WARNER BROS. ONLINE TO SHUT DOWN

Warner Bros. Online, one of the first studio sites to produce original entertainment on the Internet, is being shut down, the studio confirmed Wednesday. Today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times indicated that the unit had become a shadow of its former self, when, in the late 1990s, it created the Entertaindom site, which offered original short-form entertainment that featured some top-name stars, a celebrity talk show called God and the Devil Show, and cartoons featuring the Looney Tunes characters. The operation, however, gradually wound down after AOL acquired Time Warner in 2001, cutting Entertaindom's budget and prompting the departure of key executives Jeff Weiner and Jim Moloshok, who wound up at Yahoo! The unit subsequently became a promotional unit for Warner Bros. movies.

JEWS CONTINUE TO HEAP CRITICISM ON MEL

Mel Gibson's appearance in Oklahoma Monday to attend a sneak screening of his movie Apocalypto has prompted new questions about the sincerity of his promise to mend fences with the Jewish community, ABC News reported Wednesday. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles told ABC News entertainment producer Buck Wolf, "He said he'd reach out to the Jewish community, and he simply hasn't done that yet." Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, added: "It's amazing that he waited for weeks after that incident to make a public appearance, and when he did, it wasn't to make good on his apology, but rather to sell his film." Foxmantook note of Gibson's remarks Monday condemning the war in Iraq, comparing them with his drunken comments when he was arrested that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Said Foxman: "If Jews are responsible for all the world's wars, then by that logic, they are responsible for the war in Iraq. ... Gibson has to put matters like that to rest. Until he does, it just hangs over him."

PARLEZ-VOUS KLINGON?

The producer of a film about Star Trek fans who have learned to speak Klingon and who come together in annual conventions to converse in their second language has come to their defense. In an interview with the sci-fi publication Fortean Times, Alexandre Phillipe, who shot his film Earthlings: Ugly Bags of Mostly Water at a 2003 qep'a' (conference), rebutted those who accuse the Klingon speakers of wasting their time. "Are sports fans wasting their talents watching football on TV? I don't think so," he said. "If it's meaningful to them to learn Klingon -- because they have a good time, because it's a great intellectual exercise, or because that's how they want to make friends -- who are we to say they're wasting their time?" Besides, Phillipe observed, "The Klingon language is indeed a fascinating cultural and linguistic phenomenon. It's the first constructed language based on popular culture that has thrived to the point of being spoken in 55 countries around the world. So to me the question isn't: 'why spend any time learning Klingon when there are so many other languages around?' but 'why not learn Klingon?'"

DREAMWORKS PARTNER GEFFEN'S DREAM: OWNING L.A. TIMES

When DreamWorks cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg informed Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet that his partner David Geffen wanted to buy the newspaper, Baquet reportedly responded, "How's he going to feel the first time we review a movie or music produced by a friend of his?" The conversation is reported in the current edition of L.A. Weekly by columnist Nikki Finke, who cited an unnamed insider, who also told her that Geffen is "very serious" and "pretty confident" about purchasing the newspaper from Tribune Corporation.

PETER JACKSON TO PRODUCE, DIRECT "HALO" GAME

Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, King Kong) is teaming up with Microsoft's Bungie Studios to create what is presumed to be the next version of its "Halo" video game. However, details of the project, disclosed at an industry event in Barcelona, were sketchy. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quoted Microsoft exec Jeff Bell as describing the project as "interactive entertainment" and adding, "It is not the movie. It is not [the video game] 'Halo 3.' ... It is all new content that is going to be developed by Peter Jackson as co-writer, co-producer, along with the team at Bungie, to continue to expand upon the 'Halo' franchise and intellectual property."

EDWARD ALBERT DEAD AT 55

Edward Albert, who had a meteoric career as a film star in the 1970s after he starred with Goldie Hawn in Butterflies Are Free, died Friday of lung cancer in Malibu, CA at age 55, it was disclosed Wednesday. He also starred in 40 Carats, The Ice Runner, and Guarding Tess. His father, Green Acres star Eddie Albert, died last year at age 99.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.