There are signs that advertisers are willing to pay higher rates than they did last year for the TV networks' fall shows, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on this year's upfront sales -- in which advertisers get lower rates for buying well ahead of the fall season.
"There's a lot of money out there," said Jessica Reif Cohen, media analyst for Merrill Lynch. "It's clear that the market is getting healthier. ... This is at the top end of what we were predicting."
Upfront sales were sluggish last year, falling more than 15 percent from the high-flying days of 2000, when advertisers spent a record $8.1 billion on advanced ads.
Wall Street analysts were projecting that this year, with an improved economy, the combined ad revenue for the six major networks would increase 3 percent to 6 percent. Now analysts think the increase could be even more than that.
BERNIE MAC JOINS 'ANGELS'
Murray had not been expected to return as Bosley.
Mac reportedly will play a character who somehow is related to Bosley, Murray's character in the first movie. Jamie Foxx reportedly will play the character's son.
While he's at it, Mac will be in production beginning in August on the second season of "The Bernie Mac Show," his breakthrough hit on the Fox TV network.
WILL HE THROW A CHAIR?
Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight reportedly has been cast in the upcoming movie "Anger Management" starring Adam Sandler as a businessman who is wrongly sentenced to an anger-management program -- where he has to deal with an overly-aggressive instructor played by Jack Nicholson.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported on Sunday that Knight -- who has developed a reputation of his own for angry eruptions -- will appear in a cameo role.
The picture is being directed by Peter Segal ("The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult"), from a screenplay by David Dorfman ("The Guest") and Tim Herlihy ("Mr. Deeds," "Big Daddy," "The Wedding Singer," "Happy Gilmore").
SAG SAYS GLOBAL RULE ONE IS WORKING
The Screen Actors Guild issued a news release Friday intended to show that global enforcement of the union's Rule One is working.
SAG listed six new movie and TV projects that have begun or will soon begin production in foreign countries, employing union actors "under full SAG terms and provisions."
The list includes "The Last Man" and "The Last Samurai" -- Warner Bros. pictures shooting in Australia and New Zealand, respectively. It also includes "American Girl," also a Warner Bros. production, shooting in London.
An MGM project, "Agent Cody Banks," and a Paramount movie, "The Perfect Score," are shooting in Canada with SAG contracts, and the USA Network series "Monk" is also shooting in Canada with actors covered by a union contract.
The Guild said it is in discussion on upcoming productions from Disney, Miramax, 20th Century Fox, Universal and other producers to work out agreements covering members working overseas.
The guild began enforcing Global Rule One on May 1, over the protest of producers who argued that the guild did not have jurisdiction over projects made outside the United States. The union argued that it has the legal right to enforce its rules anywhere in the world.
SAG officials have estimated that enforcement of the rule will add an average of 3 percent to producers costs on foreign shoots, but the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers has warned that the cost will be substantially greater -- and could lead to fewer jobs for actors.
A TIDY 'SUM'
The opening of spy thriller "The Sum of All Fears" -- starring Ben Affleck as Tom Clancy's super spy -- led the U.S. box office over the weekend with an estimated $31.2 million.
In its third weekend, "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of Clones" took in $20.7 million to run its gross to $232 million after 18 days. However, box-office analysts see the picture losing steam and possibly struggling to reach the $300 million mark.
In its fifth weekend, "Spider-Man" added $14.5 million to its overall gross, taking its 31-day total to $354 million. It is expected to pass "Jurassic Park" this week for No. 5 on the all-time list of biggest U.S. blockbusters.
The new Eddie Griffin comedy "Undercover Brother" finished fourth with $12.1 million. "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" was No. 5 with $10.7 million, and now stands at $38.2 million after 10 days.
Overall, the top 10 took in $114 million -- compared with $120 million for the same weekend last year. So far this year, the U.S. box office has grossed $3.6 billion -- about 20 percent ahead of the pace set in 2001.
The schedule gets more crowded this weekend with the release of "Bad Company" starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock, and "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" starring Sandra Bullock and Ellen Burstyn.
The weekend of June 14 features three more major releases -- "The Bourne Identity" starring Matt Damon, "Windtalkers" with Nicolas Cage and the live-action version of the TV cartoon classic "Scooby-Doo."
'RINGS,' MOULIN ROUGE' SCORE AT MTV MOVIE AWARDS
"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "Moulin Rouge" each took two prizes Saturday at the MTV Movie Awards, with "Rings" winning for best movie and best breakthrough performance for a male -- Orlando Bloom as the prince Legolas.
Nicole Kidman won for best female performance for her Oscar-nominated turn in "Moulin Rouge," and shared the prize for best musical sequence with Ewan McGregor. Will Smith won for best male performance for his Oscar-nominated role in "Ali."
Best breakthrough performance for a female went to Mandy Moore for "A Walk to Remember." "Pearl Harbor" was honored for best action sequence and the prize for best fight went to "Rush Hour 2."