MEDIA - Film/Radio/TV/Web - April 2001

Arts Journal Home Page
PublishingTheatreVisual ArtsArts IssuesPeople

common threadsarts watchletters
issues archive

October 02
September 02
August 02
July 02
June 02
May 02
April 02
March 02
February 02
January 02

December 01
November 01
October 01
September 01
August 01
July 01
June 01
May 01
April 01
March 01
February 01
January 01

December 00
November 00
October 00
September 00
August 00
July 00
June 00
May 00
April 00
Mar 00

Feb 00
Jan 00

Dec 99
Nov 99
Oct 99
Sept 99

Arts BeatSearchContact Us

News Service Home`ServicesDigest SamplesHeadline Samples






Monday April 30

GIANT RADIO: "Radio stations that once were proudly local are now being programmed from hundreds of miles away. Increasingly, the very DJs are in a different city as well." And the biggest of these in America specializes in "dirty tricks and crappy programming." Salon 04/30/01

HOLLYWOOD SLOWING DOWN: "From costume shops to caterers, grips to gaffers, businesses and laborers who support the entertainment industry are bracing for a summer that could range from merely slow, if there are no strikes, to devastating if writers and actors shut Hollywood down." Backstage 04/27/01

  • WHO PAYS: With Hollywood preparing for work stoppages, the various parties try to add up the potential losses. They could be as much as $6.9 billion. The New York Times 04/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • DEJA VU: The last time Hollywood's writers went on strike was 1988 (over many of the same issues driving this year's strike). "That walkout lasted 22 weeks, stretching from mid-March to early August, and left the TV networks in disarray while costing the industry an estimated $500 million." SFGate (AP) 04/30/01

Friday April 27

GLOBAL CROSSING: Countries around the world struggle to shore up their local cultures in the face of pervasive and seductive American popular culture. Are Americans the bad guys? Part I - The Movies. 04/27/01

FOR THE SOUL OF PUBLIC RADIO: "Public radio has come a long, long way from the 1970s, when the image it projected was one of earnest granola-crunchers trying to save the world. Today, public radio is a big business (if a nonprofit one) with big money and big egos — a high-quality source of news and information for the well-educated, well-heeled professionals who can afford to contribute, and for the corporate underwriters (read: advertisers) who cater to them." Boston Phoenix 04/26/01

SENATORS ATTACK MOVIES: US Senator and former vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has introduced a bill that would "make it illegal to market to minors R-rated movies, M-rated video games and music with parental advisories. Industry officials said the proposal tramples on free-speech rights and would be rejected by the courts. The senators disagreed." Dallas Morning News 04/27/01

REAL ANIMATED: Two new animated movies are about to arrive in theatres. "They have been years in the making, and their nearly simultaneous arrival in theaters represents a watershed moment - the closest animated films have ever come to replicating human life." San Jose Mercury News 04/27/01

Thursday April 26

AS SEEN ON TV... The Australian government has become a big TV commercial advertiser - ads promoting going to school, promoting the country's centernary... Just what is government trying to promote here and why? Sydney Morning Herald 04/26/01

HOORAY FOR BOLLYWOOD: The Indian film industry - known as Bollywood - serves an audience of one billion, with "films that have transparent plots and enough buoyancy to float the length of the Ganges. People don't like realistic movies. Day to day life is tough. When they go to the movies, they want a fantasy trail. Any movie that touches real life is always a flop." Hundreds of such films are made each year, and they're beginning to find an audience in the US. Newsday 04/25/01

Tuesday April 24

THE BOOK WAS BETTER? "After death and taxes, the third certainty of life is that the release of a movie adaptation of a classic novel will be the occasion for some littérateur to compare the two forms and find movies wanting." But they're different animals aren't they? Salon 04/23/01

REALITY, ANYONE? Hollywood has never been about subtlety and nuance, but many in Tinseltown are disturbed at the seeming inability of filmmakers to portray Mexicans as anything but the most blatantly stereotypical characters. In movie after blockbuster movie, Mexicans show up either as the conniving, evil villains, or as the poor-as-dirt peasants praying at the shrine of American power for their salvation. Los Angeles Times 04/24/01

Monday April 23

IT'S A LONG ROAD FROM SUNDANCE TO THE BANK: First prize at the Sundance Festival went to The Believer, the story of a young Jewish neo-Nazi. Several major companies were ready to buy it, until someone checked with people at the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. They did not like the film. Now, no one seems interested in buying it. The Boston Globe 04/22/01

NON-SURGICAL INVASIVENESS: TV ratings, the joke goes, are determined by the kind of people who will let strangers put a meter on their TV sets. A new company wants to change that. They want to give everyone in your home a button to push while watching TV. Oh yeah, they also plan to put a meter on your set. Boston Herald 04/23/01

SOMETHING ABOUT AUSTRALIA fascinates Americans. Maybe it's the Crocodile Dundee effect. "Dundee is a cowboy. A hundred years ago, he might have been at home in California, while now [he] is flummoxed by flaky Hollywood types. That clash of stereotypes may be at the core of the U.S. fascination with Australians: They seem like what Americans used to be, or thought they were." Then again, it may be something even more basic. In addition to cowboys types, Australia lately has produced several actresses who are, well, fascinating. CNN (AP) and National Post (Canada) 04/22/01

SHOOTING LOOTING IN CAMBODIA: Phnom Penh is known for cheap dope, under-age sex and corrupt cops. What better place for Hollywood to shoot Tomb Raider? The locals are happy to pick up extra money, but UN officials don't like shooting a movie "among those ancient temples in northwestern Cambodia. Aside from fear of physical damage, the film's very title rang foul, given that the temples are still being mercilessly pilfered by antique hunters." Fox News 04/21/01

Friday April 20

ALL OVER A FEW WRITERS: A report commissioned by Los Angeles' mayor suggests the city's economy will lose $6.9 billion if Hollywood's writers and actors go on strike for five months. 04/19/01

MOVIELAND SILVER LININGS IN NEW YORK: East-coast independent filmmakers would be affected by a Hollywood strike, but some are philosophical. "The first thing I thought of was, 'Great! There won't be an Adam Sandler movie next summer.' Writers won't write crap, and actors won't have to act in it... culturally, it's one of the best things that could happen to our incredibly vacuous, bloated media industry." Village Voice 04/18/01

MORE HOLLYWOOD THAN USUAL AT CANNES: Hollywood often ignores the Cannes Film Festival. This year, however, five American films are on the schedule. That includes Shrek, the first animated film to compete for the top prize. One high-profile US entry was rejected: a new film by Jodie Foster. Foster had accepted the presidency of the festival jury, then backed out. "The French were really insulted when she backed out, even if it was to accept a $12 million acting gig. So they ditched her film." Nando Times (AP) and New York Post 04/20/01

Thursday April 19

SKIPPING THE MAIN COURSE: Harry Potter fans anxious to see the trailer for the movie version of their hero are paying to get into movies that are running the preview. Then walking out before the movie they've paid to see actually runs. CBC 04/18/01

Wednesday April 18

A BLOCKBUSTER EVERY WEEK. WELL, ALMOST: Does it matter whether a new film is released early in the summer, or late? Apparently not. This year's release schedule has the high-profile films - and there are many - scattered throughout the season. Los Angeles Times 04/17/01

MORE CHARGES AGAINST ABC: Australia's independent filmmakers charge that the Australian Broadcasting Co. is abusing its dominant position in the market, forcing lousy deals on producers of content. The Age (Melbourne) 04/18/01

Monday April 16

THE EROSION OF PUBLIC TELEVISION: America's PBS is losing members and viewers. Between 1993 and 1999, stations suffered a slow net loss of 376,000 members, or 7.4 percent, according to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's latest comprehensive financial report. During the same period, public radio gained 740,000 members." Current 04/12/01

OF SALARIES AND SUPPORT: Last month Christopher Lydon and his producer quit their WBUR Boston public radio show The Connection after the station refused to give them a stake in ownership of the show. "Lydon was making $230,000 a year as host of The Connection, and had been offered a financial package that could have increased his compensation to $330,000 next year." One station supporter wonders what effect such large salaries have on supporters' willingness to contribute. Boston Globe 04/15/01

MISSING LINK: Everyone seems to want video on demand in the comfort of your own home. "The technology exists. The carriers and infrastructure exist. The few customers who have it seem hooked. And yet VOD is stuck in perpetual pause. Why? Because Hollywood, which controls the movie supply, doesn't want it yet, or at least doesn't want it delivered in the same way that cable operators and other would-be providers do." 04/16/01

EVERYONE DUMPS ON ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is under attack from all sides - too liberal, too narrow, too irrelevant, too provincial, too narrow, too generational... But the broad range of critics prove the ABC's broad constituency, writes one ABCer in defense. Sydney Morning Herald 04/16/01

Sunday April 15

DIGITAL FILM - It's a better image and cheaper to distribute to theatres. So "ditch the film projectors, buy the new technology and everybody saves money, right? But so far, the digital movie-theater revolution hasn't quite taken hold yet. Several important questions have to be answered before both distributors and exhibitors agree to join the revolution - on the same side." Chicago Tribune 04/15/01

  • THE ONLINE TICKET: Access movie information, buy your movie tickets online...the digital revolution is changing the business of how movie-goers choose movies and buy their tickets. Chicago Tribune 04/15/01

DON'T BE DISSING TV: It's so easy to get down on TV - the "500-channel universe" has become a pejorative rather than an opportunity. But one critic believes the expanding spectrum means there is more good TV on now than ever before. Saturday Night 04/14/01

THE MOVIE RELIGION: The movies don't take on religion very often. Why? "Does the scarcity of religious movies result from a lack of interest on the part of filmmakers and audiences? Or is there something about cinema that leads it to shy away from the spiritual? Are materialistic by their very nature, which makes them unsuitable for exploring spiritual themes?" Christian Science Monitor 04/15/01

THE ONLINE "BRIDGET": Bridget Jones has been a book and a movie. Now she's an e-mail too. "The linchpin of the campaign is a daily text message from Bridget which gives details of her weight, how many alcohol units she's consumed, how many cigarettes she's had and any other facts that might draw you into her life, and encouraging you to text her back. Bridget will become your friend, if you allow her to, and suck you into her life. Before you realise, you may find yourself asking a fictional character for advice on men, sex, diet, drugs or alcohol." Daily Telegraph & Guardian (South Africa) 04/15/01

Friday April 13

THE INVISIBLE STRIKE: What if the movie writers go out on strike and no one notices? Fact is - no one will. If last summer's Screen Actors Guild strike was any indication, viewers aren't likely to care - or even notice - if movie writers go out on strike next month. Nothing against writers, but movies are about a lot more than the script. 04/13/01

  • LITTLE SYMPATHY: "I'm sorry, writers' and performers' compensation demands are never going to command sympathy among the general public. The average earnings last year for 'working writers,' according to the TV and movie producers' association, was more than $200,000. The Writers Guild says the median income for writers was only $84,000. But whatever. It's not bad money." Public Arts 04/13/01
  • HEARD OF 'REALITY' TV? A study suggests TV viwership will decline this fall if the writers strike happens, but that the networks are "strangely complacent" about a potential strike. Nando Times (AP) 04/13/01

SO SHOULD WE START NAKED ARTSJOURNAL.COM? The Naked News website has hired a man to strip down while reading the latest headlines; he joins a previously all-female team. But here's the real meat of this story -, the Toronto-based website that launched last year, gets 5.7 million visitors a month - that compared to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website, which delivers the news in more conventional format and only gets a few hundred thousand visits. National Post (Canada) 04/13/01

Thursday April 12

VON TRAPP KARAOKE: The newest craze in interactive entertainment is not a cell phone, not a palm pilot, and has nothing to do with the internet. It is (deep breath, please) a sing-along version of "The Sound of Music." Audiences often come in costume, a la Rocky Horror, and the lyrics to the film's songs appear on the screen to assist in the exercise. Boston Globe 04/12/01

THE NEW MOVIES: New generation digital cameras and inexpensive software are putting movie-making into the hands of a new breed of low-budget filmmakers. Maybe no stars yet, but they're bound to emerge. The Age (Melbourne) 04/12/01

TAKING THE PICTURES TO THE PEOPLE: After decades of catering almost exclusively to white audiences during apartheid, South Africa's biggest cinema operator is using traveling road shows to show free videos to the country's historically neglected black communities, hoping to eventually lure them to the big screen (that is, when theaters are actually built anywhere near their neighborhoods). "There are still many, many people who have not experienced a movie or television. When I say a few, I mean a few million." ABC News (Reuters) 4/11/01

HOW ABOUT "SPINAL TAP" IN IMAX? Imax films, the giant screen movie format employed to great effect in science museums across the country, are expanding beyond the usual landscape adventure format. A new documentary captures the excitement of a sold-out concert in digital clarity, and creates a worthy successor to the great rockumentaries of the past. Chicago Tribune 04/12/01

THE COST OF A STRIKE: L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan is stepping up efforts to avert this fall’s impending writers and actors strike by launching a PR campaign exposing the potential economic effects of a walkout - especially on those outside the entertainment industry. Initial estimates say the Southern California economy would lose $500 million per week in wages, taxes, and other losses. Backstage 4/11/01

Wednesday April 11

B-MOVIES ARE BACK: Used to be, Hollywood studios all had their own specialties - remember the MGM musical? Now it's the Paramount thriller. "The movies largely share a similar formula - morality tales laced with enough sex and surprise twists to attract two key audience quadrants: young women and older men.... they are our modern-day B-movies, the cinematic equivalent of airport thrillers - the kind of paperback page-turner people pick up at LAX when they're afraid there might not be a good movie on the flight to Boston." Los Angeles Times 04/10/01

GAINING AMERICAN GLOSS, LOSING EUROPEAN INTEGRITY: A frustrated English novelist explains why so many British books wind up as American movies. "We may be brilliant at creating what Variety calls 'first-rate source material' but we're crap at making it work for us... The French, whose domestic audience is the same size as ours, have never consented to see themselves through American eyes, but guarded their golden stories and pumped up commercial muscle." Guardian 04/10/01

Tuesday April 10

RIGHTS TO ANNE FRANK: "Who owns the rights to Anne Frank's life? Some of the controversy has been simmering for years: Has Anne's Jewishness — which, after all, was the reason she perished — been muted, even neutralized, to turn her into a universal symbol? The latest flashpoint is a four-hour ABC mini-series, Anne Frank, to be shown on May 20 and May 21." The New York Times 04/10/01 (one-time registration required for access)

TRYING AGAIN: Hollywood's major studios are headed back to the bargaining table with actors and writers threatening to strike this summer, but no one on either side sounds terribly optimistic. 04/09/01

THE POPCORN LINE MUST BE BRUTAL: "Domenic Romano would like to invite you to a movie. You and 400 of his closest friends -- because when Domenic Romano goes to a movie, he likes a little company. Welcome to the Sunday Movie Group." National Post (Canada) 04/10/01

Monday April 9

NO BAN FOR EXORCIST: Australian government reverses ban on showing The Exorcist in movie theatres next weekend. "Under state law, cinemas must apply to show films on Good Friday and Christmas Day and those shown must not contain religious satire or violence." The Age (Melbourne) 04/09/01

DIGITAL SALVATION? It's increasingly difficult to physically preserve books and records. Many think the solution is to save materials digitally. Critics disagree: "The integrity of the historical record is the single most important consideration. If you tamper with that, it's very difficult to reconstruct." Wired 04/09/01

Sunday April 8

SECOND RATE: Hollywood's ratings system has come under fire. It's a shoddy system in which 13 people rate 760 films a year - and it makes the Motion Picture Association a great deal of money. Washington Post 04/08/01

Friday April 6

DEFINE DESTRUCTIVE: Despite protests from artists and civil liberties groups, Australia’s Victoria state government has banned the screening of "The Exorcist: The Director’s Cut" on Good Friday, under the 1926 Theatres Act which grants the government power to order which films can be shown on Christian holy days. "It is curious that on Good Friday the casino, other gambling venues and hotels which can have an equally destructive impact on society are not impeded from their trade." The Age (Melbourne) 4/06/01

IF IT'S A ROLE, IT'S A FIGHT: At first, a film biography of the artist Frida Kahlo might not seem the kind of role that movie goddesses fight over. But it is, or has been. Madonna and Jennifer Lopez are out; the lead will go to Mexican actress Salma Hayek. Newsday (AP) 04/05/01

SUING FOR RESPECT: Nothing remarkable about lawyers suing someone. It's what they want that makes a group of Chicago lawyers distinctive. "The group, called the American Italian Defense Association (AIDA), isn't asking for monetary damages. Instead, the lawyers simply want a jury to declare that The Sopranos does, indeed, offend Italian-Americans." New York Post 04/06/01

SMART - AND YET...  Encyclopedia Britannica ought to have been a big winner on the internet. The medium ought to have rescued lagging hard copy sales, and Britannica's name ought to have given it authority. But despite more than 2 million visitors a month, has been a rousing failure... The Standard 04/04/01

Thursday April 5

MOVIES ON DEMAND: The Motion Picture Association of America says movies will be available for downloading legally within 4-6 months. "It is estimated that today some 350,000 movies are being downloaded, illegitimately, every day. By the end of the year it is estimated that one million illegal downloads will take place every day." CBC 04/04/01

BYE BYE PROJECTORS: "The days of watching films flicker on the cinema screen may be numbered, as one of the last bastions of 19th-century technology makes way for the digital juggernaut. The first specks of dust have hardly settled settled on this year's Oscars than boffins are working out how to make film redundant." The Age (Melbourne) 04/05/01

Tuesday April 3

LOST - OR MISPLACED - IN THE TRANSLATION: Ever have trouble making sense of the English-language dubbing in foreign films? Wonder if maybe the translator missed a key item? Russians have the same problems with movies in English. The Moscow Times 04/03/01

HOW TO LEARN?: Colleges and universities are rushing to create new departments to focus on digital art. However, "student interest has become more vocational and the proliferation of digital art offerings can be confusing for students negotiating the intersection of acquiring technology skills and the art making process." ArtsWire 04/03/01

A CLASSIC, HEARTILY DECONSTRUCTED: It's worth noting that even classics can get drubbed the first time around. Case in point - Citizen Kane is one of the landmarks of US film; indeed, some would say it's one of the best films ever made anywhere. Some would, some didn't. One who didn't was Otis Ferguson, whose 1941 two-part review has been called called "a magisterial rebuke... the most sustained and perhaps most perceptive contemporary analysis of the film." The New Republic (archive)

Monday April 2

IDEAS OVER PRESENTATION: "Technology can kill words and wreck language. It's worth asking why an era of intense technological revolution is being accompanied by an era of cultural recycling, safe products, manufactured pop groups, formula broadcasting and journalistic punditry." Sydney Morning Herald 04/02/01

Sunday April 1

CELEBRATING TV: Television is the most popular medium of our age. Yet it is constantly denigrated. "Is it an art? Well, artists certainly work in it: writers, directors, actors, cameramen, film and tape editors. Whether an agglomeration of artists turns a medium into an art form is a nice point. No doubt theses are on their way." The Observer (London) 04/01/01