KING IS RATINGS KING AGAIN -- THANKS TO PARIS

People may grumble at all the media attention lavished on Paris Hilton, but they nevertheless scampered to their TV sets to watch her on CNN's Larry King Live Wednesday night, giving the show its best ratings in almost two years and forcing Fox News Channel into second place. The Hilton interview drew more than 3.2 million viewers (to FNC's 2.6 million), astonishingly nearly half of them in the 25-54 year-old demographic. King has been averaging 1.06 million for the first six months of this year. A day earlier, when his guests were the two surviving Beatles and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, he drew 1.47 million. The Hilton interview also helped Anderson Cooper, who followed with a one-hour discussion of it that drew 1.9 million viewers. Meanwhile, several websites on Thursday slammed King for failing to prepare for the interview (something he has acknowledged he rarely does) and therefore not being able to ask follow-up questions. For example, they noted, he failed to challenge Hilton's assertion that she has never taken drugs. Yet films have been posted on the Internet showing her doing just that. On Thursday, the -- in this case, appropriately named -- Smoking Gun website posted seven clips of Hilton apparently smoking pot and hashish and negotiating to buy them. The video was reportedly taken in Amsterdam, where many drugs are legally available. But at one point, she is seen discussing how she "can get this s*** back to America" and later says that she wants to consult "an expert like Chuck, that dude who sold us all that weed," on how to do so. In yet another clip, Hilton appears to be looking for an outdoor spot to smoke pot with some friends, asking three times, "Are we gonna get arrested?" Even the Hilton-friendly TMZ website posted video of her apparently smoking pot. (She told the site that she just likes to roll her own cigarettes.)

TENNIS (ON YOUR CELLPHONE), ANYONE?

They may find spotting the tennis ball a bit difficult on their tiny screens, but Verizon Wireless customers who subscribe to its V Cast Mobile TV will be able to watch the Wimbledon tournament from England on cellphones, courtesy of NBC2Go, beginning Saturday. In a statement, Ryan Hughes, head of media programming for Verizon, said: "Customers who are at the beach or a barbecue this holiday week can still see every serve, volley or break point from the best tennis players in the world." Coverage is set to begin at 12:00 noon ET on Saturday, but starting times will vary throughout the week.

TEXAS OFFICIALS RIP DATELINE STING

Texas prosecutors have dropped charges against all of the alleged pedophiles who were caught on hidden cameras in a sting by NBC's Dateline. The sting, conducted in a house wired with cameras and microphones in Murphy, TX, resulted in the arrest of 24 men who thought they were meeting underage boys and girls for sex after engaging in online chats with the decoys. In one instance, a deputy D.A. in a neighboring county, Louis Conradt Jr., who had apparently engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with a decoy claiming to be a 13-year-old boy, shot and killed himself when police arrived -- a Dateline crew in tow -- to arrest him. "The fact that somebody besides police officers were involved is what makes this case bad," Collin County District Attorney John Roach told the Associated Press Thursday. "If professionals had been running the show, they would have done a much better job rather than being at the beck and call of outsiders." Chris Hansen, the reporter who fronted the Dateline piece, told the wire service: "I don't want to get involved in the D.A.'s business or the police business. ... I can tell you in the other locations [where Dateline conducted similar stings], these issues did not come up."

GREY'S WASHINGTON: "REHAB ... WAS JUST SOME CRAP"

Former Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington has lashed out at ABC, other cast members of the show, and the television industry in general, blaming his firing on racism and double standards. "I apologized and showed my remorse for what I said [calling a gay cast member a "faggot"] and for the pain I caused anyone," Washington told Newsweek in an interview appearing on its website today (Friday). "If a black man can't get forgiveness in this country, when so many other people like Robert Downey Jr. and the governor of California get second and third chances ... I think that says a lot about race and this country where we stand." He said that the network's decision to send him to rehab after he used the offensive term was an attempt at "reprogramming" him. "There is no rehab for homophobia -- that was just some crap being put out by the network," he told the magazine. " I went into an executive counseling program which many people in this industry know about and go to. They knew what the program was but chose to call it what they wanted to fit their agenda."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.