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No Sequel for 'Golden Compass'

Tuesday, 05 Jan 2010 03:49 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report
A Political Look at Hollywood

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. No Sequel for 'Golden Compass'
2. Study Indicates Sex Doesn't Sell
3. California Gay Marriage Trial May Be Televised
4. Bono Wants Copyright Crackdown
5. Smoking Shorts but No ‘Smoking Gun’
 

1. No Sequel for 'Golden Compass'

Phillip Pullman is the author of the virulently anti-God trilogy of books called “His Dark Materials.”

Thinking it had the potential to be the next “Harry Potter,” clueless execs in Hollywood adapted to the screen the first of Pullman's novels, “The Golden Compass.”

Those with a modicum of knowledge about American values could have predicted that the anti-religious movie would not be well received in a country where more than 85% of the market self-identifies as Christian.

“Compass” performed below box-office expectations, so New Line Cinema has indicated that there will be no sequel.

Sam Elliott, who was one of the stars of “Compass,” is blaming the Roman Catholic Church for the lack of a follow-up to the film.

“The Catholic Church happened to ‘The Golden Compass,’ as far as I'm concerned. The Catholic Church. . .lambasted them and I think it scared New Line off,” Elliot told Britain's Daily Telegraph.

Pullman, an unabashed atheist, told the Western Mail, “If Sam is right then I am very disappointed because it obviously would have been very good to have seen the other two films made."

The decision has put a stop to the plans for the next two installments of “His Dark Materials”: “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass.”

In my opinion, a Godsend.


2. Study Indicates Sex Doesn't Sell

A new research study concluded that, when it comes to the movie box-office, sex scenes and nude scenes don’t bring people to the multiplex.

“Sex Doesn't Sell -- Nor Impress!” is the title of a study that concludes sex and nudity in movies fail to generate ticket sales.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis analyzed the content of more than 900 films that were released between 2001 and 2005. Results showed that almost all of the films that did the best at the box-office had almost no sex and nudity.

Professor of psychology and co-author Dean Keith Simonton told CNN that “sex did not sell, whether in the domestic or international box office.” And he explained that these were the findings “even after controlling for MPAA rating.”

“In other words, even among R[-rated] movies, less graphic sex is better," Simonton said.

Co-author Anemone Cerridwen conceived of the study after taking an acting class that raised her concern about the sexual content in scripts she was reading.

“I assumed sex sold, and wanted to know by how much,” Cerridwen explained. “I braced myself for the worst, and got quite the surprise.”

It could be that if movie studios have evidence that crude content may detrimentally impact profits, standards just may be raised.

“I do believe that there are a fair number of people in the film industry who want to make better films, and this study may give them some ammunition,” Cerridwen said.


3. California Gay Marriage Trial May Be Televised

A new reality TV show may be in the making.

The legal challenge to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California, is going to trial.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, the federal judge presiding over the case, has signaled that he’s open to having television cameras in the courtroom.

Moving papers filed in the case by backers of Proposition 8 argued that TV coverage of the trial, which is scheduled to begin on January 11, could expose witnesses to harassment and intimidation and noted that some have already “indicated that they would not be willing to testify” if the trial is televised.

Unlike local and state courts, federal courts have had a longstanding policy against allowing television cameras to broadcast trial proceedings. But in September 2009, a pilot program was approved by a San Francisco federal appeals court to televise non-jury civil trials.

The plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8 filed papers advocating TV coverage of the trial, citing “the overwhelming national public interest in the issues.”

The plaintiffs are joined by all of the broadcast networks and the cable channel, In Session.

And you can bet that the media smell big ratings in bringing this particular live trial to the small screen.


4. Bono Wants Copyright Crackdown

Bono, the Irish rock star who’s known for his international activism on various human rights causes, has found a new issue to address this year.

The U2 front man is calling for the U.S. to get tough on music piracy.

Bono thinks the government has demonstrated that, despite what many technology gurus say, it’s “perfectly possible to track” Internet content.

The examples he uses to illustrate aren’t something civil libertarians are fond of — the U.S. effort to stop child pornography and China's actions in suppressing online dissent.

Bono, though, maintains that file sharing harms those who create cultural commerce.

“The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files,” the singer wrote in the New York Times.

He correctly pointed out that “the immutable laws of bandwidth” have produced a trend where, in only a few years, feature films will be downloaded in seconds.

“A decade's worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators -- in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us,” Bono wrote.

He urged the film industry to lobby leaders in Washington to defend the largest export in the U.S.

“Perhaps movie moguls will succeed where musicians and their moguls have failed so far, and rally America to defend the most creative economy in the world, where music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly four percent of gross domestic product,” Bono added.

Interestingly, Bono has lived like a capitalist for a long time.

Now he’s actually talking like one.


5. Smoking Shorts but No ‘Smoking Gun’

FADE IN . . . The camera shows a close up of a handgun with wisps of smoke slowly rising from the barrel of a firearm.

The “smoking gun” phrase has become a euphemism for compelling proof of criminal conduct.

Now a member of the current administration, John Brennan, assistant to President Obama for homeland security and counter-terrorism, has used the phrase in response to questions about the recent attempted terror attack on Christmas day that if successful would have blown Northwest Airlines Flight 253 and its 290 passengers out of the sky.

Brennan told “Fox News Sunday” that while there were “bits and pieces” of information regarding Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab prior to his arrest, “there was no smoking gun” that would have stopped him from being allowed a seat on the plane.

Even a neophyte screenwriter wouldn't buy that line. Abdulmutallab had smoking underwear!

“There was no piece of intelligence that said, ‘This guy's a terrorist. He's going to get on a plane,’” Brennan said. “No, not whatsoever. It was the failure to integrate and piece together those bits and pieces of information.”

In addition to the smoldering shorts, Abdulmutallab failed to produce a valid passport, paid cash for a one-way international ticket to the U.S. and boarded the plane with no luggage. His prominent father was worried enough to warn U.S. officials of his son's extremist activities.

A smoking bazooka is more like it.

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