MOGULS ON THE HOT SEAT
According to a report in Daily Variety, Viacom bosses Sumner Redstone and Mel Karmazin spent several hours defending their compensation packages for last year at the company's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in New York.
Redstone and Karmazin each were paid $15.3 million in salary and bonus. They said figures were based on a strong performance by Viacom relative to other media conglomerates in a difficult economic climate.
Viacom stock has performed better than other media stocks, but it was still down 17 percent over the past year. Even with their bonuses cut -- to $12 million from $15 million the previous year -- Redstone and Karmazin made a lot more last year than their counterparts at other media giants.
One irate stockholder questioned the wisdom of the board of directors compensation committee in deciding how much to pay Redstone and Karmazin.
"I don't know where their heads are," Variety quoted the stockholder. "What are they going to give you when the stock goes up?"
The toughest challenges seemed to come from three or four shareholders. Variety reported that, at one point, Redstone lost his cool, yelling: "Sell your stock!"
ABC, TURNER GRAN 'REPORT' EARLY
ABC and Turner broadcasting have sealed up a five-year deal for exclusive broadcast rights to the upcoming Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report."
The movie will show up on network TV no sooner than February 2005.
HONORS FOR JULIANNE MOORE
Organizers of the Independent Feature Project have announced that Julianne Moore ("Hannibal," "Boogie Nights") will receive the actor award at the 2002 Gotham Awards on Sept. 26.
Moore joins a list of past recipients that includes Harvey Keitel, Kevin Kline, Frances McDormand, Susan Sarandon, Uma Thurman, John Turturro, Christopher Walken and Sigourney Weaver. The award is given in recognition of a New York actor's contributions to the city's film community.
"Ms. Moore embodies the talent and diversity of some of New York's finest actors," said IFP executive director Michelle Byrd in a statement.
NEW COMEDY SHOW ON NBC
NBC has ordered six-episodes of "The Rerun Show," a new comedy series for broadcast later this summer in which an ensemble of comic actors will reenact episodes from classic TV series such as "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Facts of Life" or "The Partridge Family."
It's the newest example of a trend Hollywood calls "alternative comedy."
The re-enactments are more than just line-for-line recreations of scenes from past hits. They also feature sometimes outrageous twists on the original material.
ANOTHER RECORD FOR THE LITTLE WIZARD
With five days left until the DVD and videocassette releases of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on May 28, Amazon.com announced Thursday that it has already received more than 100,000 pre-orders for the DVD.
That's the biggest DVD pre-order in the company's history.
The pre-order has propelled the movie to No. 1 on both Amazon.com's DVD and video best-sellers lists.
The company has also announced the results of national survey, indicating that Potter fans like the first of J.K. Rowling's four books best. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" came out on top in the survey with 58 percent of the vote.
The third book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," was No. 2 with 18 percent. Book four, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," was third with 15 percent, and the second book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" was least favorite with 9 percent.
The survey also indicated that, despite the record pre-order for the "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" DVD, movie fans said that if they had the choice they would like to meet Shrek, Spider-Man or Yoda more than they would want to meet the young wizard.
Potter was preferred by just 10 percent of those surveyed. Yoda came out on top in a tight race with Shrek and Spider-Man for first place.
The trade publication Video Business estimates that "Sorcerer's Stone" will sell 18 million to 20 million copies on VHS and DVD in North America. Some stores reportedly plan to stay open late Monday night so they can start selling the product at midnight.