MEDIA - June 2000

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Friday June 30

  • HOLLYWOOD BEWARE: Indian movies are being taken more seriously internationally than ever before, and are carving out a wider non-Indian audience. "The fact that Hindi films are appearing more often on the UK and US charts and the regular stage shows have made the world sit up and take notice." Times of India 06/30/00
  • “HAVE SUBTITLES, WILL TRAVEL”: “Every summer, the major Hollywood studios unleash their biggest, loudest and most expensive and star-studded films into a world of vacationing families and entertainment-hungry teenagers. Have sequel, will travel. But off to the side, clustered together, are a growing number of smaller, less heralded movies - independent features, foreign films, this year's quirky Shakespeare adaptations - that somehow find themselves battling it out in the nation's theaters with the big Hollywood quarterbacks. Have subtitles, will travel.” New York Times 06/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • MINNESOTA TAKES ON L.A.: Minnesota Public Radio has been moving into Southern California, taking over the public station in Pasadena, with plans to remake it into a dynamo news operation.  "What we're interested in is content. And here you have a city where there's no L.A.-based radio being produced for [a nationwide] public radio [audience], and we see that as a huge opportunity for us." New Times LA 06/29/00

Thursday June 29

  • AND IT STARTED SO PROMISINGLY: This summer's movie season began so well - the "Mission Impossible" sequel raked in the bucks, and the schedule was full of promise. Then: "the horizon darkened. The engine began to make a funny pinging sound. Slowly, silently, the air went out of the tires. And the summer movie season of 2000 began to sink into the doldrums -- at least compared with last year's." The New York Times 06/29/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WHO WANTS TO BE A MOVIE STAR: Some movie producers in Los Angeles had an idea - they would set up a website and auction off roles in their next movie project. But California authorities have ordered the site shut down because it violates state laws forbidding job applicants to pay for positions. BBC 06/29/00
    • BIDDING FOR WORK: "The project, called 'Who Wants to Be a Movie Star?' was designed to sell off speaking roles and behind-the-scenes jobs for a specific, yet-unnamed film project to the highest online bidders." Backstage 06/29/00
  • ART OF THE CON: Michael Douglas has signed on for "Art Con of the Century," a movie based on an investigative article written last year about John Drewe, "a charismatic con who in 1986 found painter-songwriter John Myatt, who had a knack for producing copies of paintings by master artists that regularly fooled art experts. Drewe paid Myatt to crank out purported originals that were sold all over the world for large sums, a nine-year escapade that put 200 forgeries into circulation." Variety 06/29/00

Wednesday June 28

  • CBC GOES INTERACTIVE: The Canadian Broadcasting Company launched its interactive web service yesterday. "The hybrid service is being inaugurated with the launch of a storytelling site that will feature a wide range of bite-sized programming, submitted by young freelancers and ordinary Canadians. Items may be presented in a variety of formats - audio, streaming video, still photos, text or animation, or any combination of these." Toronto Globe and Mail 06/28/00

Tuesday June 27

  • TRUE NORTH: A new survey shows that more than a third of the 161 films shot in North America in 1999 were filmed in Canada. Productions in search of lower costs were "blamed" for the exodus of work from Hollywood. CBC 06/26/00
  • THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: Twenty-five years ago Robert Altman's "Nashville" was going to change the world of movies. "Here was an artist putting the machinery of popular culture to work for the sake of art, yet entering into the spirit of popular culture and partaking of its energy too. That was the dream: the power of popular art combined with the complexity of fine art, high and low not at war, and not blurred indistinguishably into each other, but embracing." What happened? "Jaws" captured the audiences, and the rest is history. Salon 06/27/00 

Monday June 26

  • THE PICTURES DO LIE: Can history be told objectively on film? "My point here is that all makers of filmed history, when they come to the point when they must decide which image to choose, where to cut a sequence, or what to lay down on the music track, are not so much in search of objectivity, as they are engaged in the act of cobbling an evocatively credible yarn. The license they take is the same as the poet’s in the act of choosing or inventing or reworking a trope or a rhyme scheme — that is to say, “poetic license.” Culturefront 06/00
  • TOUGH ALL OVER: "The Hindi film industry, churning out the largest number of films in the world, has steadily been witnessing a decrease in box-office hits as film producers grapple with varying problems ranging from exorbitant cost factors, casting the perfect star pair to competing with the local cable operators." The Times of India 06/26/00
  • THE YEAR MICHAEL JACKSON HAD SEX: And other top arts stories - new Columbia University study reveals how television reports the arts. Boston Herald 06/26/00
  • THE POLITICS OF NUDITY: Women actors of Hollywood get together to talk about the politics of taking their clothes off in front of the camera. Who decides what. New York Times Magazine 06/25/00
  • AFTER ALL THAT FUSS about rating TV shows for violence and content, new studies show that parents aren't using the ratings. "Two in five parents have a V-chip or other form of technology to block out objectionable programming, one study found, and half of those with the devices use them. But the researchers found that awareness of the age and content ratings put on shows, such as TV-G (suitable for all ages), to be used in conjunction with the V-chips, has dropped from 70% in 1997 to just 50% this year. Furthermore, nine out of 10 parents couldn't accurately identify the age ratings for a sample of shows their children watched." Los Angeles Times 06/26/00
  • TROUBLE IN MIDDLE EARTH: Tolkein fans are upset about the way Hollywood is going about making the movie version of "Lord of the Rings." " Literary fans who follow Tolkien's words with almost trollish devotion are angry that minor female roles have been expanded to provide a love interest. There are even fears that Liv Tyler, who co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in the space action adventure Armageddon, will turn the role of Lady Arwen into a warrior princess." Toronto Star 06/26/00

Sunday June 25

  • WEB-BASED FRANKENSTEIN: Hollywood is courting the new internet taste-makers. "The rules of the Hollywood marketing game are being reinvented overnight. Box office is booming thanks in part to an explosion of media coverage of movies, in traditional outlets like newspapers and magazines as well as a fast-growing body of Internet fan, news and gossip outlets. But the boom in Internet movie coverage has been a double-edged sword for filmmakers and movie marketers, rife with as many pitfalls as possibilities." Los Angeles Times 06/25/00  
  • BREAKING THE WOODY ALLEN HABIT: Woody Allen still makes movies, but why? "Most of us broke our Woody Allen habit ages ago. We moved on while he stayed in some Upper West Side fugue state. Over the arc of his long outpatient career, we first adored, then admired, then tolerated, and finally ignored him. He should take a break. Do stand-up in Vegas. Write for radio. Grow orchids." Boston Globe 06/25/00

Friday June 23

  • FOR EVERY DUMB RULE... Earlier this month the Academy Awards folks decreed that any movie shown over the internet before it hits the theaters would not be eligible for an Oscar next year. Dumb, eh? So now, enterprising net-heads are planning to open a small movie theater series in Los Angeles to screen movies that will likely play on the web. Wired 06/23/00

Thursday June 22

  • PULLING BACK FROM A RECORD YEAR: Last year was the best ever for the Korean film industry. The country produced its top blockbuster of all time, earned record revenues at the box office, and this year sent five films to the Cannes Festival, including Korea's first-ever to the main competition. But this year the number of tickets sold to domestic films plunged from 3.94 million last year to 2.52 million this year. Korea Herald 06/22/00
  • COMMUNIST FILMS: Ever notice that are virtually no American films about communism? Despite the fact that communist dictators would make great villains for great dramas, "the simple but startling truth is that the major conflict of our time, democracy versus Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism--what The New York Times recently called "the holy war of the 20th century"--is almost entirely missing from American cinema." Reason 06/00

Wednesday June 21

  • YOU, THE VOYEUR: Are you the type of person who watches a show like "Survivor"? Of course not. "You are not...the sort of person who would watch Survivor. It's not just the larvae-eating contest (which ex-Survivor B.B. Andersen, 64, helpfully describes as "like having a booger in your mouth"). It's the gladiatorial concept: stranding 16 people on a tropical island to scrabble for food and shelter, all for the delectation of sluggards licking Cheetos dust off their fingers in their air-conditioned living rooms." Time 06/26/00

Tuesday June 20

  • BETTER TO JUST COME IN LATE? Movie trailers: They can have a kind of rough poetry (think the blood splashing out of the elevator for Kubrick’s “The Shining”) or can enticingly juxtapose key visual moments from the upcoming feature. But they’ve really gone down hill lately. “Today, they're infuriatingly generic, manically edited, and ruined by plot spoilers.” Salon 06/20/00
  • FLINGS WITHOUT STRINGS: Virtual casting for movies is catching on. "Dismissed in their early days, a mere three or four years ago, as one more way of exploiting desperate movie wannabes, Internet talent showcases are being embraced by the industry" who find them an easy way to screen talent. San Francisco Examiner (Reuters) 06/20/00

Monday June 19

  • TALENT CRUNCH: Public radio is facing a talent crisis, some say. "With many stations doing well financially, some are expanding and adding production capabilities, new shows and local news teams, he said. But competition in the overheated job market leaves a shrunken pool of applicants. That has many pubcasters worried about the future." Current 06/19/00
  • BOLLYWOOD v. HOLLYWOOD: As exported Indian movies get increasingly sophisticated (no longer just those epic musical romances), they are becoming big draws in Britain and are giving Hollywood a run for its money at the box office. Three Bollywood productions recently entered the UK’s top-10 list, and cinema chains showing Indian flicks are opening up all over Britain. The Age (Melbourne) 06/19/00
  • WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS AND RICHARD WAGNER: So where did multi-media come from? A new website charts the evolution of the discipline through "the aspirations of artists, scientists, writers, musicians, and cultural renegades. The website presents a historical timeline, an overview of themes, and a comprehensive list of multimedia pioneers." Wired 06/19/00
  • WHAT'S THE 411? Everyone talks about the overload of information, the swamp of media overload we find ourselves in the middle of as we enter the 21st Century. "I would like to dispute this view, to argue that every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that communication systems have always shaped events." New York Review of Books 06/29/00

Sunday June 18

  • THE LAND OF DISBELIEF: Who can believe anything you see in movies anymore? Special effects rendered by computer fill in any and all things needed for a scene. But it gets increasingly difficult to believe what you see, or - ominously - suspend belief. Hartford Courant 06/18/00
  • MOVIE KILLER: The movie "Jaws" came out 25 years ago. "A myth has grown up around it as disturbing and predatory as that of the shark - the myth of Jaws's lethal effect on modern film. Jaws is no longer just the movie that killed bathing. It has become the movie that killed movies." The Telegraph 06/18/00

Friday June 16

  • RAISE THE RED CURTAIN: Chinese director Zhang Yimou (“Raise the Red Lantern,” “Ju Dou,” “To Live”) is considered one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. At age 48, with nearly a decade under his belt of clashing with Chinese authorities over the politically explicit nature of his work, his renown even more startling considering he’s been banned from all international coproductions for the last six years. “He was cut off from the foreign finance, technology and even film stock that enabled him to create his indelible images. A man who may be the world's greatest active filmmaker thus spent the second half of the 1990s cut off from world cinema, busying himself with cheap domestic productions and directing operas.” London Telegraph 06/16/00
  • BANNED IN ONTARIO: The Ontario Film Review Board has banned a poster for an Israeli art film because it contains some nudity (though not enough to prevent the poster image to be printed in the newspaper). The film's distributor calls for the dismantling of the review board. ''I've come to a point where I think this is completely archaic. This kind of control does not make any sense in this day and age.'' National Post 06/16/00
  • MOVIE RIPOFF: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Time Warner and Twentienth Century Fox, are among seven companies taking legal action against alleging that the internet site has been recording their films and TV shows and illegally retransmitting them over the web. BBC 06/16/00
  • NO NO I-FILMS: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences decides that no film shown on the internet before playing in theaters will be eligible for an Oscar next year. CBC 06/16/00

Thursday June 15

  • THE DVD DANCE: Are DVD's a threat to the movie industry because of piracy? The movie industry has certainly said so. But Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America wouldn't say anything against them during a deposition in a DVD piracy case. During his testimony, Valenti said "I don't know" 62 times, "I don't recall" 29 times, and "I'm not aware" 16 times, according to a transcript of the deposition. Wired 06/14/00

Wednesday June 14

  • HOPING FOR HOMEGROWN: Australia's public broadcaster needs to improve its ratings, says the ABC's new managing director. But the highest rated shows are imports. "We're all for building audience for Australian content, but the fact is we haven't got the money to do it," say the critics. The Age (Melbourne) 06/14/00
  • THE 100 FUNNIEST AMERICAN MOVIES: A list, as chosen by American Film Institute voters. "Annie Hall"? Really? Dallas Morning News 06/14/00
    • DECIDING WHAT'S FUNNY: "Voters considered the '80s the funniest decade, with a total of 22 films. The '20s, the heyday of slapstick, were deemed the least funny, with only five films." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/14/00
  • MOYERS CHALLENGES PBS: Bill Moyers tells the PBS annual meeting: "What we do is good. It's just not enough. We need to respond more to the needs of America as a democratic society, not just a consumer market. We need more hard-hitting public affairs programming on controversial issues. We're good, but we're bland." Los Angeles Times 06/14/00

Tuesday June 13

  • ANIMATION ADVANCES: Computer-generated animation has become increasingly central to filmmaking in recent years - and cheaper, faster digital technology techniques are now making it easier for animation artists to create lifelike three-dimensional worlds on film. New York Times 06/13/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • RADIO RIGHTS: New Zealand's Maori tribes are trying to stop an upcoming government auction of the radio spectrum. "The Maori argued that ownership of the spectrum was their right as granted under the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document. The Treaty, signed in 1840 by Maori and the British government, promises to protect taonga, the Maori term for resources considered valuable by New Zealand's indigenous people. At the time of the Treaty signing, such resources included land, forests and fisheries. Maori believe the concept of taonga also extends to radio spectrum." Wired 06/13/00
  • WE'RE IN THE MONEY: Advertising money is coming in so fast to the cable networks, execs can hardly believe their eyes. Cable ad revenues will soar by 22%, from $8.3 billion in 1999 to $10.2 billion in 2000. Will we see some of that money in better programming? Variety 06/13/00

Monday June 12

  • RATINGS - NOW THERE'S A CONCEPT: For the first time in its history, PBS is being run by a programmer. And big changes are coming to the way the public broadcaster does business, with an emphasis on gaining viewers. "Ultimately, more viewers and more time spent viewing by current viewers will translate into more viewer financial contributions, PBS hopes, and higher ratings nationally should make it easier to find corporate underwriting support." Los Angeles Times 06/12/00
  • LEAVING THE WORLD'S LARGEST MOVIE FACTORY: The mob is moving in on Bollywood, so some of India's biggest film producers are leaving the country to shoot their projects in Britain. The Times of India 06/12/00

Friday June 9

  • INVITE FOR PIRACY: Arguably, the motion picture industry should never have allowed DVDs to see the light of day - they can be too easily copied. Yet they did, and predictably, hackers are copying away, and, just as predictably, the movie makers are suing. A little late though, don't you think? *spark-online 06/00
  • SALON magazine lays off 13 of its staff and cuts book coverage in half. 06/09/00 

Thursday June 8

  • TAKING IT TO THE SMALL SCREEN: While British cinema languishes in a slump (with one after another flop released in recent months), “it’s heartening to find a group of home-grown filmmakers trying something that is novel, forward-looking and gripping”: the release of the first truly interactive movie. “Running Time” can be viewed over the Internet on a PC, with a new five-minute segment released every four months. The ending will be decided by viewers’ votes. The Telegraph 06/08/00
  • MEMORIES FOR SALE: “Want a Roman baton from "Ben Hur"? A gladiator helmet from "Spartacus"? How about the baseball bat Robert DeNiro used in "The Untouchables" to pound a point home?” For the first time in its 100-year history, L.A.’s Ellis Prop Shop will put it holdings on the auction block next week - the largest auction of Hollywood memorabilia since MGM sold its backlot in the 1970s. CNN 06/07/00

Wednesday June 7

  • ITALIAN RENAISSANCE ON HOLD: Italian film lovers hoped when Roberto Benigni's "Life is Beautiful won international success last year, Italian film would experience a resurgence. But the slump continues, perplexing many. Italian films don't even make money at home. Why? "Because 30 percent of Italian moviegoers go in without paying," says one producer. "I personally verified the receipts at one of our theaters last summer. There were 2,000 people there, and 400 didn't pay for their tickets." Minneapolis Star-Tribune (New York Times) 06/07/00

Tuesday June 6

  • BBC BOUNCING BACK?: Arts programming has been getting increasingly less airtime at the BBC over the past few years. “BBC has been without a head of music and arts for nearly nine months. Programmes are scattered idly around the schedules. Major series have been arbitrarily cancelled. Television hours devoted to the arts have almost halved since the mid-90s. There is no longer a regular documentary arts strand, single music documentaries have virtually disappeared, and the two literary strands have been axed.” Yet, some new programming hires may signal the beginning of a reversal of the trend. The Independent 06/06/00
  • MOVIE MILESTONE: Today 20th Century Fox will premiere the first movie to be sent from a Hollywood studio to a theater via the Internet. The animated sci-fi epic “Titan A.E.” will be shown to an audience in Atlanta - after a  transmission that could one day replace the traditional movie distribution system. Yahoo (Reuters) 06/05/00
  • HOME MOVIES IN THE PRC: Chinese film plays all over the world. But at home an existential crisis. "One school wonders if it should imitate Hollywood. Another sees Hollywood as a virus that will destroy what is left of the domestic film industry. There's no doubt, though, who is winning. A Chinese film is lucky to get 20 or 30 people per screening. Meanwhile, a lackluster John Travolta vehicle now showing on the yellowing screen, usually gets a packed house of 300 or more." Toronto Globe and Mail 06/06/00
  • VISIBLY CANADIAN: A number of Canadian films are losing funding from a government fund set up to support Canadian films. The reason? They've been judged not Canadian enough.  This year the fund introduced a ranking system judging their Canadianness, based on a system of points. One filmmaker denied funding says: "You couldn't get more Canadian unless you dressed in Canadian flags. I'm aghast at these new guidelines. It's a reason to leave Canadian filmmaking altogether." National Post 06/06/00

Monday June 5

  • THE LATEST HIT IN RUSSIA: A current affairs show where the female reporters are topless has become such a surprise hit on Russian television that politicians are lining up to be interviewed. "Svetlana Pesotskaya, the blonde actress who reads the news while playfully taking off her top or having it removed by a pair of hairy male arms, insists that the program is a serious news show." The Age (The Telegraph) 06/05/00

Sunday June 4

  • DIGITAL MOVIES CHANGE THE MOVIE AESTHETIC: New digital movie technology isn't just changing the way movies are made technically, it's changing the aesthetic of those making the movies. The recent releases of ''Time Code,'' ''Hamlet,'' and, in a different way, ''Dinosaur'' remind us of that. Boston Globe 06/04/00
  • MISUNDERSTANDING IRELAND: In the past decade enough good and unusual films have been made in Ireland that critics and scholars are studying the "genre." But such academic study so often misses the point, writes one critic, that it's laughable. Sunday Times (London) 06/04/00

Friday June 2

  • MAKING HAY ON "ARTISTIC BANKRUPTCY": Lars Von Trier isn't a director, he's a Happening. Picking up the top prize at Cannes only inflamed his supporters and critics. For some, "Dancer in the Dark" confirmed the flamboyant 44-year-old Dane as a posturing charlatan. "The director's work is undoubtedly ambitious and original, and he has an ardent band of followers. But for many he remains as specious as the fake aristocratic Von he has attached to his name." The Telegraph (London) 06/02/00
  • "CLASSIC MUMBO-JUMBO": Presidential candidate announces an investigation into why so many Hollywood movies are fleeing Canada. "One recent report by the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America said so-called runaway production has cost the Los Angeles film community 20,000 jobs and cost the U.S. economy $10 billion. But Canadians question the claims. B.C.'s production industry, the biggest in Canada, is worth about $1 billion, so where's the rest? Vancouver Sun 06/02/00

Thursday June 1

  • ROMAN HOLIDAY: A look at Roman Polanski’s turbulent career and the morbid fascinations at the heart of his film work to date. “All are disturbing works which showcase his ability to invest the everyday with psychological terror, and the other way round.” London Times 06/01/00