Here is the news: 14/11/08

•14 October, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Biting the hand that once fed me.

Biting the hand that once fed me.

More news-junkie-action from the uber-news-junkie.  I can’t really foist my peculiar brand of ranty opinionated-ness on the unsuspecting readers at NowPublic, so you’re getting both-barrels.

A quick round-up and of today’s media news, bitch-slapped into one handy package.  Sharpen your knives, and we’ll begin…

Simon Cowell sits on three cushions to look big

Vertically-challenged music mogul Simon Cowell has a telly secret – he sit’s on not one but three cushions to boost his on-screen height, a somewhat bitchy Piers Morgan claimed last night.

Morgan, who sits alongside the Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent, said:  “ If you look carefully, Simon grows between shows. When we’re on Britain’s Got Talent he’s smaller then me, then suddenly his three pillows arrive and he’s taller than me!”

Cowell wears strange trousers and is a bajillionaire.  He can buy Piers Morgan ten-times-over.  He can sit on as many cushions as he likes.  He can hollow-out Sharon Osbourne and use her as a hammock for all anyone cares.

Sugababes on hold for university

Sugababes plan to put their thriving music careers on hold to allow founding member Keisha Buchanan to pursue her dream of going to university.

…Keisha said: “It’s my dream to study at university – I’ve been in Sugababes since I was 12 so I would love the opportunity. We would do our individual projects and come back together stronger than before.”

“We love working and ­writing together so we would come back, even if it was to write for other people.”

Fellow Sugababe Amelle Berrabah gushed: “I’d love to do acting – comedy acting, as people think I’m a bit of a n­utcase anyway!”

But the band’s fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as their break won’t happen for at least another two years…

As it’ll take her that long to re-sit her A-Levels again… and again… and… yeah.  If she left full-time education when she was 12. it’ll take her all her time to graduate school, let along get to Uni.

On-set gossip time: I once filmed these girls and it amazed me how they learned the harmonies to their songs on the day of the gig.  Surely you’d have to learn them to sing on the album?  Unless… wait… is that not them on the album?  Well, that would explain why their in-tune on the album and not on stage (one’s a little sharp, another’s a little flat, the other is more or less on-pitch… more or less).  Their sound engineers had their teeth gritted throught the entire gig.

I’m not even going to speculate on what degree she’ll be doing.  That’s just too easy a target, even for me.

Lethal Weapon 5′ is ‘dead in the water’

Director Richard Donner has claimed that a fifth Lethal Weapon is “dead in the water” after Mel Gibson rejected an offer to return to the franchise.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Donner, who helmed all four Lethal Weapon films, claimed that Gibson had snubbed the proposed fifth movie.

He said: “Mel turned it down. I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn’t involved. Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be.”

Donner also blasted producer Joel Silver for not asking him to return as director, saying: “Joel Silver tried to ace me out of it. He tried to put it together but made sure he didn’t do it until my contract was up. You know, it’s typical of the man. A guy who wasn’t even around at the beginning when we started on the first one. He came in late.”

He added: “The project is pretty much dead in the water unless someone had the sense to come to me.”

Firstly:  thank Jesus, thanks Buddha, thank Allah, thank Krishna, thank… thank every frikkin god in the damn phonebook.  Stop making franchise-killing sequels, you retards!

Secondly: Donner = colossal… egotistical… douchebag.  Can we recind his DGA licence?

Roseanne Barr: ‘A nation run by old men on Viagra’

Comedian Roseanne Barr gets on the Guardian bus and lets rip her views on John McCain and the state of US politics

What?  Barr hasn’t been on telly for 20 years.  There’s a whole generation of people born after her show got axed who are now old enough to vote.  Her opinions mean nothing to them, because they haven’t even heard of her.

Has the world of 24-hour News really burned-through all the other political pundits that they’ve got this far down the list?  Wow.

Coldplay nominated for US awards

Coldplay have been shortlisted in four categories at this year’s American Music Awards (AMA), including artist of the year and best album.

The awards, which are determined by a public vote, will be handed out in Los Angeles on 23 November.

Why?  Why?  Why, god?  Why?  Really.

Do you know anyone who actually buys this shit?  Me neither.

US star Cyrus writes memoir at 15

US pop sensation Miley Cyrus has finished writing a book of her life at the age of 15.

The star of hit TV show Hannah Montana was reportedly paid a seven-figure sum to tell her “inspiring story”.

The daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus has also said she wants to return to the show for a fourth series.

You – get the truck.  You – get the guns.

If only Bill Hicks had lived long enough to get his “Let’s hunt and kill Billy Ray Cyrus” show on TV, this waste of paper would never have happened and the universe would be a happy place, full of pretty flowers, unicorns and rainbows.

Ringo ‘too busy’ for autographs

Former Beatle Ringo Starr will no longer sign memorabilia for fans and will throw away all fan mail he receives in the future, he has said.

Miserable old shit.  I just had to get that off my chest.

And there’s your lot for the day.  I’m off to bed, to cry myself to sleep at the train-crash that is The Meedja.

Was is that bad when I was working in Telly?  Perhaps it was and I was too busy swinging camera-cranes to notice.  Perhaps I worked on some of this shit and was too busy bitching about the catering to realise.

Oh my…

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Aged BBC Correspondant fears change, bites hand that feeds him

•14 October, 2008 • 2 Comments

You’ve got to love The Independant.

Grumpy-face.  Sour-puss.

Grumpy-face. Sour-puss.

Any other newspaper would have reported this in an hysterical, “end of the world” stylee.  The Guardian would have gloated, used zeitgeisty buzzwords and talked a lot about “new media” and “empowerment.”  The Times would have actually said “zeitgeist” and possibly “apropos”, but inappropriately so as to leave you feeling slightly confused and uneducated.  The Telegraph would have banged-on about how it wasn’t like this in their day, how we should respect “elder statesmen” this and “end of an era” that, blamed it on immigration and then launched into a stream of monosyllabic adjectival hyperbole that leaves you wondering which idiot would give a monkey a Thesaurus for Xmas.

But not the Indi.

They take a story that’s begging for The Daily Mash to jump up and down on it and they give you “just the facts, ma’am.”  You don’t really get much of “we’ll let you make your own minds up” journalism these days.  It’s quite refreshing.  They just let the subjects hang themselves out to dry – and this one’s an easy hit: Grand Old Man of BBC News loses the plot and thinks he’s on an episode of “Grumpy Old Men.”

As for me:  I’ve got a bellyfull of “Grr!” and a two-by-four wrapped in “Meh!” with which I shall now proceed to beat the news to the ground, then kick it while it’s down.

From today’s Independent online.

BBC’s future bleak, says John Simpson

The BBC “is in its last stages”, says veteran broadcaster John Simpson – and now he expects the sack soon “in horrible circumstances”.

Or, as they used to call it: he’ll retire on full final-salary pension, drop some acid (judging by his Wikipedia entry) then make a mint writing endless memoirs.  Yeah – that sounds truly horrible.

The corporation’s World Affairs Editor told an audience at Cheltenham Literature Festival the future was bleak for the BBC because the licence fee was being “chopped away”.

Mostly chopped away by the tens of thousands of your British pounds that the Beeb wastes on parties every year, by the military-grade interweb they have below TVC (which, in case you missed it, is getting knocked down in a few years – talk about future-proofing) and by continuing to fight a ratings war that they should have no part of and will never win.  Oh yes – and Radio 4 is utterly pointless.

Fearless for his own career, the 64-year-old predicted he would eventually be fired by the “so and so’s” at the top revealing: “I hate them pretty much anyway.”

My – how very fearless!  Marvel at the bravery of the Mr. Grumpy.  He’s just pissed that Brian Hanrahan got the Falklands gig.

The foreign correspondent who has visited 120 countries later softened and admitted he was “sort of” fond of the ‘magnificent outfit’.

Toady and hypocrite.  Either stand up and be counted or lie down and take your beating, Simpson.

“The future? Well, I don’t think that it’s going to look very good for the BBC.

“I think the BBC we have known, for good or worse, is now in its last stages. It pains me after 42 years of working for it to think that, but I alas do.

“I think the standards will be there, just as they are with other organisations which have been built on the BBC model, but it takes money.

It takes money gifted to them by government and taxes which is what the Licence Fee is a stealthy form of, BTW.  I point these things out by way of a public service, you know.

“Now that the commercial principle is failing the broadcasters, it means the way in which our entire broadcasting system has functioned for decades since 1955 is now under very serious threat. It will be very different indeed. It may be better but I somehow doubt it.”

Commercial principle?  What commercial principle?  They’re government sponsored. They wouldn’t know a commercial if it shouted at them in it’s loudest “THIS IS CILLIT BANG” voice.

“What the hell do I care? I’ll be 75 or something like that. I’ll be just that age when people start turning round and saying nasty things about the BBC.”

So not 65, as you are right now, when you’re saying nasty things about the BBC?  Hypocrite and, quite possibly, suffering from Old-Timers – have you forgotten the mean things you’ve just said about dear old Aunty Beeb?  Do you want me to read it back to you, John?  Can I get you another blanket, dearie?

Simpson then turned on Terry Wogan…

SMACKDOWN – live on Sky

…calling his recent criticism of the BBC “strange”.

Urgh – that’s a let-down.   I was hoping for at least a People’s Elbow.

He joked: “He said something particularly savage. I can’t remember what it was. I thought somebody surely should have a word with him about that.”

Another bout of Old-Timers.  Is it past your bedtime?

“That’s what you do. You wait until you’ve finished and then say something nasty about it.

Like what you just done?

“I just hope – and I hope you’ll keep me to it – if I were to get the boot from the BBC, perhaps after what I’ve said this evening, and I pop up and start denigrating it, I do hope you’ll remind me how I despise that tendency among people.”

Hello Pot – Kettle calling.

Simpson had only agreed to speak at the event in Gloucestershire as a last-minute substitute for former hostage Terry Waite.

Leaving the audience wishing they’d been handcuffed to a radiator in the Middle East, rather than sit and watch a once great reporter self-destruct as he descends into absent-minded ranting against the company that has paid his mortgage for the last 40 years.

This really is the end of an era for the BBC – I’ll give him that.  The last dinosaurs are being shuffled out the door.  The Beeb will certainly lose a great deal of experience, knowledge and wisdom as these esteemed media relics get pensioned-off, one by one.  They’ll also lose the “it wasn’t like this in my day” crowd, the “we do it this way for a reason” pedants and the “don’t you know who we are?  We’re the BBC*” petty Hitlers who make TVC a bloody awful place to work.

Farewell, you moldy old bastards.  You’ll be missed.  Meybe.

Nah – not really.

( * I swear to you, I’ve heard BBC staff say this to members of the public.  That’s what you’re licence fee is paying for.)

Here is the News

•7 August, 2008 • 1 Comment

I am a news junkie.

Biting the hand that once fed me.

Biting the hand that once fed me.

All day at work, I have a news-ticker distracting me with random titbits of news, beamed directly from the Interweb into my tiny monkey brain. I have a Protopage that’s devoted to RSS feeds. I mainline feeds from the Washington Post to Slashdot, via Daily Variety.

Some days it’s same-old-same-old. Nothing going on. Today, I’ve been inundated with all manner of meedja headlines. From Sunset and Vine to Wood Lane, it’s newsflash-a-go-go.

So I thought I’d present my pick of these headlines, complete with some snarling commentary.

Saucer of milk to table three… and we’re off!

Not to be outdone by ITV’s announcement that they’re revamping Blind Date, Cilla Black is back!

Cilla Black returns for dating show

Cilla Black will return to TV screens to front Sky One’s dating show Loveland.

(Well she’s got to pay for her winter heating bills somehow, poor love)

The 65-year-old famously hosted the ITV dating show Blind Date for 18 years. At the peak of its popularity, the programme pulled in viewing figures of 17 million.

Loveland, pitched as a dating show with a 21st century twist, will see participants hide behind real-time animated characters instead of the Blind Date screen. After interacting with the animated alter-ego, the contestant will choose which hopeful to take on a date.

Black said of the new show: “Loveland captivated me with its modern-day twist on the dating format, bringing something new and exciting to the genre.”

The series will broadcast on Sky One next year.

Now, imagine the scene: you’re trying to explain “Second Life” to your geriatric bus-pass mother. Once you’ve got her past the concept of avatars, flying and Furries, can you imagine her being able to tell back to you what you’ve just taught her?

No.

Also, am I the only one who would find taking dating advice from a pensioner a little creepy?

And that’s your new prime-time show.

NEXT!

Gibson, Glover back for ‘Lethal Weapon 5’

(Saints preserve us! Is the credit-crunch hitting ther retirement funds?)

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are reportedly in talks to star in Lethal Weapon 5.

Shane Black, who wrote the original movie, has penned a spec script for a fifth instalment, according to Hollywood tracking board TrackingB.com.

The new story sees homicide cop Riggs (Gibson), who is about to quit the LAPD, drag Murtaugh (Glover) out of retirement to solve one final case.

Well, that’s original.

Don’t get me wrong – if anyone can resurrect the corpse of this much-adored franchise, it’s Shane Black. The man is one of the Gods of screenwriting – FACT!

But this is going to redefine the phrase: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Mind you, the Zimmer Frame of Fame is clattering on for another golden oldie:

Lucas: ‘Indy 5 won’t focus on LaBeouf’

George Lucas has changed his plans for a proposed fifth Indiana Jones movie.

(well that’s certainly not the first time he’s lied to the fans)

The producer had previously spoken of his desire to shift the emphasis away from Harrison Ford’s whip-cracking archaeologist and onto his son Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

However, Lucas has now distanced himself from the idea, telling MTV: “Indiana Jones is Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones. If it was Mutt Williams it would be Mutt Williams And The Search For Elvis or something.”

(“or something”?! Has Lucas turned into a teenager? “It’s, like, gonna be the old fella in da hat, innit… or something.” Christ. And they let this guy write the script?)

Lucas stated that a new Indiana Jones movie would enter development once he had decided on a historical artifact to drive the story.

He said: “We are looking for something for him to go after. They are very hard to find. It’s like archeology. It takes a huge amount of research to come up with something that will fit.”

Well, don’t hang around for too long or Harrison’s hips will start to go.

Now for some sad news: further proof that Hollywood has scraped the bottom of the barrel, run out of ideas and sold its soul to Blockbuster. Possibly the worst idea for a remake since they said they’d remake Robocop, or The Day the Earth Stood Still, or I Am Legend, or… oh I’ll just get on with the story.

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation to be adapted for TV

(Oh cocking hell, I’m off to the bar. Tell me when it’s over)

US cable channel AMC, home to critically lauded advertising drama Mad Men, is looking to develop a TV series based on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 movie The Conversation.

The low-key thriller, about a paranoid surveillance expert called Harry Caul, played by Gene Hackman, who has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered, earned three Oscar nominations, including best picture.

(so we’ve established this is a classic – why, sweet Jesus, do you remake a classic?)

Former 24 executive producer Tony Krantz has been attempting to turn the movie into a TV series for more than a decade and has lined up an impressive roster of creative talent to work on the project for AMC.

Christopher McQuarrie, whose scriptwriter credits include The Usual Suspects, and Band of Brothers writer Erik Jendresen, are working on a script for the TV version of The Conversation, according to American trade journal Variety.

(ah – now your talking – McQuarrie. Another screenwriting GOD. But is this the McQuarrie who wrote the sublime Usual Suspects, or the McQuarrie who choked and folded while writing Superman, then got over his mid-life crisis through the medium of indipendent film? Let’s hope to christ he’s got his game-face on for this one.)

Krantz, McQuarrie and Jendresen previously worked on a modern-day version of The Conversation two years ago for ABC, but Krantz said it did not work out after the network chose to concentrate on female friendly dramas such as Desperate Housewives.

(so they’re remaking a remake of their own failed remake)

Krantz’s Flame Ventures independent production company is attached to the project, along with Sony Pictures TV and Coppola’s American Zoetrope label.

Ooh! So Coppola’s in on the act.

Is that him relaunching himself back into the media fray, or is the tax-man knocking on his door?

Well, that’s enough of old farts from the 80’s (that’s me I’m talking about). How about something ‘yoof’?

Brace yourself…

(press ‘play’ on your Best of Clannad 8-track, now)

Jonas Armstrong to leave ‘Robin Hood’

(I was just going to leave it there and say “W00T!”, but here we go)

Jonas Armstrong is to step down as the lead in Robin Hood at the end of the next series.

The actor will depart in what is being billed as an “explosive, nail-biting finale” to series three, currently being filmed in Budapest.

(hopefully, by “explosive”, they mean they’ll be strapping a ‘suicide belt’ into this gomer and chasing him into a busy Broadcasting House, with mad dogs nipping at his heels)

Although Armstrong, 27, is leaving, the door will be left open for the series to continue should it be recommissioned. “Jonas leaving the show doesn’t mean the end of Robin Hood,” a spokeswoman told Digital Spy. “Robin Hood is more than a man – he is a hero and a legend – so how the legacy unfolds after he leaves is in itself mysterious and is guaranteed to make fans desperate to find out what happens next.”

I’m just desperate to find out who are the bastards responsible for this shoddy tat, so I can go tell them to pack their bags and stop raping British folklore.

There is only ONE Robin Hood and that’s Michael Praed… no, hang on… Jason Connery… no, wait…

And that’s the news. It’s all remakes and sequels.

Dear Meedja,

Will someone PLEASE produce a new TV show or Movie. Will someone just give Shane Black and Chris McQuarrie the cash to make their refreshingly brilliant and original work. Will you all stop and think for a moment. Classics are Classics for a reason. They’re brilliant and not in need of a remake or a sequel too far.

I loved the new Indiana Jones movie with all of my bitter, black heart, but four is enough. Pass on the hat.

I thought Lethal Weapon 4 was a whole lot of fun, but you closed the book on that franchise. They’re trying to resurrect this one from beyond the grave.

Give us something new – I beg of you.

Telly – you are the worst offender in this!

There is more than enough talent in the industry, on either side of the pond, to come up with fresh ideas. The problem isn’t the writers, it’s the producers and commissioning editors. They’re the ones who hold the purse-strings. They’re the ones who had their balls taken away from them as soon as they got their name on the office door. It’s these vile bean-counters who decide what you and I get to watch on the box. It’s these vapid, vacuous non-entities who bleat about falling viewing figures and, rather than look at their own inadequacies, blame anything: multichannel broadcasting, video on demand, global warming – seriously – I once heard a Line Producer say that people were watching less telly because the world was warming up and people were, therefore, spending more time outside.

I shit you not.

That’s the mentality of these people. When a show fails, it’s never their fault (it’s usually the poor bloody writer). If a show succeeds, it’s entirely because of them (rather than the forgotten writer).

It’s these money-grubbing bastards who have turned the BBC into some third-rate provincial station.

It’s these shysters who you give your Licence Fee to.

Do you know how to stand up to them? There’s a red button on your remote. It turns the magic box off.

Why not prove that producer right. Turn off the goggle box and go enjoy the long summer nights, rather than pollute your brain with these second-hand, cast-off ideas.

Rejoice: BBC pulls the plug on Holby Blue

•6 August, 2008 • 1 Comment
Polish this, you hacks

Polish this, you hacks

That’s one down, two to go.

Original article from Media Guardian

(parenthetical vile sarcasm from yours truly)

The police drama will not be recommissioned for a third series following discussions between the BBC and production companies Kudos and Red Planet, MediaGuardian.co.uk can reveal.

(because they realised that you can only polish a turd if you bronze it first and the Licence Fee doesn’t strech that far)

Recently the cop show spin-off has endured disappointing ratings – despite featuring star names such as Footballers’ Wives actress Zoe Lucker.

(“star names”? You’re having a giraffe! D-List nobodies can’t save you.  Nothing short of George Clooney could rescue this televisual toe-jam)

It comes despite an attempt by the BBC to build audiences for Holby Blue.

(by doing what, exactly? Lowering the standards of writing across the rest of the Corporation? Actually, I might be onto something there)

In March a Holby City storyline continued in Holby Blue the following day, in an attempt by producers to lure some of Holby City’s 7 million viewers over to the spin-off.

(wow! That’s so genre-busting and innovative!)

But it did not give the show the hoped-for ratings boost and in May ITV1 cop drama The Bill lengthened its lead over Holby Blue in the 8pm hour, pulling in 5.1 million viewers and a 25% share, compared with Holby Blue’s 2.9 million viewers and a 14% share.

Perhaps even worse for Holby Blue, it was soundly beaten by BBC2’s popular Springwatch, which averaged 3.6 million viewers when the two went head to head.

(We’d all much rather watch Bill Oddie having a nervous breakdown while being innapropriate with Kate Hamble – THAT’s a quality drama)

Holby Blue is a co-production between Spooks producers Kudos and former EastEnders writer Tony Jordan’s company, Red Planet.

The Red Planet Pictures drama executive, Claire Phillips, said: “Holby Blue set new standards for 8pm dramas, in terms of production values, storytelling and casting.

(Yes – it broke records for how low British telly has fallen from grace)

“We are extremely proud of the 20 hours of Holby Blue that we produced but following discussions with the BBC, the decision has been made not to make a third series.

“Red Planet Pictures’ focus is now on developing shows which will live up to those high standards set out on Holby Blue.”

(That can’t be hard.  I’m guessing 20 hours of the Test Card might beat this arse-candy to a BAFTA)

BBC1 has tried, and failed, to create its own long-running police drama to rival The Bill – City Central lasted three series and Mersey Beat was also axed.

(BBC am Fail.  EPIC FAIL!!!)

And breathe….

Can I light the blue touch-paper when they finally blow-up Television Centre? Can I? Please?

I must confess to having a petty animus against the Holby stable.

When I started out in The Business, I worked on Casualty and Holby City.  The crews were, for the most part, lovely people – talented, dedicated, friendly – just like a good crew should be.

Almost as the Yin to the Yang, the Production Office was staffed by the biggest bunch of self aggrandizing twats you could ever have the misfortune to meet.  Even by Production standards, they were mean.  Even by BBC standards, they were talentless.

Holby City was the first show where I fully understood why so many people hate working for the Beeb.  The “them and us” and “don’t you know who I am” bullshit that pervades The Industry is stronger at the Beeb than anywhere else.

There was one producer who was on set as “the ginger witch” (and a few other, less choice terms).   One day, she stormed onto set and tore the arse off my DoP (Darrel Thornton – bloody lovely bloke).  You’ve never seen anything so funny as a Geordie Grip and and a Glaswegian Best-Boy trying to hold each other back from beating the bitch to a pulp with a honka-bonka.   We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to get through a door at the same time.

Her complaint was that we’d been going over, every night that week – it was all about the overtime.

I swear Darrel got a cheer when he told her that we’d be going over that night as well, as she’s just wasted 10 valuable minutes.  Minutes that she had to pay for.   He then did one of the best “good day to you”/”talk to the hand” walk-offs I’ve ever seen.

Like I said… one down, two to go.

I can dream…

Doctors should just suck it up

•23 July, 2008 • Leave a Comment
James Dean - cool as fuck

James Dean - cool as fuck

Don’t get me started on the Nanny State – too late, you’ve woken Grumpy Bear.

A bunch of unelected Scrubs are getting all uppity about how cool people in moves are, because their own lives suck so hard.

Unable to differentiate between twenty B&H and a drill-bit to the face, these whingeing labcoats are appealing to the censors (actually, they’re not appealing to anyone – fnar fnar) to look upon the ancient and gentlemanly art of smoking as something to be rated “18”.

But surely,” you cry, “thou are having a giraffe?

Doctors fume at glamorisation of smoking in films


By Jeremy Laurance
Monday, 7 July 2008

Film stars who smoke on screen should attract the attention of the censor in the same way as they would if they were engaged in extreme sex or violence, doctors say.

Films that show smoking in a way that “condones, encourages or glamorises” the activity should be considered for reclassification – restricting them to an older audience, the British Medical Association said. The association called yesterday for new curbs on the promotion of smoking in the media and said the Government should set a target to make England smoke-free by 2035.

More than one in five adults smokes and most start before they are 18 when they are most vulnerable to images that “increase the allure of the habit”, the BMA said in a report from its board of science.

The portrayal of smoking in films declined from 1950 to 1990, but has since increased. The poster for the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction, showing a sultry Uma Thurman smoking, was a gift to the tobacco industry and an example of the sort of image the BMA wants to outlaw. In the US, smoking has increased in films targeted at teenagers since 2002, the report says.

The BMA says films showing smoking in a positive light should also be preceded by an anti-smoking advert. A similar strategy to curb the promotion of cigarettes on television led to the voluntary withdrawal of tobacco advertising in the 1970s.

Optionally, you could take a deep breath and bend your knees while I drive James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder up your pompous posterior, sir.

Have you seen “Good Night, and Good Luck“? Brilliant film. Came away from that movie NOT wanting a cig, despite most of the characters chainsmoking throughout the movie.

You watched any Bogart movies recently? No? Why the hell not! He smoked like a bastard and I’ve never once had the urge to light-up watching his flicks.

The only bit of “Constantine” I don’t like is the bit where Johnny quits the tabs – what a pussy.

Why, why, why God why do well-educated, middle-class white people (in this case, the BMA) insist on trying to “fix” things that they have no knowledge of. Have they spent years studying movies? No. They’ve spent years studying each other’s bottoms and polishing the Chief of Medicine’s car.

BTW – this phrase “attract the attention of the censor” – I hate to point this out, but we don’t live in a fascist state (no – really!). We don’t have censors – we have the British Board of Film Classification. I think they dropped the word “Censor” back in the seventies. Right around the time Dr. Codger M.D. was graduating medical school. Thirty years before Mr. “Oh I should have gone into private practice” realised that he was culturally irrelevant.

There are vast chasms filled with regret and Grecian 2000 between the BMA and an Oscar.

BACK AWAY FROM THE MOVIES you loathsome ticks. When I want my prostate checked, I’ll come see you. When I want a movie made, I go talk to someone with at least half a clue.

In the immortal words of Bill Hicks: “The only reason I don’t quit smoking I that I don’t want to become one of you non-smokers. Whining, sanctimonious…”

Metropolis: After 90 years – a Director’s Cut.

•22 July, 2008 • 1 Comment

Hands-up – you got me. I’m a cineiste geek and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at this news.

from Zeit Magazine

Last Tuesday Paula Félix-Didier travelled on a secret mission to Berlin in order to meet with three film experts. The museum director from Buenos Aires had something special in her luggage: a copy of a long version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, including scenes believed lost for almost 80 years. After examining the film the three experts are certain: The find from Buenos Aires is a real treasure, a worldwide sensation. Metropolis, the most important silent film in German history, can from this day on be considered to have been rediscovered.

Fritz Lang presented the original version of Metropolis in Berlin in January 1927. The film is set in the futuristic city of Metropolis, ruled by Joh Fredersen, whose workers live underground. His son falls in love with a young woman from the worker’s underworld – the conflict takes its course. At the time it was the most expensive German film ever made. It was intended to be a major offensive against Hollywood. However the film flopped with critics and audiences alike. Representatives of the American firm Paramount considerably shortened and re-edited the film. They oversimplified the plot, even cutting key scenes. The original version could only be seen in Berlin until May 1927 – from then on it was considered to have been lost forever. Those recently viewing a restored version of the film first read the following insert: “More than a quarter of the film is believed to be lost forever.”

But lost no more – perhaps owing more to caprice than fate…

independent.co.uk

Adolfo Z Wilson, the head of a film-distribution company called Terra, based in Buenos Aires […] had seen the original, preferred it, and was keen to show it in Argentina. He managed to buy a copy of the full version in 1928 and then chose to ignore his contractual obligation to destroy the print after it had been shown in cinemas.

Instead, he gave it to an Argentine film critic called Manuel Pena Rodriguez who later handed it on to the Argentine National Film Foundation. There, the reels were copied on to 16mm film. The new reels were given to the small Museo del Cine in 1992 but lay unnoticed in its archives until earlier this year. Credit for their discovery goes to Fernando Pena, a historian who first had an inkling that the original version was in circulation somewhere in the country after recalling a film-goer who had complained about viewing an “endless” version of Metropolis back in the 1980s.

Paradoxically, it was Mr Pena’s former wife, Paula Felix-Didier, who led him to discover the whereabouts of the reels – she was appointed director of the Museo del Cine at the beginning of this year. The two found and viewed the museum’s copy three months ago and were certain it was the original.

zeit.de

Helmut Possmann, director of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation, the holder of the rights to “Metropolis”, said: “The material believed to be lost leads to a new understanding of the Fritz Lang masterpiece.” The Murnau Foundation now sees itself as “responsible, along with the archive in Buenos Aires and our partners for making the material available to the public.”

The rediscovered material is in need of restoration after 80 years; the pictures are scratched, but clearly recognizable. Martin Koerber, the restorer of the hitherto longest known version of “Metropolis”, who also examined the footage, said: “No matter how bad the condition of the material may be, the original intention of the film, including all of its minor characters and subplots, is now once again tangible for the normal viewer. The rhythm of the film has been restored.”

And perhaps the scratches, which will probably remain even after restoration, will have an added advantage: The cinemagoer will be reminded of what an exciting history this great film has had.

Hollywood vs. China: the Panda has his day in court

•22 July, 2008 • Leave a Comment

It was only a few weeks ago that China fell in love with Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda:

From the Independent

Kung Fu Panda , which opened on 20 June, passed the 100-million-yuan (£7.4m) threshold in the box offices at Chinese cinemas this week, a major milestone for a Hollywood film that was always going to be controversial in the home of kung fu. By Wednesday, the amusing tale about an overweight panda-cum-noodle chef who aspires to be a kung fu master had taken in 110 million Chinese yuan (£8.1m).

Grown-ups interviewed after the screening said they felt the film was a sensitive and amusing depiction of a Chinese story. The children, once they stopped high-kicking and neck-chopping each other, said they thought the kung fu was really cool.

Lu Chuan, a leading Chinese director, said in his blog that Kung Fu Panda was a challenge to the Chinese film industry to make a film as good. “From a production standpoint, the movie is nearly perfect. Its American creators showed a very sincere attitude about Chinese culture,” he wrote.

And opinions like those have ruffled some feathers – especially those of performance artist Zhao Bandi, who thinks that the movie is in bad taste, being disrespectful to the martial arts and to China’s national symbol: the panda.

So much so, he’s taking Dreamworks to court.

again, from The Independent

The Beijing court drama, which began this week, includes a call for a full apology from the Hollywood studio for its apparent slur on the panda. Mr Zhao, who carries a stuffed panda in public and whose art revolves around motifs of the animal, has expressed his outrage at the fact that Po’s father is a duck in the film. This, he interprets as offensive characterization which amounts to an insult to the Chinese. Moreover, the panda’s eyes are green, which, Zhao points out, represents an evil colour.

“Designing the panda with green eyes is a conspiracy,” he said. “A panda with green eyes has the feeling of evil. I have studied oil painting, and we would never use green eyes to describe a kind-hearted figure. So I ask them to open their creative meeting records of this film and explain why the green eyes? Next, why is the panda’s father is a duck? Many foreigners think the giant panda is not just China’s symbol, but also the Chinese people’s symbol. Drawing the father of the giant panda as a duck is an insult to the Chinese people. In a few years’ time, I’m worried some young Chinese people will think their ancestor is Donald Duck.”

Mr Zhao said he was not seeking financial remuneration and merely wanted an apology from the film-makers. He said Beijing Chaoyang District People’s Court had accepted his lawsuit. In his blog, he said the court’s decision to proceed with his case showed it could not be interpreted as a publicity stunt.

But is this just a case of sour-grapes – that Hollywood has beaten Zhao to the punch? Zhao’s depictions of the panda can’t always be considered ‘tasteful.’

…Zhao Bandi, best known for carrying around a toy panda and using panda images in his work, including clothes designs for panda prostitutes and panda concubines, called for a boycott of the film. He said it was in poor taste and disrespectful to victims of the 12 May earthquake in which 90,000 died or are missing.

Because of Zhao’s complaints, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the state body which tightly controls the entertainment business, decided to delay the film’s release in the Sichuan earthquake zone, fearing it might offend victims. This prompted a huge online backlash. “Ridiculous! It is a very good film. Why do they not think about the reasons that Chinese people cannot produce such a film?” wrote one blogger.

An editorial in the Shanghai Evening Post asked: “Why the boycott? What’s with the postponement? Is it about Zhao’s own fragility, or does he genuinely believe that the quake-hit victims are too sensitive? The panda is cute, the kung fu is Chinese, the story is hilarious, and the theme is inspiring! Is this not what the people in the disaster area need most right now?”

Sure enough, audiences in the quake zone loved the movie.

— UPDATE —

It turns out that I was right about “sour grapes.” This from The Times, Nov 2007:

Panda couture took China Fashion Week by storm with models sporting black and white negligées and fluffy ears, but censors failed to see its funny side. They were so incensed by the pictures, considered demeaning to an animal that has become a symbol, that any more uncomplimentary images will be banned under a draft law.

They were moved to act against the self-styled panda artist Zhao Bandi, whose trademark is a cap designed to resemble a panda cub and who is often photographed with scantily clad models in panda-ear head-dresses. His Bandi-Panda fashion show at China Fashion Week sparked nationwide concern that the panda’s image as a friendly symbol was being abused.

The fashion designer said it was most unexpected that his styles could be outlawed. “To me human beings are always more important than pandas. I have no intention of making fun of pandas. I am a fan of pandas. People deem giant pandas to be China’s state treasure. I am also a treasure for China, no less significant than the panda.”

So it’s hubris that takes him to court…