SAG CONTINUES TWO-FRONT BATTLE

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild on Wednesday accused the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers of offering a union contract worth tens of millions of dollars less than the one it signed with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. "It's obvious that they are trying to get us to bargain up to a deal they already know is unacceptable," SAG executive director Doug Allen told the Associated Press. The AMPTP declined to comment on Allen's accusation. AFTRA issued a statement saying, "SAG hasn't won any increases for its members -- perhaps because it's been too busy trying to undermine the AFTRA deal to be able to negotiate one of its own." AFTRA also condemned SAG's strategy of urging co-members of both unions to reject ratification of the AFTRA agreement in the hope that doing so would increase SAG's leverage at the bargaining table. "The great majority of the current dramatic TV schedule is made up of SAG shows," AFTRA said. "That is the source of SAG's bargaining leverage and will not change just because the AFTRA deal is ratified."

MOVIE REVIEWS: WALL-E -- PT. 1

While many reviews for the Disney/Pixar feature WALL-E are displaying off-the-chart enthusiasm, with many writers calling it a masterpiece and predicting a best-picture Oscar nomination, some analysts are suggesting that the film may be unable to convert the critical claim into box-office coin. On Wednesday Reuters noted that the film "blasts off into uncharted territory" by "mixing an unusual love story with somber messages about the future of Earth and humankind." The wire service noted that Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield had warned clients last wee about the movie's "box office potential given Pixar's risky bet on an offbeat main character, who rarely speaks during the film" The film began picking up additional critical endorsements from mainstream critics today (Thursday) (since the film is set to open in many major cities at midnight tonight). Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, while among those calling the film a masterpiece, warns that it is "arguably the darkest animated feature ever released by Disney (after Pinocchio)." Nevertheless, he concludes, "Kids will love WALL-E, the robot's epic adventure and his heart-tugging love story. Some adults may be less comfortable, which is fine with me; most great works of art are inherently subversive." Claudia Puig in USA Today gives the film four stars -- her highest rating -- calling it "an extraordinarily captivating adventure, laden with equal parts humor and heart and populated with memorable and endearing characters." Chris Vognar in the Dallas Morning News also says that while the film is certainly "adult friendly," kids should like it "just fine." With its combination of science fiction and romance, he says, "you have something dangerously close to the sublime, a film that will be dissected and enjoyed for years to come." And Christy Lemire of the Associated Press predicts that moviegoers are likely "to walk out of the theater with the rare joy of knowing that you've just witnessed something that touched your heart."

FOOL'S GOLD ATTRACTS CASH ON DVD

The critically reviled but box-office hit Fool's Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, became the hottest-selling DVD last week, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. The Warner Bros. movie took over the top position on the sales chart from last week's No. 1, The Bucket List, which dropped to No. 3. Coming in second was Universal's Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Fool's Gold also topped Home Media Magazine's rental chart, with 20th Century Fox's Jumper in second place and The Bucket List in third.

SONY TO MAKE GAMES, TV SETS WITH INTERNET INCLUDED

In the wake of Sony CEO Howard Stringer's assertion that the company plans to focus its attention on improving sales in its video-game and TV products, the company said today (Thursday) that it will launch a movie downloading service for the PlayStation 3 game console in the U.S. this summer. Details of the service were scant and follows an earlier announcement that Sony's new Bravia TV sets will be able to receive movies via the Internet and not necessarily via a cable or satellite system.

NESTLÉ REP STORMS OUT OF SCREENING

A representative of the Nestlé company stormed out of the Nantucket Film Festival last week during a screening of the documentary Flow, which takes to task several producers of bottled water, including Nestlé, for polluting the environment with millions of plastic bottles, according to the New York Post's "Page Six" column. The documentary also accuses Nestlé and other companies of removing millions of gallons of water from the water supply, thereby depleting the amount needed by agriculture. Nestlé is a co-sponsor of the Nantucket Film Festival. Former Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, whose Oscilloscope Pictures company is distributing the film, told the Post that the water-purifying companies "put pretty pictures of springs and forests on the bottles, but in this movie they're getting called out."
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.