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Film Articles
Movie Reviews: Exit Wounds
Seagal's Back
Spielberg To Depict Lincoln As Manic, Racist?
Warner's Lets Teenager Keep Potter Domain Name
Traffic Could Wreck U.S. Drug Policy

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NBC Prepares New Game Plan
Execs, Staffers Cashed Out At Bet
ABC Latest Net To Cancel Affiliates Convention
Turner Tosses WCW Out Of The Ring
Tucker Being Tucked Into The Wee Hours
Police Criticize BBC's Security Tapes
Ann Sothern Dies At 92

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19th March 2001

Movie Reviews: Exit Wounds

imageAs the studio suspected, no reviewers had anything nice to say about Exit Wounds.Critics, who had to stand in line for tickets like anyone else over the weekend, clearly felt wounded as they headed for the exits. Not even reviewers in Canada, where the movie was filmed, had a kind word. Norman Wilner wrote in the Toronto Star: "It would also seem that Detroit [the setting for the story] has cornered the American market on Pizza Pizza and Tom Hortons franchises, the result of no one bothering to disguise the Toronto locations." Mike Bell in the Calgary Sun warned readers that if they want to see the city's own Centre Street Bridge "you can see the bridge in real life for free and at any time as it is actually located in Calgary somewhere, I'm fairly certain, around Centre Street." Bell also noted that the film's tag line, "This is gonna hurt," is "surprisingly quite accurate." Gene Seymour, writing for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times, observed that "you couldn't really call Exit Wounds a story. It's a pastiche of pulpy elements culled from all the Dirty Harry movies you can think of." For Jonathan Foreman in the New York Post, other films came to mind. He wrote that Exit Wounds makes "you nostalgic for Stallone flicks like Cobra and Tago and Cash ... sad, tedious proof that even violent exploitation isn't what it used to be."

Seagal's Back

imageSteven Seagal startled industry analysts over the weekend as his latest film, Exit Wounds -- regarded as a comeback test -- earned $19 million at the domestic box office, nearly twice what the most optimistic forecasters had expected. (He last appeared in movie houses in September, 1997, when Fire Down Below opened with $6.1 million and eventually earned $16.1 million. His next film, The Patriot in 1998, went straight to video.) The film, which was not screened for critics, outshone its closest rivals. The No. 2 film, the premiering Enemy at the Gates, took in only $13.6 million, disappointing its French backers who had poured $80 million into its budget, making it the most expensive film ever produced by a European company. Meanwhile, The Mexican, which had held the top spot during the previous two weekends, dropped to third place with $8.1 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations: 1. Exit Wounds, $19 million; 2. Enemy at the Gates, $13.6 million; 3. The Mexican, $8.1 million; 4. See Spot Run, $5.2 million; 5. 15 Minutes, $4.4 million; 6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, $4.1 million; 7. Down to Earth, $4 million; 8. Hannibal, $3.7 million; 9. Traffic, $3.41 million; 10. Chocolat, $3.4 million.

Spielberg To Depict Lincoln As Manic, Racist?

imageSteven Spielberg is set to challenge the popular perception of Abraham Lincoln -- with a biopic based on a forthcoming book by a former Harvard history professor that portrays him as a manic depressive and a racist, the London Sunday Times reported. The newspaper said that Spielberg's DreamWorks studio bought the rights to the biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose previous works include Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. In an interview with the Times, Goodwin acknowledged that much of the material in the book about Lincoln is not likely to be "palatable to the American public, who like their saints saintly." The newspaper said that Spielberg plans to begin shooting "battle scenes" for the movie next fall after completing production of A.I. and Minority Report.

Warner's Lets Teenager Keep Potter Domain Name

In yet another sign that Warner Bros.' efforts to shut down Harry Potter Internet sites backfired, a British law firm has said that the studio has agreed to drop its demand that the firm's 15-year-old client give up her domain name . Claire Field was one of several Harry Potter fans who had received warnings from the studio accusing them of infringing on the company's copyright. In a statement, Prettys Solicitors said Friday that the studio "is prepared now to rely on Claire's good faith and her assurance that she has no plans other than to continue her present noncommercial use of the domain name." Last month a Singapore girl said that she had also been informed by Warner's that she could continue to operate her Potter site.

Traffic Could Wreck U.S. Drug Policy

imageThe Oscar-nominated film Traffic, which has received numerous Capitol Hill screenings recently -- including one arranged by President Andrés Pastrana of Colombia -- may not only wind up influencing American drug policy but also the way Washington politicians view the movie industry, the Miami Herald observed Sunday. The newspaper quoted conservative drug policy analyst Manon McKinnon as saying, "Right now, a movie is bringing drug issues into the forefront of the public debate -- not the president." (ABC's Nightline is airing a five-part series this week on the issues raised by the movie.) MPAA chief Jack Valenti noted that several lawmakers who had been quick to criticize Hollywood fare are now applauding the film. "I think it's one of the great anti-drug films ever made," Valenti told the Herald. "It also shows that unless you do something about demand, you can hang all the drug dealers 'til the skies grow dark, and it won't stop it."

NBC Prepares New Game Plan

Raising new questions about the destiny of XFL football, today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times reported that NBC is looking to schedule relatively low-cost (less than $1-million) dramatic series on Saturday nights. At the same time, the New York Times reported that NBC president Jeff Zucker is planning to "totally reinvent programming for Saturday night and find a new form that costs far less than traditional" shows, although Zucker told the New York newspaper that he isn't writing off the XFL yet. Facing the NCAA basketball tournament on Saturday, the XFL's ratings, which many had thought had finally plateaued at about 2.7 with a 5 share, dropped again, reaching a new low of 2.1/4. The basketball coverage on CBS captured a 6.3/12.

Execs, Staffers Cashed Out At Bet

BET, the black entertainment cable channel, fired 65-70 employees at its New York and Washington DC offices on Friday, the online Electronic Urban Report said today (Monday). A source at the television company told EUR: "It was absolutely crazy. The normally chill atmosphere at BET was replaced with shock and dismay and people standing in hallways crying. You would think that it was a bombing that happened. I guess it was. Viacom dropped a major bomb." Viacom acquired the company last November for about $3 billion. According to EUR, BET COO Debra Lee assured fired executives and staffers in a memo: "Our plan calls for severance packages, benefits extensions, outplacement service and other assistance, including opportunities to pursue positions elsewhere among Viacom companies."

ABC Latest Net To Cancel Affiliates Convention

Another affiliates convention received a network cancellation notice Friday as ABC informed its stations that it has canceled its annual get-together set for May 22 in favor of five regional meetings to be held in June. The decision comes one month after NBC and Fox canceled their own affiliates meetings. Only CBS plans to go ahead with its annual meeting; it is due to take place in Las Vegas in June.

Turner Tosses WCW Out Of The Ring

Whether or not Turner Broadcasting succeeds in selling off its money-losing World Championship Wrestling operation, the wrestling shows themselves will be dumped from the TBS Superstation and TNT effective March 26, the company indicated on Friday. In an interview appearing in today's (Monday) New York Times, TBS spokesman Jim Weiss said, "Basically we've decided that professional wrestling, in its current incarnation, is not consistent with the upscale brands we've built at TNT and TBS. Therefore, we will not be carrying it."

Tucker Being Tucked Into The Wee Hours

NBC's Tucker, which debuted on NBC at the start of the fall season on Oct. 2 -- and promptly became the network's first casualty of the season three weeks later -- has returned to the network in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the online site Zentertainment observed Saturday. According to the site, the network is "burning off" the six episodes that it originally ordered by airing them between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. in some markets.

Police Criticize BBC's Security Tapes

Authorities investigating the recent terrorist bombing outside the BBC's news studios in London have criticized the quality of the security-system tapes, which captured images of the bombers that were so poor that they could not be identified. The London Sunday Times reported that the lenses of the security cameras had not been cleaned for weeks and that the videotape had been reused several times. A BBC news crew later taped a bomb squad detonating the bomb, which had been hidden in a London taxi parked outside the studio. An unnamed police offer told the newspaper that if the BBC's surveillance tape "had been anything like the quality of the news film of the bomb going off, we'd have made much more progress."

Ann Sothern Dies At 92

imageAnn Sothern, who starred as Maisie in the movies and on radio and later appeared in the TV series Private Secretary and The Ann Sothern Show, has died in Idaho at the age of 92. In 1960, viewers were taken aback when CBS aired this billboard for Sothern's show, which many thought contained a triple entendre: "Stay tuned for The Ann Sothern Show. Ann meets a handsome count and almost goes down for the count, next on the CBS Television Network."

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