SAG LEADERS CRITICIZE DGA DEAL

The leaders of the Screen Actors Guild on Tuesday sent an email message to members expressing strong reservations about the contract signed last week by the Screen Directors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. President Alan Rosenberg and Executive Director Doug Allen wrote, "Some have rushed to anoint their deal as the 'solution' for the entertainment industry. We believe that assessment is premature." The two acknowledged that they had only seen a press release containing information about the deal between the directors and studios and not the contract itself, but nevertheless warned, "Because so much of the new DGA/AMPTP deal is unknown, no one should assume this new deal is a template for anyone else, certainly not for actors." Their message immediately drew fire from Directors Guild President Michael Apted, who charged, in effect, that the SAG leaders were jumping the gun by commenting on a deal before they learned its full details. Apted asked why they felt it necessary to comment on it at this time. "They are not in negotiations and have not scheduled any," Apted told Daily Variety. "Their letter has one purpose and one purpose only: to interfere with the informal talks currently under way between the WGA and the studios. Simply put, their assumptions and arguments are specious. The DGA deal is a great deal for our members."

OPERATOR OF "CLEAN FLIX" STORE ARRESTED FOR STATUTORY RAPE

The operator of the Utah-based Flix Club, which, as part of the Clean Flix chain, drew fire from major studios for removing scenes depicting sex and violence from home videos, has been arrested in Orem, Utah on charges of having sex with underaged girls. According to Orem police, Daniel Thompson also told the girls that his business was actually a cover for a pornography studio and asked them to participate in making a porn movie. The police report also said that they uncovered a "large quantity" of pornography at Thompson's business. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Thompson told the arresting officers that he was unaware that the girls were not of legal age and that the porn movies were for his "personal use." Thompson previously operated the Clean Flix franchise in Orem but shut it down last month after giving away 400 sanitized versions of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The studios, he said at the time, had told him that "if I don't shut down, they would break me."

APPLE'S "RENTED" MOVIES CAN'T BE VIEWED ON MOST VIDEO IPODS

Apple has begun receiving numerous complaints that movies that were recently made available for rent on its iTunes store can not be viewed on iPods that were purchased before September 2007. Many complained that Apple posted no notice of the limitation when the movie rentals became available and that they did not learn of the restriction until after they had rented a movie. Apple did not immediately respond to the complaints.

HD DVD SALES REBOUND

Apparently reassured by statements from Universal and Paramount/DreamWorks that they have no plans to follow the lead of Warner Bros. in abandoning Toshiba's HD DVD high-definition video system, sales of HD DVD players rebounded during the week ended Jan. 19. As reported by the Video Business website, HD DVD players accounted for 33 percent of all high-definition units sold during the week, up from just 7 percent a week earlier. However, the same week saw price cuts of $100-$200 dollars for the HD DVD players, which may have contributed to the rise in sales. Nevertheless, tech research firm Gartner predicted that Toshiba's price cutting "may prolong HD DVD's life a little, but the limited line-up of film titles will inflict fatal damage on the format." Paramount and Universal account for only 30 percent of all HD movies sold.

PAKISTAN TO ALLOW INDIAN MOVIES TO RETURN

The government of Pakistan is considering lifting a 40-year-old ban on showing movies from India in theaters. The Indian senate's Standing Committee on Culture said that Indian movies ought to be shown in the country so long as they do not harm "our religious and cultural norms and values." Pakistan is mostly Muslim; India, Hindu. A statement released by the committee on Tuesday took note of the fact that Indian movies are already being viewed on DVDs and on cable stations, "necessitating a reappraisal to deal with the issue rationally." It proposed that the ban be lifted for one year "after which the arrangements can be reviewed."

Brian B.