SAG HARDLINERS IN PYRRHIC VICTORYThe possibility of another strike shutting down the entertainment industry in Hollywood appeared more remote Tuesday following a 30-hour battle among factions within the Screen Actors Guild over whether to retain the union's hard-line chief negotiator and executive director Doug Allen. While a vote was effectively filibustered by members of the Membership First faction at a meeting of the union's board of directors, East Coast members and the Unite for Strength moderates in the West Coast presented a show of strength that effectively left Allen powerless. Some analysts predicted that Allen would resign in the aftermath of the battle. "I can't imagine him weathering this political storm to wield any significant influence in the future," David Smith, a labor economist at Pepperdine University, told today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times. "Even though they weren't able to remove him, they essentially took away a chunk of his power." However, union President Alan Rosenberg voiced anger over the effort to oust Allen, insisting that Allen had "done a phenomenal job." However, Rosenberg himself may now face an uncertain future as head of the union as a result of what some industry observers are suggesting has been a misguided effort to secure concessions from the industry for new media work that are likely to result in less income than what actors would already have earned had they agreed to a similar contract already signed by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and other industry unions. Stephen Diamond, a labor law professor at Santa Clara University, who had once been considered for Allen's post, told Backstagemagazine: "The only way to manage an exit strategy here is to change the team and bring in a delegation of anti-strike A-listers to sit at the table."


Film L.A., the group that co-ordinates issuing permits to studios for location shooting in Los Angeles, said Tuesday that filming in the city in 2008 dropped to its lowest level ever recorded. (Its record books date back only to 1993.) For the year, location filming fell 14 percent -- but it was down 46 percent in the fourth quarter. Film L.A. blamed the downturn on the lasting effects of the strike by the Writers Guild of America, the threat of a second strike by the Screen Actors Guild, and accelerated shooting in other cities and countries (so-called runaway production). "California is not competitive in the marketplace," Film L.A. President Paul Audley said in a statement. "We must create an environment that brings back high-dollar film productions, the thousands of jobs they generate and the revenues they pump into our local economy."


Blockbuster said Tuesday that it is teaming up with the online movie downloading service CinemaNow to offer more than 10,000 movies and TV shows for rent and sale. Users of the service, called Blockbuster Powered by CinemaNow, will be able to watch the videos over a variety of devices, including mobile phones and other wireless devices, including Apple's ubiquitous iPhone and iPod Touch, and TV sets, game devices, and Blu-ray disc players connected to the Internet. "Our goal is to offer consumers the most digital content, the most accessibility, via the most devices, both in and out of home," Blockbuster chief Jim Keyes said in a statement. The move comes on the heels of similar moves by Blockbuster's online rival Netflix, which already provides free streaming to its regular monthly subscribers. Blockbuster did not indicate how much its own service, which is expected to debut in the second half of the year, will cost.


Roman Polanski says he is seeking to have the 1977 rape charges against him dismissed not because he wants to return to the United States but because he wants to "leave a legacy of justice," his attorney said in a court filing on Tuesday. Attorney Chad Hummel said that Polanski has no plans ever to return to this country but wants an independent judge to consider the revelations of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct that were exposed in a documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, last year. A hearing on the motion is scheduled on January 21, but prosecutors insist that the director must attend in person, thereby risking arrest.