WILL BRÜNO WOUND GAY PRIDE?

Gay activists are expressing concern that Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno may have the unintended effect of reinforcing negative stereotypes about homosexuals -- despite Cohen's obvious attempt to lampoon homophobia. "We do feel the intentions of the filmmakers are in the right place -- satire of this form can unmask homophobia -- but at the same time it can heighten people's discomfort with our community," Rashad Robinson of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation told Reuters. The wire service reported that GLAAD's request that Cohen add a message to the film about gay rights and tolerance was rejected by Universal, the studio releasing it. "Brüno uses provocative comedy to powerfully shed light on the absurdity of many kinds of intolerance and ignorance, including homophobia," the studio said.

WHAT'S ICAHN UP TO NOW?

Carl Icahn continued to keep the movie industry in general and Lions Gate shareholders in particular guessing Tuesday as he increased his holdings in the studio by acquiring 389,400 additional shares. The purchase lifted his stake in Lions Gate to 15.9 percent from 15.6 percent. It is by no means certain that Icahn is laying the groundwork for an attempted takeover of the company, something that many in the industry suspect. He has been surprisingly mute about his plans for several months.

SORRY STATISTICS FOR FEMALE FILM WORKERS IN THE U.K.

Female filmmakers and stage workers employed in the U.K. mulled over a list of dismal statistics Wednesday at a conference in London. According to Britain's Guardian newspaper they included: only 17 percent of playwrights are women;only 38 percent of stage roles include women; 35 percent of roles on television are for women; of the top 250 films produced last year only 9 percent were directed by women. Moreover, according to the study, the situation for women over 40 is especially bleak.

VARIETY: BOX OFFICE IN BETTER SHAPE THAN BELIEVED

Concerns that the box office may be in for an unexpected slump -- it already is down from last year over the past three weeks -- may be overblown, according to Daily Variety. "The slight downturn is narrowing overall gains made [earlier] this year in revenue and attendance, but those numbers routinely fluctuate," Variety observed. The hard question that filmmakers should be asking, the trade paper said, is whether audiences will be drawn to the big tentpole movies, like the Harry Potter and Transformers sequels scheduled to be released during the upcoming weeks. "Most think Hollywood has a strong shot," the newspaper concluded.

NOTE:

A report that two women had formed a company in New York that would finance 12 low-budget movies a year, thereby helping to revive independent productions, may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt, according to Deadline Hollywood Today columnist Nikki Finke. Finke, who contacted some of the producers named in the story -- which was picked up by several major news outlets (and was summarized here on Monday) -- said that the two women had not negotiated deals with any of the persons named in the story, although they had arranged meetings with many of them. One movie "bankroller" told Finke: "What am I missing? Here's a company that hasn't raised its money, has no greenlit films, can't explain its domestic distribution strategy, and gets a feature piece in The New York Times. I honestly don't get it."

Cinemark Movie Club