U2 Rocked by Tax Activists; Kim Kardashian Kicks Butt Rumors

Tuesday, 28 Jun 2011 06:10 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. U2 Rocked by Tax Dodge Protest at UK Fest
2. 'Cars 2' Revs Box Office, Runs Over Critics
3. Kim Kardashian Invites a Look at Her Bottom Line
4. Tom Hanks Waves From Alternate Political Universe
5. Copyright War Pits Silicon Valley vs. Tinseltown

 

1. U2 Rocked by Tax Dodge Protest at UK Fest

U2 was all set to play a prestigious rock venue across the pond, headlining the initial night of the Glastonbury Festival, Britain's answer to Woodstock.

Then Bono and company met up with a pack of protesters, who were expressing their displeasure with the Irish band's tax strategies and who are presently engaged in a campaign that is a variation of the Democrats' "tax the rich" ploy. In this case, it's "Tax Bono and his rich rock star buddies."

And rich they are. Forbes estimates that U2 brought in almost $200 million from last year's touring.

A group known as Art Uncut initiated the protest campaign, launching a 20-foot balloon which carried the written message: "U Pay Your Tax 2."

Security guards eventually wrestled protesters to the ground and deflated their balloon. But the damage had been done. The legendary group and its famed lead singer, Bono, who is well known for his anti-poverty activism, stood accused before a crowd of 170,000 people of avoiding the payment of taxes.

Art Uncut sought to highlight the fact that U2 has escaped paying Irish taxes at a time when Ireland has been forced to deal with a severely debt-burdened economy.

Art Uncut member Charlie Dewar told the Associated Press that tax money in U2's bank account "should be helping to keep open the hospitals, schools and libraries that are closing all over Ireland."

U2 moved its corporate headquarters from Ireland to the Netherlands in 2006.

Unlike in Ireland, where music royalties are taxed, the Netherlands is a jurisdiction where the tax on music royalties happens to be zero.


2. 'Cars 2' Revs Box Office, Runs Over Critics

Prior to its big-screen release, critics had panned "Cars 2," and that was making Disney execs very nervous.

Kyle Smith of the New York Post skipped the subtleties and wrote, "They said it couldn't be done. But Pixar proved the yaysayers wrong when it made its first bad movie, 'Cars.' Now it has worsted itself with the even more awful 'Cars 2.'"

The Wall Street Journal's Joel Morganstern noted, "The law of averages has finally caught up with the most remarkable studio in modern movie history, the dream factory that lived up to Buzz Lightyear's joyous cry of 'To infinity and beyond.' This frenzied sequel seldom gets beyond mediocrity."

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press referred to "Cars 2" as "a mess." She wasn't fond of the first "Cars" either, writing, "It makes the original look like it ought to rank among Pixar's masterpieces by comparison."

In addition to the dearth of good reviews, the G-rated movie had to compete at the box office with the previously released "Green Lantern," which stars Ryan Reynolds, and the newly released "Bad Teacher," the crude Cameron Diaz comedy.

American families voted with their ticket stubs, as adults and kids flocked to the wholesome traditional Disney flick. Moviegoers made "Cars 2" the No. 1 weekend film, with a take of $68 million. (The original "Cars" brought in $60 million in its debut.)

Because of the film's better than expected performance, the Mouse House can now go forward with an unprecedented merchandising campaign, which includes a video game, ice show, theatrical production, toys and a 12-acre Cars Land attraction, which will be added to Disney California Adventure.

The sales of all "Cars" products are expected to tow in around $10 billion.

The truth is that family friendly films are where Hollywood makes most of its profits. Last year, six of the top 10 highest grossing movies catered to dad, mom and the kids.

However, the raunchy comedy craze a la the "Hangover" series persists. Following in the footsteps of the recent "Bridesmaids," Sony's "Bad Teacher" features female lead Diaz behaving as badly, if not worse than a Seth Rogen slacker character.

"Bad Teacher" did well enough at the box office ($31 million) to insure that there will be more R-rated sleazy fare coming down the pike.


3. Kim Kardashian Invites a Look at Her Bottom Line

Kim Kardashian is using science to quash a rumor "” namely, that the star of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" had actually enhanced her bottom-line assets with plastic surgery.

Kim is perhaps the most prominent public figure in reality showdom right now, and she is not taking this sitting down. She has countered the backside buzz with X-rays of her posterior.

Kim's sister, Khloe, posted the scan of her sibling's famed rear on Twitter.

"Hey dolls. The PROOF is in the X-ray. Kim's [derriere] is 100% real!!!" Khloe tweeted.

A recent episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" featured Kim seeking advice from a doctor on the best way to place the rumors behind her.

"My sisters have dared me to get a butt X-ray," she told the physician. "I really just want to get [the X-ray] so I can show the whole world."

Kim may think that the saga is over but you have to wonder if this is really the end.


4. Tom Hanks Waves From Alternate Political Universe

Unemployment is soaring, the country is saddled with record debt and energy prices are igniting inflation.

Appearing to be oblivious to the country's woes, President Barack Obama recently joked, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected."

Polls indicate that people don't exactly find it to be a laughing matter. The president's coolness, which initially worked in his favor, is now looking more like ice-coldness, making it a very real possibility that he may end up being a one-termer.

You wouldn't know it by listening to Tom Hanks. While appearing on CNN, the actor seemed as if he had just time-traveled back to 2008.

"I'm going to vote for him for his re-election in 2012," Hanks said. "I beat you to the punch."

The Oscar winner already attended a Left Coast fundraiser for Obama back in April.

Hanks said, "If you would have told me a few years ago that 'don't ask, don't tell' would be repealed and about a billion jobs at General Motors and Chrysler would have been saved because the president was smart enough and strong enough and bold enough to do so, I would have said, 'Wow. That's a good president, I think I'll vote for him again.'"

Only in Hanks' universe could the president have salvaged "about a billion jobs" "” enough work for every man, woman and child in the U.S. to be employed three times over.


5. Copyright War Pits Silicon Valley vs. Tinseltown

There is a war going on between Northern California and Southern California over copyright law.

Hollywood companies want to step up government action in putting the brakes on Internet piracy and protecting intellectual property. Silicon Valley firms, on the other hand, seek to protect innovation and new forms of technological creativity.

New proposed legislation, known as the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), would create a blacklist of "rogue sites" and would require Internet service providers to block access to those sites.

Hollywood studios and record companies want the legislation passed pronto, but Silicon Valley firms want the bill killed. So the top players in technology finance have signed a letter to Congress warning that PIPA would place "burdens" on Internet companies, and that the blacklist would "undermine Internet security."

Venture capital providers have signed the letter along with Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and publisher Tim O'Reilly.

"We think PIPA will ultimately put American innovators and investors at a clear disadvantage in the global economy," the Silicon Valley letter stated.

The Northern California contingent isn't fond of the new kinds of lawsuits that PIPA would create for private citizens. The letter cautions Congress not to upset the "delicate balance" that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) created for Internet service providers.

The DMCA grants limited immunity from lawsuits against web companies if the offending material is removed in a timely fashion.

The letter ends with some clear instructions to Tinseltown.

Acknowledging that pirate websites will always be with us, the tech titans predict that "if rights holders [Hollywood] make it easy to get their works through innovative Internet models, they can and will have bright futures."

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