25 October 2005
Two Viacoms Under One Redstone
Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone
has made it clear that he intends to continue to play an active role in the operation of his media company even after it splits in two. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Redstone remarked, "I never said I would take my hands off the wheel ... I said I would share the wheel." He'll be sharing it with Tom Freston
, head of the company that will keep the Viacom name, and Les Moonves, head of the company that will carry the name CBS Corp. Redstone gave no indication when he plans to step down. "I don't intend to go," he told the wire service. "Though I guess I have to come to terms with the idea that I'm not immortal." He predicted that shares in the new companies will begin rising once investors see their separate worth. Viacom shares were trading at $30.06 at the market's close on Monday, down from a high of $75.88 in 2000.
Box Office Plummets 16 Percent
The weekend box office performed pretty much the way analysts predicted it would. That is to say, poorly. The top film was Universal's movie version of the videogame Doom
, which earned $15.5 million in its opening, putting it a long way from earning back its $60-80-million cost. DreamWorks Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story
inspired lackluster interest as it debuted with $9.2 million. Attracting even less interest was Warner Bros.' North Country
, which headed south with only $6.5 million. The box office overall was down 16 percent from the comparable week a year ago.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date): 1. Doom, Universal, $15,488,870, (New); 2. Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story, DreamWorks, $9,178,233, (New); 3. Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, DreamWorks, $8,584,304, 3 Wks. ($43,918,009); 4. The Fog, Screen Gems, $6,665,475, 2 Wks. ($20,913,919); 5. North Country, Warner Bros., $6,422,455, (New); 6. Elizabethtown, Paramount, $5,621,009, 2 Wks. ($18,848,975); 7. Flightplan, Disney, $4,724,629, 5 Wks. ($77,294,514); 8. In Her Shoes, 20th Century Fox, $3,885,189, 3 Wks. ($26,179,382); 9. A History of Violence, New Line, $2,699,962, 5 Wks. ($26,300,395); 10. Two for the Money, Universal, $2,421,835, 3 Wks. ($20,706,660).
Cameron Says He Thought 'Titanic' Would Sink
Director James Cameron
has admitted that he himself was surprised by the success of Titanic
and in fact had worried about whether it would even turn a profit. "It was a chick flick set in 1912, it was three hours long, and everybody dies in the end -- how could it possibly be successful?" he remarked in an interview with USA Today
. "I don't think anybody really believed in its upside potential, myself included." Cameron made his remarks as he began promoting the Titanic
"special edition" DVD, which includes the original nine-minute ending that has never been seen. "When we screened the film for ourselves, we didn't like it," Cameron told the newspaper. "It worked on paper and it even worked as a scene, but you watch it as part of the movie and it just doesn't work." Cameron maintained that the "special edition" will be the definitive DVD version -- and that there won't be any future DVD versions. "Our intention here was to jump through all those intermediate iterations and get right to the ultimate version and tell people, point blank, this is it. This is the ultimate disc," he said.
Chinese Star Bai Ling Finally Gets Her Moment of 'Star Wars' Glory
Chinese film star Bai Ling
, whose scene in George Lucas
's Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith
was deleted from the film after she posed topless for Playboy
magazine, will finally be seen in the film when the two-disc Revenge of the Sith
is released on home video next week. Hers is one of several deleted scenes that will be included in the DVD. In it, she appears as Senator Bana Breemu and speaks four words ("That would be dangerous.") to Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman
, and Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christensen
. She has previously said that in the scene she appears to be "all naked with tattoos on my body" and that her strange appearance is explained in the movie.
Will Britain Lose Harry Potter? James Bond?
After already witnessing such "quintessentially British" stories as Oliver Twist
, From Hell
, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
being filmed in Prague, the British film industry may next see the next Harry Potter and James Bond movies shot in the Czech capital, unless the government acts swiftly to provide tax incentives to Hollywood filmmakers, the Associated Press reported Monday. The wire service said that British officials are consulting with the film industry about a new tax-credit plan due to be implemented next April but that many in the industry are concerned that the tax break may not be large enough to help the British film industry compete satisfactorily against its counterparts in other European countries.
CBS Blog Chastises Mike Wallace
The editor of the official CBS blog "Public Eye" has taken Mike Wallace
to task for remarks Wallace made at an 80th birthday party for columnist Art Buchwald
that served as a fund-raiser for The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent gun-control organization. At the affair, Wallace showed a clip of an interview he conducted with former NRA President Charlton Heston
, whom he lampooned. He also reportedly announced that he had made a donation to the Brady Center. In a commentary appearing on "Public Eye," editor Vaughn Ververs said that he had been asked what CBS News standards apply to public appearances like Wallace's. (He did not say who asked him.) Ververs indicated that he in turn put that question to Linda Mason, the CBS executive who oversees the network's investigative and "sensitive" reports. Mason, he said, told him that if any CBS correspondent becomes identified with one side of a controversial issue, he or she would no longer be allowed to cover it. Mason, Ververs remarked, later told him that if Wallace "suggests a story that we feel is a potential conflict, we'll look at it, and if we see a conflict, we'll turn it down." Commented Ververs (who identifies himself in his bio as a conservative who once worked as a deputy press secretary in Pat Buchanan
's presidential campaign): "I trust Mason and CBS News to carry through with the pledge to turn down a Wallace story if there is a conflict involving his Brady Center appearance."
Gay Publication "Outs" Anchors
The gay-oriented Houston Voice
has "outed" CNN's Anderson Cooper
and Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith
, charging that they "choose to hide and deceive -- and to protect their incomes and images -- at the expense of contributing important weight and star power to the gay civil rights movement." Managing Editor Kevin Naff claims in an editorial appearing in the current edition of the Voice
that Smith once tried to pick him up in a gay piano bar in New York City and that Cooper dodged a question about his sexual orientation in a recent New York
magazine interview by saying, "The whole thing about being a reporter is that you're supposed to be an observer and to be able to adapt with any group you're in ... and I don't want to do anything that threatens that." Commented Naff: "Does he believe that female and African-American reporters lack credibility to cover stories since their minority status is showing?"
Fantasia Claims '20/20' Contrived Story of Her "Illiteracy"
winner Fantasia Barrino
has accused ABC News of manipulating an interview it taped with her for 20/20
to make it appear that she was illiterate. In the feature, interviewer Deborah Roberts said in her narration, "Fantasia admits that while charming American television viewers and wooing the judges to become a pop star, she was hiding the fact that she was barely able to read or write." The camera then switched to Barrino, who remarked, "You're illiterate to just about everything. You don't want to misspell. So that for me kept me in a box, and I wouldn't come out." Roberts then remarked, "Her illiteracy kept her from even trying to get a job before her stint on television." Barrino was then seen remarking, "I was so ashamed, and I was like, 'What will people say about me? I can't get a job.'" However, in the current issue of Jet magazine, Barrino remarks, "I'm not illiterate. I just have some strong struggles and some situations that I'm not strong in. Every chance I get to speak out about it, I'm going to clear it up and let them know that I am not a dummy."
More ABC Shows Coming to iPods
ABC plans to increase the number of television shows available for viewing on wireless and mobile devices early next year, Albert Chang, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney ABC Television Group told a mobile entertainment conference in San Diego Monday. Thus far, only three ABC shows have been made available for day-after downloading, Lost
, Desperate Housewives
, and Night Stalker
, but Chang indicated that efforts are underway to negotiate rights clearances from musicians, actors, writers, and others for shows that Disney does not produce itself. "Now when we know a show will be good, we negotiate ahead of time to clear distribution on all platforms," he said. Chang told the website TechWeb, "We expect our mobile video subscriber business to reach 14 million in 2009, up from about 200,000 today." Meanwhile, Disney said on Monday that it plans to relaunch its Movies.com site today (Tuesday) with additional editorial content but without the feature films it originally planned to deliver online.
Sawyer Takes Herself Out Of Running For ABC Anchor Post
ABC has removed Diane Sawyer
from the list of candidates to replace the late Peter Jennings
as World News Tonight
anchor. Responding to a report in the trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable
that Sawyer was interested in the anchor post, ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told reporters, "She is not a candidate for World News Tonight
. ... She has never asked to come off of Good Morning America
." However, Sawyer's GMA
co-host, Charles Gibson
, who has been acting as temporary anchor of the nightly newscast (with Elizabeth Vargas
) since Jennings left the show, has reportedly made no secret of the fact that he would like to become its full-time anchor.
NBC, Time Warner To Collaborate on "Start Over" Service
NBC has agreed to allow Time Warner to use several of its shows in a test of a new television-on-demand service called Start Over that is due to be launched in Columbia, SC next month. The service will allow viewers who tune in late to a program to go to the beginning. They can also pause and rewind -- but not fast forward past commercials, a feature that NBC Universal Cable President David Zaslov told USA Today
was the primary attraction to the network.
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