END OF THE STRIKE?

Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are expected to put the finishing touches on a new three-year contract today (Friday), several publications reported, citing sources close to the negotiations. Only one seasoned Hollywood mogul spoke on the record. Former Disney chief Michael Eisner said during an interview on CNBC, "I know it's over. They made the deal. They shook hands on the deal. It's going on Saturday to the writers in general" for a membership vote. An informational meeting of the WGA-West is expected to take place on Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the onetime site of the Academy Awards presentations. Significantly, if the strike is called off, the Oscars show would be able to take place as scheduled on February 24, although producers may have to work overtime to bring all of its elements together.

RATINGS DOWN, THOUGH SURVIVOR'S SURVIVAL NOT IN DOUBT

Ratings for the season debut of the latest Survivor series may have been down considerably from previous years, but they were good enough to beat all the competition Thursday night. For its premiere, Survivor: Micronesia recorded a 7.9 rating and a 12 share, to win the 8:00 p.m. time period. Nevertheless, the results were off nearly 20 percent from a year ago. ABC's Lost took the 9:00 p.m. hour, scoring the highest numbers of the night -- a 9.0/14. Still, those numbers, too, were down -- some 7 percent from a year ago. A repeat airing of CBS's Without a Trace took the 10:00 p.m. hour with a 7.4/12. During the same hour, ABC's Eli Stone suffered a ratings tumble in its second week and settled for second place 5.9/10.

BRITISH SINGER WINEHOUSE DENIED VISA TO PERFORM AT GRAMMYS

Singer Amy Winehouse will not be performing at Sunday night's Grammy Awards telecast following the rejection of her U.S. visa application by the U.S. embassy in London. Winehouse was recently fined in Norway last year for possession of marijuana and was recently videotaped showing her apparently smoking a crack pipe. Stills from the video were posted in the London tabloid, The Sun. Reporting on the U.S. decision, entertainment reporter Colin Peterson said on the BBC Thursday, "The Grammys was the carrot her family and record company used as a way to persuade her to get into rehab. Now they're going to have to find another way to motivate her."

DISNEY TO PROMOTE FOX'S IDOL

Seemingly following the advice "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," the Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday that it will develop at attraction at its theme park in Florida where visitors will be able to audition for a spot on Fox's American Idol. Disney owns the rival ABC network, which is routinely trounced in the ratings by the Fox talent show. Asked by Britain's Press Association how the deal came about, Disney spokesman Duncan Wardle replied, "It's a cultural phenomenon which has crossed all boundaries. ... American Idol is about making dreams come true and Disney Parks is where dreams come true." Simon Fuller, the producer who created Idol, added, "Disney's new attraction perfectly captures what we at American Idol feel is the heart and soul of this brand; real people getting a shot to make their dream a reality."

ARTIFICIAL HEART INVENTOR MAY HAVE ARTIFICIAL BODY, TOO

A House committee investigating what it claims are "false and misleading statements and the use of celebrity endorsements of prescription medications," indicated Thursday that it is looking into claims that the makers of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor used stunt doubles for its TV commercials featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart. The investigation came to light after the New York Times reported on Thursday that although Jarvik was shown supposedly participating in the strenuous sport of sculling in a Lipitor ad two years ago, the actual rower was Dennis Williams, a member of the Lake Washington, WA Rowing Club. Jarvik, the Times said, does not row.

NBC ASKS NIELSEN TO MOVE NEXT YEAR'S FEBRUARY SWEEPS

Apparently concerned that many Americans with analog-only TV sets will suddenly find themselves without images on them come February 17, 2009, when the switch-over to digital television takes place, NBC is asking Nielsen Research to move next year's February sweeps up two weeks, so that they would begin on January 15 and end on February 14, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Friday). While it is unknown how many Americans in general might remain unaware of the switch, it may be hard to imagine that Nielsen would not inform those participating in its audience research that the switch will take place.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.