TUESDAY: ALL M.J. ALL THE TIME
Coverage of Michael Jackson's memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday is likely to eclipse that of any such ceremony in history, published reports indicated today (Monday). All major broadcast networks and the cable news networks have planned some sort of coverage of the service, with all except CBS indicating that they plan to carry it live. (CBS may yet decide to do so.) Hulu, the video website owned by NBC Universal, News Corp and Disney/ABC, is planning to stream the service online, as is the StaplesCenter.com website. The cable news networks have indicated that they are planning "wall to wall" coverage, despite last week's Pew Research Center survey claiming that 64 percent of the public believes that the media are paying too much attention to Jackson's death. "TV ratings tell a different story," commented Broadcasting & Cable magazine, which noted that many of the top-rated television shows of the past week concerned Jackson and that ABC Nightline'sreports about him outdrew episodes of NBC's Tonight show with Conan O'Brien and CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. Meanwhile, tickets to the event have hit eBay, with one of the winners asking $20,000. However, it was reported that when those selected to receive tickets pick them up, a wristband will be placed on their wrist that cannot be removed without destroying it. They must then show tickets, IDs, and the untampered wristband before being allowed to enter the arena. More than 1.6 million people registered for the 11,000 seats that will be available inside the Staples Center. Another 6,000 have been set aside in an overflow facility at the Nokia Theater next door.
CONAN'S AUDIENCE SKEWS YOUNGER THAN DAVE'S (OR JAY'S)
Since Conan O'Brien took over as host of the Tonight show last month, the median age of the show's audience has dropped to 45 from 55 when it was hosted by Jay Leno, the New York Times reported today (Monday), citing research by both NBC and CBS. "In network television, where audiences tend to age up consistently, this is an eye-popping development," the newspaper observed. It noted, however, that part of the reason for O'Brien's younger-trending audience is that older viewers are switching to Letterman and ABC's Nightline. David Poltrack, who tracks ratings for CBS, told the newspaper, "Conan's strength is almost entirely in men between 18 and 34. ... We're gaining in other categories."
LITTLE PEOPLE DECRY USE OF THE WORD "MIDGET" ON TV
The organization Little People of America is asking the FCC to ban the word "midget" from broadcast TV. The group said that it had filed a complaint with the commission following an April episode of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice in which contestants were challenged to create a detergent ad called "Jesse James and the Midgets." Winning contestant Joan Rivers suggested that the little people be bathed in the detergent, then hung up to dry. LPA called the program "demeaning" and insisted that the term "midget" is as offensive to little people as "nigger" is to African-Americans. The group is likely to face an uphill struggle. "Midget" wrestling remains a staple of cable-TV (not to mention midget auto racing) and several online websites (rentamidget.com, tinyentertainment.com) act as agencies for little people who perform at parties and the like.
JULY 4TH HDTV SALES -- LOWER PRICES, BUT WERE CUSTOMERS BITING?
Home electronics retailers slashed the prices of big-screen LCD television sets and Blu-ray players over the Fourth of July weekend, and while many reported a surge in business, most said the results were unspectacular. One Southern California retailer, Ken Cranes, not only cut prices but also refunded sales tax and offered terms that included no deposit, interest or payments for 12 months. However, a reporter visiting the chain's Encino outlet on Saturday found the store virtually empty at mid-day. A salesman insisted, however, that it had been crowded earlier in the day.
APPLE APPROVES AL-JAZEERA IPHONE APP
The English-language version of the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera may still not have an outlet on cable television in the U.S., but it now has one on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Apple has reportedly approved an Al-Jazeera "app" that is offered in two versions -- one, with lower video quality, for basic wireless 3G data hook-ups and another, with higher quality, for wi-fi connections. Al-Jazeera says that neither version is currently compatible with the new iPhone 3G S, but that one should be available within a matter of days.