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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Shut Up and Shut Up: Weinsteinco sez GE-NBC, CW nix Chicks [UPDATED}

Reports Variety, The Weinstein Company is claiming that General Electric’s NBC network and the Viacom-Warner Bros. CW network have kicked the Chicks, refusing to accept national advertising for Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck‘s brilliant documentary, Shut Up & Sing! dixiechicks.jpg [View the offending ad here.] While a CW rep denies the Weinsteinco assertion, NBC “has specifically said it won’t accept the spots because they are disparaging of President Bush. Opening today in NY and LA, the deeply felt and incredibly entertaining doc “revisits the fierce fallout that occurred in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that the president is from Texas, her home state. The national spot shows a clip of Bush authorizing troops to fight in Iraq, then cuts to a clip of Maines’ comment. Next is a clip of the president saying publicly that the Dixie Chicks shouldn’t have their feelings hurt if people don’t want to buy their records anymore. The final frame shows Maines saying that Bush is a “real dumb (bleep).” [“Fuck” would be the epithet in question.] “It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “It’s a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America. The idea that anyone should be penalized for criticizing the president is profoundly un-American.” While Weinstein is, of course, one of the masters of “free media,” the practice of creating controversy where there is no intention of actually dishing out for paid advertising, NBC’s blunt statement that it “cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush” is pretty frightening. [At the link, the counterclaims by the CW versus TWC.] [UPDATE October 28: Weinstein reps have been quoted in Saturday reports to the effect that if this were an attempt at free media, they’d’ve done it last week, in order not to diminish the thunder of the largely approving opening day reviews in NYC and LA.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch