The Passion of the Christ: According to USA Today, The Passion of the Christ seems unlikely to find a home on the four biggest broadcast networks...
Mel Gibson's Icon Productions has been shopping the movie to TV. ABC has confirmed turning it down, and executives say a pickup is doubtful at CBS, NBC and Fox.
The movie's graphic scenes of Jesus' crucifixion are said to make broadcasters skittish, particularly in the post-Janet Jackson era, when government officials are closely watching what goes on television.
"There might be a lot of baggage because of the violence," says Brad Adgate, an analyst for ad buying firm Horizon Media. "That can put some pressure on advertisers not to buy this."
Besides the film's violent content, a network that airs The Passion would also inherit controversy about it. Some Jewish organizations objected to the movie for fear it would cause bad blood between Christians and Jews.
The Passion has grossed $360.8 million domestically since its Feb. 25 opening.
Movie licensing fees are usually tied to box office success, which would seemingly put The Passion in position for a lucrative payday. And in an era when networks and studios have tie-in deals that govern where many theatrical releases will first be seen on television, Gibson's movie is a rare free agent.
The Hollywood agent who's offering a licensing deal to networks on behalf of Icon, Jeff Berg, would not comment on any negotiations.
There's a chance that some of the network coolness toward the picture could simply be a negotiating tactic.
But broadcast networks have been de-emphasizing theatrical movies in recent years, figuring many viewers prefer seeing them in theaters, on DVD or on commercial-free cable.
The movie also has reportedly been shopped to pay-cable networks, where content would not be much of an issue.
HBO would not comment, but executives there have privately said the network has a full plate of movie premieres already scheduled for the next year. Showtime has passed on the movie, and the Starz pay-cable network hasn't made a decision.
Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog group Parents Television Council, says that if broadcast networks turned down The Passion because of disturbing scenes, "then there is rampant hypocrisy in the halls of Hollywood. There doesn't seem to be a problem with other violent content."