LATEST SAG DRAMA TO PLAY OUT IN COURT TODAY
The newly appointed national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild has summoned the union's board of directors for a special meeting on Sunday, presumably in response to SAG President Alan Rosenberg's lawsuit against the union. The lawsuit claims that the board violated state law when it used a procedure called written assent to fire former National Executive Director Doug Allen and appoint a task force to revive negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. But David White, who replaced Allen, apparently wants the board to reconfirm its action at an open meeting -- something it was unable to do last month when Rosenberg and the so-called union hardliners launched a 28-hour filibuster that blocked the efforts of the board's majority to oust Allen. White's latest effort to validate the action of the board could prove moot, however, if Rosenberg is granted the temporary restraining order that he is seeking against the board. In that case, Allen will effectively replace White as national executive secretary and White's action in calling the board meeting would effectively be invalidated.
LATEST TIME WARNER QUARTER A HORROR
In the latest horror story passing for a quarterly report, Time Warner reported a net loss of $16 billion for its fourth quarter compared with a profit of $1 billion during the comparable quarter a year ago. The company's film division, however, showed a 6-percent gain, largely due to reduced output, even though such releases as Gran Torino, Four Christmases and Yes Man took in about what the studio's year-earlier films did. However, DVD sales fell significantly, even those for The Dark Knight, the top theatrical film of the year. With many consumers already boasting dozens of films in their libraries, many traditional buyers are cutting back DVD purchases -- a situation that affects all studios, including Warner Bros. Cable networks stood in the one bright spot in the company's arena, showing an unexpected 9-percent spike in revenue, despite a big hit to its net because of such outside factors as the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy and the cost of selling its Turner Broadcasting-owned Atlanta sports teams. Time Warner shares closed Wednesday at $9.42, down from its 52-week high of $16.90 set last September.
PIRATES TAKE TO THE STREAM
Streaming, rather than downloading, is becoming the preferred way of watching bootleg movies online, the New York Times reported today (Thursday). The newspaper observed that by using a search engine, anyone can find copies of current theatrical movies that can be viewed free -- even classic TV shows, like every episode of Seinfeld. James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, told the Times, "Streaming has gotten efficient and cheap enough and it gives users more control than downloads do. This is where piracy is headed".The Times suggested that it is difficult for copyright owners to take action against the streaming sites because many of them are located abroad, particularly in China.
BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL OPENS
The Berlin Film Festival -- the Berlinale -- is set to open tonight (Thursday) with the screen of Tom Twyker's The International, a film whose plot about international banking power and greed appears to have been lifted from the recent news. The film stars Clive Owen and Naomi Watts as two crusaders determined to bring down a corrupt international bank. Speaking to Reuters, festival director Dieter Kosslick said, "If we had showed this film six months ago, a lot of people wouldn't have believed it. ... But now it might come across to some as a sort of documentary film." In a news release the festival said that several German political figures will be among those attending tonight's screening.
SLUMDOG KIDS WERE WELL PAID, SAYS DIRECTOR
Director Danny Boyle has responded to recent charges originating in British tabloids that the young actors from the Mumbai slums who appeared in his Slumdog Millionaire were poorly paid. At the London Film Critics' Circle Awards Wednesday, Boyle maintained that the figures mentioned in the reports "were not true at all." He insisted that the young actors "were paid very well." He added that he would not disclose the actual amount because doing so "would make them vulnerable to certain elements, because they are quite large sums of money." He also said that his production company also provided an educational fund for them. "We are very proud of the way we have dealt with everybody," Boyle said, "and it's sad that it's been misreported." At Wednesday's Film Critics ceremonies, Slumdog won the award for best British Film, best British director (Boyle) and Screenwriter (Simon Beaufoy).