MEDIA - Film/Radio/TV/Web - September 1999

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  • IT'S CLASSIC: Shrinking profits and rising costs are making movie studios cautious about their new projects. Variety 9/29/99 

  • THE REVOLUTION WILL BE BROADCAST: Bill Gates enters interactive TV big-time with some major alliances. Web TV goal: make interactivity a must-have for producers and programmers. 
    Variety 9/29/99

  • DRAMAS UP SITCOMS DOWN:  The Big Four TV networks still lost some viewers for "premiere week" compared to last year - but the strategy of more dramas/fewer comedies seems sound. Los Angeles Times 9/29/99
         AND: Hispanic-led boycott to blame for ratings drop? Houston Chronicle 9/29/99
         ALSO: Dallas Morning News says if you factor in UPN network, premiere week audience actually went up a bit
    Dallas Morning News 9/29/99

  • ALLY BACKLASH: This morning TV critics everywhere are bashing Ally McBeal Lite - the half-hour version of "Ally" that bows tonight. It's a cynical rip-off calculated to grab more money, they say. Plus, they're just getting sick of her. The Globe and Mail puts it succinctly. Globe and Mail 9/28/99

  • CANADIAN FILMS: The industry is thriving at home - but how to win bigger audiences - and just what makes a Canadian film anyway? NPR 9/27/99 [Real Audio clip]

  • RATINGS MIGHT BE DOWN AT HOME, but American TV shows are raking in billions selling their wares overseas. This year's international sitcom bazaar convenes in Cannes. Variety 9/27/99 
    Record sales are down four percent through the first half of the year. Digital piracy through the internet gets the blame. 
    Hollywood Reporter 9/27/99

  • FILM IS NOT FOREVER: Thousands of old movies are deteriorating in their cans, and only a few people are making efforts to save our moving picture legacy. NPR 9/23/99 [Real Audio clip]
  • Taller, thinner, prettier: Staffers at the real White House comment on how the new series "West Wing" portrays their world. "Everything was more exciting than it is in real life," says one former White House aide.
    LA Times 9/24/99
  • When we loved movies: Susan Sontag recently claimed that cinephilia is dead. With a mass culture awash in moving images, what happened to the ideal of cinema as Art? Jean Douchet's sumptuous book about the French New Wave recalls the days of art. National Post 9/24/99
  • VIRTUAL VCR: No going out in the rain, no late charges...movies on your computer are the Next Big Thing at what's being billed as the ''world's first virtual video store.'' You can keep it, says Patti Hartigan, struggling to decide which of the 67 movies available she wants to see. Boston Globe 9/24/99
  • WHY NO ARTS COVERAGE ON TV? Seattle arts organizations confront local stations to demand answers. Seattle Times 9/23/99
  • NEW KIDS IN TOWN: Nickelodeon is opening a new $10 million digital animation studio and development laboratory in Manhattan. The studio will produce new animated series. Backstage 9/23/99
  • OVER REPRESENTED? A new report challenges idea that network television is doing a poor job of representing blacks in primetime and suggests that things have gotten better, not worse, over the past 20 years. CBS and ABC, the report says, actually feature more black actors in leading roles on their primetime series than the 11.8% of the US population that is African-American.
    Variety 9/21/99
  • TV TALK SHOWS ARE A SCUZZY BUSINESS - not so scuzzy as trying to make them, though. Here's an inside account of the inner turmoils of a TV talk show.
    Salon 9/20/99
  • Elton John turns movie critic:Trashes Benigni's "Life is Beautiful." Elton's new movie (he produced) was a hit at this year's Toronto Film Festival.
    Toronto Globe and Mail 9/18/99
  • Colorful TV: The networks have conceded there aren't enough minority roles in their programming - they're writing some in. New York Times 9/20/99[transferred to NYT paid archive]
         PREVIOUSLY: Threat of a network boycott by a coalition of Latino groups has broadcasters scrambling to compile lists of their Hispanic talent. Okay, they're using short pieces of paper, but "we're trying" they say.
    Dallas Morning News 9/12/99
  • Last time sitcoms were declared dead, "Cosby" came along. This time feels different, one critic says. The sitcom is ailing. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 9/19/99
  • TV NETWORKS WERE IN CONGRESS protesting they do have shows with people of color. Not enough, says NAACP. And by the way - how come only one percent of those behind the cameras are African American?
    Variety 9/17/99
  • Music insider takes apart LA music scene: Music is a cutthroat business says John Doe, talking about his new indie movie about the contemporary LA music scene. Los Angeles Times 9/17/99
  • Star studded: Midway through the star-choked Toronto Film Festival, an unexpected star has emerged - the writers.
    Chicago Tribune 9/17/99
  • Ray Suarez leaving NPR: Going to PBS' The Newshour. Melinda Penkava to take over as interim host of TOTN. Washington Post 9/16/99 
  • THE COMICS AREN'T LAUGHING: More than 100 comedians have signed a letter of protest to the BET cable network complaining about the way they're treated by the network's Comic View show.
    Backstage 9/16/99
  • Busted: Digital piracy is big business. Sony and Electronic Arts are trying to fight back, alleging a group of Bay Area residents were part of international video game piracy ring.
    San Francisco Weekly 9/16/99
  • Why digital film making is taking over: Work that used to cost $500 an hour in a post-production facility could be done at home on a Macintosh," says one proud producer at last week's  ResFest digital film festival in San Francisco.
    San Francisco Gate 9/16/99
  • THREE MILLION PEOPLE DISPLACED, MAJOR DESTRUCTION LOOMING What's it all mean? Ratings, that's what. The Weather Channel scored all time records, and - inexplicably - "Martha Stewart Living" got ten times its usual audience in Miami. Variety 9/16/99
  • Fox's new "Action" series is being billed as a spoof of Hollywood. But critic Tom Shales says it's so witty and wonderful, he wonders: Is it a satire, or a documentary? Washington Post 9/16/99
  • Short end of the stick: Why are short films such a neglected art form? The last place you expect to see them is on the big screen, distributors don't know how to market them, audiences never liked paying for them, and critics never review them. But the British Short Film Festival demonstrates the creativity being passed over.
    London Times 9/16/99
  • Giant creens/big size dilemma: he phenomenal commercial success of last year's Everest movie has the giant screen industry rethinking its fare.
    New York Times 9/15/99
  • Ratings for the web: They work for movies, but they're a very bad idea online. Arizona Daily Star 9/14/99
  • LIST SWAPPING: An Inspector General's report has concluded that 53 radio and television stations in the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio systems have swapped donor lists with political organizations. This news as Ervin Duggan -- PBS' president and chief executive officer for five years -- announced he was stepping down. Philanthropy News Network 9/14/99
         PLUS: Read the IG's report
  • THE CBS-VIACOM MARRIAGE: Will Simon & Schuster end up an orphan?
    Publisher's Weekly 9/14/99
         PLUS: NEW YORK MAGAZINE COLUMNIST says merger isn't about synergy, it's the stock price. 
  • CHINESE DIRECTOR ZHANG ZIMOU WON ANOTHER TOP AWARD AT THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL for “Not One Less,” the true story of a rural village schoolteacher who risks everything to bring back a tyke sent to the city to work. It was Zhang's third major prize in Venice, and confirms him as one of the most original film makers working today.
    Variety 9/12/99
  • THE NEW "LORD OF THE RINGS'' MOVIE has a $360 million budget, making it the second-largest production ever. Think that's scary? Not only is the Tolkein classic one of the most popular books of the century, it's become an online cult, so the ways to screw up are magnified oh, about a million-fold.