MEDIA - Film/Radio/TV/Web -July 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 July 30

LONGEST FILM: A Scottish artist has taken John Wayne's film The Searchers and slowed it down so it will take five years - the length of time the film's story covers. It has been "digitally slowed, real-time version, which runs at one frame every 24 minutes rather than 24 frames a second." Sunday Times (UK) 07/29/01

Sunday July 29

WHERE'S THE ART? Animation produced with computers is producing images that are startlingly close to real life. But "a handful of critics and thinkers are questioning this new hyperreal aesthetic, suggesting that it's a limited and uninspired use of the available technology. After all, if the end result is a photorealist version of our world, then why use animation at all?" Boston Globe 07/29/01

THE NEXT THING IN RADIO: In September, satellite radio debuts in America. Its high fidelity and constant signal strength coast-to-coast could make it The Next Big Thing. Or will it? Listeners must pay $9.99-12.95 a month for the service. You get 100 channels for that, but "there's all that new equipment to buy – head units, receivers, antennas – which could cost anywhere from $200 to $600." Dallas Morning News 07/29/01

Thursday July 26

FINANCING BOLLYWOOD: India's Bollywood is the world's biggest producer of movies (700 a year) but until now banks have not financed movies. That is about to change, as Bollywood seeks to increase production. Still, "banks are likely to remain cautious in advancing loans to what is seen as a high risk sector, as 80% of Indian films fail at the box office." BBC 07/26/01

Wednesday July 25

TEST-MARKETING 'THE NEW RADIO': Dallas and San Diego have been identified as the first test markets for one of the two companies planning to launch major satellite radio operations this fall. There is little doubt that XM Satellite Radio and its competitors are offering a music product superior to conventional radio, but the high cost and inconvenience of procuring all-new equipment may put many consumers off. Dallas Morning News 07/25/01

DO VIRTUAL ACTORS HAVE TO PAY UNION DUES? The furor that has erupted over the computer-generated "Final Fantasy" film has been almost comical in its hysteria. No less venerable a personage than Tom Hanks has voiced his concern that virtual actors might someday replace flesh-and-bone thespians, and the Screen Actors Guild has been shrilling its objections ever since the mediocre film's release. But the man behind the computer magic laughs at the notion that his creations could ever do what human actors can. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/25/01

SONGWRITERS GETTING LEFT BEHIND: Lost in the debate over compensation for musicians whose work is distributed online has been the plight of the folks who create the songs to begin with. Songwriters, who have always had a tough time getting proper compensation for their efforts, are worried that they're being ignored by both performers and the online music industry. Wired 07/25/01

Tuesday July 24

MORE THAN ENTERTAINMENT? Black Entertainment Television (BET) is 20 years old. BET's founder says the network is "a powerhouse creatively and financially." But critics lament that "the network had failed to fulfill its potential, focusing too much attention on music-related programming — particularly hip-hop videos with scantily clad women." Los Angeles Times 07/24/01

COLORFUL DREAMS: Technicolor is synonymous with color movies. Now the company wants to be a leader in digital movie projectors, but some in the industry are anxious. "The company's business model called for taking a small cut from every ticket sold for a digital presentation. Besides cutting into profits, the plan would be difficult to administer because of the complex formula governing the box-office haul split between studios and exhibitors." Industry Standard 07/30/01

Monday July 23

CAN'T TRUST THE REVIEWS: "If I were a critic today, I'd certainly be a sucker for a film with some flesh on the bone. Today's reviewers see so much slop that it's almost inevitable that they overpraise the few movies that exhibit even a whiff of heft or ambition. A movie critic today must feel like the restaurant reviewer who has been forced to spend months munching on french fries and cheeseburgers at McDonald's. When someone finally takes them to a decent neighborhood cafe, they go nuts." Chicago Tribune 07/23/01

Sunday July 22

THE JUNKET REVIEW: Some movie fans in Los Angeles are suing movie studios claiming that producers try to bribe critics with screenings, junkets and gifts, and that the reviews that result are frauds. Los Angeles Times 07/20/01
  • THOSE HARD-WORKING JUNKETEERS: "Junkets are to journalism as marketing is to the truth. Junket reporters are journalistically, if not ethically, challenged. At a typical junket, dozens of print and electronic journalists are flown to, say, New York or L.A., often on the studio's nickel, put up in a hotel, fed, bused to a screening and then herded to suites where they get about 20 minutes with the stars and the director and sometimes the producer of a movie. Nobody likes this arrangement, not the stars, not the press, not even the publicists, but the studios do, and it works." Los Angeles Times 07/22/01

AN ACTOR WHO'LL NEVER NEGOTIATE HIS CONTRACT: Will computer-generators actors replace the human variety in movies? Maybe, but it's complicated. An earlier casualty would seem to be old-style cartoons. San Francisco Chronicle 07/22/01

Friday July 20

ART OF THE GAME: Are video games art? "Gaming as an art form has gone widely unrecognized and is often dismissed by serious critics. But recently, a growing number of scholars and artists have turned their attention to video games." Wired 07/20/01

Tuesday July 17

THE MOVIE NAPSTER: The Motion Picture Association of America claims that boot-leg prints of movies are costing Hollywood $2.5 billion a year. A big chunk of that is accounted for by movies like Snatch and Shrek, which can be downloaded from the Internet. "While the means of piracy distribution has gone high-tech, the means of gaining the material has remained the same--bootleggers take video cameras into theaters." Chicago Tribune 07/16/01

REALITY - WHAT A CONCEPT: When summer ends and TV season begins, there will be 15 or 20 new reality shows on the tube. Critics hope such shows will eventually be killed off by "the propensity of network programmers to take every original idea and beat it quickly and thoroughly to death." Don't count on it, though, because "if young people are hooked on these programs, whatever else is said about them does not matter. More than ever, network television is steered by youth culture." The New York Times 07/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE ONLINE THEATRE: Want to avoid the movie ticket lines? Theatres are increasingly beginning to sell tickets online - so far available in Texas, Utah and New York. CNN 07/16/01

Monday July 16

CAN'T BUY ME (VIRTUAL) LOVE: Disney came to Chicago with an ambitious high-tech virtual reality arcade. Now it's closing. "In the end, DisneyQuest proves that some principles of family entertainment are impervious to technology, even patently old-fashioned - things like variety, convenience, parking, the demands of age ranges and tastes, even good food and comfortable surroundings." Chicago Tribune 07/16/01

RATED "S" FOR SMOKING? In New Zealand, anti-smoking advocates want to ban young people from movies where characters are portrayed smoking. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 07/16/01

Sunday July 15

BRITISH CULTURE GOES HOLLYWOOD? Britain's new culture minister says he prefers Hollywood movies to British films. This makes him "an odd choice to oversee the development of British cinema, though this may well be in keeping with the honorary knighthood conferred on Steven Spielberg." The Observer (UK) 07/15/01

BUT WHAT ABOUT BUFFY? What's with those Emmy judges? Are they all 108 years old? How else to explain the shows nominated for awards this year? "These people are so decrepit that they can't even change the channel to see what else is on the tube beside The Sopranos, The West Wing, ER, Law & Order and The Practice, the same gang of five that topped the nominations last year." Toronto Star 07/15/01

Friday July 13

EMMY NOMINATIONS: The Sopranos (22) and The West Wing (18) win most Emmy nominations on American television. The New York Times 07/13/01 (one-time registration required for access)

NOT EXACTLY THE WHITE KNIGHT THEY HAD IN MIND: A 24-year-old Internet whiz-kid says he wants to buy Salon, the struggling on-line magazine. He says he can cut costs by firing most of the staff and replacing them "with syndicated articles from magazines like Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker." As you might expect, Salon considers the offer a hostile one. 07/12/01

Thursday July 12

MOVIE BOYCOTT: Movie ticket prices are up 10 percent over a year ago in the US. Enough! cries a group of movie enthusiasts. Time to protest with a boycott. This Friday (July 13) the group proposes a boycott of movie houses across the country. BBC 07/12/01

MEXICO + HOLLYWOOD, A SLOW-BUILDING ROMANCE: It began more than 50 years ago, with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; with The Mexican last year and Frida this year, it's finally taking shape. The biggest attraction of all may be down-and-dirty practical, as the Mexican government has "streamlined permit applications for filmmakers who want to work in Mexico and overhauled union rules and tax laws." USAToday 07/11/01

Tuesday July 10

HARRY GOES FOR BIG BUCKS: Producers of the Harry Potter movie are reportedly asking American TV networks for a record $70 million for the right to air the movie. The previous record of $30 million was for Titanic. BBC 07/09/01

THE SCARIEST THING IN HOLLYWOOD - AN ABSTRACT IDEA: As a literary genre, science fiction "has transcended its pulp origins and gained an enormous amount of credibility over the last 25 years." Not so the movies, where space operas and alien-invasions are the norm. Why do so few thoughtful sci-fi novels make it to the screen? "People in Hollywood are afraid that anything that is perceived as an abstract idea will drive people from the theater." The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

MUSEUM OF THE DEAD: What happens to all those websites that have gone bust? Some of them stay online, ghost ships without pilots. Others disappear. Now a museum has collected screenshots of dead sites, recording them for posterity. 07/09/01

Sunday July 8

REPLACING ACTORS WITH PIXELS: "The specter of the digital actor — a kind of cyberslave who does the producer's bidding without a whimper or salary — has been a figure of terror for the last few years in Hollywood, as early technical experiments proved that it was at least possible to create a computer image that could plausibly replace a human being. But as "Final Fantasy" makes its way into theaters — the first of what promises to be a string of movies trying to put this challenge to the test — many wonder if the threat is as real as it once seemed, or if it simply takes computer animation down a fruitless cul-de-sac." The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

'SCOTTISH SCREEN' SUPERVISOR SCOTCHED: "The chief executive of Scotland's national film agency, Scottish Screen, has resigned. . . Scottish Screen has been under fire recently because of the film projects it has funded. It is been criticised for not funding a wide enough range of films, or enough commercially successful ones. It is also been accused of 'cronyism' favouring a small group of filmmakers already known to the board." BBC 07/07/01

GAMBLING ON THE SATELLITE: Satellite radio is coming, and no one seems quite sure what effect it will have on the way the world listens to music. It could turn AM and FM into dinosaurs in a matter of a few years. "Or, with billions already invested in multiple satellites as well as programmers, air talent, advertising, and new technologies, we may be on the verge of the most expensive technological misfire since Beta-format video." Boston Globe 07/08/01

FALLOUT FROM A NON-STRIKE: "Now that Hollywood's actors have found labour peace with the movie studios and TV networks, the entertainment business faces a major hangover after a year of binge preparations for a lengthy labour shutdown that never materialized." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/07/01

Friday July 6

SELLING IT DOOR TO DOOR: Movie studios have slowly been adjusting the way they advertise their product to the younger generation in recent years, trying to take advantage of new technologies to hawk their old-tech movies. But one of the most successful new marketing methods could not be more low-tech: teams of streetwise salesman, selling a movie one-on-one in the clubs and dance halls frequented my Hollywood's favorite demographic set. Los Angeles Times 07/06/01

DIGITAL DELAYS: While the U.S. government continues to threaten American television stations with license revocation if deadlines for conversion to digital technology are not met, the BBC is facing the opposite problem in the U.K. Britain's dominant broadcaster is set to roll out an array of new digital services, but the government is demanding more information on the proposals before approving the plan. BBC 07/05/01

INTERACTIVE CINEMA: San Francisco Cinematheque is one of America's most venerable alternative-film organizations, and over the four decades of its existence, it has crossed back and forth over the avant-garde line so many times that it would seem to have nothing "new" left to try. But it's trying anyway, with an interactive multimedia blowout to celebrate its 40th anniversary. "The night begins with bingo and ends with participants wandering into showings of dozens of experimental film and video pieces by local artists." San Francisco Chronicle 07/06/01

Thursday July 5

SORKIN DEFENDS HIMSELF: West Wing creator and chief writer Aaron Sorkin is defending the show against charges that it is shorting its writers in order to cut costs. National Post 07/05/01

Wednesday July 4

ACTORS/PRODUCERS SETTLE: Actors and Hollywood producers reach a contract agreement, avoiding a strike. Terms were not immediately available. Nando Times (AP) 07/04/01

BBC INCREASES BUDGET: Despite - or perhaps because of - a drop in audience share, BBC has pledged an additional £67 million for drama, entertainment, and factual programming in the coming year. It's part of an overall 20% increase, the largest in BBC history. BBC 07/04/01

FEWER STARS, MORE BALANCE: "The Toronto International Film Festival is quietly cutting back on its Hollywood glitter quotient, in response to growing criticism that the annual September event is becoming too star-struck for its own good. Two new programs — one a showcase for experimental works and the other a Canadian film retrospective series — will help restore 'balance' to the festival's offerings." Toronto Star 07/04/01

VIDEO ON DEMAND, BUT DON'T DEMAND JUST YET: "If [video on demand] takes off with consumers, it could well be the biggest billion-dollar bonanza since videocassettes and VCRs in the 1980s. And yet, ironically, the major Hollywood studios - which have much to gain from VOD's success - are using their clout to thwart VOD's market launch." National Post (Canada) 07/03/01

Tuesday July 3

UNDUE INFLUENCE: Movie fans in Los Angeles are suing movie studios for "bribing" critics. "The lawsuits allege that the studios are engaging in fraud and unfair and deceptive business practices by using the glowing reviews about their films in advertisements without letting the public know that the reviewers may have received goodies or travel and meal accommodations in connection to attending the film screening." 07/02/01

REINVENTING PUBLIC TV: It's been a year-and-a-half since Pat Mitchell became president of PBS, and her mission is to reinvent the public broadcaster. She's juggling the prime time schedule for the first time in twenty years, and bringing in American mysteries to replace the standard British mysteries. And she wants to change fund-raising by local stations. "We've got to think of a new way. We can't just sit here and watch our viewership go down for 10 years." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 07/01/01

FILMING EAST AFRICA: Some 100 films and documentaries are being screened at East Africa's largest cultural event, the Zanzibar Film Festival. The festival, which runs through the middle of July, also includes film, video, music, dance, and theater performances. It's called Festival of the Dhow Countries, after "the dhow, a wooden oceangoing sailing vessel that has brought together people and cultures from around the rim of the Indian Ocean for centuries." Nando Times (AP) 07/02/01

ROBOTS - NOTHING NEW THERE: Long before Steven Spielberg's A.I., there were humanoid robots in the arts - Coppιlia, Petrouchka, Pinocchio, and Capek's R.U.R., which gave us the word "robot." In fact, long before A.I. there were many humanoid robots in the movies. The Economist 06/28/01

Monday July 1

NATIONAL PUBLIC WHAT? National Public Radio is 30 years old. But what are we celebrating? "Poor NPR. Emasculated, lost its nuts, and at such a young age. They say it happened sometime in the '90s, when Congress insisted that NPR become self-supporting. But that's not it." Salon 07/02/01

  • AWWW QWITCHERBEEFIN: "This is the same kind of elitist baloney I have heard for years, and I feel sorry for the glass-half-empty crowd that has taken on the supposed spiritual demise of public radio." Fact is, public radio is thriving. Salon 07/02/01

JUST SAY WHOA: The White House has stopped a program by its drug office that paid American TV networks to insert anti-drug messages into the plotlines of popular TV sitcoms and dramas. Salon 07/02/01

TOUGH TIME FOR NETWORKS: American TV networks have sold $7 billion of commercials for the upcoming season. Sounds like a lot, except that the take is down about $1 billion from last season - a startling decline. Inside 07/01/01

LEADERSHIP VACANCY: Top leadership of three of Canada's cultural institutions - the CBC, the CRTC and Telefilm - has been missing in action for several months, and critics are accusing Prime Minister Jean Chretien of letting them drift. Ottawa Citizen 07/02/01

Sunday July 1

BUYING TIME: Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the major Hollywood studios have been extended as all sides work to avert an actors' strike. BBC 07/01/01

NOT ENOUGH CAR CRASHES, APPARENTLY: "Looking at television news, you could reasonably arrive at the ridiculous conclusion that people almost never talk about books, movies, television or theater. . . Television news has many habits that send occasional viewers to newspapers or National Public Radio in exasperation, but one of its most perplexing mistakes, on both the local and national levels, has been its virtual failure to acknowledge this most vital aspect of existence, the glass through which we interpret what it means to be human." Chicago Tribune 07/01/01

METHOD IN THE MADNESS: "Europeans ridicule it and David Mamet calls it 'nonsense.' Yet 50 years after it invaded America, Method acting's dominance in Hollywood is virtually complete." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/01/01

A DIFFERENT KIND OF RATINGS WAR: The dirtiest thing you can say to a Hollywood producer is "NC-17." The rating, which is assigned to American movies deemed inappropriate for children of any age, is considered the kiss of death for a film, and producers will jump through any number of hoops to avoid being slapped with it. But "a new wave of explicit films featuring full frames of hard-core action will soon invade theaters across the country, as directors and distributors push the limits of what's acceptable and thumb their noses at the movie rating system." New York Post 07/01/01

  • SEX ON SCREEN: "[A]udiences have always been ambivalent about what they do and do not want to see on the screen — even when a sex scene was but a first kiss and a racy cut to the cigarette. We might think we like our movies hot, but in reality a sex scene is more often something to be endured, an uncomfortable moment before the audience breathes again. Mysterious as desire itself, what one person finds sexy is vulgar to another." The New York Times 07/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)