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
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
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
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)
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
- 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."
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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."
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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. Inside.com 11/08/00
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
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)
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
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
- 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)
- 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." Inside.com 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
- 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