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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Consumers are returning more electronics, raising costs



The industry's cost for returned consumer-electronics products has risen to almost $17 billion in 2011, up 21% from 2007, according to Accenture. Although only 5% of returns are due to actual product defects, returns have increased 57% for U.S. retailers and 43% for manufacturers, the management consulting firm reports. Accenture said "buyer's remorse" is behind about one-quarter of returns, and more than two-thirds are chalked up as "no trouble found." USA TODAY/Technology Live blog 

NTSB Says Ban All Cell Phone Use in Cars and Trucks


Cell Phones Get the Red Light in Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends a ban on all mobile phone usage while driving. What's next, no radio?
texting while driving
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is advising states to ban the use of cell phones in cars. It doesn't just suggest restricting texting in a car, but talking on a phone, too. Presumably, this will eventually mean no radio in the car either. Also, kids and dogs should definitely be verboten.

Let me set the record straight. I hate people who yak on their phones all the time as though there is nothing worthwhile in the world except the diminutive voice at the other end. I've almost been hit a couple of times because of distracted dingbats that clearly had a phone to their ear. Horrible accidents are happening because of these people. Texting is worse. It's like reading the newspaper while driving.

The irony, of course, is that the mobile phone as we know it began its existence as a car phone. Banning the practice, making it a felony, or revoking a driver's license, however, is no solution. Instead, we should return to the original car phone paradigm. When car phones were coming into existence in the late 1980s, they were built into the car. There was a handset in the car and an incorporated microphone and speaker system that allowed you to take calls with the push of a button. Then you could chat away over the stereo speakers. This was also the era of AM stereo, by the way, and the cool cars all had cell phone antennas on the roof. The outside antenna, I should add, provided a clearer more sustained signal. In short, it was better.

It took a while to develop the small handset that was triggered by the Motorola StarTAC phones. Once these became popular, the integrated car phone died. Systems such as the Ford SYNC seem to revive this somewhat and there are a few systems that integrate the car's electronics with various handsets, but there are no standards.

What the NTSB should have done, rather than act like a crazy old Berkeley woman, was recommend something sensible and modern. The horses left the barn on this technology years ago. People want to chat all the time. Banning chatter on the phone in the car is not ending by edict. All it will do is create scofflaws further isolating the public from the legal system in negative ways.

The NTSB should recommend that Congress mandate an integrated mobile phone system—something any phone can plug into—in American cars. A modern fractal external antenna can be part of the system. Then we'd return to the days of the safer, integrated car phone. No fumbling for the phone means both hands are on the wheel.


An unintended consequence of the car phone system is that, without a headset, everyone in the car will hear the conversation, likely minimizing the length of the calls when passengers are around. This in itself should improve the safety record and protect the innocent. There are plenty of benefits to this thoughtful idea.

But what do we get instead of a sensible and workable concept? We just get more recommendations for laws against something that everyone does. It's as if we are in the Soviet Union where there is a law against everything. The just-make-it-illegal bureaucrats at the NTSB should be fired immediately for this sort of blatant, unproductive stupidity. Why can't agencies be realistic about problems and find reasonable solutions rather than lazily banning things? I'm really disgusted by the fact that these folks are actually paid salaries. We as a nation may even benefit if the NTSB was shuttered.

From PC Magazine, click here for more.
 

You can be for the Internet and against Piracy of Inteletual Property

MPAA's Dodd says Hollywood is pro-Internet but anti-piracy

MPAA CEO Christopher Dodd
Motion Picture Assn. of America chief Christopher J. Dodd sought to counter criticism that Hollywood is trying to censor the Internet via pending legislation to crack down on online piracy, telling a liberal Washington think tank Tuesday that the industry's fate is tied to technology.

"Hollywood is pro-Internet," the former Democratic senator from Connecticut told the Center for American Progress. "So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals."

His comments came as the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve legislation Thursday  aimed at shutting down foreign websites that offer pirated movies, music, medicine and other products. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved similar legislation in May.

Hollywood strongly backs the legislation, which would grant new authority to the Justice Department to block so-called rogue sites. The legislation also would give movie studios, music companies and other copyright holders the ability to seek court injunctions against Internet companies they believe are aiding in copyright theft.

But major Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, EBay and Facebook, are fighting to water down the legislation because they fear it opens the door to censorship on the Internet. They argue that the piracy bills are too heavy-handed and would even threaten the technological stability of the Internet through new mechanisms to block access to piracy sites.

Speaking in Washington on Monday, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the content industry has "over-reached" in the legislation and filtering technologies that companies would have to develop could be used by some countries to curb free speech.

Dodd has taken heat for recent comments that Internet censorship by China showed that blocking rogue sites was possible.

"When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn't do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites," he told Variety.

But Dodd said Tuesday that the industry opposes censorship of free speech by repressive governments and that any comparison of the legislation to such efforts was "absolutely reprehensible."

"We stand with those who strongly oppose foreign governments that would unilaterally block websites, and thus deny the free flow of information and speech," he said.

But Dodd said that a free and open Internet also must contain strong copyright protection.

"There is a difference between believing that the Internet should be free and open, and believing that just because something's on the Internet, it should be free," he said.

RELATED:
Piracy legislation pits Hollywood against Silicon Valley
MPAA's Dodd to Silicon Valley: Can't we all just get along?
Christopher Dodd brings Hollywood glitz back to Washington

 -- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington

Photo: MPAA chief Christopher J. Dodd. Credit: Associated Press

From the LA Times Company Town, click here for the latest industry news.

Help leads SAG Award Noms, Turn Down the Volume on Commercials, Let's all go to the beach, All American Muslim's ratings up



  The Help was a SAG favorite
From the LA Times Company Town Blog...click here for industry news...

No help needed. "The Help" received four Screen Actors Guild nominations Thursday while "The Artist" bagged three. Also nominated were Brad Pitt for "Moneyball," Leonardo DiCaprio for "J. Edgar" and Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady." Doing double duty, Glenn Close was nominated for best actress for the movie "Albert Nobbs" and for the TV show "Damages." Early coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Brothers again. Fans of Ed Burns' early movies "The Brothers McMullen" and "She's the One" and the chemistry the actor/director had with co-star Mike McGlone will be happy to know the two will be working together again. Burns is working on a new movie -- "FitzGerald’s Family Christmas," which will reunite him with his on-screen brother. McGlone has been keeping busy with appearances on some popular Geico commercials.




Ncis
Production Up at the Beach. The crew of “NCIS: Los Angeles” was in the middle of filming a scene on the Venice boardwalk when a man wearing only his underwear and a cape rode by on his bicycle shouting obscenities. On another occasion, a stranger wielding a plastic light saber showed up on the set and challenged one of the actors to a duel, temporarily halting production.

“Those kind of things continually go on in Venice, but we love going down there because it's so colorful and captures the essence of what people think Southern California is -- the beaches, the sunshine, the palms and the craziness,” said Tony Salome, a location manager for the crime drama starring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J.

Venice Beach, a storied cinematic backdrop since the silent film era, continues to play a starring role in Hollywood. In fact, the beach community enjoyed a major resurgence in 2011, ranking as the second busiest place for location shooting from its last-place standing a year ago among the 10 top film sites in Los Angeles. Perennial favorite Griffith Park came in first.

Venice Beach generated 184 production days this year, nearly doubling the number it clocked in 2010, according to a 2011 survey by FilmL.A. Inc., which tracks filming on city streets, unincorporated areas of the county and noncertified soundstages.

Film industry officials attributed part of the increase in filming activity in Venice Beach this year to an upswing in commercial production. The community attracted dozens of still photography shoots and commercials from such brands as Chevy, T.J. Maxx, L’Oreal and Geico.

“We had a high number of commercials that chose to use the beach and we suspect that contributed to the increase in standing versus last year,” said Todd Lindgren, spokesman for FilmL.A.
Venice is especially appealing because it is seen as a symbol of Southern California lifestyle, with the beach, palm trees and colorful characters who frequent the boardwalk. When scouting for a location for an episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Salome said he noticed an elderly homeless woman wearing a giant hat adorned with fake birds. “The director said, ‘We’ve got to have that woman,’” recalled Salome, adding that the woman became the inspiration for a minor character in the episode.

Happy birthday. OWN, the cable network launched by Oprah Winfrey and DIscovery Communications, turns one on Jan. 1, so get ready for a slew of articles about how the network has not lived up to the hype with viewers and has been racked by turmoil. The Hollywood Reporter is first up with its analysis of OWN's first year. Guess what? A lot of shows flopped and Winfrey isn't on the channel nearly as much as Discovery would like. The real shocking part though is that apparently Winfrey lives in a "bubble" and is "unfamiliar with the general television landscape, according to sources with firsthand knowledge -- one insider says that in the early going, she often expressed enthusiasm for ideas that seemed original to her -- but weren’t."
FCC lowers volume on commercials
Turn Down the Volume on Commercials! A new rule from the Federal Communications Commission should finally end the practice of viewers reaching for the remote control to turn down the volume every time there's a commercial break.

"The FCC today took a major step toward eliminating one of the most persistent problems of the television age -– loud commercials," the agency said in a statement.

Responding to years of complaints that the volume on commericals is louder than that of regular programming, the FCC on Tuesday passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM). The act requires commercials and entertainment and news programming to be kept at the same volume. The rules also require that the volume for promotional spots be equal to the shows around it.

Multichannel Video Program Distributors such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. and broadcasters will be responsible for making sure commerical volume is not excessive. The rule goes into effect next December.

The order and accompanying statements can be found at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/media-bureau-headlines. Now can the FCC do something about the quality of commercials?

More from the Los Angeles Times.

JamesMurdochNewsCorp.
Murdock aware of Phone Hacking in 2008. News Corp. Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch received an email in June 2008 that described the company's tenuous legal position because of the widespread nature of phone hacking by operatives of its now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

The internal emails, which were released Tuesday by the British Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, are important because they appear to belie Murdoch's statements to Parliament that he was unaware that illegal conduct involved numerous News of the World reporters as well as a private investigator hired by the tabloid.

Murdoch consistently has insisted to Parliament that he did not learn until late 2010 of the widespread nature of the phone hacking. However, the emails lay out an exchange more than two years earlier between Murdoch, the 38-year-old son of media baron Rupert Murdoch, and Colin Myler, the former editor of the tabloid.

"Unfortunately it is as bad as we feared," Myler wrote to James Murdoch in a June 7, 2008, email.
The correspondence included another email, this one from the paper's in-house lawyer, which said News International -- the British newspaper unit of News Corp. -- would have to pay a soccer league executive Gordon Taylor about $1 million to settle invasion of privacy charges. The second email warned of a "nightmare scenario" because a second soccer league official, Joanne Armstrong, also had been targeted in the phone hacking.

Murdoch, in a separate letter submitted to Parliament this week, stated that he only became aware of the email chain last week. He noted that the 2008 emails had been sent to him on a Saturday afternoon, and that he failed to fully read them.
 
Pirates in Hollywood? TorrentFreak, a blog run BitTorrent, the popular file sharing site, says there are pirates lurking within big Hollywood studios. As Hollywood aggressively lobbies Capitol Hill to go after people who pirate their content, TorrentFreak reports it found people at Sony, Fox and NBCUniversal using its software to download movies. I can honestly say I've never used BitTorrent and don't know how to download it. Thanks to I Want Media for digging up this post.

Experiment failed. As the New York Post anticipated last week, Christiane Amanpour is out as anchor of ABC's Sunday morning news show "This Week" and George Stephanopoulos, currently the host of the network's "Good Morning America," will take over. Amanpour's version of "This Week" did not embrace the inside-the-Beltway approach that viewers of the political magazine program had grown used to and ratings sank. An analysis of what happened from Politico.

Thanks for the publicity. The backlash against home improvement chain Lowe's decision to pull advertising from the TLC show "All-American Muslim" could end up actually boosting ratings. "The show has not proved a hit, even by TLC standards, and could use the attention stoked by the controversy," says USA Today.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: James Rainey on the idea of Ryan Seacrest replacing Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today." Richard Verrier on how Venice Beach has become a hot spot for television and movie producers.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I'm told I'm quite amusing. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: "The Help." Credit: Dale Robinette/DreamWorks II Distribution Co.

SAG AWARD NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED


The Help leads Screen Actors Guild Awards honours with four nominations

  • Silent movie The Artists follows closely behind with three nominations
  •  
  • Michelle Williams given nod with best actress nomination for Monroe film
  •  
  • George Clooney will compete against pal Brad Pitt for best actor
By Daily Mail Reporter

Also see http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/sag-award-nominations-nominee-list-273669

The Deep South drama The Help cleaned up with four nominations today as the nominations for the 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced in Los Angeles.

Among them were nods for Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.
The adaptation of the best-selling novel is nominated for ensemble cast along with the silent film The Artist, the wedding comedy Bridesmaids, the family drama The Descendants and the romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris.

Scroll down to see trailers of movies nominated for Best Picture...
Favourite: The Help, which stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney, has received four SAG Awards nominations
Favourite: The Help, which stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney, has received four SAG Awards nominations
Deep South drama: Davis, right, has been honoured with a best actress nomination while co-star Spencer, centre, gets a supporting actress nod for the movie which also features Emma Stone, left
Deep South drama: Davis, right, has been honoured with a best actress nomination while co-star Spencer, centre, gets a supporting actress nod for the movie which also features Emma Stone, left
Davis is up for best actress and Spencer for supporting actress as black maids who agree to share stories of their tough lives with an aspiring white writer (Emma Stone) at the start of the civil-rights movement in 1960s Mississippi.
Chastain was nominated for supporting actress as Spencer’s lonely, needy new boss.
The Artist ran second with three nominations, including a best-actor honour for Jean Dujardin as a silent star falling from grace amid the advent of talking pictures and supporting actress for Berenice Bejo, who plays a rising sound-era movie star.
Surprise hit: Jean Dujardin is wowing critics and audiences alike in the silent film, The Artist, which got three SAG Award nominations
Surprise hit: Jean Dujardin is wowing critics and audiences alike in the silent film, The Artist, which got three SAG Award nominations
Seal of approval: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams sharing a kiss in a scene from Woody Allen's romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris
Seal of approval: Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams sharing a kiss in a scene from Woody Allen's romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris
Along with Davis, best-actress contenders are Glenn Close as a woman disguising herself as a male butler in 19th-century Ireland in Albert Nobbs and Meryl Streep  as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
Tilda Swinton also got listed in the category as a grief-stricken woman coping with her son’s horrible deeds in We Need to Talk About Kevin, as did Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn.
Joining Dujardin in the best-actor category are Demian Bichir as a hard-working illegal immigrant father in A Better Life, George Clooney as a neglectful father tending his two daughters in The Descendants and Leonardo DiCaprio as FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar.
Emotional journey: The Descendants features an incredible performance from George Clooney as a father trying to reconnect with his daughters
Emotional journey: The Descendants features an incredible performance from George Clooney as a father trying to reconnect with his daughters
Nod: Actresses Judy Greer, right, and Regina King announce George Clooney as a nominee for the category of Best Male Actor during a ceremony today in Los Angeles where the SAG Award nominations were announced
Nod: Actresses Judy Greer, right, and Regina King announce George Clooney as a nominee for the category of Best Male Actor during a ceremony today in Los Angeles where the SAG Award nominations were announced.

Brad Pitt features in the category too, receiving a nomination for this role as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in Moneyball.


The SAG Awards will be presented January 29.


The nominations are among the first major honours on the long road to the February 26 Academy Awards.
Wedding comedy: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids. The movie features in the best picture category
Wedding comedy: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids. The movie features in the best picture category

Iconic: Michelle Williams has been honoured in the list in the best actress category for her role in My Week With Marilyn
Iconic: Michelle Williams has been honoured in the list in the best actress category for her role in My Week With Marilyn

SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS - KEY CATEGORIES


FILM
Best picture
Bridesmaids
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

Best Actor
George Clooney, The Descendants
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best actress
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best supporting actor
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best supporting actress
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs


* * * * * * * * * * * *


TELEVISION

Best drama
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Dexter
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife


Best comedy
Modern Family
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Glee
The Office

Best dramatic actor
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Patrick J. Adams, Suits
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter

Best dramatic actress
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best comedic actor
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best comedic actress
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

Best actor in a TV movie/miniseries
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
James Woods, Too Big to Fail

Best actress in a TV movie/miniseries
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Betty White, Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

This Weekend: A Christmas Carol at UNLV


PETITION: 100K strong telling Boehner to stop holding the payroll tax cut hostage to Tea Party demands

Telling Boehner to stop holding the payroll tax cut hostage to Tea Party demands: PETITION: 100K strong telling Boehner to stop holding the payroll tax cut hostage to Tea Party demands: https://www.dccc.org/pages/payroll

Propoganda from the Democrats, but shows how Congress adds things to bills then sells it in sound bites as doing the right thing. Protect those who earn over one million yet add to the taxes of the rich and support pet projects. Different issues but Democrats do the same thing on other issues when they have the majority. This type of lobbyist and special interest politics is now controlled by the right. Tell Congress to stop and start with supporting a veto of this watered down, special interest rider attached bill.

Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Is "Capitalism: A Love Story" Michael Moore's best film?

Variety says thinks it is one of his best if not his best:


http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940961.html?categoryid=3716&cs=1



http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810045454/video/15204601


http://www.capitalismalovestory.com/


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/09/michael-moores-new-movie_n_228769.html

Of course the film is not out yet, but based on reviews and the links above, what do you expect it to be like? What do you think of the bailouts? Of this recession?

Published 9-9-2009