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Monday, August 21, 2006

More on Hollywood's malaise...Robert Greenwald says his new doc is done...Still speculating about Amazon's download plans

- Laura Holson had a piece in the NY Times last Friday headlined, `Caught on Film: A Growing Unease in Hollywood'. The unease this summer is about job cuts, studio belt-tightening, and increased scrutiny for mega-bucks star contracts. (Last summer, it was all about sagging box office revenues.) One great quote, from Warren Beatty:

    “In this Wall Street and corporate world, the discussion has become: What is the proven, unique selling property of this product?” said Warren Beatty, the actor, who is upbeat about the industry’s prospects.

    But he, too, agreed the industry was in transition. “The problem is you can’t sell entertainment the way you sell cars or air-conditioners,’’ he said. “Entertainment is dependent, to some extent, on surprise.”

- Robert Greenwald says his new documentary, `Iraq for Sale,' just wrapped, and he's organizing screening parties for the week of October 8th - 14th. The Washington Post just had this pieceabout Greenwald's innovative approach to raising money for his films: hitting up his fans.

- No solid date yet for Amazon to unveil its much-anticipated movie download service... but lots of speculation about the name and pricing from Paid Content and The Economist. The Economist writes:

    ...At heart the company remains primarily a purveyor of old-world media: some two-thirds of its sales are from books, CDs and DVDs. Whatever share of media ends up being downloaded, Amazon will miss out unless it introduces its own service. The one it is said to have in the pipeline has evolved in the past year from offering mostly music to concentrating more on films and television shows, according to Advertising Age. The trade publication says this is because Amazon's executives felt Apple's grip on the music market would be too difficult to break.

    A video service could resemble a downloadable version of Netflix, a Californian company that pioneered online video rentals. Netflix's customers compile online lists of videos they want to see and receive them in the post. When the DVDs are returned in their pre-paid envelopes, the next titles are sent. With no late fees, Netflix has pummelled Blockbuster's store-based video-rental model.