MURDOCH CALLS CROWE FILM "A FLOP"

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch has called A Good Year, 20th Century Fox's newest release starring Russell Crowe, "a flop" and has forecast that it will result in a $20-million loss for the studio. On the other hand, he told a shareholders' meeting in Adelaide, Australia today (Wednesday), he expected The Devil Wears Prada, which cost $17 million to produce, to return a profit of more than $100 million. "You've got to take the rough with the smooth," Murdoch told the investors, pointing out that the film business is "a bit of a lottery." On another topic, Murdoch said that News Corp is close to buying back Liberty Media's 18-percent stake in News Corp for one or more assets, probably including News Corp's 38-percent stake in DirecTV. He said that if the deal is successfully concluded, the company will probably drop its "poison pill" defense against a possible outside takeover.

NEW DEBACLE FOR SONY

In the latest embarrassment to strike Sony Corp., the company acknowledged today (Wednesday) that many games designed for the original PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles are not compatible with PlayStation 3. News of the problem follows the rash of bad publicity over production delays involving the device, consumer hesitancy over the company's Blu-ray high-definition DVD devices, and especially a recall of laptop batteries that the company had manufactured. Sony had been hoping that the hugely hyped Casino Royale, due out this weekend, would produce revenue to offset the earlier ordeals. Sony managers were in London Tuesday to demonstrate how they planned to integrate the marketing of their products with the new film. Later in the day they attended the premiere of the movie at the Odeon Leicester Square theater -- along with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

ROMANIAN VILLAGE LIKELY TO SUE BORAT PRODUCERS

The producers of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan face yet another lawsuit, this one from the tiny Romanian village of Glod, which acted as a stand-in for a Kazakh village in the opening scenes of the hit movie. "We thought they came here to help us -- not mock us," one resident told the Associated Press. Others accused the film's producers of paying them just $3.30 to $5.50 per day. The wire service said that residents of Glod would be meeting with a public ombudsman today (Wednesday) to map out their legal strategy against the producers. One local leader remarked, "These people are poor and they were tricked by people more intelligent than us." However, studio spokesman Gregg Brilliant told A.P. that locals were actually paid twice the going rate in Romania for extras, donated $5,000 to the town, paid a location fee and bought it computers, school and office supplies.

AIRLINES TO PROVIDE HOOK-UPS FOR VIDEO IPODS

Six airlines have agreed to provide connections for iPods that will allow users to watch their movies and other videos on seat-back screens during flights without draining their batteries, Apple Computer said Tuesday. The airlines are United, Continental, Delta, Air France, Delta, Emirates, and KLM. Apple said it is also in negotiations with other airlines. Presumably the service, due to begin in mid-2007, will be free.

ROGER MOORE IN APPEAL TO SAVE HISTORIC U.K. STUDIO

Former 007 Roger Moore has made a plea for a buyer to come forth to save the 80-year-old Elstree Film Studios. The historic studios, where Alfred Hitchcock directed some of his more famous mysteries and where the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films were produced, were purchased by Hertsmere Borough Council in 1996 when no other buyer turned up. Today's (Wednesday) Guardian newspaper quoted Moore as saying, "Hertsmere Council extended it a lifeline when it needed it most, and invested heavily. Now that they are seeking to pass on the ownership, I hope that an equally passionate and caring owner can be found; and help take the studio into one of the most exciting periods of film and new media production." A spokesman for the Hertsmere Council said that it was selling the property because it needs a serious injection of cash to modernize it and keep it going.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.