CHAPPELLE'S SHOW HITS THE ROAD
Comedian Dave Chappelle, who left his hit Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show earlier this year while in the midst of production of its third season, has told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he did so because he had become unhappy with its direction. He appeared reluctant to discuss specific reasons for his decision to turn his back on his $50-million deal with the cable network. "A lot of people didn't understand when I did it, but sometimes in your life it just doesn't matter. And as far as I'm concerned, it just doesn't matter. It was about taking myself out of a situation I wasn't cool with," he said. Chappelle is once again appearing in small comedy clubs and insisting that he feels more comfortable in such surroundings than he does in front of a TV camera. "People don't know what it's like standing up there on stage, when you have a wall of people smiling at you," he told the Enquirer. "Most people don't know what it's like to stand up there and speak their mind. I have a venue to do that. I get paid to do that. It's not like I'm doing heavy lifting up there. It's not like I'm solving the world's problems. It's like I'm hanging out with a bunch of people and it's cool."
CNN PRODUCER ASK REPORTER TO "ACT ANGRY"?
CBS's recently launched Public Eye blog, saying it wasn't "looking to beat up on a competitor" so early in its life, has identified Los Angeles Times editorial writer Jon Healey as the person who was asked to "get angry" by a CNN producer when he appeared on Paula Zahn Now on Sept. 2. The incident had initially been described by the Times's editorial and opinion editor Michael Kinsley, who wrote: "The TV news networks, which only a few months ago were piously suppressing emotional fireworks by their pundits, are now piously encouraging their news anchors to break out of the emotional straitjackets and express outrage. A Los Angeles Times colleague of mine, appearing on CNN last week to talk about Katrina, was told by a producer to 'get angry.'" Interviewed by Public Eye, Healey said that he received a phone call from the producer of Paula Zahn Now an hour before his appearance, telling him, "I know this is going to sound tacky, but when you're on the show, could you be angry?" Healey told the CBS blog, "I'm a news guy ... I'm not an actor. If they ask me a question, I'll answer it." CNN later denied that anyone asked Healey to get angry.
CNN'S BROWN STAYS COOL WHILE COOPER HEATS UP
CNN anchor Aaron Brown has indicated that he is determined to heed the advice that the late Peter Jennings once gave him in dealing with controversial news stories. "Stay measured, stay calm, But balance that with being urgent." Interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brown was asked about the emotional, sometimes angry reports that his colleague, Anderson Cooper, has been filing from the scene of the Katrina catastrophe. "Viewers don't need to be spared that anger or frustration if it's a genuine reaction to an exceptional situation ... If it becomes theater, then it's a terrible thing. There are people who do it. I won't mention names." In reporting on the conflicting styles of the two CNN anchors, the Inquirer observed that "CNN boss Jonathan Klein is big on connecting emotionally with viewers."
"THE COLLECTED CORRECTIONS OF ALESSANDRA STANLEY"
Although the New York Times has refused to publish a correction concerning the claim by its TV writer Alessandra Stanley that Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera "nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety" (a tape of the incident shows no such thing), it has published corrections about 11 percent of her columns since 2001 and 14 percent during the past year, according to John Cook, a former TV writer for the Chicago Tribune and currently a writer for Radar magazine. On his blog, Cook wrote, "My God, the woman is clocking corrections at more than a monthly rate. And they are stupid, stupid errors." He then listed (in small type) "The Collected Corrections of Alessandra Stanley."
KAPLAN LIKELY TO EXIT MSNBC, SAYS NEW YORK POST
MSNBC President Rick Kaplan is likely to leave the cable news channel by the end of the year, the New York Post reported today (Tuesday), citing unnamed sources. The Post said that Kaplan was angered when he was not named to replace Neal Shapiro as NBC News chief last week. Kaplan has also been criticized for failing to boost ratings of the channel despite numerous programming changes. Earlier this month he clashed with MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann and, as producer of an NBC benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims, set off a storm of criticism for censoring remarks by rap star Kanye West critical of President Bush. A spokeswoman for NBC News told the Post that "there is absolutely no truth" to rumors of Kaplan's impending departure.
LOUISIANA TRIES TO RESCUE FILM BIZ
Members of the Louisiana film industry appeared in Toronto Monday -- a city with which they compete for Hollywood's business -- to make their case that Hurricane Katrina did not wipe them out and that they need their continued support. Their appeal fell on receptive ears. Producer Michel Shane (Catch Me If You Can, I, Robot) announce that he would shoot his next film, Paranoia, in Louisiana and not in Brazil as previously planned. "We want to show the film community down there that we're here to support them," he told the Associated Press. Separately, Shane told the New York Times: "We sat down and decided it would be great empowerment for Louisiana to go there, take displaced people, and put them back to work." However, two Disney films, Deja Vu and The Last Time, which were shooting in New Orleans before the hurricane hit, are among the evacuees from the state. Film production in Louisiana has soared since the state began offering liberal tax incentives in 2002.
L.A. BLACKOUT HAS LITTLE EFFECT ON STUDIOS
Giving the impression that Hollywood may have learned some crucial lessons from its own disaster movies, Monday's Los Angeles blackout, which shut down most businesses in many parts of the city, appeared to have little effect on movie and television studios. Today's (Tuesday) Daily Variety reported that only Disney and ABC, based in Burbank, the center of the outage, shut down. But at nearby Warner Bros. work continued virtually without interruption, presumably because on site generators were fired up. Other film and TV studios similarly reported merely brief power interruptions. In the words of Broadcasting and Cable magazine, the blackout amounted to "little more than a headache."
HORROR FLICK GIVES ANALYSTS A SCARE
For the second weekend in a row, moviegoers once again gave box-office analysts a devilish fright by defying their predictions and showing up at the box office in near record levels. The horror flick The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which most analysts had predicted would take in between $10 million and $15 million, earned $30 million instead. On the other hand, The Man, which was supposed to rake in between $5 million and $8 million, actually earned only $4 million. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, Screen Gems, $30,054,300, (New); 2. The 40 Year Old Virgin, Universal, $7,717,530, 2 Wks. ($82,126,560); 3. The Transporter 2, 20th Century Fox, $7,389,470, 2 Wks. ($30,321,471); 4. The Constant Gardener, Focus Features, $4,726,644, 2 Wks. ($19,017,317); 5. Red Eye, DreamWorks, $4,470,741, 4 Wks. ($51,174,155); 6. The Man, New Line, $4,065,014, (New); 7. The Brothers Grimm, Miramax, $3,343,644, 3 Wks. ($33,295,113); 8. Wedding Crashers, New Line, $3,252,154, 9 Wks. ($200,021,913); 9. Four Brothers, Paramount, $2,946,003, 5 Wks. ($68,271,343); 10. March of the Penguins, Warner Bros., $2,639,936, 8 Wks. ($66,979,768).
TWO STUDIOS CLAIM RIGHTS TO INDIE FILM
Paramount Classics claims that it made a "handshake deal" with producer David Sacks to distribute Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday, hours before Sacks announced that he had signed a deal with Fox Searchlight. "We bought the movie; we own it," Ruth Vitale, co-president of Paramount Classics, told today's (Tuesday) New York Times. However, today's Toronto Star, citing an unnamed insider, said that when Paramount left the negotiations on Saturday, there were still a number of unresolved points, allowing Fox Searchlight to make a new offer that trumped Paramount's. Commented the Star: "One thing seems certain: This will change the way business is conducted in Hollywood and Toronto. After this fiasco, a handshake deal is never going to seem reliable."
ICAHN STEPS UP PRESSURE ON TIME WARNER
Corporate raider Carl Icahn has stepped up his efforts to force Time Warner to spin off its cable TV business and buy back $20 billion worth of its stock. In an SEC filing on Monday, Icahn, who owns a 2.6-percent stake in the company, said that he would seek at least one seat on its board of directors at its annual meeting next year. Today's (Tuesday) New York Times described the filing as amounting "to a marketing brochure for [Icahn's] planned putsch against the company." In a statement, Time Warner said that it is "carefully reviewing a range of options to increase the value of our company, including those proposed by Mr. Icahn and his group. Investors should rest assured that this evaluation is being done in a prudent and deliberate manner, with an eye toward creating sustainable value for all of our shareholders."
SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK TO BE HONORED BY SAG
Seventy-six-year-old Shirley Temple Black has been selected to receive the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award at its SAG Awards ceremonies on Jan. 29. Contacted by Daily Variety's Army Archerd (who wrote his last column for the trade publication last month), Black said that she intended to attend the televised awards show, even though "I am not quite myself yet" following the death of her husband, Charles Black, on Aug. 4. Archerd observed that Black made her film debut at the age of three and two years later starred in ten pictures. At age 6, she received an Oscar, the youngest person ever to receive the award.