SAG MAY ASK FOR STRIKE VOTE
In response to the rejection by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to their call for a renewal of negotiations, leaders of the Screen Actors Guild said Wednesday that they plan to meet later this week "to consider management's responses." A report in today's (Wednesday) Hollywood Reporter that the SAG leaders will ask for a strike authorization vote was viewed dubiously by many members of the industry, who pointed out that, given current economic conditions and the unlikely prospect that new media -- the sticking issue -- will generate significant revenue for movie and TV companies for years to come, it is highly unlikely that SAG leaders would be able to secure the necessary 75 percent approval vote, authorizing them to call a strike. But labor attorney Jonathan Handel, who has represented the Writers Guild of America, suggested Tuesday that the board vote could be regarded as a "preemptive strike" by the union's Membership First leaders not against the AMPTP but against the Unite for Strength dissidents -- "yet another symptom of the guild's bitter divisions."
SPIKE LEE UNDER FIRE FROM ITALIAN WAR PARTISANS
Director Spike Lee's comments at a Rome news conference Monday in which he defended the historic validity of his new film Miracle at St. Anna have outraged Italian World War II partisans. At the news conference Lee had claimed that the partisans often fled attacks by Italian fascist and German Nazi forces, leaving civilians to fend for themselves. The partisan veterans' association ANPI said Tuesday that it plans to leaflet the premiere of the film on Friday and accused Lee of producing a "travesty of history."
MOVIE REVIEWS: RELIGULOUS
In an apparent effort to attract critical notices before this weekend when it faces unprecedented competition from six other films that are also opening wide, Bill Maher's documentary Religulous is opening in New York today (Wednesday). Mostly, the critics indicate, the film features Maher interviewing the faithful and making them look foolish. Stephen Holden in the New York Times calls the movie "facetiously funny." Claudia Puig in USA Today writes that "those with a taste for irreverent humor and clear-eyed analysis will find it funny, enlightening and disturbing." Joe Neumeir in the New York Daily News comments that Religulous features "Maher at his best" and finds the movie "funny, refreshing." But Rafer Guzmán in Newsday concludes: "It's a nasty, condescending, small-minded film, self-amused and ultimately self-defeating. Its only accomplishment is to make atheists look bad -- and in this political climate they didn't need Maher's help with that."
BUY A COMPUTER, GET A MOVIE
Paramount and Dell computers have combined on a promotion in which the newly released Iron Man will come preloaded on several new Dell desktop and laptop models. According to VideoBusiness.com, Paramount plans to offer additional films on new computer models. (It did not say whether the deal with Dell is exclusive.) Dell's ad for the PCs says: "By getting your content preloaded, you can start enjoying your favorite movie as soon as you get your new Dell without the hassle of searching for and downloading your content, saving you time." The movie, together with "bonus content," requires the Windows Media player, which also comes preloaded on all Dell models. In order to view the movie, buyers must agree not to redistribute the film.
STARZ ADDS NEW MOVIES TO NETFLIX ONLINE MENU
Netflix has signed a deal with the Starz pay-TV channels to offer dozens of relatively new movies to its subscribers, including such prominent hits as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ratatouille, and Spider-Man 3. The movies will be available for streaming onto personal computers at no additional cost to Netflix subscribers. All of the films are from Sony or Disney. Until now, most of the films available for streaming from Netflix have been older films.
MPAA FIGHTS NEW SOFTWARE
Hollywood's "majors" and a leading Seattle-based software company went to court Tuesday over a new software product, RealDVD, that permits users to make copies of their DVD movies on their personal computers. The six major studios, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America, claim that the software allows users to illegally copy movies that they rent. RealNetworks, however, asked the court to declare that the software is in compliance with the "fair use" exemption of the copyright act and is comparable to software that allows users to make copies of CDs on their hard drives.