HTML>Studio Briefing for February 6, 2007Movie Picture

February 6, 2007

Edited by Lew Irwin

Copyright 2007, Studio Briefing. All Rights Reserved


Viacom's demand that YouTube remove over 100,000 clips that it claimed violated Viacom's copyrights has provoked an uproar on the Internet as numerous legitimate videos were suddenly removed without notice. Jim Moore, a senior fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, discovered that his "Sunday nite dinner at Redbones", a 30-second clip of himself and friends at a ribs joint in Somerville, MA, had been yanked, possibly because Redbones bears a name strikingly similar to that of Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone. YouTube also sent warning notices to those who had posted the clips, threatening them with deletion of all of their videos if a repeat incident should occur. The popular British blog Boing Boing called the action "shockingly bad behavior" and chastised YouTube for allowing Viacom to "indiscriminately censor the content it hosts." John Palfrey at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School posted a message on the Center's site from a non-U.S. resident who wrote: "The video that they pulled was an original work that took me around five months to make, that has been shown in a film festival, and I feel violated." Another blogger wrote that "My YouTube account has been disabled because Viacom pulled some s**t about my giant swing video."


Sunday's Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears turned out to be the second-highest-rated Super Bowl telecast in history and the third-highest-rated television broadcast of all time, according to Nielsen Research. The telecast attracted 93.15 million viewers, exceeded only by the 94.1 million who watched the 1996 Super Bowl game between Dallas and Pittsburgh and the 105.97 million who watched the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983. Last year's Super Bowl between Pittsburgh and Seattle attracted 90.75 million viewers.


A lot of Super Bowl viewers didn't snicker at a Snickers commercial that aired during the game; instead, they complained so loudly that Masterfoods, a division of the Mars candy company, decided not to show the spot again and remove it from its website. The spot showed two men eating a single Snickers candy bar from opposite ends, accidentally kissing (like the spaghetti-eating pooches in Lady and the Tramp) when they reached the cener, and reacting with disgust and anger. The commercial was extended on the website with members of the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts also registering their disgust at the kiss. Among organizations that complained about the spot were the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign. In announcing its decision to yank the spot, a spokeswoman for Masterfoods observed that "humor is highly subjective." She added: "Feedback from our target consumers has been positive, and many media and Web site commentators on this year's Super Bowl lineup ranked the commercial among this year's best."


Confirming earlier widespread reports, GE announced today (Tuesday) that it had named Jeff Zucker president and CEO of NBC Universal, replacing Bob Wright. In a statement, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, "Jeff Zucker is a terrific talent and the right person to guide NBC Universal on the next stage of its growth." Meanwhile, on Monday former GE chief Jack Welch retreated from a comment he made about Zucker in an interview with New York magazine a week ago. Asked why Zucker was still in his job following years of failed programming at NBC, Welch replied, "'Cause I'm retired." In a letter to the magazine Welch replied that he has employed that response to many questions dealing with the company since he left but acknowledged that it was "certainly subject to misinterpretation" in this instance. "In fact, I am a huge supporter of Jeff Zucker," he added.


CBS's new sitcom Rules of Engagement, starring Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price,and David Spade got off to a solid start Monday night as it recorded a 9.6 rating and a 15 share to place first in the 9:30 p.m. time period. The program was able to hold on to 84 percent of the audience for its lead-in, the top-ten hit Two and a Half Men, versus 79 percent for the recent occupant of the 9:30 p.m. slot, The New Adventures of Old Christine.


MSNBC chief Dan Abrams has forecast that his cable news network will pull ahead of CNN in the ratings by the end of the year. In an interview with Broadcasting and Cable, Abrams said, "We want to be ahead of CNN, and I expect that we will be within the year. I want to overdeliver and underpromise, so I hope it is faster than that." Abrams also appeared to welcome the attacks on personalities at his network coming from competitor Fox News. "Fox used to ignore us," he said. "Now they seem to be attacking us. It is somewhat perverse to take an attack as a compliment, but it sure seems that we're suddenly on Fox's radar in a way that we weren't before." Meanwhile, Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly stepped up his attack on MSNBC and the entire NBC News division in general, which, he said Monday, "spew out far left propaganda on a daily basis and direct vicious personal attacks on people with whom they disagree." Reilly added that NBC's top executives may "believe this is a responsible way to run a news division but students of journalism know this kind of garbage is unprecedented at the network level."


Turner Broadcasting has agreed to pay the city of Boston $2 million, including $1 million in "goodwill funds" to compensate for its Cartoon Network marketing stunt that turned into a bomb scare. The Turner network had planted lighted boards displaying a character from one of the network's shows throughout the city, where officials suspected they might be bombs and quickly closed down streets, highways, and subway systems. Turner also released a statement saying, "We are reviewing our policies concerning local marketing efforts and strategies to ensure that they are not disruptive or perceived as threatening."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.