE
Some 4,000 hours of complete "classic" video shows will become available for viewing on YouTube following a deal between the Google-owned video website and Digital Music Group (DMG), an online video and audio distributor, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). Previously, YouTube only allowed short clips from television programs to be posted on its website. It will also display ads on the "watch" pages for the videos, a departure from previous policy.
MARKETING CAMPAIGN GONE WRONG SINKS CARTOON NETWORK CHIEF
The Adult Swim marketing campaign that Boston authorities viewed as a terrorist threat has sunk Jim Samples, the general manager of Cartoon Network. Samples, who joined the network in 1994, resigned on Friday, following an agreement by the network's corporate parent, Time Warner, to pay Boston $2 million to cover the city's costs to deal with the perceived threat. "I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign," Samples wrote in an internal memo. Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group, responded, "Jim's decision to leave his post is a reflection of his regard for the business he helped build and the people he trusts to move it forward."
INTERNET SITES SCOOP NEWSPAPERS
In the latest incidents of Internet news sites one-upping conventional TV news programs, the TMZ gossip site on Sunday posted photographs of Anna Nicole Smith's refrigerator in the Bahamas, taken after she died, showing bottles of the drug methadone on the shelves. The photograph could help explain why the Broward County, FL medical examiner failed to find evidence of drug capsules in Smith's body -- since methadone is ordinarily taken in liquid form. Meanwhile, the London Mail on Sunday ran video on its website (www.mailonsunday.co.uk/skydiver) of a two-minute video taken by skydiver Michael Holmes with a helmet camera as he fell 12,000 feet when his parachutes failed to deploy. Holmes survived with only a punctured lung and a broken ankle. "It is surely the most astonishing video footage ever shown on the Internet and will be available only our website," the newspaper boasted.
SCOTLAND YARD "WAR CRIMES" UNIT PROBES TV NEWSMAN'S DEATH
A "war crimes" unit set up within Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into the 2003 shooting death of Terry Lloyd, a reporter for Britain's ITN television news service, the London Sunday Observer reported. Lloyd had been wounded in fighting between U.S. troops and insurgents and had been placed in a civilian ambulance when marines fired into the ambulance striking him in the head and killing him. The U.S. later described the shooting as a "friendly fire" incident, but a British coroner ruled last October that Lloyd had been unlawfully killed. An attorney for Lloyd's widow told the Observer that U.S. authorities have given him the names of the soldiers. "Now we need to find out whether they will allow us to interview [them]," he said. The London Sunday Times reported that it has learned that four British soldiers witnessed what occurred but that their existence had been kept quiet by the Ministry of Defense.