ANCHORS FUME OVER PARIS

Many local and cable news anchors abandoned any pretense of impartiality Thursday as they openly scorned a decision by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to release Paris Hilton from jail after only three days. On CNN, anchor Heidi Collins remarked to entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson: "Has this ever happened for any other individual in the entire history of the world?" On MSNBC, legal correspondent Susan Filan commented, "They have made a joke of the criminal justice system." On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric, who said only last month, "I don't think we need to ever utter the name Paris Hilton," uttered her name as she led off a report by observing, "Paris Hilton's very early release from jail has brought howls of protest and cries of a double standard." Although Hilton's release was also reported on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, it did not warrant a mention on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. On his blog, the Daily Nightly, Williams advised viewers, "For those who can't live without the details: just stick around until the shows that follow ours on our many different affiliates."

ISAIAH WASHINGTON FIRED FROM GREY'S ANATOMY

Five months after igniting an uproar for using the term "faggot" to refer to fellow cast member T.R. Knight, Isaiah Washington has been removed from ABC's Grey's Anatomy. The announcement did not include the usual "to pursue other opportunities" wording, and Washington himself released a statement invoking the famous line from the movie Network: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." TV Guide columnist Michael Ausiello, who broke the story on the magazine's website Thursday, quoted a source as saying that Washington's slur was not the only thing that contributed to his dismissal -- that "there was a pattern of problematic behavior" involving him. Today's (Friday) Washington Post observed that while ABC confirmed the report of the firing to some news sources, it did not to ABC News, which cited "two sources with knowledge of the situation."

STANLEY CUP IS HALF FULL

No televised sports event covered by a major broadcast network ever drew such tiny ratings in primetime as this year's Stanley Cup finals on NBC. The three games between the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators averaged a 1.6 rating and a 3 share, down 20 percent from last year's 2.0/4. Even the final came turned out to be a bust, drawing a 1.8/3, 28 percent below last year's 2.5/4 for the final match.

BARKER MAY RETURN TO PRICE IS RIGHT

Bob Barker already appears to be having retirement regrets following what had been billed as his farewell appearance on The Price Is Right on Wednesday. He told reporters that if CBS is unable to find a replacement for him by the time the fall season begins, "I've told members of the staff here that ... if they wanted me to do it for a few more months, I would do it." FremantleMedia, which produces the game show, appeared to welcome Barker's offer. CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz told the Associated Press. "I am glad to know that Bob is thinking about coming back." Barker had concluded taping his "final" show Wednesday without mentioning his impending retirement."

HOUSE OF PAYNE BECOMES CABLE'S TOP-RATED SITCOM

Tyler Perry, who astonished box-office analysts when his Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which cost $5 million to make,earned $50.4 million in theaters and its sequel, Madea's Family Reunion, brought in $63.3 million, has now hit it big on television. The debut of his House of Payne pulled the biggest audience ever for a cable-TV sitcom last week when it attracted an average of 5.2 million viewers for its debut. The show, which aired on TBS, was also basic cable's No. 1 scripted show of the year. Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin told Reuters, "We weren't expecting the best of all time. ... We had high hopes, but even our highest hopes were exceeded."

AND THEN THERE'LL BE TWO?

While competition from satellite TV providers DirecTV and and Echostar's DISH Network were originally expected to increase competition among cable companies, just the opposite may prove to be the case, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons implied during an address to a Merrill Lynch media conference in London Thursday. Parsons said that it was conceivable to him that within five years, the industry could reach "a point in time when there's two separate stand-alone companies." However, he added, "I'm not prepared to make that call yet." In addition to his own company, Comcast, the largest cable-TV provider, has been gobbling up smaller cable systems. He predicted that the consolidation will intensify, "and we want to participate in that consolidation." He also suggested that the Time Warner Cable unit could eventually be spun off into a separate company.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.