MEDIA - January 2000

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  • WHAT YOU SEE... Last week director Michael Moore attempted to parody what some feel is a carnival atmosphere around executions. To an execution in Texas, Moore brought along "a marching band, cheerleaders, and a lighted “scorecard” of executions — filming the entire episode during the execution. 'They kept trying to pump us up by saying, isn’t this great? Aren’t you excited? They tried to portray a party atmosphere where none existed,' says one demonstrator in attendance." Moore’s display was said to be so extreme that even death penalty groups were offended. MSNBC 01/31/00

  • "GIRLFIGHT" wins top prize at Sundance Film Festival. New York Times 01/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • EUROGLAIS: Amidst the talk of American cultural encroachment, Europe is struggling with its unified identity. "There is a struggle going on to create a cultural identity for this united Europe, and one of its arenas is the European film. If defining that identity now is more elusive artistically, financially and geographically than ever before, one thing is certain: the film will be in English." New York Times 01/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • NEW HOST FOR "TALK": Veteran Washington Post journalist Juan Williams takes over as host of NPR's "Talk of the Nation," succeeding Ray Suarez. He begins February 24th. NPR 01/28/00

  • SO WHAT IF THEY'RE BIG: The Time Warner/EMI merger creates the largest record company in the world. But the business is falling apart, and all the mega-mergers in the world don't fix the problems confronting the commercial recording business. It's all just circling the wagons. The Economist 01/29/00

    • ANYTIME, ANYWHERE: MP3 downloads that turn your computer into a stereo with instant access. The old ways are dead. Boston Globe 01/28/00

    • WE NEED YOUR HELP, says MP3 to its users. If enough of you get free music, maybe the courts will back off. Wired 01/28/00

  • THE CHARACTER OF A NATION THROUGH ITS TV: They sure love their Diana Down Under. A list of the 50 most-watched TV programs ever in Australia. Sydney Morning Herald 01/28/00 

  • TWO GUYS, A CONDO AND THEIR MOVIE: At Sundance, it's all about selling your film. But if you want to see this dynamic duo's movie, "take a ride out toward the city limits, past the racquet club, and locate the townhouse the duo has rented for the duration of the festivals they are not attending. Therein, you will be treated to no end of ice-cold Bud and, if no one else happens to show, a private screening of their $750,000 debut feature." National Post 01/28/00

    • THE DAY OF THE NICE LITTLE MOVIE IS OVER: There are too many films, too many festivals and too many screens. "The nice little movie could flourish only in unique conditions, and those conditions don't exist anymore. There's no more "American Playhouse" to show them on television. There are no more independent video companies who are starved for product. There are no more art-house cinemas who can't get enough smart movies to fill their screens." The rules have changed. Salon 01/28/00

  • HOME MOVIES: These days anyone with a computer, a new relatively cheap digital camera and a bit of creativity can be their own producer and broadcaster. Technically, the quality can rival professional product. CBC 01/27/00 

  • EYES IN THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD: New TV camera shoots a 360-degree picture and puts the viewer into the action from every angle. Wired 01/27/00

  • REINVENTING ENTERTAINMENT: The digital age is turning TV and movies upside down. Some think the cyber-revolution will be "as radical as the shift from radio to TV. This five-part series explores how.
    • Part I: 21st Century gold rush CBC 01/24/00
    • Part II: Traditional media's talent drain CBC 01/25/00
    • Part III: Old formulas and players reinvent CBC 01/26/00
    • Part IV: Fear of homogenizing the web with big business CBC 01/27/00

    • Part V: Short-attention-span TV - why net TV will take awhile to really work. CBC 01/28/00

  • SHOCKPROOF: New PBS series "Culture Shock" looks at the culture of shock in art. 

  • CHECKIN' OUT THE SHORTIES: In years past you couldn't hardly give away short films - there was no market. But video has discovered the internet - or is it the other way around - and suddenly Wall Street is investing big in film on the web. And there are all the internet entrepreneurs checking out the shorties at Sundance. Toronto Globe and Mail 01/26/00 
  • TEACHING CARTOONS TO ACT: Behind all the whizzy computerized animation of movies like "Toy Story," there are some solid traditional cartooning values - like story and character portrayal. No one knew that better than Marc Davis, who died recently at the age of 86, and was one of Walt Disney's legendary `Nine Old Men.' Baltimore Sun 01/26/00
  • IS MOVIE REVIEWING going through a crisis? Christian Science Monitor 01/21/00
  • AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR: Time Warner/EMI merger shrinks the major record-company field to four players. Can you say "oligopoly?" Boston Herald 01/25/00
  • DOT COMS INVADE PARK CITY: Maybe it's the legacy of "Blair Witch" - internet companies have commanded much of the attention at this year's Sundance Festival. Los Angeles Times 01/25/00 
  • 21ST CENTURY GOLD RUSH: The digital age is turning TV and movies upside down. Some think the cyber-revolution will be "as radical as the shift from radio to TV. CBC 01/25/00
  • DENUDING A PUBLIC TRUST: Canada's CBC television network told to strip itself of what its audiences seem to watch most - American movies and hockey. Make it less commercial, say regulators. Suicide, reply network execs. New York Times 01/25/00 (One-time registration required for access)
  • BIG BROTHER IS LISTENING: Technology lets marketers know what radio station you're listening to as you pull into their parking lot. Privacy watchdogs cry foul. Wired 01/25/00
  • EMI AND TIME WARNER TO MERGE: Music giant and multi-media behemoth to combine in latest media consolidation. BBC 01/23/00
  • SOPRANOS, BEAUTY big winners at Golden Globes. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/24/00
  • CONTENT OF FORM: Robert Redford reflects on the dance of independents as Sundance opens. Variety 01/24/00
  • HISTORICAL SHOCK: New PBS series looks at the culture of shock in art. But, writes one critic, in choosing to focus on controversies from the past rather than recent issues, the show plays it safe - "safe in its choices of art to illustrate the never-ending conflict between artists and society, between freedom of expression and censorship, between what is conventional and what might lie ahead." New York Times 01/23/00 (One-time registration required for access)
  • DVD HACKER SETBACK: Judge grants injunction against webhosts who have been distributing DVD decryption program that cracks the copy-protection code DVD makers included on their disks. Wired 01/22/00
  • FCC APPROVES LOW POWER RADIO: Move lauded by neighborhood activists is blasted by the radio industry. Washington Post 01/21/00
    • Previously: LOW-POWER REVOLUTION: This morning the Federal Communications Commission votes on whether to allow low-power radio stations. If yes, it will revolutionize the FM radio landscape and thousands of low-wattage new stations could spring up around the country. Existing FM stations oppose the idea. Washington Post 01/20/00
    • What low-power stations mean to you. Salon 01/20/00
  • NEW RULES ON MINORITY HIRING: FCC issues new rules aimed at increasing minority hiring by broadcasters. Washington Post 01/21/00
  • CYBERGRASS VS. GENDER BIAS: The Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world's great orchestras. Also one of the few to retain a distinctive sound that is theirs alone. Trouble is, they don't believe in women musicians in their midst. The international campaign taking on the VPO's sexist discrimination has been fertilized on the internet in a real cyber-grass roots effort that has exerted considerable pressure on the orchestra to change its ways. (be sure to take the musical gender test part way through the story). MSNBC 01/20/00
  • I-CRAVE-LAWSUIT GETS ITS WISH: Canadian internet startup has been rebroadcasting American network channels available in Toronto over the internet. Though the picture is jerky, the site has attracted millions of visitors in a few short months. Now an indignant Hollywood has served up a big fat lawsuit. CBC 01/21/00  
    • Previously: I-CRAVE-LAWSUIT.COM: Toronto man rebroadcasts every TV station available in Toronto over the internet on, and networks have a fit. "It's all perfectly legal,'' he claims. Wired 12/17/99
  • DRUG OFFICE NEWSPAPER CONNECTION: Last week Salon Magazine reported that television networks had taken money from the White House drug office in return for inserting anti-drug messages into their programming. The Washington Post now reports that "the drug office says it is spending $11.3 million in the current 12-month period to advertise in 250 newspapers, and that $893,000 of that money is being spent on the New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. And White House officials say that in three cases--two of them involving the Times and The Post--newspapers were granted $200,000 in financial credits that reduced the amount of public service advertising they are required to provide under the program." Washington Post 01/20/00
  • GOLDEN GLOBES EXPLAINED: Just who are these guys, and why do they have power? Toronto Globe and Mail 01/21/00
  • LOCO-LOGO: CBS used digital editing technology during its New Year's Eve broadcast to slice out NBC's Times Square billboard and replace it with an image of the CBS logo. Ever since, "NBC has become increasingly shrill in its protests, going so far last week as to say that it was "shocked and outraged that CBS News used digital imagery to alter and block out images in public places." Whenever a for-profit company becomes 'shocked and outraged,' it's a sure sign that we have crossed into the realm of propaganda." Feed 01/20/00
  • "BIZARRE LITTLE FILMS": Mental hygiene films were a staple in American schools over the 25 years following World War II. "Students of all ages were forced to watch these earnest but bizarre short films, which apprised them of such things as the folly of playing on steep precipices overlooking the ocean, the need to minimize one's square-dancing during the early days of the menstrual cycle, the inadvisability of shooting heroin before an important track meet and the necessity of placing the fork to the left of the plate." New York's American Museum of the Moving Image resurrects some of the classics. New York Times 01/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • SUNDANCING: This year's Sundance Film Festival gets underway. Nearly 1,700 films were submitted for consideration this year. "Clearly a growing number of people out there want to be filmmakers. And many of them will be found this coming week, wearing parkas and frazzled looks, on the icy, traffic-choked streets of Park City." New York Times 01/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • WORLD WIDE WONDER: Madonna on your cell phone? Shopping on your pager? "The marriage of Time Warner's movie, music, magazine and TV dynasty with AOL's Internet kingdom has the potential to change the way we stop, look, listen and shop - for better or worse." Singapore Straits Times 01/19/00
    • What the deal means for TV viewers. New York Times 01/19/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE MOVIE BUSINESS IS BOOMING: with record revenues last year. So why are movie theater companies leaking red ink and watching their share prices dive for the bottom? Not just too many theaters, but too many big theaters have been built in the past few years - and now there's a glut. The Economist 01/21/00
  • HOLLYWOOD RULES: Movie box office was up in Australia last year, with the latest "Star Wars" installment leading the way. But home-grown films captured only 3 percent of the commercial box office. Another disappointing year for the once-promising local movie industry. Sydney Morning Herald 01/18/00 
  • WATCHING THE PAINT DRY: It's everything that conventional wisdom says should make for a recipe for dull TV. But C-SPAN's simple formula of turning on the cameras and letting them run captures the energy of democracy in action. A virtual conversation with guiding light and "Book Notes" host Brian Lamb. The Idler 01/18/00
  • RADIO REVO: More and more web-savvy radio fans are abandoning their local broadcast dials in favor of broadcasting over the web. New York Times 01/16/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BETTER OR JUST LONGER? Movies and their running times. The new ones seem to be getting longer, but do they beat the classics? Chicago Tribune 01/16/00
  • WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMS DEAL: Official says White House drug czar's office reviews television scripts "to see if they're on strategy or not" by portraying youth drug use in a negative light. If so, the networks are given credits that enable them to sell more air time to commercial advertisers rather than donating it for anti-drug and other messages. Washington Post 01/14/00
    • SOME SURPRISE (GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES): Study commissioned by the White House, to be released today, says television generally does a far better job than movies and music when it comes to responsible depictions of drug, tobacco and alcohol use. Los Angeles Times 01/14/00
    • GOVERNMENT PAYOLA? PART II:  Federal law requires that anyone financially influencing or contributing to programming content be revealed at the time of broadcast. In the arrangement uncovered by Salon, the networks are earning millions in financial incentives from the government in exchange for inserting anti-drug plots in TV shows. Is the practice illegal? Perhaps. Salon 01/14/00
    • UH,UH: "NBC has never ceded creative control of any of our programs" to the drug policy office or any other department of government, said Rosalyn Weinman, the executive vice president of content policy for NBC." Similar statements from other networks. New York Times 01/13/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • Networks deny the gave government officials creative control. Variety 01/14/00
    • AP report Baltimore Sun 01/14/00
    • Previously: JUST SAY "PAY ME:" Salon Magazine investigation says that the White House got anti-drug messages sewn into television shows in return for more than $25 million in the past year-and-a-half. Report says that the White House got to sign off on scripts for network shows. Salon 01/13/00 
  • JUST SAY "NON": "Distressed by declining box office at home, French directors are blaming some of the country's most respected film reviewers for favoring American movies and gratuitously attacking local pictures. In a volcanic debate that has roiled through the country's newspapers, magazines and television screens for several months, the directors emerged last month with a manifesto demanding that all negative reviews be held back until after opening weekend--at least five days following the usual Wednesday opening." Critics, as expected, reject the idea. Los Angeles Times 01/14/00
  • TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION, PART II: In a deal unrelated to the Time Warner merger, AOL announces a "strategic alliance" with PBS in which the public television system will become a "premiere content provider" for AOL and the internet provider will receive an on-air "branding presence." Cleveland Plain Dealer 01/13/00
  • "SURVIVOR": Some 6000 people answered CBS' call for participants for the real-life "Gilligan's Island" game show. Who would want to be dropped on an island to survive the elements and each other? The show is being described as MTV's "The Real World" meets "Lord of the Flies," and this week 50 of those still in contention met to try and impress producers. Philadelphia Inquirer 01/12/00
  • MOVIE CREDITS EXPLAINED: Gaffers? Best Boys? Here's a road map to who gets to have their name on a movie credit roll. Salon 10/09/98
  • HOLLYWOOD UNIONS AND THE BLACKLIST: Hollywood producers "always maintained that the blacklist was essentially forced on them by a powerful one-two punch of politics and public opinion. True enough. But it's also true that the Hollywood blacklist descended directly -- perhaps even more so than previously thought -- from a virulent strain of anti-union sentiment. New interviews, access to internal Hollywood memoranda and a review of the existing but largely forgotten record all suggest that unions -- one in particular -- threatened to cut into studio control and profits. And the studios would do anything, even ruin lives, to keep that from happening." Salon 01/11/00
  • TIME WARNER, AOL TO MERGE: Boards of both companies unanimously approve deal announced today. Variety 01/10/00
  • THE GIFTING GLOBES: Voter says gifts don't do much (if anything) to win favor from press voters for the Golden Globes. "Maybe not, but Sharon Stone went too far this year when two couriers arrived at Golden Globe voters' doors, one bearing a cellular telephone with a month's free calls, along with a card signed by Stone and her Simpatico co-stars Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges, and the other a watch that sells for $395." London Telegraph 01/10/00
  • JUST WHO makes the scheduling decisions at PBS? Putting great programs on against over-hyped network sweeps and Tesh-a-thons opposite Christmas reruns is goofy. Isn't the idea to get more people to watch? San Francisco Chronicle 01/10/00
  • EXTRA PAY: A group of Toronto's movie extras vote to join media union, spurning the actors union in dispute over their low pay. Toronto Globe and Mail 01/10/00
  • DUMB AND DUMBER: Hollywood's mantra for popular success has been "dumb it down." But now a wave of smart, interesting movies seems upon us. Are we entering a new Golden Age? Toronto Globe and Mail 01/09/00 
  • THE ART(?) OF SCREENWRITING: With the help of the internet, there are so many ways to formularize and automate the writing of a screenplay, the process and form has become hackneyed. New York Times 01/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • "ANNA" ARREST: The Thai government has banned the film "Anna and the King" for being disrespectful to the royal family. Now two men are arrested for selling bootleg copies. Could face 15 years in jail. BBC 01/09/00
  • FOOD RULES: Nothing has succeeded in television's new niche universe as cooking shows. They're everywhere. But how much cooking is going on? Samurai chefs? Elton John clones? Iron Chef? The next thing you know, Hulk Hogan will be... National Post 01/09/00 
  • PROUST RECONSIDERED: A new movie based on "Time Remains" and a new volume of letters are out. London Telegraph 01/09/00
  • OUT DAMN HOLLYWOOD: Canadian regulatory board tells Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to cut out American movies and reduce its sports coverage. Less hockey and curling they say. More arts and regional programming. "Yikes," CBC execs say - "We could turn into PBS of the North!" Edict spells financial ruin, broadcaster says. CBC 01/06/00
  • OH JESSICA, IT'S JANUARY: Welcome to January, or as it's known in the film world, 'January?! You're going to release my movie in January?! Jan-u-frickin-ary?!' This is a month that's typically, though not exclusively, used to debut pictures that were originally scheduled for a summer or fall release -- until someone important actually saw the completed films and walked from the screening room with a stride that just screamed, 'January,' the sound of those wing-tip shoes revealing all: Click. Click. Click. Click. Jan. U. Air. E." National Post 01/07/00
  • CHEWED UP AND SPIT OUT: He was going to be different. His sitcom was going to fly. His deal was going to work. He liked the nice cars. Business class. Nice restaurants. The studio liked him. He had a deal. And suddenly it was all over. A cautionary tale in the land of sitcoms. National Post 01/07/00 
  • FOR THIS YOU WANT TAX BREAKS? Even as the entertainment industry is sounding the alarm about runaway productions leaving Hollywood, new figures show entertainment production was up a bit in '99 in Los Angeles. Declines in feature films and TV were offset by increases in commercials and student films. Variety 01/07/00
  • MULTI-CHANNEL ATTACK: BBC ratings down in Britain as other channels pick up viewers. Variety 01/07/00
  • FRUSTRATING FRUSTRATION: Trying to make an original musical in Cuba, a director is redirected when his financing falls through. Instead, he makes a movie about putting together a project he knows will never happen. New York Times 01/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • NBC MAKES DEAL WITH NAACP: Will pursue initiatives to promote diversity in hiring at the network. ABC expected to follow with its own deal later this week. Variety 01/06/00 
  • NEW COMPRESSION SYSTEM promises to deliver sound/images/video at much greater rate and clarity than current technology. Solution is software-based, so no hardware upgrades are needed. Financial Times 01/06/00
  • TUBE STAKES: Extensive mergers and consolidation in the TV industry last year was only a start. Get ready for some major millennial retooling to come. Variety 01/05/00 
  • BLAIR WITCH FRANCHISE: Plans for a sequel, even a prequel. Wired 01/05/00
  • UNPLEASANTNESS IN PROSPERITY: It was a record year at the box office for the movie business. And yet an uncomfortable truth is settling in on Hollywood - technology and a changing economy are causing widespread layoffs throughout the California movie industry. Variety 01/04/00 
    • CAN'T GET HOLLYWOOD INTERESTED in that new film? Independent filmmakers turn to the web where the distribution's easy - and cheap. New websites offer an alternative distribution outlet for indies, and the idea's taking off. New York Times 01/04/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • TOO MANY BAD MOVIES: "We make too many films in Britain," says Alan Parker, director and chair of the British Film Council. "It's an odd business in which people call themselves film producers without ever having produced anything." His solution? Don't make so many movies in the first place. London Telegraph 01/04/00
    • OVER (A)-TROPHIED? Never one to shy away from self congratulation, the movie industry racked up a record number of awards shows in 1999. The movie-meisters handed out 3,182 trophies to themselves at 332 ceremonies. That's almost one awards show for every day of the year. Variety 01/04/00
  • DOWNWARD SPIRAL: TV's broadcast networks are finished if they don't change their ways, says Tim Brooks, co-author of "The Complete Directory of Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows," the premier television reference work. What's ahead for the tube... 01/03/00
  • NOT YOUR PARENTS' 3D: Is new and improved 3D technology for films the Next Big Thing? New York Times 01/02/00 (One-time registration required for entry)
  • OUT WITH THE OLD: Hollywood's old guard is about to be overtaken. This year's Oscar list is likely to be filled with a new generation of movie-makers. London Sunday Times 01/02/00