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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheetah, RIP

Primate Actor from 'Tarzan' Films, Dies

Cheetah Tarzan Chimp 1934 - P 2011
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The chimpanzee, who was about 80 at his time of death, appeared in the early 1930s installments of the famous franchise.

One of the most famous animal actors in Hollywood history is gone.

Cheetah, the chimpanzee sidekick from Tarzan films, died of kidney failure over the weekend at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida. The Tampa Tribune reports that he was roughly 80 years old.

Hardly the only primate to take on the iconic role, Cheetah probably received the most exposure. He appeared in the 1932-1934 installments of the franchise, at the beginning of its heyday when Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller took over the title role.

In addition to having the distinction of being famous, Cheetah's longevity was one of his greatest accomplishments. Suncoast outreach director Debbie Cobb noted that chimpanzees generally live between 35 to 45 years in captivity, and only 25 to 35 years in the wild.

She also spoke highly of his character.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb told the Tampa Tribune. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."

Cheetah moved to the sanctuary around 1960, where he remained the most famous of its primate residents until his death. His interests included finger-painting, watching football and nondenominational Christian music.

Among Cheetah's Tarzan features were Tarzan and His Mate and Tarzan the Ape Man, where he starred alongside Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, who played "Jane."

O’Sullivan’s daughter, actress Mia Farrow, reacted to Cheetah's passing on her Twitter account, painting a less flattering portrait than Cobb.

"My mom, Tarzan's Jane, referred to Cheetah-the-chimp as 'that bastard,'" she wrote, "saying he bit her at every opportunity."

From The Hollywood Reporter (click here).

Tell the truth

Animation Roundtable; Gump and Bambi; Rockband bleeds money; Fast Five most pirated; Program trains disabled adults for film jobs

The Skinny: A free tip for those of you who want to impress your in-laws and keep them busy over the holidays: Get into the entertainment business so you can show them screeners of movies still in theaters. In more useful news, Rock Band keeps on costing Viacom money even though it sold the games off last year, "Fast Five" was the most frequently pirated movie of 2011 on BitTorrent, and customers are still peeved at Netflix.

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest entertainment news...
RockBand2Here's your check for losing money: Viacom's failed attempt to enter the video game business continues to haunt Sumner Redstone's conglomerate. Although it sold Rock Band maker Harmonix last year, Viacom was just ordered in an arbitration to pay Harmonix's original shareholders $383 million in bonuses on top of $150 million already paid (and the original $175-million purchase price). Viacom is suing to overturn the decision. That's a big bonus for a game that never made money, and probably a contract Viacom's top brass really regrets. Coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Gamasutra.

The clock is ticking: Shareholders in "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment are eager to agree on a transaction (aka selling the company) by the end of 2011, according to people familiar with the matter not authorized to discuss it publicly. But talks with potential buyers Lions Gate Entertainment and Miramax co-owner Colony Capital have yet to reach a conclusion. Perhaps the one hot media news story in an otherwise slow week is whether someone will buy Summit by Saturday.

Not the race you want to win: Auto racing action sequel "Fast Five" was the sixth most popular film at the domestic box office this year, but it was the No. 1 most illegally downloaded via BitTorrent. Other surprises on the list of 10 most-pirated films on BitTorrent were the appearance of "Source Code" and "Sucker Punch" and the absence of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Coverage in the LA Times and The Wrap.

Costly mistakes: Netflix's big missteps this year may cost it in customer loyalty for a long time to come. A survey of customer satisfaction with online retailers found that Netflix took the biggest tumble in 2011 as people were ticked off by an unexpected price hike of up to 60% and the Qwikster debacle. Amazon, which has a growing video-on-demand business, was the biggest gainer. AllThingsD and CNET News covered the data.

Picking the classics: It took "Forrest Gump" only 17 years to be added to the National Film Registry, compared with 69 years for "Bambi" and 77 for "Twentieth Century." Hey, I'm just reporting the news, not making a judgment. The LA Times and Hollywood Reporter a look at the 25 movies added to the collection by the Library of Congress. My personal favorite: Pixar president Ed Catmull's first digitally animated short: the self-explanatory "A Computer Animated Hand" from 1972.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: A program to train developmentally disabled adults for jobs in the film business. A profile of UFC "baldfather" Dana White. Adultery is hot on TV. Betsy Sharkey gives a good review to one of 2011's last releases, "Pariah."

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Guests try out Rock Band 2 at a 2008 event. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Hollywood Reporter Roundtable Video on Animation

A new film by my very good and talented friend, Michael Toole

Bill Cosby promotes Netflix over Hulu

With "The Cosby Show," Bill Cosby created one of the most important sitcoms in TV history. Running from 1984 to 1992, it spent five straight years as the number one Nielsen rated show on television, with upwards of 30 million people watching his Huxtable family each week on NBC.

It's a cultural treasure, but just about 20 years since it went off the air, it can be a bit hard to find. But Bill giveth, and he giveth some more, and thanks to that generous spirit, he's posted this new video on YouTube to help old fans and curious new viewers find "The Cosby Show" online.

Hint: it's on Netflix, not Hulu.

Click here to go to the Huffington Post and view the Cosby video...

I'm On Netflix

Obama signs Hoover Dam power allocation bill

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun 

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge section of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project is seen just south of the Hoover Dam on Aug. 19, 2010.

President Barack Obama signed the Hoover Power Allocation Act into law, cementing an electric power-sharing agreement that will be in place until 2067.

Under the law, Nevada receives approximately a quarter of the electricity generated by the Hoover Dam, which through 2008, was producing an annual average of about 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours. Five percent of that — and 5 percent of all recipient states' allocations — will go to a pooled fund that can be tapped by tribes, irrigation districts, and rural cooperatives that before this law, couldn't access electricity generated at the dam.

The Hoover Dam is one of the most inexpensive sources of electrical energy in Nevada, a fact highlighted in Sen. Harry Reid's comments on the bill's passage.

"I commend President Obama for ensuring 50 more years of affordable, renewable energy for Nevada," Reid said. "This legislation is good for our economy and our environment and I look forward to seeing Nevada benefit from this agreement for decades to come."

Even with the shares in place, how much electricity Nevada will reap from the Hoover Dam over the 50-year contract that begins in 2017 has yet to be determined.

There is growing concern that the Hoover Dam's ability to continue to produce power — a fate that's closely tied to the health of Lake Mead — will decline. By some estimates, Lake Mead will drop too low to produce power well before 2017.

Still, the bill has received wide support from the Nevada delegation; Rep. Joe Heck sponsored it in the House, where Rep. Shelley Berkley was a cosponsor. In the Senate, Sen. Dean Heller and before him Sen. John Ensign had signed on as co-sponsors to Reid's bill.

Source: Las Vegas Sun