MEDIA - December 2000

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Sunday December 31

  • BEFORE THE STORM: "If the doomsayers are right, the next six months could be the last happy times for Tinseltown for quite a while. The Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild contract expire with the movie studios and major film and TV producers. With the very likely prospect of two crippling strikes shutting down movie and television production over the summer and into the fall, Hollywood is on a frenetic pace to green-light and rush into production as many films as possible." Los Angeles Times 12/31/00
  • WWII RECONSIDERED: There is a fresh wave of movies and books about World War II. But the war is being depicted in a different way than in the past. "Gone are the days of dry military histories charting Panzer movements, or films with Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton destroying thousands of evil Nazis. What we are shown now is the experience of the war for the millions of ordinary everyday people whose lives it affected." The Telegraph (London) 12/30/00
  • THE INEVITABILITY OF DIGITAL? Director George Lucas will spend about $15,000 for videotape stock to film his newest "Star Wars" installment. "Had he gone with traditional film stock, the cost could have reached $2. 5 million." San Francisco Chronicle 12/31/00
  • TOUGH TIMES FOR MOVIE THEATRES: High-flying Canadian movie theatre chain Cinaplex Odeon has had a roller-coaster existence. After a few good years, the company now faces bankruptcy. "After the building of many expensive new cinema complexes over the past few years, there are far too many screens for the market. The public has deserted the old-fashioned ones, but Cineplex is stuck with long leases." Toronto Star 12/31/00

Friday December 29

  • MEDIOCRE - BUT IT SELLS: Hard to find a movie critic who doesn't think 2000 was a down year for movies. But box office receipts from the US and Canada are expected to reach $7.7 billion - a record - by New Year's Eve, thanks largely to the sudden success of Dr Seuss' 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas', which has become the year's top-selling film." BBC 12/29/00

Thursday December 28

  • TELLING ON DRUGS: The US Federal Communications Commission criticized American TV networks for not informing viewers that the White House drug office had paid the networks to insert anti-drug messages into scripts. "Listeners and viewers are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded, the FCC said, citing the 1927 Radio Act." Dallas Morning News (AP) 12/28/00
  • SAVING FILM: The Library of Congress makes a list of films to be preserved in its collection. Why? Celluloid deteriorates over time. ''Fifty percent of the films produced before 1950 and at least 90 percent made before 1920 have disappeared forever.'' Boston Globe (AP) 12/28/00
  • IMPROBABLE DREAMER: Your star die? Your set burn down? From Betty Grable's million-dollar legs to Oliver Reed's death while making "Gladiator," movie insurance covers a lot of contingencies. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/28/00

Sunday December 25

  • THE NEW MOVIES? Considering that both 'The Phantom Menace' and the latest PlayStation games were created on computers, it's only a matter of time before one looks exactly like the other. They both use the same special effects, they're saved on the same digital disc. Soon, you'll play "Toy Story" as easily as you watch it, creating, perhaps, an entire new form of entertainment. Video games will become interactive movies." Orange County Register 12/24/00

Friday December 22

  • GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS announced. "Gladiator" and the soon-to-be-released "Traffic" led with five nominations each. The awards ceremony will be held January 21. Variety 12/21/00
  • CYBERSQUATTING HITS THE ARTS WORLD: When Australian painter Stieg Persson went online to register his domain name, he was surprised to find that a Melbourne man had already nabbed it - along with the names of dozens of other well-known Aussie artists. "It's as if he just ran through the Encyclopedia of Australian Art registering names. I stopped looking after I found 40 artists' names taken." The Age (Melbourne) 12/22/00
  • DUMPING THE LITTLE GUYS: "Since passage of the Telecommunications Art of 1996, which eased restrictions on station ownership, thousands of small outlets and minority broadcasters have been bought out by media giants. Many are managed and programmed by national chains, who tend to program their stations in similar fashions across the country." A bill passed this week in Congress further hurts the cause of the little guys. Miami Herald 12/22/00

Wednesday December 20

  • MOVIE THEATRE COLLUSION? Are Canada's two largest movie theatre chains "using their market power to ensure that independent theatres don't get a chance to screen the latest Hollywood blockbusters?" The Canadian government wants to know, and they've launched an investigation. Ottawa Citizen 12/20/00
  • BUMPY ROAD TO DIGITAL: Clearly the movie industry is going digital. "Eliminating film prints in favor of digital distribution by satellite could eventually save Hollywood-now staggering under the weight of sky-high production and marketing budgets-hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lab and shipping costs. But it could cost well over a billion dollars to convert just half of the 37,000 screens in the US and Canada. Distributors and exhibitors, who haggle over everything from rental fees to trailer placement, aren't exactly fighting for the check." 12/20/00
  • LIMITING THE LITTLE GUYS: Earlier this year America's FCC decided to start awarding so-called micro-radio licenses to low-wattage stations. So far the FCC has 1,200 applications and plans to award licenses as early as in the next few days. But now President Clinton says he'll sign a bill limiting the number of such licenses, to the relief of large commercial stations. Micro-broadcasters are furious. Wired 12/20/00

Tuesday December 19

  • L.A. FILM CRITICS’ AWARDS: Ang Lee’s "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" swept the Los Angeles Film Critics’ Awards, winning four prizes including best picture - making it the first foreign-language film to win the group’s top honor. Variety 12/17/00
  • THE BIGGEST PROJECT EVER: A year from today the first installment of the $270 million "Lord of the Rings" is scheduled to open in movie theatres, followed a year later and two years later by parts two and three of the Hobbit trilogy. "The production, which is being shot in New Zealand, has 77 speaking parts, a 2,500-member crew, and a 438-day shooting schedule. Principal photography concludes this Friday." Boston Globre 12/19/00

Monday Decembe 18

  • I-OWN-YOUR-NAME.COM: A number of authors are fighting to get the rights to their own domain names. "We hope to establish the precedent that in cyberspace, as in traditional venues of trade, authors' names belong to them, not to the first outfit that registers a famous name as a domain name." Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) 12/18/00

Sunday December 17

  • ARTIST AS SUBJECT: Why are filmmakers so intrigued with artists as a subject for their work? "Audiences can look at this guy Jackson Pollock and he's kind of vulnerable, a guy who has a lot of problems that other people might have in a smaller way.'' 12/16/00

Friday December 15

  • A HUGE GREEN LIGHT: After weeks of delay, the Federal Trade Commission approved the proposed merger of America Online and Time Warner, clearing the way for the creation of the largest media company in history. New York Times 12/15/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE REVIEWS ARE IN ON 'POLLOCK': Ed Harris's powerful biographical film "Pollock" may be the first movie about a painter to transcend the gushy clichés found in movies that try to unravel the mysteries of artistic creation. The scenes of Pollock standing over a giant canvas and creating his famous drip paintings in graceful swooping gestures as the camera discreetly dances around him offer a visceral thrill similar to watching a brilliantly choreographed action-adventure sequence." New York Times 12/15/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Thursday December 14

  • A HISTORY OF SHAKESPEAREAN CINEMA: "Since 1995 we have been offered films of the Bard's plays which retain his language but play fast and loose with his historical settings, invariably bringing the action into the 20th century. The trend represents a quantum leap for cinema, enabling it finally to catch up with the Shakespearean updatings that have been staged by theatre directors since before the war." The Independent 12/14/00
  • IS THE NEW YORKER'S ANTHONY LANE REALLY A BAD CRITIC? "What’s at issue here has nothing to do with 'opinion', or whether one likes or dislikes 'Crouching Tiger'. It has to do with the critic’s basic grasp of his subject. He’s not really a film critic but a quip-minded belletrist who happened into a lucrative gig and appears to have no inclination, now, to patch up the gaping holes in his knowledge of film." New York Press 12/12/00

Wednesday December 13

  • ABC TO CUT ARTS PROGRAMMING: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is expected to cut its budget for FM programming by 34%. "Live broadcasts of concerts and operas, coverage of festivals and the recording of new Australian music are all expected to be severely affected by the cut." Sydney Morning Herald 12/13/00
  • CLASSIC WEB TV: The Museum of Radio and Television says it will make available on the internet "almost every radio and TV broadcast ever aired. The massive assortment includes Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, Yankee Don Larsen's perfect World Series game in 1956, the first few hours of MTV and thousands of television shows, including the pilot episode of 'Seinfeld', and once-thought-to-be-lost episodes of 'The Honeymooners'." New York Post 12/13/00

Tuesday December 12

  • ART REBORN: There has been concern for much of this year that art films had died. But "driven by a handful of recent hits, the fourth quarter of 2000 is on track to become the most lucrative period for art films in nearly two years." 12/12/00
  • CHINA COPIES: China says it is cracking down on CD and video bootleggers. But "within a week after the Nov. 17 release in the United States of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," videodisc copies of the film were selling on China's streets for about $1.20 each — further proof that China's well-oiled copyright piracy machine is running smoothly despite government promises to shut it down." The New York Times 12/12/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • READY FOR MY LINE... "Today on Hollywood Boulevard, there's a full-scale revival underway. Violent crime is down by 75% and after years of neglect, Hollywood is getting a facelift. In movie terms, this is like Norma Desmond being played by Goldie Hawn." National Post 12/12/00

Monday December 11

  • NEW ARTS CHANNEL: Last week a new all-arts TV channel debuted in the UK. "The importance of Artsworld succeeding, however, is hard to overstate. With any number of channels dedicated to movies, sports, news, pop, shopping, God, Bollywood and porn, the absence of an arts station continued to make a mockery of the metaphor of multichannel as a vast WHSmith in which the consumer can find exactly the right periodical to cater for his or her taste, however obscure. But to survive, Artsworld will have to be more than good; as a brand, it will have to be as tough as old boots." New Statesman 12/11/00

Friday December 8

  • SAVING A TV HERITAGE: The Library of Congress is working to prevent the destruction of old TV and radio recordings. "A fatal mold can grow on the wax cylinders developed for Thomas A. Edison's first phonographs, making them unreadable. Lacquered discs exude a white oil that in time shrinks the grooves so that they peel off. Some early audiotapes, made in layers, begin to "delaminate" in as little as five years." Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP) 12/08/00

Thursday December 7

  • INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION: Saying that performers have virtually no rights to collect rotyalties off their work internationally, representatives from as many as 175 countries are "meeting to hammer out details of an accord on the protection of audiovisual performances. It would apply to movie theaters, television broadcasts and the Internet. The accord would probably increase the price of movie tickets, by a negligible amount." Nando Times (AP) 12/07/00

Wednesday December 6

  • SUNDANCE 2001: The Sundance Film Festival announced this year’s slate. The lineup highlights returning filmmakers and digitally-produced movies. 12/05/00
  • REVERSE BODY SLAM: Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura was a foe of government funding for public radio and TV. But he's reversed that position. "You seem to stick to issues and you don't go after one's personal life. You don't go after cheap shots and I appreciate that. So I'll reward." Minnesota Star-Tribune (AP) 12/06/00

Tuesday December 5

  • DO WE REALLY NEED ANOTHER TOP-TEN LIST? As the movie awards season gets underway, the American Film Institute has announced it plans to name the top 10 films of the year on Jan. 9 and continue to do so every year. "The idea is to issue such a list every year of the 21st century to build a compendium of the best and most important examples of American filmmaking." New York Times 12/05/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday December 4

  • DANCER IN THE SUN: Lars von Trier's "Dancer in The Dark" won the best picture award at the European Film Awards, repeating its success at Cannes earlier this year. BBC 12/03/00
  • SIX-TIME WINNER: Ang Lee’s "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon cleaned up at the Golden Horse Awards (Taiwan’s Oscars) with six honors. China Times 12/04/00

Sunday December 3

  • NEW TV ARTS CHANNEL: Britain's first satellite arts channel debuted this weekend, promising to "absolutely delight and astonish its viewers by offering a respite from the non-stop incestuous mash of pish and tosh - gardening, cooking, interior design - screened these days by the BBC and ITV." The Telegraph (London) 12/02/00
    • IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE: Will the new arts channel succeed in finding an audience? "This is laudable, an attempt to fight the forces of dumbing down, but will it work? Is art the same kind of thing as food or shopping, something that can be presented as a niche broadcasting commodity?" Sunday Times (London) 12/03/00

Friday December 1

  • HOME MOVIES: Out of fear that a Napster-like program could soon make free movies available over the internet, major Hollywood studios are exploring ways to distribute their films to PC users over the Web. "The movie studios are quickening their pace because they do not want to find themselves in the same boat as the recording industry." (Reuters) 11/30/00
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MOVIES? This time last year movie critics were writing about a rebirth of the art of film. After years of lamenting what was widely seen as a decline in the art of filmmaking, 1999 surprised critics with several innovative interesting works. And this year? A big disappointment. Critics are still waiting for a movie to grab their imaginations, and even the commercial box office has been down for the first time since 1991... The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 12/01/00
  • WITHOUT THE SOAP SELLERS: The history documentary "A People'S History" on the history of Canada has exceeded all viewership projections and has become the most-watched documentary in Canadian history. But the producer of the series says financing the project was too much of a struggle and that the way projects such as this are financed in Canada is broken. "Nothing will be financed unless it can be demonstrated to sell pop or soap. It just won't happen. The marketplace will not, operating by its own laws, produce what is necessary and good for our children and our society.'' Toronto Star 12/01/00