News

Berman in line after Lantos' death

WASHINGTON -- The death of Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., likely will trigger a congressional reshuffling that will have implications for the entertainment industry.

Lantos' death Monday from esophageal cancer at age 80 leaves an opening at the top of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The next in line to chair the prestigious panel is Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's copyright subcommittee.

Berman's passion for foreign affairs and the chance to become a full committee chairman are likely to overwhelm his desire to remain chairman of the copyright subcommittee, where he has been a steward of the entertainment industry. Under Democratic rules, one lawmaker cannot chair a committee and another committee's subcommittee.

Succession is less clear at the copyright subcommittee as the next in line there is Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va. Boucher is a long-term advocate of expanding the ability of people to use copyrighted material for free. Although Boucher is an industry opponent, he also chairs the House Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee -- an important panel in his coal-rich district.

Berman to exit copyright role

WASHINGTON -- A change in the California delegation will have an impact on the copyright industry's agenda on Capitol Hill as Rep. Howard Berman will likely relinquish his role as head of the House copyright subcommittee.

The decision of Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., to retire opens up the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to Berman, but moving will mean that he has to give up the House Judiciary Committee's intellectual property subcommittee. Lantos retired after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Aides to Berman said they wanted to avoid hurting Lantos' feelings, but admitted that Berman would like the job.

"Upon Mr. Lantos' departure from Congress, Howard plans to assume the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of the committee and other members of Congress," a senior Democratic aide said.

The subcommittee is the gateway for copyright law changes and Berman has been sympathetic to the copyright industry's plight, whether it's illegal downloading or the push to win a performance royalty for radio.

Digest: Carmike's Q3 up; Yahoo slides

Carmike's Q3 up

Carmike Cinemas on Tuesday reported third-quarter net income of $2 million compared with a net loss of $1 million a year ago. Revenue was $135.3 million, up from $130.3 million a year ago. Shares of Carmike, which has an interest in 2,369 screens in 37 states, slipped fractionally during regular trading to $15.34 and kept sliding after hours.

Yahoo shares slide

Yahoo shares fell 4.6% on Tuesday to $29.93 as two top executives defended the company's role in the jailing of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who was sent to jail for 10 years for engaging in prodemocracy efforts after Yahoo turned over information about his online activities requested by the communist government. "This was inexcusably negligent behavior at best, and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., told Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and general counsel Michael Callahan.

Imax loses in restatements

Imax filed restated financial results for 2006 and the first and second quarters of this year to correct accounting errors, the giant screen operator said Tuesday.

Film review: 'Last Days'

Five Hungarian Holocaust survivors, living in America, remember the awful events of their deportation, imprisonment and the difficult aftermath in deeply moving and disturbing documentary "The Last Days" -- the premiere feature documentary from the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.

The October Films release, executive produced by Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg, arrives in theaters just in time to benefit from a possible Oscar nomination. But, like massive project to record the testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors, it will be available to present and future generations as an almost unbearably sobering remembrance of this dark chapter in human history.

Directed and edited by James Moll, "The Last Days" focuses on Hungary because it was the last country invaded by Germany and its Jewish population was hurriedly moved to concentration camps in Poland. With the Allies clearly winning the war, the effort to exterminate the Jews was increased. As one participant says, Hitler was determined to not lose the war against the Jews.

We are introduced to five men and women -- U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., artist Alice Lok Cahana, teacher Renee Firestone, businessman Bill Basch and grandmother Irene Zisblatt -- as they recall their country and lives before the war. Although much of Europe was in flames and death camps were already in operation, the suppression of Jews in Hungary came about slowly -- until Germany invaded.

Moll conducts straightforward interviews, utilizes brutally graphic archival footage and shows the five on their painful return visits to hometowns and the camps. Each one of these remarkable individuals has memories that searingly get under one's skin, even after the numerous outstanding works on the subject.

Take, for example, Zisblatt who was born in Poleno, Czechoslovakia (which was annexed to Hungary in the late 1930s and now is part of Ukraine). Initially relocated to the Munkacs Ghetto -- after a terrifying two weeks hiding in their sealed home -- she and her family were herded into cattle cars and told the train would take them to a rural region to make wine.

Sensing that they were headed toward something far worse than forced labor, Zisblatt's mother gave her a few diamonds to use for food should they be separated. Upon their arrival in Auschwitz their worst nightmares were realized. In an initial strip search, she swallowed the diamonds -- and kept on swallowing and recovering them during her long ordeal. Today, they are a family icon to be passed on to the first daughters of future generations.

Zisblatt in the grips of the horror realized "they" wanted something from her. But she vowed they would never have her soul after taking everything else.

THE LAST DAYS

October Films

Steven Spielberg and Survivors of the Shoah

Visual History Foundation present

A Ken Lipper/June Beallor production

Director-editor: James Moll

Producers: June Beallor, Ken Lipper

Executive producer"Steven Spielberg

Director of photography: Harris Done

Music: Hans Zimmer

Color, black and white/stereo

With: Congressman Tom Lantos, Alice Lok Cahana, Renee Firestone, Bill Basch, Irene Zisblatt

Running time -- 87 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

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