OPRAH IS (RATINGS) QUEEN FOR A DAY
Oprah's Big Give turned out to be just that for ABC Sunday night, as Oprah Winfrey's first regular primetime TV show debuted with the highest numbers of the night. The reality show, in which contestants are sent across the country to give away money and "change the lives of total strangers," captured a 9.8 rating and a 15 share (15.55 million viewers). It drew mixed reaction from critics. "It's inspiring to see people devote their time and energy to something larger than themselves, placing themselves into utterly foreign environments and selflessly soliciting help," Joe Caramanica wrote in The Los Angeles Times. Alessandra Stanley observed in the New York Times: "The series is both genuinely affecting and gratingly affected, a made-for-TV exploitation of hardship and bathos that nevertheless does tug at the heartstrings. Oprah's Big Give is not as cheesy as a lot of other reality shows. Ms. Winfrey is above all a class act." But Maureen Ryan asked in the Chicago Tribune: "How many of those corporate donations were lined up in advance and came from companies that were eager to be part of a prime-time Oprah endeavor? There's one segment shot at a Target store that might as well be a commercial for the retailer. And it's strange that the staples of reality television -- fighting and the ejection of an unsuccessful player -- come to the fore in a show that's supposed to be about altruism." And Tom Shales in the Washington Post summed up: "The unsavory aura of exploitation is hard to ignore."
EARLY SHOW PRODUCER MAY LEAVE EARLY
Shelley Ross, executive producer of CBS's The Early Show, has been meeting with CBS executives following a report that appeared in the New York Post last week saying that her brusque temperament has caused a major morale problem among the show's staff, published reports said over the weekend. The New York Times, citing executives with knowledge of the situation,reported on Saturday that it was likely that Ross would be fired within the next few weeks. The Post said that she was so upset about its report that she didn't come to work on Friday. The website TV Newser said that when it asked a CBS News spokesperson declined to comment when asked whether Ross had already been let go.
CONSUMERS HANGING UP ON CELL-PHONE VIDEO
Few people are watching clips of television shows and other videos on cell phones, according to a report by research firm Diffusion Group reported in today's (Monday) New York Times. "All our research keeps pointing at a lack of interest among consumers in viewing video on the mobile phone," according to the report's author, Michael Greeson. The report also noted that only about 10 percent of adults who have PCs capable of downloading TV shows and movies actually have done so and only 1 percent use any of the downloading services frequently.
BRITAIN'S SKY TELEVISION RESTORING MOVIES IN HD
News Corp-controlled Sky television is accelerating the process of remastering classic British films in the Blu-ray high-definition system, not only to make them available to consumers on disk but also to make them more suitable for the movie channels on its satellite service, the BBC reported today (Monday). Michael Caine, who starred in several of the films being restored, including Zulu and The Italian Job, told the BBC, "I love HD ... of course, it's very unforgiving, especially on young beautiful ladies, but thank God I'm old, I don't care."
CENSORSHIP BATTLE LOOMS IN HOLLAND OVER ANTI-KORAN FILM
The Dutch government is considering a possible ban on a film that compares the Koran with Hitler's Mein Kampf, the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported today (Monday). Word that the 10-minute film, by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, might air on several television stations in the Netherlands has already touched off demonstrations by Islamic groups in Afghanistan, who have called for the removal of Dutch troops from the country. A trailer for the film posted on YouTube shows one unidentified man commenting that the Koran depicts the prophet Muhammad, who allegedly personally beheaded hundreds of his enemies, as the role model for current terrorists. In 2004 Theo Van Gogh, who produced another Dutch film critical of Islam, was murdered by an Islamic militant.