AGAINST THEM: Norman Jewison says
"The Hurricane" is the best film he ever made. "It
seemed to have Best Picture written all over it," wrote
the Washington Post. But the movie sank w/o much of a ripple.
Jewison is angry at the way directors are treated by studios.
Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/31/00
MAULS MOVIES: The Indian version of "Who Wants to be
a Millionaire" is such a ratings hit in India, movie theatre
owners say it's killing their business. "If things continue
the way they are, our trade will be almost finished. Nobody
is interested in coming to the theatres when the game show is
IMPORTANCE OF BACKUP: A weekend fire at Moscow's central
TV broadcasting tower has shut down broadcasts of all of Russia's
national television networks ever since.
DOES “SOCIAL REALISM” MEAN TODAY? The question took center
stage at the Edinburgh Film Festival last week when the UK’s
Film Council executive director announced that the council would
no longer fund any "social realist art films" - a
surprising decree given that many of the hits at this year’s
festival fit squarely within the definition.” The
Guardian (London) 08/30/00
OPINION: Although the BBC’s recently announced plans to
enhance its arts programming have met with popular approval,
one critic at least sees only flaws: “BBC4, the new outlet for
eggheads and art-lovers, is foredoomed to failure. Among arts
leaders, the BBC is viewed with suspicion verging on contempt.
Its credibility vanished years ago, along with all its best
Telegraph (London) 08/30/00
FRIDA KAHLO: "No Mexican cultural figure has ever been
as sought after by Hollywood. For years, filmmakers here have
tried to make a movie based on Kahlo's gripping and tragic life
story, but they have found their projects derailed by bickering
parties, mediocre scripts, lack of financing and controversy
about casting decisions.The latest chapter in the making-of-the-Frida-Kahlo-movie
saga is the fierce competition between three bio-pics rushing
to be the first in production. They involve some of the biggest
Latino names in filmmaking."
Angeles Times 08/30/00
FORTUNES: Cineplex Odeon, Canada's biggest movie theatre
chain, may be forced to shut down many screens as its U.S. parent
negotiates with lenders. Parent company Lowes, the movie-theatre
company, is in debt for some $635 million, and said that it
plans to close up to 250 money-losing screens in North America
in fiscal 2000.
Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/29/00
the BBC’s U.S. channel, was launched two years ago and is already
so popular its audience base rivals the BBC proper. “Why is
BBC America growing so fast? [BBC America’s president] and his
programming staff get to pick the best of the BBC, programs
that already are battle-tested, turned into hits and refined.”
Tolkein fans can breathe a sigh of relief if their “elvish”
isn’t up to snuff: the hotly anticipated “Lord of the Rings”
trilogy will have subtitles when the elves speak in their own
language - according to Ian McKellan (who plays the wizard Gandalf
). He divulged a few secrets on his website. The
Age (Melbourne) (NZPA) 08/29/00
GREED FOR SPEED: "New technology confronts all programme-makers
with genetic modification in the name of economy and efficiency:
as budgets and schedules shrink, we lose vital space for human
factors - surprise, and the room to fail, to make mistakes,
to rethink and work on them until we get them right. As demand
mounts for instant strong results, ethical concerns are inevitably
GAME OF RISK: BBC chief Greg Dyke proposed a “revolutionary
transformation of the BBC channels” last week that includes
more arts programming and educational content. “If he pulls
it off, Dyke will earn himself the reputation of the man who
saved the BBC from the ravages of the digital age, maintaining
the corporation as a universal broadcaster at the centre of
cultural life in Britain. The risks of the strategy cannot be
underestimated: mess it up and the BBC will be left in ruins.”
Guardian (London) 08/28/00
WE DO BETTER THAN THIS? This has been one of the shabbiest
movie summers in memory - a stretch as desolate as a beach closed
by the Board of Health. Still, out of habit, people make the
trek, and while remaining fully dressed poke at the debris that's
washed up. There's always something to be admired in this old
boot or that chunk of scrap metal, decomposing amid the syringes
The Nation 08/28/00
ARTS TELEVISION INITIATIVE: BBC chief announces major new
initiative to revamp the public broadcaster. "BBC3 would
target younger viewers with home-grown comedy, drama and music
and BBC4 would be an "unashamedly intellectual mixture
of Radio 3 and Radio 4 on television". He said that the
800,000 visitors to the Monet exhibition at the Royal Academy
last summer and the huge popularity of Tate Modern proved that
there was a potential audience for a channel for 'arts, ideas
and in-depth discussion'."
The Telegraph (London) 08/26/00
IN THE ARTS: The UK's new Film Council will be investing
in movies. Art films? Documentaries? Not hardly. "There's
no difference between the Film Council and the mini-studios
that exist in Britain, such as FilmFour, Momentum, Redbus, Renaissance,
Sky Pictures, Intermedia. We are not dirigistes, as you are
in France. Public money should be invested prudently, just like
private money. We are not prepared to take unnecessary risks."
The Guardian (London) 08/25/00
STATION GIVES UP BROADCAST FOR THE WEB: A Santa Monica California
radio station decides to abandon broadcast operations and exist
only on the web. "It's still a bit early, but we want to
be there when the technology catches up to the demand."
With the push of a button, listeners will be able to purchase
the works of the artists they're hearing, and concert tickets,
too. Down the road, advertisers will be able to target ads to
Chicago Tribune 08/25/00
THEATRES IN TROUBLE: Can a whole industry
declare bankruptcy? Movie theatre companies are filing for court
protection after building too many megaplexes in recent years.
"Edwards Theatres said Wednesday it filed for Chapter 11.
Carmike Cinemas did the same a few weeks ago, and Regal Cinemas,
the nation's biggest chain, gave notice it may not be far behind.
Meanwhile, United Artists is trying to hash out a deal with
its bankers and bondholders in lieu of an outright bankruptcy
ART OR MORE OF SAME? The hottest thing in Hollywood right
now is the internet. "The lures are obvious: Internet greed,
and the chance to pioneer a whole new art form, to be both D.W.
Griffith and Louis B. Mayer. It’s an all-star game. The world’s
best pitchers, catchers and home-run hitters, people like Steven
Spielberg and Ron Howard, want in. The only problem is, no one
has invented baseball yet."
LA Weekly 08/23/00
BULLDOZER: It's hardly been a summer to remember
at the movie box office in America. Nonetheless, American movies
have clobbered French films in French theatres. "After
eight weeks, the battlefield is strewn with corpses, le Parisien
said yesterday. Only one film - Destinées Sentimentales
is expected to survive the season."
Times (London) 08/23/00
The technology is here to allow producers to use digital actors
instead of live ones. Does that mean real actors will be out
of work? "Producers and directors who think virtual actors
will be easier to work with than their human counterparts are
also deluding themselves. The truth is that instead of one creative
temperament or sensibility to deal with, you have 50. It's simply
better and cheaper to use a real actor."
BECKETT TO THE SCREEN: An interview with Michael Colgan,
artistic director of Dublin's Gate Theatre and the producer
behind The Beckett Film Project - an ambitious enterprise involving
some of the world’s most famous filmmakers to create movies
of all 19 of Beckett’s dramas. CBC
FILMS, BIG BOX OFFICE : Low-budget “art house” movies from
around the world have developed an overwhelmingly devoted (and
high-paying) audience in Tokyo’s teenagers - a niche market
that can single-handedly make or break a film’s worldwide gross.
“To illustrate the power of the Japanese mini-theaters, take
a look at ‘The Virgin Suicides.’ As of the end of July, the
box office for the U.S. movie in overseas markets was about
$1.5 million. The breakdown works out to $1 million for a run
at a theater in Tokyo and $500,000 from every other cinema in
the world where it is being shown.” Yahoo!
News (Reuters) 08/21/00
BACK CREATIVE CONTROL: It seems like corporate people make
all the decisions in television these days, that creative people
- like writers - are at the mercy of the suits. "Some in
Hollywood's creative community are nevertheless trying to break
this stranglehold - the one that says Disney, as just one example,
will own, shape and control pretty much everything broadcast
on ABC. They are taking chances many view as liberating after
toiling on the focus-group driven, overly massaged 'product'
networks are most comfortable serving up. These efforts vary
wildly in size and scope and venture capital."
Los Angeles Times 08/22/00
FOOLING: Hollywood fully expects to be hit with writers'
and actors' strikes next summer - and predictions are they'll
be long strikes. So production is in full bore now to complete
projects before work stops. April 1 is the deadline they're
racing to make. "It's not a question of if there
are going to be strikes. It's a question of what are you going
to do about it."
BLUES: "This summer has been a dark one for the movie
theater industry. The season is usually the time for the chains
to boost their bottom lines, most of which need a lift to pay
for all of those state-of-the-art multiplexes the exhibitors
have been building across the country." Instead, several
large movie-theatre chains are on the verge of bankruptcy.
TO CREATE ARTS CHANNEL: "BBC Knowledge, one of the
broadcaster's digital channels, will announce an autumn schedule
dominated by televised theatre performances, arthouse films,
music and literature. The move is seen, and feared, by critics
as the beginning of the ghettoisation of arts programmes."
The Independent (London) 08/18/00
DISPOSITION: New sleek movie versions of Shakespeare leave
out something important: words. "This begins to give
some idea of what is lost when Shakespeare's words take a back
seat to the ambitions of directors and critics who are more
concerned with their own agendas than with Shakespeare's poetic
The Atlantic 08/18/00
ART: "Brooklyn-based historian, author and playwright
Charles Mee believes that the greatest plays in human history
- those by the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare - would never
have been written had copyright laws existed to keep the authors
from borrowing from the culture around them. Mee puts his money
where his mouth is. He makes the texts of his plays freely available
on the Web, and forgoes royalties."
Things Considered (NPR) 08/17/00
[Real Audio file]
The leading actress in Al Pacino's next movie is a computer
digitization. "If modern film technology can conjure up
dinosaurs, Jabba the Hutt and Bruce Willis with hair, then the
substitution of actresses by fleshy cartoons, courtesy of a
cheap-labour Korean animation factory, could only have been
a matter of time."
Post (Canada) 08/17/00
OF SUPPORT: The Academy of Motion Pictures says any internet
film not seen in theatres before its web release will not be
eligible for Academy awards. So an AMC Theatre in LA opens a
new i-film series. The deal is "only one example of the
growing relationship between the Internet and Hollywood. Industry
insiders like talent agencies, managers, studios and theater
owners are trying to help Hollywood translate traditional ways
of doing business to the Internet."
Los Angeles Times 08/16/00
AWARDS officials are protesting California Governor Gray
Davis awarding a fake Oscar to Bill Clinton Monday. "The
motion picture industry's highest accolade can be awarded only
by the artists who make up the academy, and only for accomplishments
relating to motion pictures."
MOST POWERFUL MARKETING FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE: Hollywood has
the capacity to excite the public about just about anything
- which is why NASA has been bending over backwards to help
Hollywood make its space movies more authentic. It goes something
like this: if people get space-crazy, NASA may get more
support from Congress. The
Age (AP) 08/15/00
DISCOMFIT: Movie critic Stanley Kauffmann finds his opinion
has changed after 40 years. "The plain, discomfiting
fact is that every one of us who has watched plays and films
or read books or listened to music or looked at painting and
architecture is, in some measure, self-deceived. Filed away
in the recesses of our minds are thousands of opinions that
we have accumulated through our lives, and they make us think
that we know what we think on all those subjects. We do not.
All we know is what we once thought, and any earlier view
of a work, if tested, might be hugely different from what
we would think now."
New Republic 08/10/00
HONOR: Chinese director Wang Shuo’s film “Baba,” which
has been banned in China since it was made four years ago,
has won the top prize at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival.
Billed as a “surprise entry,” the film was unveiled at the
last minute to avoid attracting unwanted attention from Chinese
authorities. "No custom and passport officers will ever
let the director of a banned film leave China if they know
the banned film is going to play in the foreign country where
the director is heading,"
HARDEST WORKING DEAD GUY IN SHOW BUSINESS: It's been 23
years since Elvis died. But "during the past year, Elvis
could be found in more movies than other hardest working men
in show business such as Michael Caine, Gene Hackman and the
Bridges brothers. The period of mid-1996 to mid-1997
- the first year of my unscientific survey - remains
the champ. During those 12 months, Elvis "appeared"
in 26 movies - only seven fewer than the number in which he
actually starred." Chicago
WAR: "Since the earliest days of Hollywood, agents
have been the power-wielders behind the studios' thrones. They
have thrived as wheeler-dealers who guide clients' careers,
negotiate salaries and, nowadays, arrange those all-important
'back-end deals' - percentages of a film's gross profits."
Now there's an agent war. Poaching is rampant. "Industry
insiders have not seen anything like it since the mid-Eighties."
The Telegraph (London) 08/12/00
HISTORY: That Packard discovered and came to love classic
American cinema is one of the luckiest things that ever could
have happened to classic cinema. In the past 20 years, Packard,
59, has done more for film preservation than any private citizen
in history, funneling millions upon millions of dollars into
archives such as the Library of Congress, the University of
California at Los Angeles and the George Eastman House.
San Francisco Chronicle 08/13/00
"Thanks to a tight race and more money flooding into politics,
the Television Bureau of Advertising is forecasting that television
stations will post a record of $550 million in 2000, up significantly
from the $367 million of 1996."
PREP 101: As the actors' strike against TV commercial makers
drags on into a fourth month, TV and movie studios are coming
to the alarming realization they may be facing actors strikes
for their projects too next year. "We are trying to get
everything done and wrapped up by a June deadline. You don't
want to be halfway through a project when the strike hits."
WEB: "But a general malaise appears to have gripped
consumers; in part due to what many consider unfairly priced
CDs. Consumers have flocked to file trading networks such as
Napster, Scour, and the nearly 100 other applications that allow
users to trade and sample music for free. Even as a federal
court prepared to shut down Napster for violating copyrights,
3 percent of the entire Internet home population logged on to
the application in search of free music." Wired
FOR HOLLYWOOD: A bitter war has broken out in Hollywood,
with agents battling to lure new clients. "In the past
year, the business has been thrown into turmoil because many
of the biggest stars and most powerful agents have abruptly
changed agencies, lured by the promise of better roles and more
money. With stars and directors commanding millions per picture,
plus a hefty percentage of the gross, the stakes are high."
National Post (Canada) 08/08/00
AD'S THE THING: "For years, 15-minutes of ads was a
kind of unofficial barrier for TV, a mark that no network wanted
to go past for fear that it would turn viewers off." Now
two American networks have crossed the line. "Soon we'll
have no programs left to watch."
New York Post 08/08/00
CREDIT: The Writers Guild of America has corrected the credits
of eight blacklisted writers on 14 films released between 1951
and 1964. The writers had been credited as pseudonyms to subvert
The Age (Melbourne) (AP) 08/07/00
AND THE POLITICS OF REPRESSION: "The decade of the
1980s in Argentina was characterized by profound political,
economic and social upheavals. Yet the Argentine film industry
in this period had retained a remarkable ability to stay afloat
and adapt to the radical shifts of the forces in power. This
skill was seen not only in production but in the areas of distribution
and exhibition as well. The connection between the different
governments and the national cinema was more complex than what
emerged from the accounts of Argentine and foreign scholars
about filmmaking during the 1980s."
THIS HERE: "Think about it - every time you see a web
page that's using a piece of clip art with a dog looking surprised,
there are anywhere from six to a thousand other web sites using
the exact same image, all stored in different places. This is
what my Information Mechanics professor used to call a 'waste
of space'." That's why I invented a program for the Library
of Congress to erase duplicate information.
NEUTRAL: "In 1991, Pauline Kael decided to stop writing
movie reviews for The New Yorker, which she had been doing more
or less continuously since 1968. Nine years later, everyone
still wonders what the most influential movie critic of all
time thinks." Toronto
MAKES A GREAT FILM? A new survey purports to explain all.
"It found that, unless a film fitted a recognisable genre,
the odds would be heavily stacked against it - crime stories,
prison dramas, sci-fi and bio-pics figure in many all-time great
lists of films. Another asset was a conventional boy-meets-girl
love story running through the film. And, though it may seem
blindingly obvious, strong plots helped, as did a few big name
stars. Keeping the title short, preferably one or two words,
did not do any harm either. The
Age (Melbourne) 08/04/00
INSURANCE: Hollywood producers are terrified that writers
and actors will go on strike next summer when their union contracts
are up. So studios are stockpiling films and scripts just in
BEL MARCELLO: A salute to Marcello Mastroianni, on the eve
of the UK’s National Film Theatre’s major retrospective of 22
of his movies. “Nowadays, if you want to sum up Italian style,
that sinuous Italian charm that is so easy on the ear and eye,
then it's usually Mastroianni who comes to mind.”
Guardian (London) 08/01/00
KIDNAP: One of India's big movie stars has been kidnapped,
and the story sounds like it's right out of an outlandish movie
plot. Nonetheless, "schools are closed, buses have shut
down, shops are shuttered and people are frightened to go out
as bands of angry, rock-throwing movie fans rampage through
the streets. Newspapers dubbed the day after the kidnapping
OH WHERE: The Moscow Film Festival is supposedly an "A"
festival alongside the likes of Cannes and Venice. But it's
difficult getting the stars to come to Russia. "This year,
as in the past, many of the promised celebrities failed to show,
leading an English-language newspaper here to dub the event
the 'Moscow Vanity Fair - high on vanity but low on fair value.'
York Post 08/01/00