MEDIA - November 2000

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Thursday November 30

  • ABC STAFF PROTESTS: Australian Broadcasting Corporation staff walked off the job this week in a vote of no confidence in managing director Jonathan Shier. "The staff, represented by two unions, also threatened industrial action if Mr Shier failed to suspend the multi-million-dollar restructuring process immediately and consult with unions and staff within the next two weeks." The Age (Melbourne) 11/30/00

Tuesday November 28

  • COLOR TELEVISION: The Boston NAACP sent a survey on minority hiring practices to all six of Boston's TV stations. "We expected a 100 percent response from each of the stations. That didn't happen. We didn't get one completed survey." The stations cited privacy issues. Boston Herald 11/28/00

Monday November 27

  • WHAT SLUMP? Movie box office has been slow this past summer and fall. But "Hollywood revenues hit an all-time high for Thanksgiving weekend, with the top 12 movies grossing $236.3 million, surpassing the previous record of $225.5 million set for all movies a year ago." Washington Post (AP) 11/27/00

Sunday November 26

  • FILM ON THE VERGE OF A NEW ERA: "Recent breakthroughs in technology have made it possible to capture movies using high-definition digital video cameras with fidelity akin to that of 35-millimeter film and to project them digitally in theaters with no loss of image quality." What will that do to the art form? New York Times 11/26/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • RUN AWAY TO CANADA: Last year about $10 billion in movie production business left Hollywood for elsewhere. About 80 percent of it ended up in Canada. And with a threatened writers' strike in California, the number of "runaway" productions should increase next year. Say the Canadians: "People are showing up here with work and asking us to do it. I don't know how that is runaway production if a producer has $3. 5 million to make a movie of the week and he comes here and suddenly has $4.5 million." San Francisco Chronicle 11/26/00

Thursday November 23

  • LACKING BUZZ: With the December 31 deadline for nominations looming, few films have yet to generate much Oscar buzz this year. "If you thought voting in Palm Beach was a challenge, imagine trying to cast a ballot in the 2000 Oscar race. With just six weeks left until the end of the year, there is still no front-runner. There's not even a middle-runner." Variety 11/22/00

Wednesday November 22

  • HITCHCOCK AND ART: A new show in Montreal ponders Alfred Hitchcock's ties to the other arts. "The general idea is that Hitchcock has a great culture in literature but also in art, and sometimes he transposes to cinema some of the solutions that have been found by surrealist and symbolist artists." CBC 11/21/00
  • OSCAR'S NON-AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE: A record 46 foreign films have been entered in the Best Foreign Picture Oscar category. China Times (AFP) (Taiwan) 11/22/00
  • WHAT'S A REAL CRITIC? Replacing Gene Siskel on his movie review show was a long process for Roger Ebert. And Richard Roeper, the eventual choice, is an engaging partner. But what does it say about TV that the show went for a TV person rather than a real movie critic? "To be frank, though, the fact that Roeper is not a film critic is a burr in the saddle of probably no more than 5 percent of the population. But it does matter." Chicago Tribune 11/22/00

Tuesday November 21

  • MIXED MESSAGES: Okay, so "The Grinch" movie is a hit. But isn't it ironic that the very message of the original Dr. Seuss story - that Christmas isn't about stuff - has been subverted by the movie's marketers? "For weeks now, merchandising tie-ins to the film have contributed to that acquisitiveness, emphasizing to the public that Christmas does, indeed, come from a store." Hartford Courant 11/19/00

Monday November 20

  • SELLING OUT PUBLIC BROADCASTING: There are plans to commercialize some parts of the Australian Broadcasting Company. But the chorus of protest is loud. “Who will trust the ABC if it succumbs to the temptation for quick cash and sells its logo to enhance the reputation of a credit card company?" The Age (Melbourne) 11/20/00
  • HOLLYWOOD POWER RANKINGS: Who are the movies' most powerful figures? The Hollywood Reporter poll ranks the most influential people in the industry. "The nebulous concept that is 'power' is given a vivid, if indirect, illumination; and 'power' is such an important by-product in Hollywood. It's not merely the power to make profitable movies, which in turn generate more power, but power as trophy, which is very important to the industry's amour propre." The Age (Guardian) 11/20/00
  • THE PROBLEM WITH ART MOVIES: "Despite the diminishing profits of art house movies - once known as "independent" films, now usually called 'niche' or 'specialty' or 'low-budget' - a tidal wave of them continues to flood the market. The result is that very few ever find an audience, no matter how good they are." Washington Post 11/20/00

Sunday November 19

  • WAR OF THE APOSTROPHE: It looks like the writers' union is going on strike against the movie industry next year. Why? Among other reasons, to get more credit for writers in the film credits. Writers want to abolish the line before the title that says "So-and-so's film." "The credit that says `A film by' makes it sound like one person, a director, is responsible for the film, and it denigrates the writer." Chicago Tribune 11/19/00
  • OUR FILM BEGINNINGS: For the first time since the advent of 'talkies' in the late 1920s, almost all the surviving classics of silent film are easily available – and playing at the proper speed, too." Why care? "There is an easy answer to this – for the same reasons one cares about Aeschylus and Chaucer, Giotto and Monteverdi. The best of the silent films show both the embryonic stirrings of an art form and, however impermanent, its first perfection." Washington Post 11/19/00
  • FRENCH FILM BANNED IN CANADA: The Ontario Film Review Board bans the controversial French film "Baise-moi" (Rape Me) for its graphic subject matter. Toronto film industry representatives are protesting. "It's up to the public to decide whether it's worthy of them going to see it or not." Toronto Star 11/19/00
  • HOW DO YOU CENSOR THE UNCENSORABLE? "Film censorship nowadays is a mess: it has neither legal nuance nor intellectual force, and instead it relies on a vague outrage about the unacceptable. Anyway, the new freedoms instituted and exercised right now by the internet are making a mockery of regulation." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00

Friday November 17

  • THE NEW PUBLIC RADIO: Fresh Air is heard on 330 National Public Radio stations, and ranks among the top five public radio programs in the nation. But with more and more talk radio shows cluttering the airwaves, host Terry Gross acknowledges that snagging the hottest guests and coming up with original topics is competitive. Philadelphia CityPaper 11/16/00

Thursday November 16

  • COLORLESS CASTING: Six months after the major TV networks pledged to improve the diversity of their casting, a multiethnic coalition of media and civil rights organizations issued a "report card" on their progress. And the grades? ABC, NBC, and Fox all received D’s, while CBS got an F for a total lack of minority representation on both sides of the camera. "The major TV networks are making some progress for blacks but almost none for Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. We still have a long, long way to go." Variety 11/15/00
  • NO STRANGER TO THE CENSOR: Thirty-three years after its release and immediate ban by the Irish censors, Joseph Strick’s feature film of "Ulysses" has finally been allowed to be shown in Ireland. Now Strick is in Cork directing an Aristophanes production that will also likely draw fire. "There have been new translations of the Greek comedies, [and] for hundreds of years they've been censored. I know it sounds like I'm fixated on the subject of censorship, but the fact is, the translations we had were all bowdlerised, simply because the academics who did them were afraid of those words. It turns out to be the bawdiest stuff you've ever read." Irish Times 11/16/00
  • THE ART OF FILM: It was a nice dream - a string of art movie houses across the US. Alas, it appears not to be. A 3-year joint venture between General Cinemas and Sundance to build arthouse theaters nationwide has gone belly up. "The joint venture still exists, but it's sort of an empty vessel." Variety 11/15/00
  • THE UNION LABEL: The Screen Actors Guild may have recently settled the strike with Hollywood's commercial producers, but an internal report says the union is fractured and lacking focus. "SAG lacks a clear, shared mission and strategy, which is the foundation of an effective organization," the report says. "There is no consensus regarding SAG's mission, which is essential for establishing a shared consensus about SAG's goals." Backstage 11/16/00

Wednesday November 15

  • MEDIA SEGREGATION: Despite promises made by US TV networks last year to integrate their programming more and include more black, hispanic and Asian performers, it still has not happened, says a coalition of civil rights groups. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 11/15/00

Monday November 13

  • TORONTO'S BIG MOVIE PLANS: "Despite an 87 per cent growth rate over the past five years, Toronto ranks second to Vancouver in terms of film production." That's why a new mega-studio proposed by Toronto's mayor is controversial. CBC 11/12/00
  • INSATIABLE APPETITE: Bertelsmann, the giant that seems to be gobbling up every media company in sight, eyes a takeover of EMI. If it happens, Bertelsmann will control 25 percent of the world's music market. Variety 11/13/00

Sunday November 12

  • A REVOLUTION IN MOVIE-MAKING: Sure high definition movie projection makes for a better quality viewing experience. But when it's widely used two years from now, it will also change the way movies are made: "If you buy quality 35mm stock and then process it, you can be looking at costs as high as $1,800 a minute. With HD, it's about two bucks a minute depending on where you bought your tape. And a film print generally costs anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800. Billions of dollars get blown in prints. Digitally, you can bounce a signal off a satellite right to the projector. So the accounting side of this is very impressive." Chicago Sun-Times 11/12/00
  • THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: "The Sound of Music industry seems to grow in inverse proportion to the careers of the film's stars. The film has developed a life of its own but, in the process, has devoured its cast. Plummer now speaks scathingly of 'the Sound of Mucus', while some of the minor characters are permanently trapped in their alter egos of 1965." The Observer (London) 11/12/00

Thursday November 9

  • RIGHT TO WATCH: "A new British poll on film censorship suggests four out of five viewers would rather censor their own viewing, rather than watch poorly cut films. The study, Making Sense of Censorhip, found that three quarters of those surveyed thought cuts in movies shown on television were the least appropriate methods of controlling content." BBC 11/09/00
  • BETTER VIEWING AT HOME? The movie box office in New Zealand is down almost 10 percent this year compared to last. Why? "It’s those new-fangled DVD things, apparently. The ones parallel-imported straight to your neighbourhood video store. So by the time some films show up at the local multiplex, DVD queue-jumpers have already seen them." New Zealand Herald 11/09/00
  • RADIO THAT NEVER FADES: Digital radio is almost here. "If all goes well, the 115 million U.S. commuters stuck in their cars for half a billion hours every week will soon be able to pick and choose exactly what they want to listen to— usually without commercials— and the sounds will never fade away, no matter where they drive, coast to coast. Beginning in the middle of next year, all the major auto makers will begin building cars with satellite radio receivers as standard equipment, appearing first in luxury models." Discover 11/09/00

Tuesday November 7

  • RELUCTANT REFORM: Hoping to avoid federal regulatory action after recent scoldings from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s largest film trade group has agreed to beef up its enforcement of the movie ratings system with such measures as selective screenings of adult-themed trailers and audience education. 11/08/00
  • DREAM WITH ME: "At a time when every other studio finds itself an increasingly less important subdivision of an increasingly larger multinational corporate monolith, DreamWorks has transformed itself, for better or worse, into a pure, old-fashioned movie studio, which lives or dies on its ability to pick hit movies. But in today's Hollywood, that's a scary proposition." New York Magazine 11/07/00

Monday November 6

  • WHAT TO DO WITH BBC2? The head of Britain's BBC2 wants reform, and says maybe the broadcaster ought to be a little more like, oh, say, the London Telegraph. What's that you say? asks Norman Lebrecht. In that case, I've got a few tips for you. (more than a few, actually) The Telegraph (London) 11/06/00

Sunday November 5

  • CHANGING THE WAY MOVIES ARE MADE: The latest technological revolution in movie-making is the DVD. filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola sees DVD as 'putting more control in the hands of the artist. 'There is always the pressure from the studios to make movies shorter. The new technologies offer the ability to create cinema more on the level of music, totally free, where you can put forth anything you can dream up'." New York Post 11/05/00
  • FILLING IN THE SILENCE: Conductor/musicologist Gillian Anderson has "restored the original music for 25 films - she calls them 'early' films, pointing out that they 'were never silent' but were regularly played with live piano, organ or orchestral accompaniments. She has conducted this music during showings in Europe and North and South America - notably at the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington." Washington Post 11/05/00

Thursday November 2

  • A WHOLE NEW PICTURE: The movie industry is changing dramatically with the development of high-definition digital video - a transition being likened to that from silents to talkies, or from black and white to color. "In the long run, there is no question that DV will replace film. It gives you a more complex and satisfying control over the image than you ever had before." The Telegraph (London) 11/02/00
  • DARK HOUSES: After the boom in multiplex building over the last several years, movie theaters across the U.S. are closing in record numbers. "So far this year, 355 theaters housing 1,888 screens have shut their doors, while only 131 theaters with a total of 1,370 screens have opened." 11/01/00
  • THE KING AND I SAY NO: Thailand’s culture censors have banned 20th Century Fox’s film "Anna and the King" from being screened in the country, on the grounds that it is an inaccurate portrayal of the monarchy. "The film could be shown here if it was cut, but after the cutting it would probably last about 20 minutes." Times of India (AP) 11/02/00

Wednesday November 1

  • FILM LOOKS EAST: "Leaving aside the bloated monster of Hollywood, is anyone in the world serving up great films today? The answer is yes - but not where you might expect. Instead of France and Italy, Iran and South-East Asia now lead the way." The Telegraph (London) 11/01/00