MTV CHAIRMAN DECIDES TO STAY ON

MTV Networks Chairman Judith McGrath has decided to remain with the company, ending weeks of speculation that she might quit following the ouster of Viacom CEO Tom Freston, who was regarded as her mentor. In an interview with today's (Tuesday) New York Times, McGrath said, "I want the people that work here to know that I'm here and I believe in our strategy and I believe in them." Responding to criticism that MTV has not been aggressive enough in exploiting broadband opportunities, McGrath said, "We made hundreds of millions in digital this year and that is a growth opportunity." Moreover, she remarked, "This is not a business in trouble. I'm not looking at you as someone who is losing piles of money or losing share of eyeballs." In a separate interview with Fortune magazine, McGrath acknowledged that she was surprised when Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone fired Freston. "But Sumner has always been a maverick personality," she added.

PLAY BALL!

While a Yankees-Dodgers World Series may not be the choice of most betters, it's definitely the choice of the Fox TV network, Daily Variety observed today (Tuesday). Analysts interviewed by the trade publication observed that New York and Los Angeles are the country's two largest markets and that the teams have a rivalry that extends beyond 1958, when the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. The worst-rated World Series in history was last year's between the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros. Commented Variety: "That game seemingly proved the point that no matter how much Fox tries to generate enthusiasm through stories about the players, managers and the teams' histories, it's an uphill battle if the team does not already have a national profile."

FOX SHOWS GO ON BASEBALL HIATUS

With the beginning of post-season baseball, Fox, as usual, is putting its primetime schedule on hiatus, but, according to AdWeek, is in better shape this year at this time than it was in the past, with ratings up 10 percent over last year. John Rash, chief broadcast negotiator at ad agency Campbell Mithun, told the trade publication that although Fox will essentially have to reintroduce all of its shows after the World Series concludes, it will have an advantage over rival networks afterwards since it will have more first-run episodes to air. "Fox will also be able to sit back and look at their competitors' schedules to see what shows are working or not working, and perhaps adjust their own schedule to take advantage in some places," Rash said. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter reported that the new sitcom 'Til Death will stay off the air for an additional week because star Brad Garrett was unhappy with the latest script.

OLDER VIEWERS LEAVING CBS NEWSCAST, YOUNGER ONES COMING

The CBS Evening News has lost some of its regular older viewers since Katie Couric arrived to anchor the program, but it has gained viewers in the 25-54 demographic group, NBC News President Sean McManus has told TV Week. "It looks preliminarily as if some of the older viewers may be sampling other broadcasts or not watching us as much as we would like," McManus told the trade magazine. "Having more total viewers is more a matter of pride than anything else ... but as a practical matter, the most important group financially is the 25 to 54 group, and there we're in a dead heat with NBC and ABC, which I think is remarkable." Last week, the CBS newscast slipped to third place among overall viewers with 7.7 million viewers but was just 74,000 viewers behind second-place ABC's World News. NBC Nightly News led with 8.4 million viewers. Said McManus: "Looking at this set of numbers, how could I be anything but encouraged that we're accomplishing exactly what we wanted to: start to make the race competitive, which it certainly is."

LIBERAL BLOGGERS SCORN WOODWARD'S APPARENT ABOUT-FACE

Bob Woodward's State of Denial, a critical appraisal of the administration's pursuit of the war in Iraq, is being pelted from an unexpected source -- liberal bloggers, who have also targeted TV interviewers who have booked Woodward on their shows in recent days. Pointing out that only two years ago, Woodward was praising President Bush for his "moral determination" and asserting, "People want a tough president, and this man is tough," Arianna Huffington remarked on her website, "Let's hope that, unlike Mike Wallace, the other journalists interviewing Woodward on his PR blitz ask him to admit how wrong he was." Huffington concluded that Woodward wrote his latest book not "because he suddenly realized Iraq was going to hell. He wrote it because he realized his reputation was going to hell." In an interview with Larry King Monday night, Woodward pointed out that "even John Kerry" had praised Bush for his response to 9/11 and that "three-quarters of the Congress ... voted to support the war" in the beginning. "So, now this is about the last three and a half years and it's not a happy story."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.