OSCAR'S ERRORS OF OMISSION?
Some analysts were suggesting that in the haste to mount Sunday night's Oscar telecast following the writers' strike, the show's writers failed to research their material sufficiently. That might have accounted for the omission of some names from the annual list of the "departed." Several writers immediately noticed the fact that Roy Scheider, who died on Feb. 10, was overlooked, as was Brad Renfro who died on January 15. A spokeswoman for the Academy said that Scheider's death came too recently to be included and of Renfro, she said, "Unfortunately we cannot include everyone." But a message on Nikki Finke's Dateline Hollywood Today blog observed that others not included in the list were such notables as Robert Goulet, Merv Griffin, Marcel Marceau, Tom Poston, and Charles Nelson Reilly, among many others. Also setting off a major controversy was the omission of Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin from a montage featuring Oscar hosts. Appearing on The View, where she is a regular panelist, Goldberg, a four-time Oscar emcee, appeared emotional over the slight. Her fellow panelists observed that she was the first woman ever to host the Oscars, the first Oscar winner to host the affair, and that her entrance in white face as Queen Elizabeth ("The African Queen") was one of the most memorable Oscar incidents. "Did you make somebody at the Oscars mad?" she was asked. "Undoubtedly," she replied."
OSCAR TAKES A DIVE
Nielsen's "fast affiliate" results on Monday revealed that Sunday night's Oscar telecast averaged 29.16 million viewers, the lowest number for the ceremonies since the modern ratings system was launched more than 30 years ago. The figures also revealed considerable erosion from the opening half hour, when the telecast attracted 32.27 million to the final half hour in primetime, when it drew just 25.42 million. (Ratings after 11:00 have not been released.) By comparison, last year's Oscar ceremonies averaged 40.17 million viewers.
ABC TO MAKE SHOWS AVAILABLE "ON DEMAND"
ABC affiliates are being given the opportunity of making available network programming to their local cable, satellite, and fiber-optic distributors' video-on-demand systems, provided that their fast-forwarding capability be disabled. Each affiliate would be able to insert one locally-sold 30-second commercial in each half-hour of programming. The network would insert about four other commercials. The proposal is expected to overcome affiliates' reluctance to allow network programs to be made available via VOD for fear that they would cannibalize their audience.
WHO CUT OFF 60 MINUTES IN ALABAMA?
A politically charged 60 Minutes report about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who was convicted of corruption, was not carried by the CBS affiliate in northern Alabama Sunday night after the station blamed "a technical problem with CBS out of New York." However, the New York Times reported Monday that Scott Horton, a writer for Harper's magazine's blog, contacted a network spokesman who told him, "There is no delicate way to put this: the WHNT claim is not true. There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters." The Times reported that following the controversy over the blackout, "the station took measures to counteract any appearance of censorship" by broadcasting the deleted segment on its late-night newscast. Meanwhile, former presidential adviser Karl Rove has decried the 60 Minutes segment. Appearing on Fox News Channel, where he is a regular contributor, Rove called CBS "the National Enquirer of network news" and said that he had not been allowed to respond to accusations aired during the broadcast. "I have to read about it on the AP wire to know what they're doing," he said.
LAS VEGAS ROLLS CRAPS
Although the last "all new" episode of NBC's Las Vegas ended with the words "to be continued," the storyline won't be. After receiving word that the network had canceled the series, its creator, Gary Scott Thompson, told TV Guide Online: "We were probably the first victim of the strike. The strike did us in. We had three more episodes to shoot for the season, which we didn't get done. And the 'To be continued...' was actually supposed to be the first part of a two-parter. But that's as far as we got." Thompson said that he had warned his writers, "If there's a strike, it's going to be shows like ours that get hurt the most." (He was presumably referring to shows with mediocre ratings.) He said that after the strike ended, he had hoped that he would at least have been allowed "to wrap it up and make it satisfying for all the fans, and, in some ways, give ourselves an incredible curtain call with all the major characters."
BRITISH SOAP RAPPED OVER VIOLENT SCENE
British television regulators, who tend to view violence on television with about the same degree of disapproval as American regulators view certain sexual behavior, have ruled that the popular British soap opera EastEnders breached its rules during an episode that aired last November in which a gang vandalized a pub. "This was a persistent attack on people and property. The initial scenes of the gang running amok in the pub was a sequence of sustained violence," the regulator OFCOM said in its ruling. The scenes were particularly egregious, it said, because the program was broadcast early in the evening, "when many children are available to view television." The BBC, which broadcast the program, had broadcast a warning about its content. "Things are about to turn very ugly at The Vic [the pub]," an announcer said.