SAG TO GET "LAST, BEST, AND FINAL OFFER"

The major film studios and TV networks are planning to make the Screen Actors Guild "a last, best and final offer" as early as next week, Daily Variety reported today (Friday), citing no sources. If the guild refuses to accept it or does not back off from demands for higher DVD and Internet residuals than those agreed to by the DGA, WGA and AFTRA, production will halt at the end of June, the expiration of the current agreement, the trade publication said. Such a situation would inevitably result in delaying the start of the fall TV season, industry observers noted, a situation that has not occurred since the writers' strike of 1988.

WHY DID UNIVERSAL'S FILM VAULT BURN DOWN?

Universal Studios Chairman Ron Meyer has taken issue with news reports claiming that the studio's water system was inadequate to battle the fire that, among other things, destroyed a vault containing tapes of thousands of the company's television shows and hundreds of classic film prints. In a message to company employees that Nikki Finke posted on her Dateline Hollywood Today website, Meyer said that it was "not the case" that the water system was inadequate. "In fact, at a recent press conference organized by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Chief Michael Freeman stated unequivocally that Universal had sufficient water capacity to handle the fire." However, news reports of Freeman's assessment noted that the fire chief had added that despite the sufficient water capacity, the studio's own system of water lines running through the movie-set rafters decreased water pressure and resulted in additional water loss when some of the lines snapped when the rafters collapsed during the fire.

SONY TO FOCUS ON REBUILDING TV, GAME UNITS

Sony's top priority in the coming year is "to restore profitability in our television and game businesses," the company's chairman, Howard Stringer, said today (Friday). Sony reported a $678-million loss in its TV business last year and a $3.4-billion loss in its game division. Speaking at a shareholders' meeting in Tokyo, Stringer appeared to take note of the fact that Sony's PlayStation game systems are selling well below those of rival Nintendo's Wii, when he said, according to a Bloomberg News report, "Three years ago, we were criticized for the lack of innovation. Three days ago, in a U.K. brand poll, Sony was ranked No. 1 this year. ... But, we are not No. 1 in my mind yet."

STANDARD FOR WIRELESS TV SETS HUNG UP

The biggest drawbacks of those hang-on-the-wall big-screen TV sets may be the unsightly cords hanging down from them leading to cable and settop boxes and electrical outlets. Those dangling wires have generated so many complaints that a new study indicates that sales of wireless TVs will rise from fewer than 100,000 this year to about 1 million four years from now. The report by ABI Research observed that wireless TV sales are currently stalled by incompatible technologies. However, an industry standard is expected to emerge during the next two to three years, ABI analyst Steve Wilson said in the report.

DID TV GO OVERBOARD ON RUSSERT DEATH COVERAGE?

A study by the MediaCrit.com blog examining criticism that the TV news media's coverage of the death of Meet the Press host Tim Russert was overblown, noted that the three major networks and CNN devoted a total of 1 hour an 17 minutes to his death on the first day of news coverage on June 13 while the same outlets devoted 1 hour and 1 minute to the death of ABC's Peter Jennings in August 2005. The study pointed out that NBC used the entire 28 and a half minutes of NBC Nightly News to report the Russert story while in 2005 ABC World News Tonight saved five minutes for other stories. The report observed: "The results are interesting, given that Jennings had a much longer on-air career, and that he anchored five days a week, compared to Russert's much smaller audiences for a niche Sunday morning program."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.