WILL MOVIES WEATHER RECESSION?
The movie business may not be as recession proof as some industry executives have suggested, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Wednesday), citing a recent study by Forrester Research. According to the study, consumers now have numerous cheaper alternatives to a night at the movies -- particularly the Internet. It found that most adults 25-34 are most willing to sacrifice moviegoing during a recession but they are least willing to give up Internet access. They are also bypassing Netflix and brick-and-mortar DVD rental stores and picking up DVDs instead at supermarket kiosks that are renting them for $1.00 a pop. The study, however, was dismissed by John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, who told the Times": "It's not that the cinema business is completely immune to recessions, but the industry appears to be recession-resistant. If there are decent movies, people are going to come out."
MEDIA STOCKS JUMP
Media stocks road the stock market's gondola up the roller-coaster Tuesday as the Dow added 889 points to end up 11 percent. Cable stocks, several of which had plunged to 5-year lows in recent trading, all reported significant gains -- with Comcast rising a whopping 24.5 percent to $16.96. Cablevision Systems rose 8.1 percent and Time Warner Cable, 6.2 percent. Both major satellite TV providers were also up significantly with DirecTV recording a 15.8-percent gain and Dish, a 4.9-percent gain. Among the major media conglomerates, News Corp gained 17.5 percent and Disney, 11.9 percent. Nevertheless, all of these stocks are off more than 20 percent during the month of October alone.
DREYFUSS SAYS W. MADE BUSH "SHOCKINGLY EMPATHETIC"
Richard Dreyfuss, who portrays Vice President Cheney in Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic W., has faulted the film for making the president appear "shockingly empathetic." Appearing on ABC's The View Tuesday, Dreyfuss made it clear that he was unhappy working with Stone on the film, despite the fact that he and the director share similar political views. "You can be a fascist even when you're on the left," Dreyfuss remarked. W., he maintained, was only "6/8 of a good film." (It was not clear why he represented the fraction in eighths.) What was missing he said, was "us -- because we were all terrified of our own president." For that reason, he added, "I question whether the film will have any historic legs."
GEFFEN EXITS DREAMWORKS ANIMATION, TOO
The "G" in DreamWorks SKG has now left both the live-action studio and the spinoff animation studio. DreamWorks Animation announced Tuesday that David Geffen has resigned from its board of directors but will remain a major shareholder. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the "K" in SKG, issued a statement saying that he looked forward "to working with David as a trusted adviser going forward." It is unclear what role, if any, Steven Spielberg, the "S" in SKG, continues to play in the affairs of the animation studio.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX SAYS HE'S QUITTING ACTING
Joaquin Phoenix, who was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his starring role as Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line, has announced that he is putting his life as an actor behind him. Interviewed by the syndicated Extra at a benefit for the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps founded by Paul Newman, Phoenix, who has just completed filming the drama Two Lovers, said, "I want to take this opportunity ... to give you the exclusive ... that this will be my last performance as an actor. ... I'm not doing films anymore." Phoenix said that he intends to focus on building his career as a singer. "I'm done" with making movies, he said, "I've been through that." Although he was also nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor for Gladiator, Phoenix has experienced an up-and-down career as an actor. His last film, Focus Features' Reservation Road, received mostly negative reviews and earned a scant $121,994 during a three-week release on 14 screens. (Walk the Line, by contrast, earned an imposing $119 million.)
ACTOR/NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER WATSON DEAD AT 82
Delmar Watson, one of eight siblings who appeared in more than 1,000 films as children in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, died Sunday of prostate cancer at age 82. He often was cast in films with one or more of his brothers. Delmar appeared with his brother Billy, for example, in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939. Like all five of his brothers, Watson became a news photographer after his career as a child actor ended, working first for newspapers, then as a newsreel and TV news cameraman.