SAG DEAL: THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Movie and TV producers have agreed to the demand by the Screen Actors Guild to allow the next contract to expire in two years, when the contracts of the other entertainment industry unions do, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Wednesday), without citing sources. But in return for that concession, the newspaper said, SAG officials agreed to settle force majeure claims that it filed in the wake of the writers' strike seeking more than $10 million in pay. SAG had claimed that its contract called for actors to receive about 2 1/2 weeks' pay if they were suspended as a result of an "act of God." The producers, however, maintained that a strike is not an "act of God" but offered to settle the union's claims for less than what SAG has demanded. "Expect fireworks from dissidents," the Times commented.
JACKSON SAYS HE'S "HEARTBROKEN" OVER WOLVERINE PIRACY
Hugh Jackman, who plays the title character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and is one of its producers, said Tuesday that he felt "heartbroken" when he learned that a workprint of the movie was leaked on the Internet. Speaking with reporters in Sydney, where the movie was previewed Tuesday night (most of it was shot in Jackman's native Australia), Jackman called the piracy "a serious crime" and noted that the FBI was investigating. "Rest assured that person [who uploaded the film] will be found." As part of the movie's promotion, Jackman arrived at the preview (20 minutes of the completed film was shown) hanging from a cable connected from the top of a cliff to the theater entrance on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbor.
MURDOCH AUTHOR: PIRACY IS EXTRAORDINARY TO FOX, ROUTINE TO OTHERS
Michael Wolff, author of the controversial Rupert Murdoch biography The Man Who Owns the News, has suggested that FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman was fired not because he reviewed a pirated workprint of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but because he exposed how easy it was to watch it. On his blog, Wolff suggests that Friedman's case exposes how oblivious top media executives are to common behavior by young people using the Internet. "They think of [watching pirated movies] as exceptional behavior, while everybody else knows it's trivial stuff. Actually Murdoch tends to think that almost everything that happens on the Internet involves dubious, if not outrageous, behavior," Wolff wrote. On the Los Angeles Times blog, columnist Patrick Goldstein chimed in: "Friedman took the fall for his own starry-eyed approach to piracy, but if media tycoons like Murdoch believe they can hang on to their old business model forever, they will soon be taking a much bigger fall than Friedman did."
WASHINGTON STATE PASSES BILL EXTENDING MOVIE TAX CREDITS
By the overwhelming vote of 44-2, the Washington state senate on Tuesday passed a bill granting tax breaks to filmmakers. Noting that much of the hit film Twilight was shot in Kalama, WA but that the producers were now considering shooting the sequel in British Columbia, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle called the reports "disturbing" and said that the bill's intent was to make "our state more competitive in motion picture production." In its lede, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer commented tongue-in-cheek: "Lawmakers want to bring the vampires back to Washington state."
MPAA APPEALS BOARD INSISTS ON R RATING FOR APATOW FILM
The MPAA ratings board on Tuesday turned down an appeal of its decision to impose an R rating on Year One, a comedy produced by Judd Apatow and Harold Ramis and starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. Apatow and Ramis appeared personally before the board, hoping to persuade it to change the rating to PG-13. Apatow's movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up) are generally rated R, but Ramis's (Ghostbusters, Analyze This, Groundhog Day) are not.