THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Warner Bros. plans to return The Dark Knight to theaters -- including IMAX screens -- on January 23, 2009, one day after Oscar nominations are announced. The film is virtually certain to receive numerous nominations, and critics appear to regard the late Heath Ledger as a shoo-in for best supporting actor for his role as the Joker. The movie is already available on DVD, but Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman said in a statement today (Thursday) that the studio "wanted to provide one more opportunity for moviegoers to experience it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen."
NIELSEN TO LAUNCH "MOVIEWEEK L.A."
Nielsen Business Media, part of the company that issues TV ratings and also publishes the trade magazines The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, announced plans today (Thursday) to launch what it is calling Movieweek in Los Angeles in the spring of next year. Details of the event were scant, with Nielsen describing it only as a "multifaceted industry and consumer gathering that will explore the art, craft and business of creating the moving image." It said that the event will be a combined trade show and a "city-wide complex of events." Neither a description of the events nor their location was disclosed. However, a news release quoted Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as saying, "To create an annual week that celebrates a core American industry in the city where Hollywood is both a place and a passion, will be a powerful and important statement supporting economic development in LA."
ACTORS' HOSPITAL AND NURSING HOME TO BE SHUT DOWN
In a blow to the Hollywood acting community, the Motion Picture & Television Fund announced Wednesday that it will be forced to close down its hospital and long-term care facility in Woodland Hills by the end of the year. Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Foundation's board, said that keeping the facilities open could bankrupt the Motion Picture & Television Fund "in a very few years." He added: The fact is that we have no choice." The two facilities had reportedly been losing about $10 million a year. He added that the 100 actors currently residing in the facility will be relocated to nursing homes in the area. David Tillman, the fund's CEO, said that the decision to shut down the units "reflects some sobering economic realities that are affecting health-care institutions nationwide." But Nikki Finke, writing on her Dateline Hollywood Daily blog, commented: "This is a huge story with major ramifications for everyone who considered the Motion Picture And Television Fund facilities as their safety net in times of sickness and old age. What else might be closed next? I find it hard to believe that, with all the enormous wealth in the Hollywood, the community couldn't look after its own better than this."
MANURE TO HIT THE SCREEN
Talk about making a movie "critic proof!" Indie producers Mark and Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho) are screening their new movie Manure at the Sundance Film Festival, which opens today (Thursday). In an interview with Reuters, Michael says that the title refers to the fact that the movie concerns a manure salesman, played by Billy Bob Thornton. But it also "takes all the power away from the critics," making them unable to reduce the film to poop -- because that is what it's all about! (The Polish brothers have written a guide for independent directors titled "The declaration of Independent Filmmaking.) Manure, which also stars Téa Leoni and Kyle MacLachlan, is scheduled to screen at Sundance next Tuesday, January 20.
RICHARDO MONTALBÁN DIES AT 88
Ricardo Montalbán, one of the first Mexican-born actors to rise to stardom in Hollywood, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at age 88 of what his son-in-law described as "complications related to old age." While Montalbán worked tirelessly on behalf of Latin-American cases -- he founded the nonprofit Nosotros Foundation aimed at improving the image of Latinos in Hollywood -- he himself never played a Mexican on screen. "A Spaniard, yes. An Argentinean, yes, a Brazilian, yes, but never a Mexican," he once remarked in an interview, noting that characters from those countries were considered more "exotic" to Hollywood filmmakers than Mexicans. (He once even played a Japanese Kabuki theater performer in 1957's Sayonara.) He also famously played "Mr. Roarke" on the long-running Fantasy Island and the title character in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.