MOVIE THEATERS TO BECOME CONCERT HALLS

More than 50 theaters across the U.S. plan to screen a live performance of the New York Metropolitan Opera's presentation of Mozart's The Magic Flute on December 30. The matinee performance, directed by Julie Taymore (The Lion King) and conducted by James Levine, is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET and is the first of six such concerts due to be presented via satellite in high-definition and surround sound this season. Tickets have been priced at $18 for adults and $15 for children and are being sold at the theaters' box offices or online at <www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events.aspx>.

COPYRIGHT OFFICE EASES RULES ON DVD SECURITY

The Library of Congress's Copyright Office on Wednesday granted an exemption to film professors, allowing them to break the copy-protection codes on DVDs in order to create compilations of movie clips for their classes. Although such compilations are permitted under "fair use" interpretation of the copyright law, breaking the CSS security code is not. Studios had argued that the professors could use VHS tapes of the same films, but the professors countered that such tapes are often not available and those that are lack the quality of the DVDs. The ruling -- along with others dealing with copyright law handed down by the Copyright Office on Wednesday -- was welcomed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a consumers' group, but Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the group, commented that he was disappointed that the office had rejected a petition that would have allowed owners of DVDs to copy their movies on the iPods and other portable players.

GANDALF SAD THAT JACKSON WON'T DIRECT THE HOBBIT

Ian McKellen -- "Gandalf" in the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- expressed disappointment Wednesday over the news that New Line had apparently decided to make The Hobbit and another Rings prequel without Peter Jackson, who directed the original three movies. "I'm very sad as I should have relished revisiting middle Earth with Peter again as team-leader. It's hard to imagine any other director matching his achievement in Tolkien country," McKellen wrote on his website. Meanwhile, the Lord of the Rings fan site, theonering.net, has launched a petition campaign asking New Line to back down from its position on Jackson and urging fans of the movies to boycott The Hobbit if it is produced without the director.

NEWSPAPERS CUTTING COSTS BY CUTTING FILM CRITICS

In their effort to cut costs as subscribers desert them, newspapers are firing their film critics and replacing them with wire-service reviews. In a commentary appearing today (Thursday) in the Orlando Sentinel's blog, the newspaper's film critic Roger Moore, discussed the recent ousters of Jamie Bernard at the New York Daily News and Mark Burger at the Winston-Salem Journal and the reassignment of George Thomas at the Akron Beacon Journal. Moore wrote: "When a paper loses its critic, a town loses another local voice. The 'we can run wire service reviews' line may be true. But heaven help the movies the day we're down to a couple of critics in the largest markets syndicated everywhere. There aren't many who would play all over America." Moore noted that his own newspaper has also come under the knife. "We used to have two people on the movie beat here, which allowed us to cover the heck out of what was (and WASN'T) happening in a city that wanted to be 'Hollywood East.'" Moore concluded by giving this advice to young would-be film critics, who are thinking of starting out writing for websites or their college papers: "Don't even start. Don't try this at home. It'll break your heart."

FOX NEWS'S CAVUTO CALLS HAPPY FEET PART OF LIBERAL AGENDA

Fox News business commentator Neil Cavuto suggested Wednesday that Warner Bros.' hit movie Happy Feet was like "an animated Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary about global warming. "I half expected to see an animated version of Al Gore pop up," he said. In the lower part of the screen, the words, "Is Hollywood using kids movies to promote agenda?" were posted. Cavuto called the film "big-time objectionable" for "foisting" a political position on children. He called in Fox critic Holly McClure who agreed and took the film to task for negative portrayals of marine acquariums and water parks, saying that they were intended to make parents "feel guilty" about taking their kids to them. Meanwhile, Fox News's corporate sibling 20th Century Fox has posted a trailer for the upcoming The Simpsons Movie on YouTube, showing Homer finding himself hilariously banged about between a rock and a hard place. That animated film also reportedly has an environmental message. NOTE:

Summaries of reviews for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Bobby, and For Your Consideration will be included in Friday's edition of Studio Briefing.

Brian B.