- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

USA’s ‘Pirate’ booty

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” just opened earlier this month, and its cable television rights have already been snapped up. USA Network will pay between $20 to $25 million for the exclusive rights to air the movie from fall 2008 until 2013, TV.com reports.

The sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” was the first film to gross $100 million in two days. Its $135 million opening weekend is the highest three-day box office gross in film history.

USA just aired the television premiere of the original “Pirates” on Saturday. The third film in the series, which stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, is slated to appear in theaters next summer.

House gets a raise

Though Hugh Laurie was robbed of an Emmy nomination, his work is appreciated by producers of his hit show “House.”

Mr. Laurie will receive between $275,000 and $300,000 per episode next season, E! Online reports. The star’s starting salary had reportedly been in the mid-five figures. The raise makes him one of television’s most highly paid drama series leads.

The show’s popularity — it’s Fox’s second-biggest hit after “American Idol” — owes much to the British comedian, who is better known across the pond for the sketch comedy show “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and the P.G. Wodehouse series “Jeeves and Wooster,” in which Mr. Laurie played Bertie Wooster.

In “House,” the Golden Globe-winning actor plays Dr. Gregory House, a dark genius with a sarcastic sense of humor and an addiction to painkillers who solves medical mysteries with a Sherlock Holmes-like gift of deduction. The show was nominated for an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy.

‘Sex’ at fingertips

HBO is making history yet again.

The cable channel is making episodes of its original series “Sex and the City” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” available exclusively on Cingular Wireless’ video showcase for mobile phones, Reuters reports. It’s the first time an established network has recycled entire episodes for U.S. cell phones, which typically rely on short form content. Cingular won’t stream entire episodes in one chunk, but will offer each one in segmented “chapters” that can be digested one at a time.

HBO is also offering Cingular users original content. The network has produced a mobile miniseries based on its popular show “Entourage.” The miniseries, consisting of episodes four minutes along, will be based on Kevin Dillon’s character Johnny Drama and extend the story beyond what it shown on television. Most cell phone video programming involves mere excerpts of content available elsewhere.

HBO is one of the few media players to make next to no programming in its entirety available on online venues like Apple’s ITunes. The exception has been new series “Dane Cook’s Tourgasm” with comedian Dane Cook. HBO recently made an episode available on ITunes as an experiment; it quickly became the service’s most downloaded podcast. “Tourgasm” will be the only current series on Cingular Video. Episodes from the first season of “Entourage” will be available, but none from the current season.

HBO and Cingular, the top U.S. cell phone service, first inked a deal in December. HBO’s Cingular content is available for $4.95 per month on the premium tier, on top of the $14.95 monthly Cingular Video subscription.

McMahon top sidekick

Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s announcer on “The Tonight Show,” is the greatest sidekick of all time.

That’s according to Entertainment Weekly, which offers its list of the 50 best sidekicks in its issue hitting newsstands today, Associated Press reports. The rest of the top five, in order, are: Batman’s buddy Robin, Jerry Seinfeld’s neurotic friend George Costanza (“Seinfield”), Han Solo’s otherworldly pal Chewbacca (“Star Wars”) and Lucy Ricardo’s partner-in-crime Ethel Mertz (“I Love Lucy”), played by Vivian Vance.

Strangely missing from the list is Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s riding partner.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from Web and wire reports.

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