Archive for the ‘Hollywood’ Category

Awards ‘09

12th January 2009 by Maura McHugh

The international awards season for film and television has kicked off. Last week the National Society of Film Critics Awards were announced.

The critics picked Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky for Best Screenplay, as well as Best Director, with the surprise pick of Best Film going to the animated feature, Waltz with Bashir, which was written and directed by Ari Folman.

Last night the Golden Globes were awarded.

Slumdog Millionaire, written by Simon Beaufoy, won Best Screenplay, garnered Best Director for Danny Boyle, and also picked up Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Irishman Colin Farrell won Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy for his performance in In Bruges.

Best Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy was won by Vicky Cristina Barcelona, written and directed by Woody Allen, and Best Animated Feature Film went to WALL-E, which was written by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, and directed by Andrew Stanton

Waltz with Bashir won Best Foreign Language Film.

Best Television Series – Drama was scooped by Mad Men.

Irishman Gabriel Byrne won the Best Actor In A Television Series – Drama for his performance in In Treatment.

Best Television Series – Musical Or Comedy was won by 30 Rock, and HBO’s John Adams won Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Steven Spielberg was presented with the Cecil B DeMille Award for his “outstanding contribution to the entertainment field”.

AFI’s 8 2008 Moments

6th January 2009 by Maura McHugh

At the end of last year the American Film Institute (AFI) announced its 2008 Moments Of Significance: eight noteworthy events “determined to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during the calendar year 2008.”

This is a decidedly American perspective, but contains some perceptive insights into how the industry has shifted in the past year:

Slumdog Millionaire – A celebration of the global film

The AFI called the film “a monument to the possibilities of cross-cultural storytelling”, and “a signpost in America’s search for greater authenticity in its stories.” Other films deemed to reflect this cultural shift included Gran Torino, The Visitor, Australia and television’s Heroes.

Television and new technologies provide a global oracle for America’s Presidential race.

The race to the White House saw “television and web coverage played to each other’s strengths, as every nuance of the long, arduous campaigns was accessible for public celebration and scrutiny.”

NBC coverage of summer Olympics brings the world together

The AFI praised Zhang Yimou’s direction and choreography for the opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing, as well as the news coverage provided by American TV channel NBC during the Olympics.

“Age Of Anxiety” as business models for the arts evolve.

The writers’ strike and ongoing threat of an actors’ strike underscored tensions between artists and executives. “The one certainty in these uncertain times is that the film and television communities continue to redefine their business models for the digital age.”

Tina Fey – America’s First lady of laughs

Tina Fey, former Saturday Night Live head writer, and writer, producer and star of 30 Rock, returned to the SNL with her acclaimed impersonation of Vice Presidential candidate hopeful Sarah Palin.

Independent film artists face distribution crisis

Several specialty and smaller labels like Warner Independent Pictures, Picturehouse, THINKFilm, New Line and Paramount Vantage folded in 2008. “Despite the unprecedented availability of filmmaking tools and the explosion of opportunity in on-line exhibition, the challenge for independent voices in American film is perhaps greater than ever. Now, an artist outside the studio system must also master finance and distribution to have their stories told.”

Film critics lose voice

“In 2008, many of the ardent voices of film criticism were silenced. Full-time posts at Time, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice and Newsday, among others, were eliminated as the circulation of newspapers and magazines declined. As a result, writing about film has moved to the Web-a world where authority can be lost among the voice of the masses.”

Dr Horrible operates in explosion of short form

Writer-director Joss Whedon’s comedy musical, Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, became an international hit after it was released online for free as three 13-minute webisodes. ” This movement was catalyzed in part by the Writers Guild strike of 2007, when artists from film and television came together in greater numbers to express themselves in the short form, an integral part of the moving-image experience since the dawn of cinema.”

WGA in Arbitration

2nd December 2008 by Maura McHugh

Last month the Writers Guild of America West announced that it had filed for arbitration against the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers – the AMPTP – over non-payment of residuals from new media.

“Our agreement with the companies on material released to EST covers feature films produced after July 1, 1971, and television programs produced after 1977,” said John F. Bowman, WGAW Board member and chair of the 2007 WGA Negotiating Committee. “The companies have reneged on this agreement and are taking the position that only programs produced after February 13, 2008 are covered by the new provision. This may be their deal with the DGA, but that was never our agreement. Every proposal we made during negotiations made clear our position that library product was covered, and the AMPTP never objected to that position. The Guild will not allow this to stand.”

The Guild is also preparing to file for arbitration against the AMPTP companies for failing to pay residuals due for the streaming of television shows on the Internet. “Our tracking has shown that episodes are staying on websites longer than the 17-day initial window called for in the contract. This triggers the payment of a residual, but so far we’ve seen nothing,” said David Young, executive director of the WGAW. “Given the reports by the conglomerates of the growth of the number of shows being streamed and increases in new media revenues, this is an unacceptable situation.”

“In light of the fact that writers are not being paid for new media reuse, it’s unconscionable that the AMPTP proclaims on its website, ‘By working under an expired contract, SAG members are not receiving the new media residuals that other Guild members are already collecting,’” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone. “The companies know what is being streamed, and they regularly announce how successful they are in generating online advertising revenue, so there’s no reason for them not to honor the agreement they made with us.”

Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood covers the reply from the AMPTP as well as the WGAW’s response to the excuses.

WGA Members Arrested

21st November 2008 by Maura McHugh

Nikki Finke reports on the recent arrest of Writers Guild of America West activists in a shopping mall in Hollywood. Their crime: passing out leaflets during American Idol’s auditions that informed the public that “FremantleMedia refuses to treat its writers fairly”.

The WGAW insists they did not interfere with or obstruct the shopping mall’s operations or the activities of FremantleMedia. But the guild members were turned over to the LAPD, and later released after posting bond. Writers Guild General Counsel Tony Segall said the guild was considering legal action against the operators of the Hollywood & Highland Center for false arrest. The California Supreme Court has held that the state constitution guarantees the right of expression of ideas in shopping malls on the grounds that they’re the contemporary equivalent of the town square. The WGAW notes that other labor unions and community groups have held public actions such as leafleting and picketing inside the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex without incident.

Thursday’s protest was part of the WGA’s ongoing campaign of rallies, briefings, and a nationwide tour to bring attention to what the guild claims are “the substandard industry practices” of American Idol producer FremantleMedia. The American Idol Truth Tour shadowed AI auditions this past summer in several major U.S. cities — including San Francisco, New York, Phoenix, and San Juan, Puerto Rico — to demand that FremantleMedia provide its writers and other workers with industry standard pay and benefits. But yesterday was the first time American Idol Truth Tour participants had been arrested. “We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights despite the heavy-handed treatment we received,” said the WGAW’s Hermanson. “The public has a right to know that the top-rated show on television does not provide their writers with basic necessities like health care.”

No Contract Yet for US Actors

10th November 2008 by Maura McHugh

According to an article in the LA Times the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in America is no closer to forging a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP).

Instead, the AMPTP is turning its attention back to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the smaller union.

IATSE and the studios have set aside three days next week in an effort to wrap up negotiations that were put on hold in April when the studios turned their attention to the Screen Actors Guild. More than six months later, however, the studios still don’t have a contract with the actors. A federal mediator has met with each side but so far has not convened a joint meeting to resume formal bargaining. And sources on both sides of the divide have little confidence that the process will yield a breakthrough, moving SAG closer toward a potential strike early next year.