MEDIA - Film/Radio/TV/Web - February 2002

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Thursday February 28

HANDS OFF OUR BUSINESS! With the US Congress threatening to write legislation requiring copy protection technology in new digital devices, tech companies pledge to come up with a standard of their own. The movie industry is worried that new devices will allow consumers to rip off their products. Wired 02/27/02

Wednesday February 27

NPR SCALING BACK ON CULTURE? "National Public Radio has begun an extensive review of its musical programming, and is considering overhauling or eliminating some of its venerable jazz and classical offerings. A strategy paper written by NPR's top programming executive says some of the network's live performance and recorded music shows 'may disappear,' although officials stress that nothing is final." Washington Post 02/27/02

PROBLEM SOLVED? For the first time in 30 years, three African-American actors have been nominated for top acting Oscars. "But instead of drawing cheers from those who have been fighting for greater black representation at all levels of the entertainment industry, the situation is raising concerns that many people will conclude that the problem has been solved." It hasn't been. The New York Times 02/27/02

SYNERGY OR MONOPOLY? When Congress changed the rules of the broadcast industry back in the mid-90s, supporters claimed the new system would spur greater competition and better content for consumers. The exact opposite has been the case, as "old-fashioned, bare-knuckled competition grudgingly gives way to attempted "synergy," as companies that bring us news, information and banal sitcoms keep getting bigger and more powerful, while simultaneously trying to use their various assets to prop up and support each other." Los Angeles Times 02/27/02

Tuesday February 26

HOLLYWOOD UNDER ATTACK: Motion Picture Association president Jack Valenti has discovered who's behind all those nasty accusations about Hollywood. It's "a small community of professors." Those blackguards, says Jack, have charged that "producers deliberately are holding back the exhibition of movies on the Net ... and that copyright owners are stifling innovation in the digital world." Nothing, he says, could be further from the truth. Washington Post 02/25/02

SUCCESFUL IN HOLLYWOOD, BUT BORED: Lasse Hallström is a hot director in Hollywood right now: Chocolat, The Shipping News. But he's ready to go home to Sweden, so he can make films that are, well, less American. ""I think Americans are more likely to be satisfied by experiencing the expected," he says. "They feel safer and have a better time. Europeans are more open to being genuinely surprised. I appreciate surprises and complexity." The Telegraph (UK) 02/26/02

Monday February 25

RINGS WINS BAFTAS: Lord of the Rings wins big in the British Bafta awards. "The 4,500 members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave it four awards, for best film, best director (Peter Jackson), best visual effects and best make-up/hair." The Telegraph (UK) 02/25/02 

AUSTRALIA LURES FILMMAKERS: Australia is proud of its movie industry and hopes to attract more Hollywood productions. So the government has introduced a bill to give movie producers shooting in Australia a 12.5 percent tax rebate, which could save producers millions of dollars. Backers of the idea claim that "when coupled with Australia's weak currency, state government incentives and cheap labour costs, Australia becomes one of the most viable places in the world to shoot a movie." The Age (Melbourne) 02/25/02 

Sunday February 24

BBC4 - ARTS HAVEN OR CLEVER DODGE? For years now, Brits have complained that the BBC has been dumbing down the level of its arts programming, and bemoaning the recent lack of much in the way of live concerts or truly informative arts documentaries. The public broadcaster's response has been to launch BBC4, a cable channel supposedly dedicated to the arts. But critics are howling still, saying that the arts should not be relegated to "niche" programming, but distributed throughout the BBC schedule as they once were. Sunday Times of London 02/24/02

CROSSING THE COLOR LINE: "The Academy Awards have long been known as a lily-white affair, with only six black actors ever winning an Oscar and 36 snagging nominations. So the Feb. 12 Oscar nominations of Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry have drawn the attention of many academy watchers. After all, this was the first time in the 73-year history of the Academy Awards that two African-Americans were nominated in the lead actor category, and the first time since 1973 that three black lead performers received nods." Dallas Morning News 02/23/02

GRIEF AS A VOYEURISTIC EXPERIENCE: The trouble with portraying real mourning in a film is that most people do not express their grief by wailing uncontrollably for five minutes and then moving on with the plot of their lives, as movie scripts would tend to require. So historically, much of character grief in the movies has tended to occur off-screen. But a new batch of critically acclaimed films features human grief so prominently as to almost make it a character in itself. The New York Times 02/24/02

Friday February 22

A MATTER OF FREEDOM OF THE PRESS? It's possible that some of the last remaining regulations on ownership of electronic broadcast media might go away. "Regulations still standing include: prohibiting the ownership of a TV station and a newspaper in the same community; limiting a company to owning not more than 35 percent of all TV stations in the United States; and limiting a single company to providing cable TV services to no more than 30 percent of the US population." The American TV world may be about to change in a big way. For the better? The Nation 02/21/02

TALK OF THE NATION OR MUSIC OF THE PEOPLE? When the September 11 attacks knocked classical radio station WNYC-FM off the air, and threw the national media into a frenzy of information gathering, the station began simulcasting its AM sister station, which carries a public radio news/talk format. "It's been five months now, with no move back to music. But listeners didn't understand what was happening until 4 February 2002, when the astute weekly New York Observer detailed the unhappiness and off-air conflicts within the station... exploding with the news that the station was seriously considering dropping classical music almost completely." Andante 02/22/02

  • TAKING THE PUBLIC OUT OF THE EQUATION? Saint Paul, Minnesota seems like an unlikely place for the next nationally dominant, media behemoth to emerge. But according to some critics, in its ambitions, Minnesota Public Radio is the Microsoft of public broadcasting, combining for-profit enterprise with a non-profit patina. Speaking of which, those pledge drives conducted with such breathless earnestness? Oh, MPR still has them, but does it really need them? City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul) 02/20/02

YEAH, BUT NBC HAS KATIE COURIC! As Americans grumble about the lack of live coverage of the Olympics on NBC's three available networks, the boring old BBC is blowing the doors off every other nation's television coverage of the games. "Press the red interactive button and the BBC serves up three video feeds of live events to choose from, all accessed via the same screen. Scroll down to the action you want, and press the button for the full-screen version, or scroll back up and watch all three events at once." Wired 02/22/02

LUCILLE LUND, 89: "Lucille Lund, an actress who appeared in dozens of films in the 1930's with stars like the Three Stooges, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, died at her home here last Friday. She was 89. The actress, who co-starred in more than 30 films, is perhaps best known for playing the dual roles of Karloff's wife and stepdaughter in The Black Cat." The New York Times 02/22/02

Thursday February 21

A MAJOR TV RESTRUCTURING? Their audiences may be shrinking, but TV networks are still money machines. And it's only going to get better if a federal appeals court decision this week is allowed to stand. The ruling, which would remove restrictions on networks owning local stations, could result in a buying spree that will see big conglomerates buy up and consolidate local stations around America. This is a good thing for whom? The New York Times 02/21/02

I WANT MY HDTV: "High-definition television, the long-awaited revolution that promised to dazzle our senses and transform the TV medium, is finally here. The fight over a uniform standard, which kept the technology on hold for a decade, is settled. Prices of high-def TV sets are plunging. All the commercial networks, plus HBO, Showtime, and PBS, now broadcast at least some of their programs in high-definition. You can even watch the Winter Olympics in HD. So, why does everyone seem to be keeping its arrival such a secret?" Obstacles. We got plenty of obstacles. Slate 02/21/02

DEFINITION PLEASE: What qualifies to be called a Hollywood movie these days? Some of the biggest studios are owned by non-Americans, stars are as likely to live in New Jersey or Montana or New York as LA, and few films are shot in California anymore... The Age (Melbourne) 02/21/02

THE THREE-FIGURE MOVIE: How much does it cost to make a movie? $545. That's what a Vancouver filmmaker spent on his 60-minute film. - and the movie's becoming a cult hit; so far it has played in 13 film festivals worldwide. Most of Bell's $545 production budget was spent on shooting and editing equipment: $100 in Hi-8 videotapes, $80 in digital tapes, $20 in CDs, $45 on a microphone and the rest on renting the machine that would transfer analog video to mini-DV." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/21/02

MOVIES ON YOUR HARD DRIVE: MGM has decided to offer movies for downloading directly to consumers' computer hard drives. "Only two films will be available for now - the 2001 comedy What's the Worst That Could Happen and the four-year-old swashbuckler, The Man in the Iron Mask, starring Leonardo diCaprio. MGM's willingness to risk software piracy is seen as an indication of its wish to pioneer direct-to consumer systems for Hollywood films." BBC 02/21/02

Wednesday February 20

SHADY DEALS IN THE FILM INDUSTRY? NO!!"The Film Council, the UK's grant-awarding body for film-makers, has been accused of 'cronyism' by the Conservative [Party]. The agency has been criticised for handing out lottery grants worth £23m to companies in which six of its directors have an interest." BBC 02/20/02

BEYOND DVD: Major technology companies have unveiled what they expect will be the successor to the DVD disc format. "The new format, the Blu-ray Disc, will store more than 13 hours of film, compared with the current limit of 133 minutes. It is expected to come into its own as more viewers become able to record TV shows on DVD machines." BBC 02/20/02

HARRY IS NO. 2: Harry Potter has passed Star Wars on the list of all-time biggest-grossing movies.  It has earned more than $926 million at cinemas around the world - but that is still a long way off the number one film, Titanic, which took more than $1.8 billion. BBC 02/20/02

Tuesday February 19

BANNING ADS FOR KIDS: The European Union may consider banning commercials from children's television. "Powerful voices, citing statistical evidence, are building a case asserting that advertisements between cartoons and other shows for young people are behind increasing levels of child obesity." New Zealand Herald 02/19/02

FAN INVOLVEMENT: Movie publicity at Hollywood studios is a highly developed science - the product of much market research and considerable effort. The first rule - never give up control of any aspect of your publicity campaign. But times are changing in movie marketing." Studios are learning that involving fans in the creation and dissemination of marketing can pay off big. Los Angeles Tribune 02/19/02 

MAYBE SMART IS SEXY AFTER ALL: Advanced physics and mathematics, which are hard enough to explain in extensive graduate seminars, are being trotted out as the stuff of popular entertainment. There was Good Will Hunting, and now A Beautiful Mind, along with several other less-touted movies. On Broadway, Proof and Copenhagen, for example. What is going on here? Hartford Courant 02/17/02

Monday February 18

BERLINALE WINNERS: The Berlin Film Festival ended this weekend with the British film Bloody Sunday, about the troubles in Northern Ireland, sharing top honors with the Japanese film Spirited Away.' Nando Times (AP) 02/17/02

THE OSCAR EFFECT: Box office for movies nominated for Academy Awards last week soared over the weekend - In the Bedroom doubled its take, while most of the others were up at least 35 percent. New York Post 02/18/02

WE'LL HAVE TO GET BACK TO YOU ON THAT: "It may be a dim memory to some, but a little more than three months ago about two dozen Hollywood leaders stood shoulder to shoulder with President Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, and vowed to work together to help fight the war on terror. Cameras whirred. Lenses clicked. Headlines were made. Whatever happened to that effort? Not terribly much, it seems." Washington Post 02/18/02

Friday February 15

THE LITERARY MOVIE: All of a sudden a wave of British books is being made into movies. "These films may be thematically diverse, but they occupy a similar niche and cater to a similar demographic. They're plush adult entertainments; popular yarns that trail literary prestige. Taken as a whole, this wave of Brit-lit cinema spotlights a complex waltz between the author, the book publisher and the film producer. But why is this happening now? And who is calling the tune?" The Guardian (UK) 02/15/02

NEXT UP, MAYBE, PAINTING THE SIT-COM: The BBC is launching its latest digital channel, BBC Four, with television's first interactive art exhibition, focused on the weather. In Painting the Weather, a series of documentaries will examine the collection in the television exhibition, looking at the art in terms of different weather types. Featured works include Turner's The Snowstorm, Monet's Haystacks and Howard Hodgkin's The Storm. BBC 02/14/02

THE AGE OF INNOCENCE: "Despite the cynicism and materialism of the post-modern era, despite irony as a lifestyle choice, and despite the prevalence of pseudo-science that argues for the utter selfishness of human beings, audiences in cultures all over the world recognize innocence when they needed it most." And these days, we seem to want it in our movies. A slew of recent hits, from the French import Amelie to Hollywood's blockbuster Lord of the Rings focus on the triumph of innocence, and more variations on the theme are sure to follow. The Christian Science Monitor 02/15/02

SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO GET ATTENTION: It looked for a while as if no one was going to get indignant about posters for the new Costa-Gavras film. But now the Vatican says the image, a cross blending with a swastika, is unacceptable. The film, Amen, is about an SS officer who tried to get Church leaders to condemn the Holocaust. Dallas Morning News (AP) 02/14/02

L.A. PRIORITIES VS. NYC SENSIBILITIES: "Recently, New York's Museum of Modern Art, which is moving its Manhattan operations to a former factory in Queens while the museum undergoes a three-year, $650-million renovation, announced that it is moving its renowned film stills archive, which includes more than 4 million stills, many of them found nowhere else, to Hamlin, Pennsylvania." This being the type of thing that passes for great art in Los Angeles, a number of movie types have their knickers in a bunch. Los Angeles Times 02/15/02

Thursday February 14

SAG FIGHTING: The disputed election for leadership of the Screen Actors Guild has got nastier, with president Melissa Gilbert and contender Valerie Harper hurling accusations at one another. "Words such as 'slug', 'hatchet man' and accusations of hijacking the election are being hurled by supporters." San Francisco Chronicle 02/14/02

WHAT'S QUALITY WITHOUT THE STARS? This year's Berlin Film Festival is pretty good. So why is the mood a bit flat? Maybe its because of the lack of celebrity power to heat things up? A little star intensity never hurts. The Times (UK) 02/14/02

THE DOWNSIDE OF BOOK-BUYING FOR THE MOVIES: Movie producers buy the rights to books because they offer a readymade audience that is already familiar with the book. But there's also a downside: "The lure and the curse of these books lie with their readers. It's the struggle going on right now to get filmgoers interested in The Shipping News: the obvious audience, the people who have read E. Annie Proulx's novel, are the most sceptical. You can tempt them with the Newfoundland scenery and a heavyweight cast but they are wary." The Observer (UK) 02/10/02

Wednesday February 13

OSCAR'S REAL MEANING: History shows that all five films nominated yesterday for best picture will reap market benefits. Oscar contenders, on average, earn $30 million more in box office revenue." The New York Times 02/13/02

  • OSCAR TRIVIA: Who has more Oscar nominations than any other living person? What's unusual about the 10 movies nominated for costume design and art direction? What Oscar record are Will Smith and Denzel Washington a part of? Here's a list of quirky Academy Award factoids related to this year's nominees. The Age (AFP) 02/13/02

MOVIES ON YOUR PHONE? Three companies are teaming up to provide technology to deliver video on wireless phones. "Apple Computers and Sun Microsystems are to provide the software for the new service, with Ericsson providing the network." BBC 02/13/02

PROMOTING GERMANY: "Although Germany is the richest movie market after the United States, even in 2001, the German industry's best year since the mid-1980's, German films accounted for just 18 percent of the box office here." That's why the new director of the Berlin Film Festival decided to use this year's festival to promote the home product. The New York Times 02/13/02

Tuesday February 12

OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED: Lord of the Rings picks up 13 nominations. A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge were tied for second place with eight nominations each, including acting nominations for Moulin Rouge's Nicole Kidman and A Beautiful Mind's Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly." Los Angeles Times (AP) 02/12/02

  • BUYING ON TO THE LIST: It was generally a weak year for movies. "In Hollywood, 2001 felt like a long string of disasters and nullities, and so we were left with an Academy Awards race that became a high-priced publicity campaign to remind industry figures that anything good happened last year. Never before have the movie studios spent so much money on those psychological-warfare operations known as Oscar campaigns, never before have they played such dirty tricks to undercut one another and never before have they done such silly things to get the attention of academy members." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/12/02

STUDIOS TRY TO BLOCK PERSONAL PROGRAMMING: TV and movie studios have sued makers of personal digital recorders to block them from adding features. "If a ReplayTV customer can simply type The X-Files or James Bond and have every episode of The X-Files and every James Bond film recorded in perfect digital form and organized, compiled and stored on the hard drive of his or her ReplayTV 4000 device, it will cause substantial harm to the market for prerecorded DVD, videocassette and other copies of those episodes and films," the lawsuit states. Los Angeles Times 02/12/02

AN INDICTMENT OF IRRELEVANCE? During the fall and an audience turn to all-news channels, America's PBS television network suffered a 19 percent decline in ratings, more than twice as steep a decline as the major TV networks. "The average primetime household rating for October-December 2001 dropped from 2.1 to 1.79 percent—down 0.4 points, representing a loss of about 350,000 households." Current 01/28/02

MAKING UP REALITY: A film biography of writer Iris Murdoch makes up some of its scenes. They're poignant, but not true. For filmmakers, "it is the image, not the reality, that comes first, and dramatic truth, not literal truth, is what matters." But for book people, especially biographer, such tinkering with reality is an ugly blot on a story and it seriously mars what might have been a good film. New Statesman 02/11/02

Monday February 11

BETTER THAN FILM: A new generation of digital camera sensors promises to revolutionize photography. "There is no longer any need to use film." The New York Times 02/11/02

Sunday February 10

HANDICAPPING THE OSCARS: "No matter what the critics think, the Oscars mean more to people - inside and outside show biz - than any other entertainment award. The Academy Awards may not recognize everyone's favorite films and performances, but they at least tend to honor the highest meeting point of critical and popular tastes." Chicago Tribune 02/10/02

THE NEW BERLINALE: Two years ago, fans of the Berlinale Film Festival seemed to be looking for something new. Now, with new leadership the Berlinale seems to have recovered, and "German cinema, whose weakness affected even the Berlinale, Germany's most high-profile film festival, seems to be gradually recovering from its crisis. Today, there are so many interesting young filmmakers that talk of the end of German cinema seems premature." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/07/02

  • WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL: In the past, it always seemed as though a peculiar gravitational force was preventing the annual film festival from really getting off the ground. The films were no worse than those in Cannes or Venice, and the stars were no fewer in number. Yet an inexplicable gloom always seemed to hang over the competition, a gloom that could not have been due to the February weather alone - but may have had something to do with the Berlinale's management climate." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02/07/02

Friday February 8

SCREENPLAY SCANDAL: The Writers' Guild has announced its nominations for Screenplay of the Year, and two of the most praised scripts of the last year are not on the list. Why? Well, it seems that the authors of In The Bedroom and Memento weren't members of the guild at the time the movies were made. Nando Times (UPI) 02/08/02

GETTING IN TOUCH WITH THE BBC: Is the BBC out of touch with its audiences? Greg Dyke, the corporation's general director, thinks so. So he's launched a plan to "urgently address the fact that young people and ethnic minorities feel that the BBC is out of touch, and get rid of the image of it concentrating on south east England." BBC 02/07/02

Thursday February 7

HEADING NORTH: American film workers are increasingly upset about the number of productions leaving the US for Canada. "The U.S. Center for Entertainment Industry Data and Research estimated that, between 1998 and 2000 (the last year for which figures are available), cumulative budgets of features shot in Canada more than doubled to over $1-billion (U.S.). In the same period, feature spending within the United States shrunk by over $500-million to $3.37-billion. The centre also pointed out that in 2000, 37 U.S. movies were shot in Canada, compared with 18 the previous year, and 23 in 1998." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/06/02

THINK OF IT AS TIGHTER EDITING: Many TV stations are using a "time machine" to squeeze in extra commercials. "It works by going through programs frame-by-frame, and when two identical frames appear side-by-side, one is removed. Usually, this can be done enough in a 22-minute program to add 30 seconds of time." Networks and ad agencies don't like it. Viewers - so far - don't seem to notice. Nando Times (AP) 02/06/02

MAYBE ARTHUR ANDERSON SHOULD BE TAKING NOTES: Price Waterhouse is a $20 billion dollar accounting firm. The contract to count the Oscar ballots is a tiny part of their business, but it's the one that gets them attention. And a reputation: no one has ever demanded a recount; no one has ever pried loose some advance information. The man who counts the ballots says it's easy. "Here's what I've found. The way you keep a secret: You just don't tell anybody." CNN 02/06/02

TIME BEFORE DIGITAL: "There was a time - fast disappearing - when tape was wound, reels of film spooled, and images produced by the physical movement of materials. Etchings were carved in stone, lead and ink scratched on to paper, and silver oxide shifted on photographic plates. Matter was displaced so that ideas and images would place themselves in our minds. As we enter a new millennium, we are in the process of losing our biblical attachment to an entire form of communication: the graven image. From the carved tablets of the Ten Commandments, to walls of stone hieroglyphs, to the boxes of ancient magnetic tapes that Krapp lugs on to his desk, there was a physical cumbersomeness to these archives that related to their human origins. They were expressly handmade. They couldn't betray their origins. They were touching, because they were made to be touched. Their exchange required a physical transfer." The Guardian (UK) 02/07/02

Wednesday February 6

WHY AMERICAN TV "STINKS": American network television is bad and getting worse, says Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the founders of Dreamworks Studios. Speaking at the World Economic Forum last week in New York "Katzenberg blamed the ownership structures of the networks — and their quest for greater profits — for how bad their programming is." Toronto Star 02/06/02

THE NEW CBC RADIO: In its biggest programming shakeup in 30 years, Canada's CBC is going to revamp its entire morning Radio One schedule. Instead of delaying programs to play at the same time in time zones across the country, the broadcaster intends to run live between 6 AM and noon. "I'd like us to be more spontaneous. Sometimes we're too slow to react." Toronto Star 02/05/02

STUFFING THE BALLOT BOX LEGALLY: Politicians and Oscar-award nominees have something in common: well-established rules about what they can and cannot do to win votes. They also have something else in common: a penchant for loopholes. The New York Times 02/06/02

CYNICAL IS OUT. SINCERE IS IN: "Just as culture in general is leaning toward the heroic, the comforting and the inspirational, so too is Hollywood, throwing its weight behind projects that cultivate familiar, all-American images and stories of bravery and goodness. 'What we're buying here is big, uplifting projects. People don't want quirky, odd, Billy Bob Thornton movies'." Washington Post 02/06/02

Tuesday February 5

ET TU, PBS? February is "sweeps month" in the U.S., the period when TV ratings companies measure who's watching what, which has a lot to do with determining ad rates for the next six months. Naturally, the networks respond by airing their most shameless audience draws in February. But public broadcasting is immune, right? Um. Well. PBS's documentary series Frontline seems to be gearing up for an episode titled "American Porn." Are the days of public TV operating in a ratings vacuum gone? Boston Herald 02/05/02

BRITNEY BEAT PATRIOTS (ON TV, AT LEAST): What did viewers most want to see on Sunday's Superbowl TV broadcast? Tivo, the device that enables viewers to do their own instant replay, "used its technology to analyze which football plays or TV ads its subscribers chose to view again or to see in slow motion. TiVo viewers did more instant replays of Super Bowl commercials than of the game itself, and the Pepsi ads featuring Spears were the MVP." Nando Times (AP) 02/04/02

Monday February 4

THE SECRETIVE CENSOR: Two years ago Australia passed a law to censor internet sites that put up "overly sexually explicit or violent" material. Has the law been a success? Hard to know, since getting regulators to even say what they've censored hasn't been possible...Wired 02/03/02

WHERE THE REAL DRAMA IS: TV soap operas are Britain's "real National Theatre. Last year, more people discussed who shot Phil Mitchell than who would win the general election. Soaps provide a forum through which we learn about issues such as domestic violence, breast cancer and euthanasia. And, most significantly, British soaps are fundamentally egalitarian, one of the few places on TV where the poor, the fat, the old and the ugly are shown to be important." New Statesman 02/04/02

THE DIGITAL ACTOR: Computer generated images are becoming so sophisticated and lifelike, some look forward to the day when digital manipulation will replace real-life actors on screen. But a pioneer in digital graphics says the day is a long way off. "I tell actors not to be frightened because nobody knows how to get there, so it's not going to happen in our lifetime unless there's a sudden and surprising breakthrough." Nando Times (UPI) 02/03/02

Sunday February 2

BUYING OSCAR: Movie studios are busting their piggybanks trying to promote their films' Oscar chances. "Spurred by a wide-open competition for some of the top nominations, the most aggressive studios have mounted campaigns that by some estimates have already cost more than $10 million, easily double what a successful effort totaled only two years ago. A campaign of that magnitude would involve spending more than $1,500 per Oscar voter in the effort to win nominations." The New York Times 02/03/02

THE POPULAR NEW BBC - DUMBING DOWN FOR RATINGS? For the first time since commercial TV was introduced in Britain (in 1954), the BBC scored more viewers than its commercial competition. Good right? "But just as BBC executives were congratulating themselves, the sniping began. The Beeb, as it is widely known here, was obsessed with ratings, its critics complained. It had not become the world's most prestigious public broadcaster by kowtowing to the masses. Indeed, to have nudged ahead of ITV in the scramble for audiences was the ultimate proof that it had dumbed down its programming." The New York Times 02/03/02

  • Previously: BBC SURGES: For the first time, the BBC1 TV channel has scored higher ratings for the year than chief competitior ITV1. "Ratings show BBC One with an audience share of 26.8% compared to 26.7% for ITV1." BBC 01/01/02
  • And: BBC RADIO AT RECORD LISTENERSHIP: BBC Radio listenership is up, beating out all commercial radio stations. "The number of people listening to BBC Radio each week has risen by 300,000 since September, taking the total to 32.7 million - a record since new monitoring methods were introduced in 1999." BBC 02/01/02

SEE CANADIAN: In the last two weeks of 2001, Lord of the Rings took in $40 million at the box office in Canada. By comparison, the top grossing Canadian-made movie for all of 2001 sold about $3 million worth of tickets. Canada makes some good feature films - so why won't the multiplexes show them and why won't audiences demand them? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/02/02