FOR MOVIES: The audience for movies in Korea grew by 12 percent
last year. But that audience wasn't wild about the home team.
"The audience share of Korean films decreased 3.2 percent
to 32.6 percent, with foreign films attracting 67.4 percent of
the audience." Korea Times 02/28/01
CREDIT IS DUE: One of the major gripes the Writers' Guild
has with Hollywood studios is the "A Film By..." credit
that directors of motion pictures love to tack on to the beginning
of a movie. In the television world, where directors are considered
expendable, that type of all-encompassing credit could only go
to a writer, and the Guild would like the same to become true
of the big screen. Los Angeles Times
TRAIN: Seoul officials are trying to get more people to use
the subway. But no reducing the fare here. Instead the movies
will be shown on the train. "There will be 10 shows per day
shown on LCD monitors installed throughout the trains, to be called
Cinetrain during this time." Korea
HARRY: A group of kids from around the world is banding together
to lobby kids to boycott the forthcoming Harry Potter movie after
producers of the film moved last week to shut down kids' Harry
Potter fan websites with legal threats. "The Defense
Against the Dark Arts says it is prepared to announce and encourage
a full-on boycott against every single Harry Potter related product
created or subsidized by AOL-Time Warner. This includes all Harry
Potter toys, calendars, ornaments, paraphernalia, and the Harry
Potter movie, set for release late 2001." Ottawa
$10 MOVIE: As of Friday, movie admission will cost $10 in
New York. How long until the rest of the country catches up? "Ten
dollars has kind of been the magic number for a while that no
one had hit yet. What remains to be seen is if people will go
along." Chicago Sun-Times 02/26/01
HONOR ROMANS: "Gladiator" swept the
British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in London on Sunday, winning
five awards including best picture. BBC
CANADIAN HOLLYWOOD: Helped by last year's Screen Actors Guild
strike against Hollywood, movie and TV production in Canada went
up again last year. The Canadian Hollywood? British Columbia,
which saw production increase for the ninth straight year.
NEW RADIO? As the globalization of the entertainment industry
continues, several companies are hoping to be the first to bring
the newest broadcasting technologies to the public. Gone will
be such outmoded concepts as commercials, station IDs, and traditional
on-air personalities. The new subscription-based satellite radio
will take advantage of Internet, cable, and satellite technologies
to provide the ultimate in narrowcasting, all for just pennies
a day... Chicago Tribune 02/25/01
- HOW MODERN
STARS ARE BORN: Make a short film, preferably short, funny,
and off-beat. Post it on a web site. Talent agents call. Offers
(and money) pour in. It worked for several young directors who
are suddenly making big-budget films and TV programs. But it may
not work much longer. So many young directors are doing it that
there's a glut of film shorts on the Internet. The Boston Herald 02/23/01
- NOT SO WILD
ABOUT HARRY: Warner Brothers has a PR problem. Several Harry
Potter fans set up web sites in honor of their young hero. Warner
Brothers lawyers sent them letters threatening legal action for
copyright violation. Now the fans are banding together, and threatening
a boycott of Harry Potter merchandise. "They fired off this letter
without looking at the site. It was obviously a fan site, nobody
making money. It was just kids who loved Harry Potter."
USA Today 02/22/01
WORRIES: Yet another twist in
the likely Screen Actors Guild strike this summer has surfaced.
Hollywood's marketing machine is wondering if such a work stoppage
would also shut down their most effective means of selling their
product. "The issue, or rather, fear at this point, is whether
[SAG] . . . would forbid its members to participate in promotional
and publicity activities during a strike." Inside.com
RATINGS: Television networks in Australia are using a new
ratings service and some of the networks are unhappy. "The
most remarkable finding so far is that we actually are watching
much less TV than the old Nielsen surveys asserted. Last week,
in some prime, mid-evening timeslots, OzTam/ATR reported 200,000
to 300,000 fewer people watching TV in Melbourne than under Nielsen."
Each drop of a rating point means a loss of $25 million in revenue
for a network. The Age (Melbourne)
THE MOVIE WILL BE A HIT? Coca-Cola has made a deal worth $150
million for the global marketing rights for the first film version
of the popular Harry Potter children's novels. It's believed to
be one of the most expensive sponsorship deals ever, and on the
scale of what the firm spent to sponsor the recent Olympics.
The Guardian (London) 02/21/01
AN EXAMPLE: The Screen Actors
Guild has banned an actress from membership "for the maximum
allowable period" of five years. Christine Blackburn acted
in multiple non-union commercials during last year's SAG strike
against advertisers, officially earning the title of "scab."
Blackburn charges that the union's action is unfair and inconsistent,
since famous athletes who also crossed the picket line were merely
fined. Variety 02/20/01
MOVIE WINS BERLINALE FESTIVAL: "Intimacy," an English-language
film by French director Patrice Chereau, and one of the most controversial
films at this year's Berlin Film Festival, has won the first prize.
It contains explicit scenes of oral sex, in telling its tale of
sexual obsession. It beat 22 films including "Traffic,"
directed by Steven Soderbergh. Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung 02/19/01
BBC'S FADED GLORY? Some 150 million people worldwide tune
in to the BBC every week. "But it isn't only resentful professionals
from rival companies who now wonder if the BBC's reputation may
not be a shadow—albeit an awfully big shadow—of former glories.
The past year has seen turmoil at the corporation's London headquarters
and heavy criticism of the BBC as an institution, not for the
first time but in a manner more insidious and damaging than ever."
The Atlantic 03/01
DRAIN: A new US Commerce Department study says foreign governments
(particularly Canada) are spending billions in tax incentives
to lure American movie productions outside of the US. It's a matter
of money, the report says, and producers shoot where it's cheapest.
National Post (Canada) 02/19/01
MUSIC ALL THE TIME: Chicago radio station WNIB played classical
music for 27 years until new owners took over. A week ago the
classical format disappeared, and the music, announcers and commercials
have been replaced by a lonely six-CD player set on continuous
play. What's going on? New owners are just trying to figure out
what the new format will be - and losing millions of dollars in
the meantime. Chicago Tribune 02/19/01
THE SUPERTANKER: American public braodcaster PBS is "a
system plagued by sagging ratings, aging members, and internal
tension between a few major producers and far-flung member stations."
New president Pat Mitchell is making changes and shaking things
up, but that has stations and some longtime fans anxious.
Boston Globe 02/18/01
NEW FILMMAKERS: "The American cinema's past has for the
last 30 years been intertwined with the rise of American film
schools. Many of the producers, directors, writers, cinematographers
and editors making mainstream movies today are graduates of those
schools, and, like me, most have made their movies on 35- millimeter
motion picture film. But a friend who teaches cinematography at
a major film school recently lamented that his students were refusing
to shoot their projects on film. This generation of filmmakers-to-be
grew up with camcorders, and they find it bothersome to learn
what they call the 'technical stuff,' like focus and exposure.
They relish the immediacy of video and consider its hands-on ease
of operation a birthright." The
New York Times 02/18/01
- FADE TO BLACK: The latest casualty in the failing
movie-theater industry is Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. (the
US’s number-two movie chain), which filed for bankruptcy on Thursday.
"How the industry got into this mess after a decade of uninhibited
theater building in just about every mall in every one-horse town
in America has nothing to do with Hollywood and everything to
do with real estate." ABC News (Reuters) 2/15/01
- THE IMAGE
WARS: Colombia is in the news for its civil war, for drug
trafficking, and for US aid. It's also in US movies a lot lately,
and Colombians don't like it. The US, they believe, "tends
to look for someone bad outside the country who poses a danger
or threat. And this is reflected in its movies -- whether the
bad guys are Nazis, communists, Iraqis or, currently, Colombians."
The Globe and Mail 02/16/01
IT'S SPORTS ISN'T IT? They say sports is one of the biggest
draws on the internet. So now you can now watch wrestling on your
computer. WWF. The real thing. In fact, more people watch that
than any other online streaming video. According to researchers
who track these things, "WWF.com has been one of the most
consistent streaming video sites on the Internet. It's a true
Editor & Publisher 02/15/01
ON THE WALL: Everybody's talking about a possible Hollywood
strike by screen writers this summer. But the president of the
Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees denounced the WGA's
strike goals as hazy and wrongheaded: "You can't disrupt
an industry entirely like that. You're not even dealing with egos
here. You're dealing with megalomaniacs." Variety
- HOME FIELD (DIS)ADVANTAGE: Heralded as the rebirth of the
martial-arts epic, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
has wowed audiences all over the world - everywhere, that it,
except Hong Kong. "It might look exotic to foreign audiences
but it has been done before, and better, in other Hong Kong films." China Times 2/15/01
- WHO WOULDA
COULDA SHOULDA: No Academy Award winners have been announced
yet, but just getting nominated is seen as a kind of victory.
Particularly by those who weren't nominated. Boston
UNPARALLELED! PHENOMENAL! And all bad. Teamed with the
Oscars, the Razzies - annual awards for Hollywood's worst.
Although John Travolta seems a shoo-in for individual honors,
"Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up three nominations by
himself for worst actor, worst supporting actor, and worst
couple, all for 'The 6th Day,' in which he played a helicopter
pilot named Adam Gibson and Gibson's clone."
TIMES FOR ABC: From the outside, the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation looks to be in turmoil. This week ABC's head of new
programing abruptly left. His departure after only six months
on the job after a disagreement with ABC boss Jonathan Shier has
has unsettled many senior staff in an organisation already reeling
from Mr. Shier's many management changes.
The Age (Melbourne) 02/14/01
- DOES THIS
MEAN OUR COLLECTIVE TASTE HAS IMPROVED? A few years ago TV
tabloids were all over the set competing for viewers and sensational
stories. Only one remains - "Inside Edition" is readying
its 4000th broadcast. It's even outlasted the "tabloid"
label. Washington Times
- THE COMPASSIONATE
the Bush administration to crack down on XXX videos, the industry
is strategizing. "Anxious to sanitize their product to the
point where it passes muster with compassionate conservatives
everywhere, especially those living on Pennsylvania Avenue, major
producers in the industry are proposing to discard or ban a host
of sexual acts and scenarios that have in some instances become
staples of the genre. Welcome to the era of kinder, gentler smut."
The Nation 02/26/01
- GET YOUR OSCAR FIX HERE:
ArtsJournal readers love to claim the highbrow ground, but we
know what you want. The nominations, from best actress to best
key grip, all conveniently linked for your voyeuristic, Tinseltown-saturated
convenience. E! Online 02/13/01
- NO SUCH THING
AS BAD PUBLICITY: Pariahs that they are, the big tobacco companies
are understandably reluctant to release information about where
they do their product placement in Hollywood films. But twelve
years after the industry promised to stop paying for such exposure,
85% of feature films contain prominent scenes of smoking, and
28% feature visible brand names, according to a new study.
The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/13/01
PACK JOURNALISM: The media that cover Hollywood increasingly
do a superficial and formulaic job, say critics. Reporters prefer
reporting quick hit gossip or meaningless data rather than doing
stories that reveal how the entertainment industry really works.
For example, "the media's obsession with opening weekend
grosses is as ironic as it may be destructive. Why? Because virtually
everyone in Hollywood agrees that most of the numbers the studios
report to the media are inaccurate, if not downright dishonest.
'They're made up - fabricated - every week'."
Los Angeles Times 02/12/01
LOOKING FOR NEW BLOOD: The Berlin Film Festival struggles
to find an identity - a German identity. After 22 years, Moritz
de Hadeln is leaving as festival director, and many critics feel
the Berlinale "desperately needs new blood and fresh ideas.
During the cold war, the festival provided a valuable display
window for movies from the Soviet bloc. In the 1990's, though,
it has been used increasingly as a springboard for the release
of American movies in Europe." The
New York Times 03/13/01 (one-time
registration required for access)
AIR INFORMANTS: It has been revealed that "some of the
editors at the central German state broadcasting corporation Mitteldeutscher
Rundfunk (MDR) had been informers for East Germany's secret police,
the Stasi." And now questions about why they still have jobs.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/12/01
FOREIGN MEANING: "This year a record 46 countries have
entered films in the foreign-language category, building on a
decade-long trend. For little-known foreign films, an Oscar nomination
is a prize almost as coveted as the gilded statue itself. It can
mean picking up an American distributor, which in turn can open
up markets, even those close to home that are otherwise inaccessible."
The New York Times 02/11/01
required for access)
AND WHITE TV: The racial divide between what blacks and whites
watch on American TV seems to be closing. "According to a
fall 2000 study of American television, released this week, 'Monday
Night Football' was the No. 1 series among blacks, while 'ER'
was tops with whites. That marks the first time in years that
the top choice with blacks also appeared in the top 20 among whites,
and vice versa ('MNF' is No. 14 among whites, while 'ER' ranks
No. 8 with blacks)." Variety
AGAINST MICRO-RADIO: Last year the American Federal Communications
Commission decided to allow micro-radio broadcasting. The commercial
radio industry screamed in protest. And so did National Public
Radio. Indeed, NPR's objection to the plan is seen as one reason
the idea (intended to help diversity in a rapidly consolidating
radio market) might fail to be implemented. The
New Republic 02/05/01
DETECTIVES: Indian censors routinely censor racey scenes from
movies. But many theatres quietly insert the cut scenes back into
the movies. So the government is hiring "film detectives"
to go into some 800 cinemas and find out whether banned scenes
have been restored to movies. BBC
THEY SCREENING GLADIATOR? The Berlin International Film Festival,
which opened this week, seems to be struggling to find German
films to screen as part of its main competition. Europe at large
is well-represented, as is the U.S. But most of the German features
have been relegated to the smaller side shows, and the festival
continues to be dominated by Hollywood.
Boston Globe (AP) 02/09/01
- PLANNING AHEAD:
The looming strikes by Hollywood's writers and actors may not
be as devastating as some have predicted, since the industry appears
to have a record number of big-budget blockbusters already in
the can. The studios' effort to be ready to release new films
throughout the strike was helped along by many major stars, who
can't bear the thought of having their names out of circulation
Globe & Mail (Toronto) 02/09/01
TO YOU BY... As a public broadcaster, National Public Radio
can't sell ads on-air. But what about its building? NPR has leased
space for giant ads on the side of its Washington headquarters.
"This is an arrangement that creates revenue for NPR and allows
us to enhance our services while reducing reliance on member-station
contributions. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with
this arrangement." Washington Post
ART OF PAC MAN: Should video games be considered a legitimate
art form? Enthusiasts make the case: "American consumers
now spend more on video games than on movie tickets — with video
game hardware and software sales now totaling about $8.9 billion
per year, compared with about $7.3 billion in box office receipts.
And video game characters — from the cartoonish Mario Brothers
to the curvaceous Lara Croft — have become cultural icons."
The New York Times 02/08/01 (one-time
registration required for access)
- MORE TIME FOR THE ARTS: After a period of widespread questioning
of the BBC’s commitment to the arts (given the many months it
spent without anyone in charge of its arts programming), a new
initiative has been announced to upgrade and expand its arts coverage.
The most significant change is an extra half-hour devoted to culture
built into its flagship Friday-night news program. The Independent (London) 2/07/01
- AN INTERVIEW WITH BBC ART CHIEF: "I want to remind people why
we have the programmes in the first place. It's about belief:
making the best cultural experience more available is a social
good. People [in the BBC] have woken, if not from a sleep,
then from a nap." The Independent (London)
TO NUMBER 2: After 34 years on
the first channel, BBC moves its premiere arts series "Omnibus,"
from BBC1 to BBC2, leading some to question the corporation's
commitment to arts programming. "Because of the extra investment
in BBC1, there is going to be an increase in entertainment
and drama programming, although BBC1 will retain a commitment
to arts programmes." The
Guardian (London) 02/07/01
SEX SEX (AND MORE ALL THE TIME): A new study says sex on American
TV is on the rise. Three-quarters of prime-time TV shows last
year had sexual content; two years earlier, it was only two-thirds.
Most of that increase was in sitcoms. Dallas
- HISTORY WORTH REVISITING: A new American miniseries staring
Natasha Richardson is unusually brazen in its portrayal of the
US’s wartime indifference to the atrocities of the Holocaust.
Says Richardson: "What shocked me was not only the indifference
of the United States, but also England and Ireland and so many
other countries. They knew what was going on. They didn't want
to rock the boat. It was nothing less than fear and prejudice." New York Times 2/07/01 (one-time registration required
- CAMBODIAN CINEMA CPR : With a daring new film about to
open, director Fay Sam Ang is hoping to breathe new life into
Cambodia’s almost defunct film industry. "Considering the
recent history of the land of the Killing Fields, few countries
have more stories to tell on film, but no one's telling them."
Time (Asia) 2/12/01
- BECKETT ON FILM: The huge project of filming the
entire Beckett canon of plays has finally been completed, and
the results were screened at a launch party in Dublin over the
weekend. "After I had seen 14 of the 19 works an extraordinary
phenomenon became clear: the spectacle of a man from the grave
gently taming 19 of the world's most individual directors." The Guardian (London) 2/06/01
- THE RIGHT INTENT: Beckett himself would probably
have grimaced at the effort, but audiences will likely cheer.
"The 19 Beckett films unfolding over the weekend are evidence
of a deep desire for the Nobel laureate's canonisation as a
self-renewing god of Irish culture. The films rise out of admiration
and loyalty to the texts, and they will probably serve to bring
a new generation to the work and its influence." The Telegraph
- THE PRICE OF PIRACY: Despite heavy lobbying by the US
entertainment industry, a European Union parliamentary committee
has refused to introduce restrictions on free online music downloading
into its new copyright regulations. "One area under contention
is a possible extension of national levies currently charged in
some EU countries on blank videotapes, compact discs, recorders
or players, surcharges meant to compensate artists for pirated
copies." Inside.com (AP) 2/05/01
MUCH SEX? Sex sells, doesn't it? Evidently not for the American
Fox TV network. Fox is getting big-league ratings with the likes
of 'Temptation Island'. But "the racy content in the current
wave of reality TV is making some advertisers question the line
between good marketing and good taste. As a result, many big-name
companies have chosen to vote themselves off shows displaying
questionable content." Christian
Science Monitor 02/05/01
MEANING OF ART: "Does an artist's touch turn an everyday
object into an art object? How does an artwork receive its value?
How does one's possessions define an identity?" An artist
is selling his possesions by auction on Ebay - and hoping to make
a point about such questions. The
New York Times 02/05/01 (one-time
registration required for access)
FOR A WAY OUT: The Writer's Guild has extended its negotiating
deadline with Hollywood's movie and television producers, in the
hope that further discussions may avoid a crippling strike. Observers
are hopeful that the move means that the two sides are closer
than previously thought.
WHITE": Black and Asian writers are marginal to the BBC's
schedules. No actors from a multi-ethnic background are currently
winning the hearts and minds of viewers in drama. It's worth remembering
a time when things were different at the BBC." The
Telegraph (London) 02/03/01
MARIA DISEASE: What is it about the "Sound of Music"
movie that has thousands dressing up in their underwear to sing
at theater screens? "Thirty-fifth-anniversary videos, CDs
and DVDs have recently been issued, yet the print we're seeing
is old and scratchy; its colour changes disconcertingly from reel
to reel. We don't care. We've paid our $22.50 for the subtitles.
The men beside me are Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings.
I, in my nightie, am the Maria who sings 'My Favorite Things'.
And this is 'Sing-A-Long Sound of Music'." The
Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/03/01
TO COME OUT: A film version of Joyce's "Ulysses"
shot 30 years ago was banned in Ireland all this time. "The
script was lifted straight from the book, and its reception mirrored
the response to Ulysses in 1922 when the Dublin press howled that
it was 'written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality
of the literature of the latrine'." This week it finally
opens there... The Guardian 02/03/01
TO BLOCK BLOCKBUSTER: Some 200 American video store owners
have sued Blockbuster Video, saying the movie-rental giant is
trying to monopolize the business and drive indies out of business
with unfair business practices. Nando
- THE ULTIMATE SELLOUT:
The future is now, and apparently, it's product placement. As
independent filmmakers search for ways to use new technologies
to get their films made, many are expressing interest in the next
generation of paid product inserts. Like the look of the suit
Robert DeNiro's wearing in this scene? Just point and click...
ART OF ADAPTATION: Adapting literary classics to the
screen (or "versioning," as literary critics like to
call it) has become increasingly popular in recent years. But,
what do we really want when we go to the movies - faithful adaptations
in period dress, or films that riff off a novel’s themes in their
own unique ways? "My own preference is for versionings that
make the audience work a bit for the payoff. Films, that is, whose
core literary inspiration is not released as part of the advertising
package." The Guardian (London) 02/01/01
BECKETT CRINGE: If Samuel Beckett were alive today,
what would he make of the fact that 19 films of his plays are
about to be released? Let’s just say the directors should probably
be glad he’s not around to comment. "If he took such a hard
line against anyone taking liberties with the plays, it seems
obvious that he would have been utterly outraged by the far more
violent act of changing the entire form from live theatre to film." Irish Times 02/01/01
MUST BE PAID: One of the major sticking
points between Hollywood execs and the Writers' Guild is the way
screenwriters are credited - or not credited - for the scripts
they pen. The traditional directorial credit "A film by..."
is a source of particular irritation. Rocky Mountain News (AP),
FOR IMPACT: Many American movies and TV programs are currently
filmed in Canada, because of the favorable exchange rate, and
the film and TV industry is worth a cool $4 billion per year to
Canada's economy. But with massive strikes threatening to
cripple the American entertainment megaplex this summer, Canadian
production companies are preparing for a season without U.S. assistance.