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MORIARTY Rumbles About Senate Panel Meetings, Darabont's BIJOU, and Ang Lee's CROUCHING TIGER!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From the Lab. It's been a little while since I knocked one out that dealt with multiple topics, but I'm not in the mood to break this all up. Somehow this is all tied up together. All I know is, this is what's on my mind as the sun comes up on this late September Wednesday.


Good morning, Hollywood. It's a big day for the business. Right now, in Washington, the Senate Commerce Commitee is going to grill representatives from the major studios about the way the industry markets its product to children. I'm surprised by how hard it's been to find much coverage of the events going on. Brooks Boliek at The Hollywood Reporter has been doing a damn fine job. His reportage has raised some issues that bear discussion as the hearing themselves unfold.

I'm not going to rant and rave at you at length about my background here. Harry's brought up his own childhood, and what he saw, and when he saw it, and I had a really different experience than him. I saw some crazy things young, and they scared the silly shit out of me. I love those experiences now in hindsight, but I wouldn't necessarily do the same to a child of the same age. I'm all for media education. I'm also for parents making responsible choices in viewing for themselves and their kids. I'll be honest... I'm as scared of a grownup who watches DAWSON'S CREEK as I am of a child who watches THE EXORCIST. I'm a big advocate of the idea of labelling a film by content so that parents can make informed choices. I see nothing wrong with a poster having a small box in the corner that reads N/V/SC/AL, telling a parent to expect nudity, violence, sexual content, and adult language. That's much more valuable than the all-purpose "R" that the MPAA currently uses.

And what am I opposed to? I'm opposed to the economic censorship of the current system, where the only truly adult rating is stigmatized and without any commercial feasability whatsoever. I'm opposed to someone outside the industry having a say in what is allowed to be shown or discussed in American cinema. I'm opposed to any measures taken that equate the entertainment industry with the tobacco industry. Movies don't cause cancer. Movies don't kill every single habitual user eventually. There's no way to equate the two things.

So what is happening today? What is at stake today? Right now, there's a sort of all-star group of executives who are appearing to discuss the report that was released recently by the Federal Trade Commission that blamed the industry for marketing adult material to children in an unfair and excessive manner. Okay. There is some merit to that conversation. I don't think there's anything wrong with networks relegating advertising for adult films to adult hours. When I'm watching THE X-FILES or ANGEL, I don't really want to see ads for POKEMON 2000, and I really don't think the "blow job in a hot tub" ads for THE KLUMPS belonged anywhere near kid's programming recently. A little common sense about scheduling won't hurt the networks. If anything, it will give a certain cache to the ad time for adults. It'll make that X-FILES ad time even more attractive.

Common sense, however, might be seen as too little too late by the Commerce Committee, who are reportedly still upset about last week's scheduled meeting which was almost completely ignored by the industry. This week, everyone took the summons seriously, and THR lists Walt Disney Co. president Robert Iger, Paramount Motion Picture Group vice chairman Rob Friedman, MGM chief operating officer Chris McGurk, Warner Bros. president and chief operating officer Alan Horn, Sony Pictures Entertainment president and chief operating officer Mel Harris, Fox Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jim Gianopulous, Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider and DreamWorks production co-head Walter Parkes as being the witnesses in attendance today. That's a powerful list, people who will represent this business well. There's been quite a bit made of the fact that Jack Valenti was not invited to the hearings, but I think that's a good thing. I've heard Valenti's shtick a million times by now, and so have you, and so has everyone. He's like Don King at this point, this shouting cartoon version of the lobbyist he once was. He opens his mouth to start pimping the MPAA and all I hear is the WAH WAH WAH of Charlie Brown's teacher. I don't believe in him for a moment. These other witnesses... these are the people that are actually doing it, that are making these choices about what gets made, what doesn't, how to sell these films, and they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the vast majority of what we call entertainment in this country. If anyone is going to speak frankly about these issues, it should be them.

The studio execs have been busily working these last few weeks to put together a set of proposals about how to exert stronger control over their marketing practices and also how to better educate parents about the content of these products. We're in an election year here, so I don't believe for a second this committee is looking for a practical solution. They want to make an example of these people, of this business. They want to blame us, because if they have someone they can point a finger at, then it means that theoretically there should be some way to just make it all better. There's got to be some magic reset button that will fix the American family and that will suddenly wipe out our insanely high violent crime rate and that will miraculously educate all our children to their maxium potential. And maybe if we scapegoat entertainment this week, all of that will happen. And maybe $1000 bills will rain from the sky and there will be lollipops and unicorns and we'll all eat pancakes with God and then see EPISODE II and it'll be goooooood. Right.

The bottom line is, they've already approved legislature to prevent children from seeing violent fare on television. They're passing laws about this shit. And people aren't getting up in arms. We're just taking it, letting them do it. It's one thing to let them roast our balls for some cheap votes before an election. It's another thing to enact permanent legislature. There's talk of even more extreme sanctions being passed. John McCain isn't going to be happy until he's the guy who's okaying every last thing before it's "okay" for public consumption. Forget about Gore. Forget about Lieberman. Those guys are just talking. It's the Commerce Committee that poses a real and immediate threat to basic expression.

Whatever happens today, it's going to be important, and I hope you're all as interested as I am in the outcome. It affects anyone who loves film or television or music. We take the current consumer system for granted, and we have access to a remarkable array of movies and albums and games. That won't always be the case unless we protect our right to these things. The people who produce them and the people who purchase them have the same stake in this. Here's hoping the execs in Washington stand strong today. Their goal is clear: retain control of their own industry through increased responsibility without sacrificing any of their own freedom. If they're serious about reform of how these things are marketed, then why not go all the way and allow the NC-17 to be economically viable? If you're going to enforce the R, then enforce the NC-17 as well, and book it just like anything else. Only advertise those films at certain times. As long as the system is fair, everyone wins.

But then again... who said the system is fair... right?

Stay tuned on this one, kids.


Hey, Washington... you want wholesome? You want something that's suitable for all? You want something with a lesson in it that's important for the whole family? Well, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it in the shape of Frank Darabont's next project THE BIJOU, a script that does indeed pack an important lesson or two in its whip-quick 118 pages. A few of those lessons might just backfire on you, though, since THE BIJOU deals in part with the action of the HUAC during the '50s.

I hate mentioning that first, though, because it makes it sound like it's going to be a "serious film", and I'd call THE BIJOU a comedy overall. A gentle human comedy, though, not a broad slapstick thing. It's a film with an enormous heart. Darabont's said that "if Capra's films were a genre, then this is my Capra film," and that certainly does justice to the tone of the screenplay, written originally by Michael Sloane, then revised by Darabont as he prepares to direct the film. Set in 1951, the film is the story of Peter Appleton, set to be played by Jim Carrey. Peter is a screenwriter who has finally broken through. His first film, SAND PIRATES OF THE SAHARA, has just opened, he's in love with the film's lead actress, a beauty named Sandra, and he's living his dreams. Everything is perfect until Peter is served with a summons by the HUAC. Overnight, his whole world changes. Peter is advised by his lawyer to name names, to admit to things, to roll over. Peter is destroyed by the way the town seems to tie itself in knots to turn its back on him, and he gets in his car one night, drunk, determined to go somewhere and start over.

One car accident, bumped head, and case of mistaken identity/amnesia later, Peter's been taken in by the town of Lawson, California, population 275. The town was devastated by WWII, and there's signs of loss everywhere. Local Harry Trimble (set to be played by Martin Landau) sees Peter and believes him to be his long-lost son Luke, who was MIA on the Eastern front. Harry takes Peter in, and a series of events is set in motion that brings life back to the town of Lawson, even as it teaches Peter an unexpected lesson about who he actually is.

Tell you the truth. This isn't cutting-edge stuff. And you know what? Good. I don't really need my Capra tributes to be cutting edge, thanks. I just need them to possess the same decency, the same sense of knowing observation about human behavior, and the same ability to paint comic portraits that were somehow wry and warm at once. Darabont's got the goods with this one, and his supporting cast is being filled out by David Ogden Stiers as Doc Stanton, Bob Balaban as HUAC Majority Counsel Elvin Clyde (a wonderful portrait of a man who uses politics to bully others for gain), and Jeff DeMunn as the mayor of the town. I'm dying to see who Frank gets for Adele, the female lead of the film, and how he fills out such roles as Old Tim, Irene, Sheriff Eldridge, Bob Leffert, Mabel, and the rest. It's a great cast of characters, easy to fall in love with.

And what, pray tell, is a HEBJU? Well, it's actually HE B J U, the sign on the marquee of the dilapidated theater that Luke and Harry ran before Luke left for the war. It's fallen out of use and into disrepair, but Luke's return gives Harry the excuse to fix the theater up, to open it again, and to restore the sign so it reads THE BIJOU. And it's in writing about The Bijou and its roles in the community that Frank and Michael Sloane reveal themselves completely. It's beautiful stuff. There's a moment when Harry is taking Peter around the theater, trying to make him remember what it meant to Luke. He begins to talk about how the Bijou was a palace once, and how that experience was important. You can almost smell the popcorn as Harry talks to the man he believes is his son.

"Maybe you had problems and worries out there, but once you came through those doors, they didn't matter anymore. And you know why?"

He takes him into the main auditorium and points up at the screen. I get goosebumps at the thought of Landau and Carrey in this moment.

"Chaplin. That's why. And Keaton. And Lloyd. Garbo. Gable and Lombard. Jimmy Stewart, Jimmy Cagney, Bogart and Bacall, Fred and Ginger. They were gods, and they lived up there. That was Olympus."

And sometimes, in the hands of filmmakers like Darabont, it still is.


Ang Lee comes pretty close to touching the divine in his new film, the much-praised CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, and I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen the other night. I've been offered about five chances to see a VCD version of this film from overseas, but I wanted to wait and see it in a theater. I've avoided all trailers, all major stories, and I went into it wanting to have as pure an experience as possible, free of hype.

In the end, I think it's a wondrous work of visual art, a perfect compliment to the rest of Ang Lee's filmography. This is a story of romances that cannot be played out against a society that conspires to keep love repressed. Like SENSE & SENSIBILITY or EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN or THE ICE STORM, this is a story of people who can't say what they feel, and the things it costs them to stay silent. In this world, when people act out emotionally, it's through these almost hallucinatory bursts of wire fu. I don't think I would call this the best kung-fu film ever made, mainly because I don't think I would call this a kung fu film. It's a drama for the most part, an epic romance with a historical backdrop. The film takes a really unexpected left turn in the middle of its brisk 119 minutes in a subplot involving Jen (Zhang Ziyi in a star-making performance) and her true love Lo (Chang Chen), but it's that elasticity of convention that made me fall head over heels for the picture.

The performances in the film are wonderful across the board. I can't say enough good about Chow Yun-Fat, starring as legendary warrior Li Mu Bai, who has aged with a grace almost unknown to movie stars. During his major fight sequences here, he's unflappable, but it's in the dramatic stuff that he is truly affecting. Michelle Yeoh is the same way. I love the scene in which she dismisses all her servants and closes herself into a courtyard with the thief of the Green Destiny sword. It's a brilliantly choreographed fight. More than that, though... it's a declaration of love and devotion by Yeoh's Shu Lien, and everything she does, every move, speaks volumes about how much she treasures Li Mu Bai. There's one quiet moment between them in a white room near the film's 2/3 mark that just broke my heart. It's a beautiful spot, lush green outside the window, and they're sharing afternoon tea. Their hands touch, and Li Mu Bai takes her hand, sets it against his cheek, and fixes her with an intense look as he says, "Nothing you touch has permanence." There's a sense that time is running out, and the struggle to do something about that is the most terrifying thing he faces in the film.

That's not to say that the film is a letdown in the fight sequences. Far from it. Yuen Woo-Ping weaves real magic with the way he choreographs these whirling dervishes. Gravity means nothing as they sprint across rooftops and up walls and through the trees. A single girl demolishes an entire two-story restaurant without breaking a sweat. There are swordfights that are just jawdropping. And The Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-Pei) and her disciple both wreak havoc with surprising skill. Peter Pau's photography is stunning. As much as I love his older work like THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR and THE KILLER, I have to say he's progressed to the point where he is a sculptor with light. There's no way to overestimate the impact of the score by Tan Dun (with solo performance work by Yo Yo Ma). All of it comes together in a way that is magic.

But I don't want to overhype it to you. I don't know that I can. It's not THE MATRIX. This isn't some crazed action film that will kick your ass. It's more delicate, more lasting than that. The ending hit me in the same place that the brilliant BREAKING THE WAVES did. The blissful face of Zhang Ziyi will haunt me between now and December, when this film is finally going to roll out in America. I need to see this again, and I need to see it often. Your own reaction is going to depend on how open you are to something that shakes all genre, that manages to take flight and create something that falls between meditation and poem, even as it delivers a kinetic kick all its own. Sony's got a unique challenge on their hands here. I can't wait to see how they rise to the occasion. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 27, 2000, 9:16 a.m. CST

    FIRST! Moriarty, you rule. Keep writin'.

    by Lenny Nero

    Ya dang right.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Wait a minute...about the VCD version of "Tiger..." wanna give o

    by Lenny Nero

    Anyone out there have a copy LESS than $50?

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Wow, Moriarty...

    by Elaine

    You mean to say you saw a Zhang Ziyi film without falling in love with her? That's inhuman... Anton, tell him...

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 9:49 a.m. CST

    by samson shillitoe

    Good-to-great article on the goings on in Washington, Moriarty. But, uh, "I'm as scared of a grownup who watches DAWSON'S CREEK as I am of a child who watches THE EXORCIST". This for me is the same as saying "I'm as scared of a grownup who listens to Phil Spector records as I am of a child who listens to Eminem". Sometimes the only way to get to an emotional truth is to portray it in terms of unrealistic grandeur and pretension. DC is unrealistic, overwrought and mired in pretensions of the inflated importance of teen angst. Gloriously so, I might add, and the slide towards reducing it to 90210 soap opera status last season was almost as big a tragedy as FREAKS AND GEEKS untimely death.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Crouching Tiger

    by Gooner

    I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Ang Lee's latest in London a couple of days ago and I have to agree with Moriaty's sentiments. I went into the screening with an open mind but I wasn't expecting to be as stunned as I was. The entire cast is flawless and the action sequences are dazzling. One thing Moriaty omits is the comedy in the film. Although not used often, when the characters use it, it is genuinely very funny for example when the Green Destiny is stolen for the second time. I cannot rate this film highly enough and would urge people to see it as soo as they get the chance. Sit back and savour the experience. By the way, it has release date of 5th Jan 2001 in the UK.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Hearings, ep II, DC

    by mjbok

    Nothing really will come of the hearings with the possible exception of new ratings ala the way television ratings are done. It's election year posturing Nice little jab at Lucas about Episode II Drew. Are you still stinging from being shut out at the ranch? In a year and a half you'll be one of the ones camping out to see episode II so let go of the hate. Lastly one thing I've never understood about this site is how some things are automatically crap without being examined. I remember Harry refusing to post a review of Varsity Blues 'cause it had someone from Dawson's Creek in it. Not a great movie, but very entertaining. Also the slam on Dawson's Creek in this article. I'm not saying that it's great television, but what is? Buffy? Angel? Voyager? I don't think so. They are all mildly entertaining and I would say the DC is the better of the four. I would especially think that readers of this site would find the show entertaining due to the fact that the protagonist is a self-confessed movie geek. Almost Famous reminded me of DC in the way that it tried to pull at your heart-strings. Very coming of age. By the way, Almost Famous, could have been called Almost Great. So close to the mark, but it was missing something...I don't know what, but something. Could have been an incredible film, instead it was passable.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 10:58 a.m. CST

    interesting departure for frank darabont

    by darabont

    Glad to see that frank darabont is moving in a new direction without the aid of a mr S. King. Although his last two films were probably some of the finest slices of cinema entertainment that you can hope to find it's going to be fascinating to see him working with Jim Carrey.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 11:10 a.m. CST

    "movies don't cause cancer"

    by gigolo aunt

    Just ask John Wayne

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 11:27 a.m. CST

    About Senate Panel Meeting.


    Moriarty 1, Harry 0.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 12:07 p.m. CST

    This is what keeps me up at night.

    by All Thumbs

    Ok, so the Commerce Committee hearings aren't keeping me up at night, but they do have me very worried, as does that little piece of legislature heading to its second vote that will regulate content (not sure committee? who then?) that is somehow deemed too violent for children. I can understand being pissed about the marketing of adult-oriented films to children (I would still like to see better proof, none of this anonymous crap), but I can also understand the fact that it should be the parents overall who tell their kid yes or no when the little one whines about seeing "Urban Legends." What scares me, and what I don't understand, is how many of the examples they are using are being taken out of context ("Kids" used against Weinstein) and have positive messages and lessons overall. These movies just do it in a way that isn't fit in the minds of those who are condemming them. Sometimes I think these people haven't even watched the movies they lambast. It freaks me out when they say that filmmakers need to be more responsible and studios need to start regulating their content because it could be harmful to children, even in films that are meant for adults. This is ridiculous and I'm getting sick of it, especially because it's just another issue to be paraded about so those who are trying to regulate and speak out against the industry look like the saviors of the country and get voted into office.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 12:25 p.m. CST

    How to get a cheap copy of Crouching Tiger

    by Sam Seed

    Hey Lenny - I was lucky enough to find a copy of Crouching Tiger in Vancouver B.C. on VHS for - get this - $15...Canadian!!! It's called Hitzone Video and it's on Hastings about 5 blocks past Commercial Drive if you have any plans to visit.... I agree with all the comments so far about Crouching Tiger. Great movie. Beautiful scenes. Great acting. Amazing story. What more could one ask for? Although I must admit I thought the wire work was the movie's weakness. If they had more money, the shots would have looked better done with special effects. One thing I hope that they do with the North American theatrical release is provide some text at the beginning to explain some of the history and stories involved in the plot of the movie. The second time I watched it was with my friend and his mom, who knows all the folk tales and history; and after she explained that part of it, I enjoyed the movie much more. This movie is for EVERYONE. Now that Drunken Master II is being released, it looks like Hollywood is gonna have to take notice at how REAL action/romance movies are made.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Listen to the hearing on C-SPAN.

    by superninja You will need RealPlayer.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Goody! More Hearings

    by usagibrian

    That expose the hypocracy at the rotten heart of the cultural conservatives. The free market will solve all problems except violent/sexual content in movies; that will require govenment regulation. I'm still waiting for one Republican with the courage of his free market convictions to stand up and say that the govenment has no business regulating the marketpalce of entertainment or one Democrat to blaze a spotlight on this striking inconsistancy in the free market cheerleaders' agenda. (The Libertarians and the Greens have been saying it for a while, but who pays attention to them?)

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 12:58 p.m. CST


    by marla singer

    Those pink slippers suit you well. I should be upset with you for not mentioning my intoxicating-ness. But... I'll forgive you just this once. Great article.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Listen, fellas...

    by cuchulainn

    Before you go any further, a 'legislature' is the body that PASSES the LEGISLATION. I think that may be the word you're searchin for. LEGISLATION. Take the time to learn the difference. Otherwise, your intelligent arguments sound a little less intelligent.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 1:51 p.m. CST

    so what?

    by shinshock

    what is the big deal with reorganizing the ratings system to allow for more shades of gray? i believe we can all agree that almost famous and boogie nights are two different movies in terms of amount of objectional content. so why does the current "valenti"sed ratings system cover them under the blanket "r". there should be little notes in the commercials, trailers, posters, etc. that let people know what to expect in a certain movie. that way everyone can make informed decisions about what they want to see. the only people who have problems with changing the "r" system are either underage kids that sneak into r-rated films or people who think reorganizing the ratings system is like some sort of censorship. i personally don't want my 13 year old neice to be able to con her parents into thinking the cell is rated "r" only for language, so i support a more detailed ratings system that lets parents know why exactly a rated r film is rated r. and yes i do ramble, and yes i may not make sense, and yes i repeat the same thing over and over again, but i have an opinion damn it. so i post. later

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 2:09 p.m. CST

    I Was Hauled In Front of The Sentate.

    by Buzz Maverik

    The senators kept asking me ,"Where are the girls? Can you get us girls?" I said, "Do I look like a pimp, except for my platform shoes, tux and tails and hat with a feather?" So they asked me to name names. I said, "Moriarity, Harry, Karl Marx, Josef Stalin, Leonid Breschnev, Nikita Kruschev and Grandpa Walton." They said I could go. Now all I have to worry about is when I get my life achievement award Amy Madigan will give me a look that could fry an egg. Boy, will I be intimidated. And Nick Nolte and his cool girlfriend won't clap for me, and Ed Harris will give me a dirty look because he has to go home with Amy. I can live with it.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 2:09 p.m. CST

    I Was Hauled In Front of The Sentate.

    by Buzz Maverik

    The senators kept asking me ,"Where are the girls? Can you get us girls?" I said, "Do I look like a pimp, except for my platform shoes, tux and tails and hat with a feather?" So they asked me to name names. I said, "Moriarity, Harry, Karl Marx, Josef Stalin, Leonid Breschnev, Nikita Kruschev and Grandpa Walton." They said I could go. Now all I have to worry about is when I get my life achievement award Amy Madigan will give me a look that could fry an egg. Boy, will I be intimidated. And Nick Nolte and his cool girlfriend won't clap for me, and Ed Harris will give me a dirty look because he has to go home with Amy. I can live with it.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 3:28 p.m. CST


    by Lazarus Long

    In the hands of people like Darabont, the silver screen can be Mount Olympus? With the way The Green Mile crawled (an unbearably slow pace), it's more like the Rock of Fucking Gibraltar. Hopefully all the sap has now drained out of Frank's tree so he can make a decent film again.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Wonderful piece, but...

    by The Gline

    ...that picture took me 3 1/2 days to PgDn through!

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 4:02 p.m. CST

    Holy Shit...

    by SCOTT1458

    at the most they'll update the rating system, and fanboys are crying like it's the end of the world. Grow the fuck up. On the one hand you all say that it's the parents role to regulate what their kids watch, then you bitch when warnings and labels are talked about. What the fuck is it? Hope they do pass some laws to nail hollywood in the ass. If they can do it to tobacco and Smith and Wesson, let's see New Line get nailed too.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 4:27 p.m. CST

    Re: Elaine

    by Anton_Sirius

    I was a little nonplussed when I read that part of the review myself. It's a 'star-making turn' like Angelina is a little lippy. Oh well- it's the Old Man's loss. And hey- everybody who got the joke in gigolo aunt's post, raise your hands.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 4:37 p.m. CST


    by Anton_Sirius

    The problem is that the studios want it both ways- Constitutional protection for their 'free' speech, just so long as the public keeps paying for it. I doubt many people (other than hard core nihilist Libertarians) have problems with explicit warnings on other consumer products, so why should they object to them on flicks? And if movies are art, then they should be treated as art and released COMPLETELY UNRATED. I don't recall an explicit content warning stamped on any Mapplethorpe exhibits. Heck, that should apply to TV and music too- if it's product, then rate it; if it's art, then there should be no rating at all. And those two positions are not necessarily mutually exclusive- I refuse to believe that Belly of an Architect (Greenaway) and Chairman of the Board (Carrot Top) have anything in common at all, at all.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Send Jack Valenti to Happy Acres retirement home and force the S

    by Bari Umenema

    NY TIMES PRINTS SECRET MARKETING DOCS Details of the Federal Trade Commission's probe of Hollywood marketing practices were published by the New York Times today, including excerpts from confidential documents of the National Research Group, described by the Times as the studios' dominant market research organization. In a sidebar article about NRG's work on the sequel to Columbia TriStar's hit I Know What You Did Last Summer, the Times published portions of a letter to the studio, which stated, "Although the original movie was R rated and the sequel will also be R rated, there is evidence to suggest that attendance at the original dipped down to the age of 10. Therefore, it seems to make sense to interview 10- to 11-year-olds as well" as moviegoers between 12 and 24. Other research documents cited in the Times article indicated that children younger than 16 made up a large part of the test audiences for such R-rated fare as Disney/Hollywood Pictures' Judge Dredd, MGM/UA's Disturbing Behavior, and Disney/Touchstone's Enemy of the State. In an interview with the Times, Joseph Farrell, co-chairman of NRG, insisted that the company's research methodology is "prescribed by the studios" and maintained that parents are required to accompany children 14 and younger to test screenings. Asked about the FTC's determination that 33 of 44 R-rated films produced between 1995 and 1999 were screened for underage children as young as 9, Farrell replied, "I don't know anything about that." On the eve of a second round of hearings by the Senate Commerce Committee into Hollywood's marketing practices scheduled for today (Wednesday), MPAA chief Jack Valenti also said he was unaware that young children were being recruited for studio test screenings. "I didn't know it was happening," he told the New York Times, adding that the "practice of going to 10- and 12-year-olds is really not acceptable." At a news conference, Valenti said that the eight major studios had set a "goal of not inappropriately specifically targeting children in its advertising of films rated R for violence" and would no longer include them in focus-group tests unless accompanied by a parent. (Copied & Pasted from todays NYT)

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 10:14 p.m. CST

    Harry you'll be testifying next buddy!! I can see it now: The S

    by Bari Umenema

    Senator McCain: Mr. Knowles, what exactly is the purpose of some of the more explicity violent images you and this, Cartuna is it?, have posted on AICN? Harry: Well John, can I call you John? Ya see, my cyber-fans expect me to put up a new funny GIF every day and Cartuna IS an artistic genius when it comes to doing animated caricatures of me. Now SOME FOLKS may object to what's on AICN but the site is free for one and all, we never charge, sometimes we run a banner ad or an annoying pop-up ad but, wellllll, ummmmm, have you guys seen some of my all-time favorite films? (Harry proceeds to list his 500 Favorite movies with brief synopses of each one along with when he first saw each one, what he ate and drank, what kind of mood Father Geek was in -- who sits directly behind our hero in the Committe Room audience -- and we dissolve to 3 hours later) Of course I wasn't really all that crazy about Hollow Man but the f/x were pretty cool, then there's The Grinch which I can't wait to see and..." Senator McCain: Mr. Knowles! Are you in your right mind? Harry: No sir, not anymore.

  • Sept. 27, 2000, 11:37 p.m. CST


    by SCOTT1458

    Totally agree dude, 100%. As a Libertarian, I was appauled at the percentage of the public that AGREED with the bullshit that Reno, Clinton, and the rest of the democRATS were doing in terms of legislation by legal arbirtration. Of course fanboys and the general public didn't care. I could see this comming, fast food (fats) are next, as well as Hollywood and media. You fanboys better think twice about the system of government and the ideology level in this country, and the Green Party/Democratic party is pure socialism. It'll come...if not by direct means, by indirect. (i.e. setting up the legal precedient of indirect negligence by suing Gun Manufactures and Tobacco Companies, Paint Companies, Etc.). For heaven's sake don't vote Green/Democratic.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 2:34 a.m. CST

    right on DEMOGOBLIN

    by kamui

    This whole arguement is so so stupid. Thats like blaming Chevrolet for a drunk driver killing someone. Or Budweiser for someone having liver damage. take some responsibility for your actions people.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 4 a.m. CST

    Fuck Hollywood....

    by Walther P99

    I would be glad to see some of those assholes in HWood get screwed. Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Billy Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Robert Altman, Rob Reiner, Michael Douglas, Julia Roberts, Spielberg, Katzenberg, Eisner, Michael Moore and all of the other leftist liberals deserve to be shit on. I'm so tired of them preaching to us about how we should live our lives, how we should pay more taxes, how we should gives up our guns, how we should let the government run every aspect of our lives. Screw them. Its amazing how even a talented leftist like Spielberg can produce masterpieces of truth, dignity, and honor like Private Ryan or Schinder's List, and then stand on a podium next to Bill Clinton, a rapist, a perjurer, and a sexual predator, not to mention the single most corrupt and shameless President ever. Susan Sarandon and Courtney Love tell me I should give up my guns. Fuck yeah they do. In their eyes, I'm just another potential heckler or assasin that might want to knock them off. That's all I am to them, and they sit on their millions and try to dictate my life. Rosie O'Donnell doesn't need a gun cause she's got a multi-million dollar home security system and armed guards. That is how those people in HWood think of us. Just sheep who gobble up their product every weekend and make their pockets fatter. My 22years of movie fandom are over. Hollywood can kiss my ass. I hope bad boy McCain kicks the shit out of the entire industry and makes 'em cry for mercy. I hope all of the studios go bankrupt. Fuck 'em.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 9:15 a.m. CST

    And Now, A Word From the Prophet

    by Anton_Sirius

    Bill Hicks on American politics- "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I find the puppet on the left more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute- there's one guy holding both puppets..." "Shut up! GO BACK TO SLEEP AMERICA- YOUR GOVERNMENT IS IN CONTROL."

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 9:19 a.m. CST

    This Year's Model

    by Anton_Sirius

    I have to agree that this year, more than most, anyone who doesn't vote deserves a smack. The goal this year should be to get the 'third' parties- be they Libertarian, Green or even Natural Freakin' Law- enough of the popular vote to get offical recognition next time 'round. Don't waste your vote on Al Bush or George W. Gore. You already know one of them is going to win.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Dunbar and Anton Sirius

    by Ellie Sattler

    THANK YOU! I couldn't have put it better myself.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Don't buy CTHD VCD

    by Airchinapilot

    Please don't buy the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon VCD. I had one in my possession for quite some time and refused to watch it before I was able to catch the screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Good decision. Envigorated after the screening, I popped it in and watched in horror as a work of beauty became a work of crap. This is an argument against piracy. Watching it on VCD after seeing it up on the big screen is akin to masturbating in a public washroom after a big date. Obviously the source was filmed from the projectionist booth in a Malaysian cinema. It was overdubbed in Cantonese, the sound was awful, the frame rate couldn't keep up with the action and the screen real estate was missing at least 1/3 of the original. The people who lent me the disc said they didn't see what was so special about the film. Well, if you don't pay the real price, you won't value it.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 2:09 p.m. CST

    mired in off-topic nonsense

    by kylerayner

    Um, gang, what the hell is going on here? 1. Those who think Harry and Moriary and the rest of the AICN folks are idiots, can't write, etc. SHOULD NOT BE HERE. If they piss you off, why are you wasting your time? Don't you have better things to do? FWIW, I'll say that I don't think they're great writers either, and that Harry is a fanboy with very hard-to-figure and eclectic tastes. But... Take them for what they are--I don't think Harry (or Moriarty, whose writing is a bit more conventional) is trying to be the next Pauline Kael or anything. He's sharing his thoughts, his understanding, his tastes, and he's making it possible for others to do so as well. Isn't that a good thing, or at least something to be admired--having the wherewithal to put oneself out for public ridicule? 2. Oh, that's right, probably only 10% of the people who post to this site even know who Kael is. (Sorry if I'm offending those of you who do, but please...) 3. And slightly more on-topic: Why is anyone comparing Dawson's Creek to Buffy? Hello, people. This is like the other ridiculous argument raging today--which is better: Fight Club or the Matrix? Apples and oranges, guys, apples and oranges...

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 3:14 p.m. CST

    A word about self regulation

    by ThereIsNoSpoon

    Ok, advertising adult material to adults during times adults are tuned in is just good business. I remember being six and seeing ads for movies like "The Verdict" during my cartoons and thinking "what idiot thinks I want to see this?" But self reguation - excising director's cuts or selectively greenlighting films to reduce conroversial content - is shooting ourselves in the foot. "But it will appease the politicians and keep them off our backs!" Wrong. It will be seen as a sign of weakness and it will show that we will cave in to pressure and they will simply apply more pressure and they will never be happy! Because no matter how much we concede to them, the crime rate won't go down, and all the other problems that entertainment is blamed for won't go away (because, as we all know, THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER) but since politicians won't come up with any real solutions they will just assume that they haven't done enough to us. Yes this is an election year, everyone is looking for some easy kills to give themselves medals for, and hey, I don't know if anyone noticed but there's a MAJOR LABOR DISPUTE getting ready to happen in our little business and it may weaken us significantly. This couldn't have happened at a worse time. It's more important than ever that we stick to our guns and DON'T GIVE AN INCH! I find it apalling that an industry that built many of it's best works on stories of heroes who never give up when faced with incredible odds is talking about caving in to a group of cronies that let the gun lobby and the religious right push them around like castrated puppies. If they can push congress around, I can't believe the entertainment industry doesn't have that much power.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 3:20 p.m. CST

    Oh and one other thing -

    by ThereIsNoSpoon

    If anyone out there still thinks violent entertainment = violent people in society, take a look at the extremity and frequency of violence in Japanese pop culture compared to American pop culture. Then compare the crime rates of each nation. The numbers speak for them selves. I don't have them in front of me, but I seem to recall Japanese TV has 3-4 times as many murders per hour as American TV and had a murder rate that was something like 20% or less of ours. And that's per capita, those numbers aren't affected by the population difference. I am not suggesting that violent TV PREVENTS real life violence (althought I think a case can be made for this - vicarious retribution is far less destructive than the real kind) but to suggest that violent TV causes real violence is ridiculous.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 3:49 p.m. CST

    US is jsut quickly becoming a fascist state :/

    by EmperorCaligula

    Wake up Guys! I can only agree with SilentBob and Anton Sirius. Violence in TV news and in the avaerage US city streets are higher than in any movie. This is just a blatant attempt of censorship. Well, US politicians criticise it when it occurs in Serbia or when it happened in USSR. Are they doing something better now? Hehe, movie industry and all the other guys who deal with "culture" or what is left of it should awake right now. Their freedom's days are counted, whatever happen. It's time for them to leave this pityful government and this poor country and move to more mentally sane countries, where such moronic censroship isn't so strong; there are a lot of countries where the congress won't tell them "now do just this kind of lame soap opera and tomorrow this debilitating auto-glorification of our good system." BTW, Demoglobin, you're so right. It's just a crappy juduicary system you have in your poor country. No more sense of responsability. Then, why put age limit on movies. If smokers can sue companies because they get cancers, when it has been said since decades that it was bad, that means even adults are morons and shouldn't been allowed to see other movies than G:) Well, if it were non-smokers who got cancers because their colleagues smoke at job, for instance, which is an important amount of all the cancers due to cigarettes, then I would think it totally normal and well-deserved for the industry. But by people who smoke, it's just hypocritical.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 4:26 p.m. CST

    tobacco companies--the lawsuit

    by kylerayner

    Yeesh, I hate to contribute to this mess, but all you folks decrying the anti-tobacco lawsuit results and stating that it should be an issue of personal responsibility really need to know something. A large part of the reason that Big Tobacco was found irresponsible was that it was shown that they knew their product was addictive and indeed that they worked to foster this addiction, to make cigarettes more addictive so that people could not quit. (C'mon, folks, we're movie geeks--didn't any of you ever hear of a little movie called the Insider?) Furthermore, it has been understood for a long time that Big Tobacco has marketed to children--remember Joe Camel? I agree--we should be adult and not blame, say, Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings or Ozzy Osbourne for teen suicide. However, Big Tobacco has gone beyond putting out a dangerous product to making that product nigh impossible to resist. This is what is irresponsible, this is (at least a large part of) why they should be held responsible. If Budweiser (to use one poster's example) made their beer addictive, or set up a deal with car companies to install self-cooling kegs in the trunks of cars, then they should be held accountable for drunk-driving fatalities and alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. I am not one to generally deny personal responsibility, and I absolutely ABHOR the litigious nature of the U.S. (though I doubt it's still restricted only to this country), but sometimes fines are the only way to make a point (especially with large corporations). And Big Tobacco had to be held responsible. It's not easy to quit smoking; are any of you naysayers smokers, or have you been? Ever tried to quit? This does not mean that the situation is analogous to that of the entertainment companies and the question of ratings. But I do think y'all should know your facts before you start spouting off about personal responsibility and the big bad government. The Big Tobacco situation is complicated, but there was real reason for a lawsuit. Go do some research. Check it out. Don't speak blithely about things you know nothing about.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Walther P99

    by Skeptic Ogre

    <<<Bill Clinton...the single most corrupt and shameless President ever.>> Walther, I'd like you to meet Dicky Nixon.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 8:05 p.m. CST

    Skeptic Ogre

    by Walther P99

    Nixon: lied to congress to cover up a small break in at DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel Clinton: sold stock in a worthless company to investors (Whitewater); raped Juanita Broddrick; exposed himself to a women and made an unwanted proposition to her for sex, then threatened her if she told anyone (Paula Jones); sold nuclear missile technology to the Chinese in exchange for campaign cash (Chinagate); illegally fabricated stories of impropriety about White House travel office employee in order to replace them with Arkansas people (Travelgate); illegally used to the IRS to audit people who were investigateing or denounceing the Clinton administration; lied under oath in a civil sexual harrasment lawsuit (Lewinsky); bombed a medicine factory in Sudan the day after impeachment and said that it was a military installation, just to take the press off of the Lewinsky scandal; illegally kept confidential FBI files on Republican opponents in order to dig up dirt on them (Filgate); Number of individuals and businesses associated with the Clinton machine who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes: 47 Number of these convictions during Clinton's presidency: 33 Number of congressional witnesses who were associated with Clinton who have pleaded the Fifth Amendment, fled the country to avoid testifying, or (in the case of foreign witnesses) refused to be interviewed: 122 The only president ever impeached strictly on grounds of personal malfeasance; Most convictions and guilty pleas; Most Cabinet officials to come under criminal investigation; Most witnesses to flee country or refuse to testify; Most witnesses to die suddenly; Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions; Greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad.........The most corrupt President in history, by far.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 9:21 p.m. CST

    "...a small break in at DNC headquarters..."

    by Anton_Sirius

    Oh, is THAT all it was. Gee, I wonder what all the fuss was about then. The fact of the matter is just about every president in the 20th century has a whole stinking pile of dirty laundry- Reagan/Bush had Iran-Contra and the Iranian hostage thingie; Kennedy was, well, Kennedy; etc. etc. etc.- with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, who was just boring. Saying 'Nixon was worse than Clinton' is like saying 'Stalin was worse than Pol Pot.' It all depends on your criteria.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 10:29 p.m. CST


    by Walther P99

    "Saying 'Nixon was worse than Clinton' is like saying 'Stalin was worse than Pol Pot." It all depends on your criteria." Just what exactly is your criteria, dumbass. I laid out a short synopsis of the evidence, and the evidence is indisputable. If you're too stupid understand it all, then please, do not register to vote. I doubt if you are even going to vote anyway, so I'm not worried.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Oh shit where to begin

    by swavill

    Walther P99 calling Watergate "a small break in" is like saying Jeffry Dahmer had an eating disorder. Transcipts of White House tapes apparently had the President and the Attorney General of the United States plotting murder in the Oval Office. Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace most of his top aides spent time in prison and only a presidential pardon from Gerald Ford kept Nixon from joining them. As for Clinton after a four year long 53 million dollar witch hunt that at times used tactics that McCarthy would have found deplorable the Inquisitor General Ken Star and his group of character assassins came up empty handed. Couldn't find enough evidence to even indict "Satan's Own President" Bill Clinton for anything. I mean come on here 53 mil and we couldn't even come up with a jay walking charge.Even after all of that they still won't let it go and want to wait untill he is out of office and try to indict him for perjury.Give me a break.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Excerpt from the notebooks of Lazerus Long

    by swavill

    If you are part of a society that votes,then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for...but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool(there is always one around)and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that a truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 11:17 p.m. CST


    by Walther P99

    Once again, another retard ignoring the facts. The facts are stated in the previous post. The Ken Starr investigation has yielded the most convictions of any investigations in history. Look it up. I know facts are irrelevent to reptiles like you, but you'll have to evolve. Nixon and Attorney General Elliot Richardson plotting murder? They're is no evidence of the sort. You're just making shit up as you go along. Attorney Genreal Elliot resigned in after he refused Nixon's orders to fire the special prosecutor in the case, Archibald Cox. Get your facts straight moron! You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Lawrence Walsh's $80 million investigation into Iran/Contra did not yield any indictments of Reagan or Bush's high level cabinent. Clinton is a traitor and the Chinese have the nuclear technology to prove it.

  • Sept. 28, 2000, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Reform of the MPAA rating system

    by swavill

    Reform is definetly needed. My 11 year old daughter wanted to go see Almost Famous with me but it was rated R. God knows why I found nothing in the film which would warrant an R rating. They need a system like television has to let a parent know what to expect. But the choice of what I let my daughter watch should be mine. While I don't think I've ever met a 5 year old who I think was emotionally ready to experience something as intense as the Exorcist or Saving Private Ryan for that matter. I don't believe it's the government's place to forbid it. It has been my experience that children are fairly resillient. I doubt very seriously that seeing any film released by hollywood will scar a child for life.

  • Sept. 29, 2000, 12:54 a.m. CST

    Channeling Richard Nixon

    by Buzz Maverik

    "Now, you have to be careful when you do this, Buzz. You remember what happened to that little girl in the Exorcist. That came out when I was in office. I took Pat to see it. We didn't care for the swearing. You want to ask me about corruption and HUAC? Let me tell you about corruption. I had a woman in Hong Kong, just like that song by Deep Blue ... What do you mean Woman from Tokyo and Deep Purple, you little shit? I'm sorry. It gets to you down here after awhile. All I'm saying is that I didn't just do sneaky shit. I got to do the cool shit too. I had a China doll in old Hong Kong, like that song by Paul Peterson ... Ricky Nelson? Don't tell me about Ricky Nelson, you snot nosed bastard, you weren't even alive then... Pardon me. Oh, there's that damned Kennedy, with his Marilyn Monroes and Angie Dickensons. Damned pretty boy!

  • Sept. 29, 2000, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Walther P99 I must apologize

    by swavill

    The Nixon plotting murder line in my previous post was given to me by someone who I considered to be knowledgeable on the subject. After spending most of last night reading the transcripts of Nixon's conversations at the NARA website I must agree with you that there is nothing in there that would suggest such a thing. I found one cryptic reference to useing other methods to deal with Hunt instead of paying him off to keep his mouth shut and continue to perjer himself before the grand jury. But this would suggest a murder plot only to sommeone with an overactive imagination. All I could find was evidence of more mundane crimes like obstruction of justice, conspiracy to pay witnesses to purjer themselves in front of a grand jury,conspiracy to illegally divert some 350,000 dollars in campaign funds for said payoffs. At one point Halderman says that they are inexperienced at such things as bribery ,extortion and money laundering and that these things were more suitable for someone like the mafia. Anyway thank you for enlightening me and causing me to go and look this stuff up for my self it makes fascinating readihg

  • Sept. 29, 2000, 9:02 p.m. CST


    by Walther P99

    Accepted. But you must understand I had to call you on such a thing. Yes Nixon was a freakin' maniac who was so power hungry he didn't realize that he was already going to win; he didn't need to break in DNC headquaters to dig up dirt on the Democrats, he already had the election wrapped up for the most part. But I would not go so far as to say he would kill someone.

  • Oct. 6, 2000, 5:41 a.m. CST

    Just now finished watching CTHD

    by wushuchef

    Like most others, I was (arguably) fortunate enough to grab a HK vcd version for 5 HK dollars, (about $1.50 US?). This is my second copy of the film, and damn if it wasn't kickin the largest amount of ass in the world! Honestly, words can't describe the feelings I had while watching this movie from the comfort of my little monitor, the colors, the lighting, the FIGHT SCENES, impecable acting performances by Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. I agree, the courtyard fight between Michelle Yeoh and the thief near the end was one for the history books. I'm not gonna rag on the wire work, mainly because I have a hard enough time balancing my ass outa bed some mornings, but if I HAD to gripe, a couple of scenes could've been wired a tad better. But hey, I didn't fuckin make the movie, it's not my money, nor my time limit and schedule, so big fuckin A+ to you Lee Sifu! Now when the hell are we gonna see a Big Trouble In Little China sequel?!

  • March 14, 2001, 10:42 p.m. CST


    by Eddie Poe

    The infusion of Asian action films in the early '70's was a boon to fans of the genre. I remember many an evening spent sitting through "kung fu" double features. Badly dubbed and with often way over the top performances, most of these movies were, nonetheless, vastly entertaining. The fad had faded by the mid-seventies, but the genre has proven itself timeless: nearly three decades later, "kung fu movies" are back- with a vengeance (if you'll pardon the pun: 99.9% of these movies are about revenge, period- or maybe 99.999%). That Ang Lee has given us a film of such lyrical beauty disguised as a "martial arts movie" is a testament to both his ability as a director and the flexibility of the genre itself. I used to long for a film of this caliber in the old days, but filmmakers at that time weren't interested in depth (unless it was the depth of a sword thrust). Passionate filmmaking that must be seen to be appreciated.