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News Roundup

Signs of the Apocalypse Roundup – August 2010 – Week 4

Signs of the Apocalypse Roundup – August 2010 – Week 4

ITV1 chief defends ‘X-Factor’ voice modulation
Fincham believes producers ‘faithfully reflect’ performances
ITV1 boss Peter Fincham has defended the controversial use of voice-modulation technology in the British version of “The X-Factor,” saying that he had not issued an outright ban on its use. Fincham said he trusted the show’s producers to “faithfully reflect” contestant performances and was confident that the technology had never been used to make performers sound worse. “We expect producers of ‘The X Factor’ to deliver the show in a way that the performances of the contestants faithfully reflect what went on,” he said. “I am satisfied that they will deliver me a show that faithfully reflect the performance.”

Terrorist suspect auditioned for ‘Canadian Idol’
Khurram Sher was arrested for being part of an Ottawa cell
Khurram Sher, arrested Thursday by Canadian authorities for allegedly being part of an Ottawa terrorist cell, in 2008 crooned on nationwide TV while auditioning for “Canadian Idol.” The YouTube video of the CTV telecast reveals a bearded Sher, who was born and raised in Montreal, telling the “Canadian Idol” judges he came to Canada in “2k5″ from Pakistan. Sher, a doctor trained at McGill University, Canada’s top medical school, then proceeded to badly sing Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” while moon-walking and doing the robot dance in traditional Pakistani clothes. It wasn’t complicated for the four “Canadian Idols” judges to pan Sher’s performance. “Have you ever thought of being a comedian,” Sass Jordan asked a smirking Sher.

‘Cake Boss’ co-star arrested on sexual assault charges
Show’s ‘top decorator’ being held in N.J. jail on $300,000 bail
The show’s Remy Gonzalez was arrested on Aug. 18 on charges of aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. No details have been released, though a law-enforcement official in Morris County, New Jersey, told TheWrap that none of the sexual assault charges “had anything to do with the child, but they were in the house. Don’t ask me how old or male or female that child is, that’s information is sealed, but you can tell from the charges they were under age and present, which is why you have the endangerment.”

Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch inks reality show
Series being shopped to VH1, TV Land, Style Network
Uber-stylist Phillip Bloch, whose A-list clients have included Halle Berry, Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett-Smith, will get his own reality TV show based on his jet-set life as a celebrity stylist. In addition to getting leading ladies glam for the red carpet, the show will focus on Bloch’s philanthropic efforts and many fashion industry friends. Keisha Whitaker and her partner Brian Neal at Henry Island Productions are set to produce. While no network has been announced, the show is reportedly being shopped to VH1, TV Land and the Style Network.

Official: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ cast revealed
It’s official: Bristol Palin and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino will be on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in the fall. In addition to Sarah Palin’s daughter and the “Jersey Shore” star, former “America’s Got Talent” judge David Hasselhoff will grace the ballroom along with singers Michael Bolton and Brandy, as well as “Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Grey. Filling out the cast: former NBA player Rick Fox, comedian Margaret Cho, “Brady Bunch” icon Florence Henderson, former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, “The Hills” star Audrina Patridge and — in a lone bit of intra-company synergy — Disney Channel sitcom star Kyle Massey.

More Horsemen

Business of the Business

AIDS activists file complaint against Larry Flynt
An AIDS activist group filed a workplace safety complaint against Larry Flynt on Thursday, accusing the porn king of creating an unsafe environment for his stable of sex stars by not requiring they use condoms. To illustrate its point, the AIDS Health Foundation also delivered 100 DVDS of hardcore Flynt films to the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s Los Angeles office. Only a single scene in one of the films shows a performer using a condom, said AHF spokesman Ged Kenslea. The films, most with innuendo-laden names, “clearly demonstrate workplace activities highly likely to spread bloodborne pathogens in the workplace,” the complaint says. It urges the state agency to order the use of condoms on film sets. Larry Flynt Productions President Michael Klein indicated that is an unreasonable demand, adding porn audiences don’t want to watch people using condoms. “We won’t budge when it comes to condomless productions,” he said in a statement. “That’s what the consumer wants, and we deliver it.”

‘Modern Family’ creator: Why I took on Hulu
Look, I’m not naive; I understand why big media backed Hulu — to stave off piracy and to gain some control in the online space — but I don’t believe Hulu’s upside outweighs the potentially disastrous long-term effects. Network TV has some distinct advantages over the music and newspaper industries. Sharing a few songs from an album requires very little bandwidth. News is available from a wide variety of sources. But at the risk of sounding like a pompous ass, nobody but a show’s creator and producers is capable of delivering that particular show. I acknowledge that Hulu’s easy accessibility probably keeps some people from pirating. But a respected industry analyst says less than 5% of TV content is being stolen today. Even if that number quadruples as broadband speeds improve, that means 75% of the audience will still be perfectly happy with the present model. And, to quote that analyst, “The logic of ‘I’m having trouble getting paid for my content, so let me give it away for free’ probably drives Wall Street to allocate capital to other industries.”

Vampires bring $7 bil to Hollywood economy
Films, books, TV pull in near the GDP of a small nation
By the numbers: Film: $3 billion; Publishing: $1.6 billion; Merchandising: $600 million; TV, DVDs: $1.2 billion; Other: $600 million. Among the high-profile film projects in development are the adaptation of Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian” at Sony, the adaptation of Cronin’s “The Passage” at Fox 2000, “Dracula Year Zero” at Universal and the adaptation of “Castlevania” at Rogue Pictures. Amy Heckerling is putting together “Vamps”; the “Underworld” franchise plans a fourth installment (in 3D); and a horror film called “The Last Voyage of Demeter,” inspired by Stoker’s original telling, is in the works. And everyone’s looking for the next “Twilight.” For example, U.K.-based Dan Films (“Severence”) has put out an ad seeking “completed feature-length vampire scripts for teen/young adult audiences. In other words, a film for the ‘Twilight’ age group.”

Warning: Soaring Movie Ticket Prices Have Reached the Breaking Point
“There’s certainly not much room for the price increasing further,” said an exhibition-chain executive who, like everyone else for this story, was unwilling to lend his name to a discussion on the sensitive topic of movie prices. “The big question is going to be what happens in October and November. Once we get away from the big tentpole movies, what’s going to happen with (3D) movies like ‘Jackass 3D’ and ‘Megamind’?” Curiously, with summer season up over 3 percent according to Hollywood.com, studio distribution executives have adopted a rather blasé what-me-worry? mindset. “I don’t think there’s been any pushback,” one major-studio distribution president told TheWrap. “Look at how the box office has been flourishing. Admissions aren’t up the way we’d like them to be, but the market has accepted the higher ticket prices. You can’t expect to pay $5 to go to the movies anymore.”

Shia LaBeouf offers ‘most bang for the buck’
The actor’s flicks earn $81 for every $1 he’s paid
For the second straight year, Shia LaBeouf is the actor offering the biggest bang for the buck, according to a Forbes list released Monday. Forbes calculated that for every $1 LaBeouf was paid, the movie in which he appeared earned $81 in profit. Anne Hathaway landed in second place thanks to the $1 billion that “Alice in Wonderland” took in worldwide and, to an obviously lesser degree, “Bride Wars,” which brought in $115 million. Hathaway’s movies generate $64 in profit for each $1 she earns. Forbes looked at the top 36 earners in Hollywood who made at least three films in five years that opened wide. They calculated box office, DVD and TV sales and subtracted a movie’s budget, stripping out marketing costs, “which are susceptible to accounting chicanery.”

Minutiae

Planet of the Odd

Paris Hilton charged with drug felony
She thought cocaine was gum, according to police report
Paris Hilton has been charged with felony drug possession following her Aug. 27 arrest in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police arrested Hilton last Friday after a motorcycle officer pulled over the heiress and her boyfriend, Cy Waits, on the Las Vegas Strip. The couple was stopped after the cop smelled marijuana smoke wafting from their SUV, which was being driven by Waits. While detained and being questioned about the alleged marijuana possession, Hilton reportedly dropped a vial of cocaine from her purse. She was subsequently charged with possession of a controlled substance — .8 grams of cocaine. The report also relays that police found a tablet of prescription medication Albuterol and Zig Zag wrappers, which are commonly used to roll joints. Hilton copped to owning the Albuterol but claimed that the purse and most of its contents — including the cocaine — did not belong to her, saying she had borrowed the clutch from a friend. Upon further questioning, Hilton said she mistook the coke for gum.

Dennis Miller calls out James Cameron
James Cameron, director of the eco-friendly blockbuster “Avatar,” passionately challenged to debate the forces who deny that humans are causing the earth to warm up to dangerous levels. Planned or unplanned, Turns out that some of the most prominent “deniers” took him seriously, and they’ve been arranging a debate with Cameron. They announced that it was all set to happen, but then claimed that Cameron backed out. The story has been gaining traction in niche media outlets, but Miller brought it to the forefront by discussing it this week with his 1.5 million radio-show listeners in 250 markets nationwide. “Jim Cameron was going to debate and I thought, ‘well good for him.’ Finally somebody from that side will tell us what they think cuz God knows Gore hasn’t appeared on a stage with anybody to debate it.” But when push came to shove, “he said he was busy,” Miller said. “Oh my God. The whole house of cards is falling in. Good job, Jimmy. I’m beginning to doubt the existence of the Titanic, now.”

Boy Scouts of LA Weigh In On Illegal Downloading
The MPAA is working with the Boy Scouts of Los Angeles to teach kids how to respect copyrights. Area youth can earn a merit patch after taking an educational class on the evils of downloading films. Scouts will also visit movie studios to see potential victims of piracy and will create public service announcements.

Taylor Lautner Sues RV Company for Botching His Personal Trailer
The “Twilight” star has sued an Irvine, Calif.-based RV rental outfit for fraud and breach of contract, claiming it failed to deliver on his order for a motorhome to use as his “personal trailer” while shooting a movie. Terms of the deal — reached by Lautner’s father, Dan — included that the RV be fixed up, cleaned and in running order in time for delivery on June 21. But it came late, Lautner’s lawsuit claims, and when it arrived, it had multiple safety and operational problems. Lautner was forced to use the rented RV instead of his own rig, which he considered “preferable to any rented or substitute RV, resulting in displeasure, annoyance and emotional distress to Taylor Lautner.”

Satoshi Kon, Director of ‘Paprika’ and ‘Tokyo Godfathers,’ Has Reportedly Died at Age 47
Satoshi Kon, the Japanese director of animated films such as Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress and the Inception-influencing Paprika, has died at the young age of 47. The director reportedly lost a battle with cancer. A writer and animator working since the early ’90s, Kon’s directorial career began with the 1998 release of Perfect Blue, and he really began to come into his own with films like Tokyo Godfathers, in 2003. The mind-bending Paprika is likely his most-seen film, and appears to have had a significant influence on Christopher Nolan’s film Inception.

Bits and Pieces

The Fine Print

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive roundup of the entire weeks’ news. All stories are chosen by me for no other reason than that they got my attention and might capture yours. If something you think is more important chime in on the feedback; we’d love to hear comments and have a conversation about it.

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Scott is an art director, writer and comics creator living in Los Angeles. He has been a pop culture maven from a very young age. His very first job was as a manager of a comic book store. He spent several years working in a video store, and yes, we are talking VHS tapes. A student of literature and Writing, he brings his obsessive love of comic book trivia, movie history and science fiction/fantasy writing to bear on the work he does for CoolShite.

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