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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Harry Potter earns special BAFTA Award

The Harry Potter franchise will receive the BAFTA award for outstanding British contribution to cinema at this month's Orange British Academy Film Awards.

J.K. Rowling and David Heyman will receive the award on behalf of the pics during the ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on Feb. 13.

The award, which was introduced in 1978, is presented in honor of film producer Michael Balcon, who was responsible for the Ealing Comedies, such as "The Lavender Hill Mob."

Past recipients include Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jarman and Working Title.

Finola Dwyer, chair of the film committee, commented, "As this great British film success story draws to a close with this year's eagerly anticipated final instalment, it's fitting that BAFTA honors the Harry Potter films and their contribution to the British film industry."

Starting in 2001 with "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the Warner Bros. Pictures' franchise has gone on to gross more than $5.4 billion worldwide, making it the top-grossing film franchise of all time.
The franchise ends with the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" on July 15.

Above is from Click here for this story and other entertainment news. Subscription is recommended.

Ode To Snail Mail

The U.S. Post Office recently announced it plans to close or consolidate as many as 2,000 branches. The news saddened Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum. She confesses to a love affair with snail mail, and writes in today's paper that email and Facebook are fine, "but nothing can replace the real deal." Daum joins guest host Mary Louise Kelly to talk about the fading pleasures of anticipating the mail delivery, lingering over a hand-written letter and the magic of snail mail.

Do you still write letters?  How do you feel when you receive a card or letter in the mail? How would Ben Franklin, the first Postmaster General, feel about the current state of the Postal Service (no longer the Post Office0 and new technology?

 Click here for the program on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Ronald Reagan: an icon turns 100

Ronald Reagan would have been 100 years old this Sunday, Feb. 6. 

The Great Communicator, who is credited for the growth of the conservative Republican thrust of that party, who is spoken of with reverence by the Tea Party, contempt by unions and may be the first president many Americans alive today can remember, was a complex man, not the stereotype he has been made into. His legacy has been systematically twisted and altered to fit the agenda of those who want a permanent conservative government in Washington. It was done through the naming of airports and highways, buildings and philosophies in his honor. But is that image of Ronald Reagan true?

He is a man put on a pedestal by many, lifted up to levels occupied by Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and John F Kennedy in the popular mind.  Yet Reagan was not the conservative bastion as he is painted by the religious right, fiscal conservatives, the Tea Party and many whose lives were formed during his administration. As governor of California he proposed and oversaw the largest tax hike of any state in history, generating over six billion dollars in today adjusted dollars. His agenda included conservative concepts, but also moderate and even liberal missions in other areas. And recently his son revealed that even in the White House President Reagan showed signs of early onslaught of the Alzheimer's that eventually took away his quality of life.

Reagan was pragmatic. At times he was bipartisan. He used his acting and communication skills to present an idealistic view of America and to sell it successfully to the majority of Americans, at a time when many say our country most needed it. He brought conservatives and moderates into his party, people who previously were solid Democrats.

He was told early on that he could not become governor of California, much less president, because he was a "B" movie actor and the public perceived actors as airheads. So he manufactured an image of himself, making fun of his own acting background and being an actor (and former President of the Screen Actors Guild), being fatherly and responsible and always in control. Behind the scenes he would be angry, thrust out against anyone in the way of his agenda (like the Air Traffic Controllers) and both highly intelligent and very organized,

Several days of celebration are planned at his presidential library and museum in Simi Valley, Calif. Those events were kicked off Wednesday with a panel of biographers and journalists who'd covered him since the beginning of his political career. Portions of that panel discussion, including journalist Tom Brokow, can be found at Morning Edition from NPR (click here).

Wanna buy MySpace? Hulu and Netflix changing the industry, Best Picture a Horse Race?

So much for restraint of pen and tongue. In a bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you move, Jason Kilar, the CEO of online video site Hulu, criticized television for having too many commercials and said advertising on Hulu is more effective. The problem, of course, is that Hulu is owned by big media companies News Corp., Disney and NBC Universal, who not only make a ton of money from commercials, but also provide the online video distributor with most of its content. More on Kilar's rant from the Financial Times. In the meantime, Viacom struck a deal with Hulu to return its content, including Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," to the site. Of course, "Daily Show" and lots of other Viacom content have been available online already, so I'm not sure what the big deal is about this. Details on the Hulu-Viacom pact, from All Things Digital , which said it was at least a $40-million deal.
Even Snookie couldn't save Viacom. Media giant Viacom, parent of MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, released its first-quarter results early Thursday morning and said profits dipped 12% to $610 million. Much of the hit was attributed to Paramount Pictures, which had a drop in earnings of almost 80%. The numbers were good for several cable networks including MTV, thanks to "Jersey Shore" and Comedy Central. I'm guessing the struggling VH1, though, did not contribute a lot to the bottom line. Early analysis of the numbers from Bloomberg.
Space to sell. News Corp. indicated it's finally ready to throw in the towel on MySpace, the social networking site it has struggled to make competitive against Facebook. On an earnings call, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said, MySpace might benefit "through a new ownership structure," which is corporate speak for get this turkey off our balance sheet. More on that and the company's second-quarter results from the Los Angeles Times.
It's who you know. Dick Ebersol, the head of NBC Sports, put many of his longtime staffers in charge of the various sports properties he's inherited as a result of NBC's merger with Comcast Corp., including Golf Channel. He may also ultimately rename Versus, the Comcast sports network he now oversees, which would be a good move since that is one awkward name. Makes a lot more sense than taking the NBC Peacock off the stationary, which was new owner Comcast's first big move. More on the restructuring of NBC Sports from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times
Get me Glickman! MGM has named Jonathan Glickman president of production. The move was not a surprise since Glickman worked for MGM's new chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum at Spyglass. Oh, and Glickman is the son of former MPAA chief Dan Glickman. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.
King of England vs. king of social networking. The Best Picture battle looks like a two-horse race between "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network."  More on the race between USA Today and Hollywood Reporter.
Where are you watching the game? Since we're only days away from the Super Bowl, a story from the Wall Street Journal about how the advancement of home technology and the growth of Super Bowl parties have taken a bite out the business bars and restaurants usually do on Super Bowl Sunday.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: All you wanted to know about Natalie PortmanSouth by Southwest is coming. Run!