CLOONEY ON STARS AND HYPES

Appearing on the cover of Time magazine and being called by it as "the last movie star" has apparently not gone to George Clooney's head. In an interview with the Hollywood Today website, Clooney dismissed Time's cover article about him as something that "played well walking into the Oscars," suggesting it was instigated by publicists promoting his Oscar-nominated performance in Michael Clayton. "I take it with a grain of salt" Clooney commented. "All this stuff is cyclical, when people are nice to you. A couple of films that they don't like and you'll be the last of the 'last movie star[s].'" Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Monday that Clooney's latest movie Leatherheads will have its premiere Monday in Maysville, KY (pop. 9,000), where the actor grew up, and where his father, news anchor Nick Clooney, and his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, were born. Maysville Mayor David Cartmell told the A.P. that the screening will probably be the town's biggest event since The Stars Are Singing, starring Rosemary Clooney, premiered there in 1953. Rosemary Clooney died in 2002.

ANTIGUA COMPANY CLAIMS IT BROKE BLU-RAY COPY PROTECTION

Calling it "the 'must have' utility for the serious home theater enthusiast," an Antigua-based company has begun selling software that it claims will break Sony's Blu-ray copy-protection code. Moreover, it says, its AnyDVD HD application can do so on the original disc so that it can be watched without a special Blu-ray player. Blu-ray's stronger digital rights management (DRM) protection had been a major factor in its victory over Toshiba's HD DVD. In a statement posted on its site, Slysoft thumbed its nose at film studios, saying that those "that have switched to Blu-ray may have crowed a little too early." While Sony's BD+ technology also includes measures intended to counter such a security breach, Slysoft's head of high-definition technology, Peer van Heuen, said in the statement, "We are well-prepared for this and await the coming developments rather relaxed." Slysoft is likely to find a safe haven in Antigua, which has threatened to nullify its intellectual property treaty with the U.S. -- thereby allowing copyright pirates to operate freely within its shores -- in retaliation for a U.S. crackdown on Internet gambling sites doing business in that country.

HOW BIG WILL TOSHIBA'S HD DVD LOSS BE?

Toshiba has quickly denied reports that spread over the Internet on Wednesday that it would report a loss of more than $1 billion for 2007 due to the collapse of its HD DVD business. According to Daily Variety the Japanese electronics company is now saying that its operating loss, to be officially reported after March 31, will be about $655.5 million. The report conflicts with several others, including one appearing in today's (Thursday) London Financial Times, saying that Toshiba expects to lose $1.1 billion as a result of HD DVD's defeat at the hands of Sony's Blu-ray system.

MOVIE GALLERY BACK IN THE RED AGAIN

Movie Gallery, the No. 2 video-store chain after Blockbuster, wound up in red ink again last month ( officially ending Feb. 10), according to a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The previous month, which included the Christmas holiday period, it had reported a net gain. Ironically, the latest one-month period reflected profits of $4.1 million at its Hollywood Video outlets while those for the Movie Gallery brand were reported as a loss of $4.6 million. It was Movie Gallery's $1-billion acquisition of Hollywood Video in 2005 that resulted in a crushing debt load and eventual bankruptcy.

NEXT BOND FLICK TO PREMIERE IN U.K.

Underlining James Bond's essentially British origins, Sony Pictures said Wednesday that the latest Bond movie Quantum of Solace will open in the U.K. on Oct. 31, a week ahead of its North American debut on Nov. 7. In fact, the film will also premier on the European continent before it reaches the U.S. -- in France and Belgium on Nov. 5, and the following day in the Netherlands and Germany.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.