14 December 2000
How Sting Spun Out Of The Groove
A behind-the-scenes documentary has been set for release next year about the battle between Disney producers and singer-songwriter Sting
over the studio's decision to revamp The Emperor's New Groove
in 1998 and, in the process, cut the six songs he had written for it, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. The film, The Sweatbox, made by Sting
's wife, Trudie Styler
, will include footage of Sting
receiving the phone call informing him that the songs had been cut, the wire service said. "I'm not a particularly easy person to call and say, 'We're not using your songs', '' Sting told the AP. Randy Fullmer
, producer of Groove, explained that Disney execs, including animation chief Thomas Schumacher
, had decided to turn the film into a comedy instead of a musical drama. "At first, I was angry and perturbed. Then I wanted some vengeance, '' Sting said. In the end the Grammy-award-winning performer agreed to write two new songs for the film, one of which he performs during the closing credits. (In a new book, Mouse Under Glass, author Michael Koenig claims that over the years, more than 100 songs have been written for but then cut from Disney animated features.) Disney apparently doesn't plan to interfere with the release of The Sweatbox. Schumacher told the AP that he isn't concerned that it will hurt the studio's image.
Dr. Seuss Finds Popularity In Britain
Although Dr. Seuss
's characters have never become as popular among kids abroad as they are in the U.S., Dr. Seuss
' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
has nabbed the top spot at the British box office for the second week in a row, earning about $3 million, according to Screen Daily. The U.K. trade paper noted that the film faces stiff competition next weekend from the debuting Robert De Niro-Ben Stiller comedy Meet the Parents
Traffic Wins New York Film Critics Circle Award
is headed for three top awards -- Best Film, Best Director (Soderbergh) and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio del Toro) -- to be presented by the New York Film Critics Circle on Jan. 14. The 35 New York movie critics who make up the panel are also due to recognize Soderbergh for his work on Erin Brockovich
, released earlier this year. Tom Hanks
is set to receive the Best Actor award for Cast Away
, and Laura Linney
, the Best Actress award for You Can Count on Me
(which also has won the screenplay award for Kenneth Lonergan, who directed the movie as well). Marcia Gay Harden
was chosen Best Supporting Actress for Pollock
FTC Expected To OK AOL-Time Warner Merger Today
The Federal Trade Commission is expected to approve the America Online-Time Warner merger today (Thursday), following the two companies' agreement Wednesday night promising to allow open access to Time Warner cable systems by rival Internet service providers. Today's (Thursday) Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the deliberations, reported that the companies' latest concessions appear to make the FTC's approval likely.
Should White Actors Be Allowed To Play Characters Of Other Races?
Mounting local ordinances in Britain barring white actors from wearing dark makeup in order to portray characters from other ethnic groups have resulted in the cancellation of the musical South Pacific
in Rotherham, touching off an angry debate over such bans, the British Guardian newspaper reports. The ban applies to performances in all public buildings, including schools. A similar ordinance in another city prevented actors playing slaves in Showboat from wearing dark makeup last August. Mark Pemberton, chief executive of the National Operatic and Dramatics Association (NODA), told the newspaper that such regulations were an over-the-top reaction and that in many areas non-white actors to portray such roles simply are unavailable. He warned that the result is that such classics as West Side Story
will simply not be produced any longer. However Topher Campbell, of London's Talawa black theater group commented, "It is fundamentally racist to have white actors 'blacking up' for black parts. That belongs to the 19th century."
Bombay Producer Arrested For Alleged Mob Connections
Police in Bombay, India have arrested a film producer on charges that he had laundered underworld money to finance his new film and that he had used his connection with gangsters to bully top actors to appear in it, the BBC reported Wednesday. Police said that the producer, Nazim Rizvi, had also plotted to kill some prominent film personalities. "The whole industry is in a state of shock, " Taran Adarsh, editor of Trade Guide, a leading Bollywood trade magazine, told the BBC.
Dicaprio, Maguire 1994 "Exercise" To Screen At Berlin Fest
To the dismay of actors Leonardo DiCaprio
and Tobey Maguire
, the 1994 indie Don's Plum
, in which they star, from directors RD Robb and John Schindler
has been chosen to be screened at next year's Berlin Film Festival, the BBC reported today (Thursday). Last year the two actors filed a $10-million suit against the producers of the film, claiming that they had agreed to appear in it as an acting exercise and had received an agreement that it would never be released as a feature. Under a settlement reached in Sept. 1999, the filmmakers agreed not to show the film commercially in the U.S. and Canada but received permission to show it abroad. The film has been scheduled to be screened in the Panorama section of the Berlin festival, which runs from Feb. 7-18, 2001.
Major French Studio Mergers In The Works
French film-studio giants Gaumont and Pathé were scheduled to hold a news conference in Paris this afternoon (Thursday) amid speculation that they plan to announce a merger of some or all of their operations. Meanwhile, Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Marie Messier has indicated in a TV interview in Paris that he is considering merging Le Studio Canal Plus, the film production unit of the pay-TV satellite broadcaster Canal Plus, with Universal Studios. "In the middle or long term, I think it will have to happen, " Messier said. Canal Plus has co-produced or bought films by a number of independent directors, including Kathryn Bigelow
, John Romero
, and Abel Ferrara
The Odder Couple
The Big 3 television networks preempted their regular programming Wednesday night for Al Gore
's concession speech followed by George W. Bush
's victory address. The coverage bumped NBC's Christmas episode of The West Wing
, featuring a fictional president, to next week. More ironically, on CBS the two speeches preempted a screening of the movie, The Odd Couple II
. Finally, as Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes noted, "ABC followed Gore with Drew Carey
, followed by Bush, followed by Spin City
, which makes for lousy TV but a good headline: "Gore Drew Bush Spin."
Black To Normal
Fox has decided not to order any additional episodes of its massively promoted Normal, Ohio
, featuring John Goodman
as a gay father, and will replace it in January with Grounded for Life
as part of a Wednesday-night revamp. Fox said that it placed Normal on hiatus and indicated that the show will be revived at a later date. Both Normal and Grounded are produced by Carsey-Werner, which will also see another of its productions, That '70s Show
. do double duty on the Fox schedule with original episodes airing on Tuesdays and repeats on Wednesdays. In addition, Fox said that it will launch the reality show Temptation Island for a five-episode run on Wednesdays beginning Jan. 10. The show, which seems to be inviting moral controversy, places several couples contemplating marriage on a tropical island where they live a life of luxury and are tempted to cheat on one another with single models.
ABC Dashes Dot Comedy
Somewhat reflecting the muddle of the real-life dot-com business, ABC's Dot Comedy, a show that surfed the Internet looking for funny material, has been axed after one episode. According to Nielsen Research, last Friday's show drew the worst ratings in history for a regularly scheduled ABC program, winding up in 87th place. The show will be replaced with back-to-back repeats of Two Guys and a Girl
until next month, when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
will be shifted into the spot.
At&T To Unload Its Stake In Time Warner Entertainment
AT&T is expected to announce on Friday that it will sell its 25-percent stake in Time Warner Entertainment to 75-percent owner Time Warner for about $10 billion, the online edition of the London Financial Times reported Wednesday. The FT indicated that negotiations between the two sides have sometimes become stymied over price, since AT&T is under pressure to sell its stake in order to satisfy conditions set by the FCC for its purchase of MediaOne Group, which previously owned the TWE stake.
Rosie To Wear Another Hat
Rosie O'Donnell said during her TV talk show Wednesday that she has agreed to play The Cat in the Hat in the hit Broadway show Seussical for four weeks beginning Jan. 16. The announcement came as she was about to interview Kevin Chamberlin
, who plays Horton, the Elephant in the musical. A spokeswoman for the show said that O'Donnell will appear in the evening performances, substituting for David Shiner
who will be on vacation. Shiner's understudy will fill in for him during weekend matinees.
Actors Federation Demands International Protection
The International Federation of Actors predicted on Tuesday that the United Nation's World Intellectual Property Organization will reach an agreement this month in Geneva to protect the rights of actors internationally. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the group, meeting in Toronto, said that it wants to ensure that an actor's image is protected from unauthorized use, and that actors receive residual payments when their work is broadcast outside their home country.
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