WRITERS GUILD TOUTS NEW LOW-BUDGET DEAL
The Writers Guild of America, East and west have announced a new program intended to promote production by independent filmmakers under the jurisdiction of the guilds, through the use of a low-budget agreement that allows writers to defer initial payment for scripts.
Victoria Riskin, president, WGAw said the new program is should encourage production of low-budget independent films, while also assuring basic economic and creative protections for writers.
"This is an era when, due to the vertical integration of companies, the opportunities for both guild members and non-members to sell their work are severely challenged," said Riskin. "We also recognize that many writers prefer to see their work produced independently without the constraints of the studio development process."
Riskin said the agreement provides opportunities for writers and producers to make movies that audiences otherwise might never see.
The deal allows writers to defer their compensation for a screenplay and a first rewrite on films budgeted under $750,000. Writers may request the agreement, but producers may not.
The Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have offered low-budget agreements for several years.
TONYS GOOD FOR B'WAY BUSINESS
Publicity from the Tony Awards had about the expected effect on the Broadway box office last week, with ticket sales registering an increase of a little more than $1 million -- or about 8 percent -- over the previous week's sales.
Overall, 31 Broadway shows sold $14.25 million worth of tickets.
"The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" enjoyed its biggest weekly gross yet, after winning the Tony for best play. Best musical winner "Thoroughly Modern Millie" grossed $833,192 the week after its big night -- an increase of $153,394 from the previous week.
NETWORK NEWS AUDIENCES STABILIZE
According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the TV audience for network news has stopped shrinking -- partially a result of heightened interest in news coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but there must have been other factors as well.
The audience for the evening news on the networks had been eroding for years, but the decline seems to have leveled off about two years ago, said the researchers.
Thirty-two percent of those polled said they regularly get their evening news from ABC, CBS or NBC -- slightly more than the 30 percent who said they watched network news two years ago, but still just half as many as the number who reported getting their news from the networks 10 years ago.
The poll found little change in the size of the audience that regularly gets its news on cable -- with about one in three saying they watch the cable news channels.
The stabilization of the network TV news audience was noted at the same time as researchers detected a fall-off in the popularity of newspapers. The number of people who said they had read a newspaper the previous day fell to 41 percent from 47 percent in 2000.
And the report suggests that the newspapers' loss is not necessarily the Internet's gain. Use of Web sites for news grew during the 2000-02 period, but only slightly. One person in four reported going online for news at least three times a week.
PRIMETIME FOR HITLER
According to a report in Daily Variety, CBS has greenlit a four-hour miniseries based on the early years of Adolf Hitler.
The project, titled "Hitler," will be based on historian Ian Kershaw's biography "Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris." Variety reported that executives were nervous at first about showcasing an obviously repulsive character, but CBS is said to be high on the project because it deals less with Hitler himself and more with the world in which he lived and rose to power.
"Hubris" was the Hitler biography to use information taken from the diaries of Joseph Goebbels -- Hitler's minister of propaganda.
BMW BRINGING BACK ONLINE SHORTS
BMW is making plans to produce another series of short films by top-drawer filmmakers to promote its cars online.
The first round of BMW shorts reportedly cost $9 million to make. They were downloaded more than 13 million times, and the images they employed were also carried over into print and TV ads for BMW.