WRITERS, PRODUCERS NEAR STRIKE DEADLINE

As the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers resumed negotiations today (Wednesday), the expiration day of their contract, it was still anyone's guess whether the writers would walk out after midnight tonight or whether they would continue to work while negotiations proceeded. Each side issued statements Tuesday saying that it was preparing a modified proposal. However, the two sides remained far apart, published reports observed. Nevertheless, trade reports suggested that the writers will work for at least a few days without a contract while negotiations continue. "The emerging consensus is that WGA leaders won't start a strike until next week at the earliest," Daily Variety observed today. Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company has become the latest studio to warn writers about the "script validation program," which requires members of the guild to submit copies of their scripts to guild headquarters if a strike occurs. "This written material, in any and all of its forms," the studio said "is the sole property of the Company, who owns all such material in its entirety. As such, writers are prohibited from giving, sharing, or otherwise depositing such material with the WGA." The guild characterized Disney's notice as "unlawful and discriminatory." The combative rhetoric over the issue represented yet another reason to suppose that a strike, if not imminent, is almosjt certainly unavoidable.

ANOTHER YOUTUBE PIRACY INCIDENT?

In the latest online copyright brouhaha, the British tech-news website The Inquirer reported Tuesday that YouTube has sent a letter to a woman who posted a 29-second video of her baby in which the child bopped to the music of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." The woman, Stephanie Lenz, said that she was told that Universal Music Publishing Group had demanded the video be removed. "It was Universal Music Publishing group, and I was afraid that they might come after me," she told the Inquirer. She eventually hired an attorney who was able to persuade YouTube to restore the video. But Universal has fired back with legal action of its own.

DREAMWORKS SEEING GREEN OVER SHREK

Shrek proved to be particularly green for DreamWorks Animation whose revenue tripled its its Uthird quarter to $160 million, with about 57 percent of that figure attributed to Shrek the Third. Net income rose to $47 million from $10.5 million during the comparable quarter a year ago. The earnings announcement comes just days prior to the Friday's release in about 3,900 theaters on about 7,000 screens of the Jerry Seinfeld animated feature Bee Movie, which is expected to become the top film of the season. Paramount Home Video is also set to release the DVD version of the film on November 13. The company said that it also plans to release a superhero spoof, Master Mind, produced with Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films, in the fall of 2010.

MOVIE REVIEWS: BEE MOVIE

Early reviews of DreamWorks' Bee Movie are not likely to improve the buzz surrounding it. "Infectiously amusing? More often tha؏n not," writes Jan Stuart in Newsday unenthusiastically, while adding that it "keeps the urbane humor flying after a business-as-usual opening." Kirk Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter sounds even less ardent, writing, "The film labors too hard for its comic moments and never discovers a cartoon logic that will allow bees and humans to interact."

SINGER-ACTOR ROBERT GOULET DEAD AT 73

Robert Goulet, a bona fide Broadway star, who appeared in such productions as Camelot, The Fantasticks, Man of LaMancha, and Dreamgirls, but who generally played a caricature of himself in movies like Beetlejuice, Naked Gun 2 1/2, and Toy Story 2, has died of pulmonary fibrosis at age 73.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.