DGA HEAD TAKES AIM AT SAG

The Directors Guild of America, which has signed an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, has taken issue with the Screen Actors Guild, which has not, over the issue of union jurisdiction over programs produced for the Internet. SAG is insisting that all such shows be produced under the terms of the union contract; producers maintain that they must be allowed to experiment with low-cost productions but have agreed to union jurisdiction if just one union member is employed. The DGA has accepted the AMPTP's terms. On Wednesday, the DGA released a copy of a letter to its members from DGA President Michael Apted saying in effect that SAG's position (he doesn't mention the sister union by name) would make online experimentation by the producers "structurally and economically unfeasible" and result in new media production gravitating "toward the Googles and Microsofts of the world" which are not signatories to a union contract. The alternative would be for the studios to create "non-union subsidiaries." Apted argued: "Before there can be a union job, there has to be a job. And despite all the grandiose talk about the coming bonanza, new media hasn't yet started raining money. The truth is that for new media production to realize its undeniably vast potential -- and create all those jobs we want our members to have -- it must be given the room to evolve and grow." Daily Variety quoted SAG National Executive Director Doug Allen as responding: "I think what really stands logic on its head is the idea that the way to organize union work is to encourage signatories to produce non-union under our contracts."

BLU-RAY SALES FLY INTO THE BLUE

After a rather slow start, sales of Blu-ray high-definition titles are accelerating and are likely to take off exponentially during the holiday season, according to a report by U.K.-based Futuresource. Blu-ray titles will account for about 12 percent of video sales by the end of the year, the research firm said, and will rise to 61 percent by 2012. In a statement Futuresource managing director Jim Bottoms said, "What has impressed me most is the way the retailers are supporting Blu-ray and how much space they are giving over to Blu-ray discs."

THE GODFATHER RETURNS

Paramount plans to roll out newly restored editions of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in September prior to their release on DVD. New York City's film Forum said it plans to screen the original film during the week beginning September 12, followed on the 19th by the first sequel. During the week of the 26th it plans to screen both films back-to-back. Similar screenings are reportedly in the works for Los Angeles and San Francisco. The restorations were supervised by Coppola, cinematographer Gordon Willis and film preservationist Robert Harris, who received much praise for his restoration of Lawrence of Arabia. The soundtrack was restored by Santa Monica-based POP Sound, which worked with the original sound mixer, Walter Murch. In an interview with the audio-recording website Mix, Murch observed that during the wedding scene in The Godfather, one of Marlon Brando's lines about the "cosa nostra" had been "suppressed" because of controversy over that term in the Italian community. In the new version, the original recording of the line was restored with "clarity." The company also said it had been able to sync up some of the dialogue that had been "looped" (rerecorded in post-production) more accurately.

NEW AIRLINE BROADBAND SERVICE ALLOWS MOVIE RENTALS

Giving air travelers the opportunity for the first time to "rent" movies streamed to their laptops, American Airlines on Wednesday launched Gogo, an Internet service that is now available aboard certain non-stop flights between Yew York and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. Initially, the service will be tested on 15 aircraft for a three- to six-month trial. The broadband service is being provided at a cost of $12.95 on most flights by Aircell, the same company that provides on-board telephone service (voice-over-Internet sites are being blocked by Aircell). Travelers merely wanting to watch a movie in flight may also have to take into account the cost of the rental.

Brian B.