FOOTBALL GOES TO THE MOVIES
Movie theaters could begin screening live, high-definition broadcasts of NFL football games, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has told a media conference in New York. Speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he has had talks with Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements, which owns the Cinema De Lux, Showcase Cinemas, Multiplex Cinemas, and The Bridge theater chains. Goodell also indicated that he has had similar talks with other theater owners but suggested that those with Redstone have progressed further than the others because National Amusements is the parent company of CBS, with which it already has a deal. He said that it wanted to protect the NFL's broadcast rights, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
THEATERS TO GET TOUCH ON CELL PHONE USERS
Regal Theaters, the nation's largest theater chain, has begun testing devices in 25 of its locations that allow patrons to summon ushers if audience members use cell phones or become unruly. Regal Chief Executive Michael Campbell told the Reuters Media Summit in New York Wednesday that a second button will notify management of faulty projection, a third about uncomfortable room temperature, and a fourth about any other problem. Campbell said that ordinarily customers won't say anything such problems while the film is running. "They just will complain on their way out or, in the worst case scenario, they don't come back." He said that he expects the device to be available nationwide next year and that it will be given to "mature" audience members, who will receive free popcorn for their efforts.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC EXEC: IPODS ARE REPOSITORIES FOR STOLEN MUSIC
Apple Computer is facing new challenges to its iPod devices from content providers, who, while seeking ways to profit from digital technology, remain worried that it will wreck their businesses. On Wednesday, Reuters quoted Doug Morris, head of Vivendi's Universal Music Group (UMG), as saying that he wants the same deal from Apple that he has negotiated with Microsoft for its Zune player -- a royalty payment for each device sold. Morris said that all such digital devices "are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it's time to get paid for it." Two weeks ago UMG sued social networking site MySpace, charging that it allowed users to pirate its music videos. Meanwhile, the London Financial Times reported that the major film studios are demanding that, before they will sign a deal to provide movies to Apple's iTunes Music Store, Apple must develop software that will prevent the movies from being downloaded to multiple iPods from a single PC.
SUNDANCE ANNOUNCES CHOICES FOR 2007
Sundance, America's leading film festival, has announced the titles of 64 films that will be included in the 2007 competition (16 films in each of four categories). Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore told Variety that he was impressed with the entries. "There were easily 40 or 50 films we could have programmed, ones I have regrets about not showing. That makes it really hard to hold the line and not expand the festival," he said. The festival runs from January 18 to 28 in Park City, Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah.
ELIJAH WOOD SUPPORTS JACKSON IN LOTR FEUD
Elijah Wood, who starred in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, has weighed in on the controversy over New Line Cinema's decision to dump Peter Jackson as the director of the LOTR prequel, The Hobbit. In an interview with Britain's Empire magazine, Wood said that he was dismayed that "it's ultimately a business decision and not at all considering the fans." Wood, who would seemingly be too old now to appear in the prequel, nevertheless observed, "I can't imagine any of the original actors would want to join" a production that was not overseen by Jackson. "How can you imagine a prequel that didn't look the same, and didn't have the same continuity?" he asked.
BANGKOK FILM FESTIVAL SHAKE-UP
In the wake of last September's military coup, the budget for the Bangkok Film Festival -- one of the preeminent film showcases in Asia -- has been slashed, and the festival has cut its ties with the U.S. management company that runs it, Film Festival Management Inc. of Beverly Hills. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has sent a letter to FFM noting that "certain circumstances have sidetracked the development of the festival, making changes in its planning inevitable." A budget of $3.6 million had reportedly been allocated for the 2007 festival, down 24 percent from $4.7 million this year. The festival is scheduled to be held from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5. In an interview with the Bangkok Post, TAT spokesman Chattan Kunjara na Ayudhya said, "We do not have any conflict with FFM. The decision was made due to the political situation and some problems over budget allocations. ... This presents a great opportunity for us to groom a Thai team to run the festival."
NICOLE KIDMAN RISES TO TOP OF BEST-PAID LIST
Nicole Kidman has replaced Julia Roberts as the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kidman's $17 million was $3 million short of Roberts's salary when she appeared on the list last year. This year, however, Roberts took the year off to spend it with her 2-year-old twins. Tied for No. 2 on the 2006 list were Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellweger, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, each of whom receives $15 million per film.