|Conservation International News Release |
The Bamboo lemur
Antananarivo Madagascar April 7, 2005 - Mankind's closest living relatives - the world's apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates - face increasing peril from humans and some could soon disappear forever, according to a report released today by the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the International Primatological Society (IPS), in collaboration with Conservation International (CI).
Primates in Peril: The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates-2004-2006 reveals that 25 percent-or one in four-of the 625 primate species and subspecies are at risk of extinction.
The report compiled by more than 50 experts from 16 countries cites deforestation, commercial bushmeat hunting, and the illegal animal trade as the primary threats, and warns that failure to respond will bring the first primate extinctions in more than a century.
The golden-headed langur of Vietnam and China's Hainan gibbon number only in the dozens. The Horton Plains slender loris of Sri Lanka has been sighted just four times since 1937. Perrier's sifaka of Madagascar and the Tana River red colobus of Kenya are now restricted to tiny patches of tropical forest, leaving them vulnerable to rapid eradication.
Hunters kill primates for food and to sell the meat, traders capture them for live sale, and loggers, farmers, and land developers destroy their habitat.
"More and more, mankind's closest living relatives are being cornered into shrinking areas of tropical forest," said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier, who also chairs the IUCN-SSC Primate Specialist Group.
"This is especially true of Madagascar, one of the planet's biodiversity hotspots that has lost most of its original forest cover. More than half its lemurs, none found anywhere else in the world, are threatened with extinction.
The Cross River Gorilla
"Without immediate steps to protect these unique creatures and their habitat, we will lose more of our planet's natural heritage forever."
The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates list, compiled at the 20th Congress of the International Primatological Society in Turin, Italy, follows similar reports in 2000 and 2002.
Fifteen of the primates on the new list, including the Sumatran orangutan of Indonesia and the northern muriqui of Brazil, are "three-time losers" for having appeared on all three lists.
Seven are new additions to the 2004-2006 list, and three appeared once before.
Black-faced lion tamarin
Madagascar and Vietnam each have four primates on the new list, while Brazil and Indonesia have three, followed by Sri Lanka and Tanzania with two each, and one each from Colombia, China, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Some primates on the list are found in more than one country.
By region, the list includes 10 from Asia, seven from Africa, four from Madagascar, and four from South America, showing that threats to monkeys, lemurs, great apes and other non-human primates exist wherever they live.
All 25 primates on the 2004-2006 list are found in the world's biodiversity hotspots-34 regions identified by Conservation International that cover just 2.3 percent of the Earth's land surface but harbor well over 50 percent of all terrestrial plant and animal diversity.
Eight of the hotspots are considered the highest priorities for the survival of the most endangered primates: Indo-Burma, Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands, Sundaland, Eastern Afromontane, Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, Guinean Forests of West Africa, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, and Western Ghats-Sri Lanka.
Pagai pig-tailed snub-nosed monkey
Habitat loss due to the clearing of tropical forests for agriculture, logging, and the collection of fuel wood continues to be the major factor in the declining number of primates, according to the report.
Hunting for subsistence and commercial purposes also is a major and insidious threat, especially in Africa and Asia. Live capture for the pet trade also poses a serious threat, particularly to Asian species.
"Southeast Asia's primates are subject to relentless poaching because of the profits to be made from the illegal trade," said Chantal Elkin, manager of the Threatened Species Program in CI's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science.
"Although some of the region's threatened primates are taken as pets-notably orangutans and gibbons -they are most often hunted and traded for use in traditional medicines. Most of this trade appears to be international, primarily to China."
As "Flagship Species" and our closest living relatives, nonhuman primates are important to the health of their surrounding ecosystems. Through the dispersal of seeds and other interactions with their environments, primates help support a wide range of plant and animal life that make up the Earth's forests.
The 2004-2006 list focuses on the severity of the overall threat rather than mere numbers. Some on the list, such as the Sumatran orangutan, still number in the low thousands but are disappearing at a faster rate than other primates. The December tsunamis that devastated coastal Sumatra have triggered a possible new threat to orangutan habitat from resettlement of area residents.
Changes to the list from 2002 reflect a desire to draw attention to other endangered primates. For example, Miss Waldron's red colobus, which has gone decades without a live sighting, was replaced by the Bioko red colobus to show that other colobus species also are under extremely grave threat.
"All evidence tells us that the first extinctions among Africa's primates will occur among the red colobus," said Thomas Butynski, director of CI's Eastern Africa Biodiversity Hotspots Program. "Miss Waldron's red colobus in Ghana and Ivory Coast, and Bouvier's red colobus in the Republic of Congo may already be extinct, while the Tana River red colobus in Kenya and Bioko red colobus in Equatorial Guinea could be gone within the next 20 years."
Click here for the list of The 25 Most Endangered Primates.
Conservation International - http://www.conservation.org
|Nuke Plants Vulnerable |
By H. Josef Hebert
WASHINGTON April 7, 2005 (AP) It's a nightmare that scientists say could happen.
Terrorists penetrate a nuclear power plant but ignore the concrete-protected reactor. They're really after the pool of water containing hundreds of used fuel rods.
Explosive charges lead to an uncontrollable fire, sending radiation into the air.
A National Academy of Sciences report released Wednesday concludes such an event could happen. It also says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear industry have not done enough to understand the vulnerability.
It's "a critical national security issue," said the academy's president, Bruce Alberts, after the release of a report subject to haggling with regulators over how much of it should remain secret.
The scientific experts found many of the fuel storage pools at nuclear power plants in 31 states may be vulnerable and that regulators should conduct a fresh examination of each plant.
In the meantime, plant operators promptly should reconfigure used fuel rods in the storage pools to lower decay-heat intensity and install spray devices to reduce the risk of a fire should a storage facility be attacked, the scientists said.
Congress sought the study because of the heightened concerns that terrorists might seek to target nuclear power plants.
At 68 plants, including some already shut down, in 31 states, thousands of used reactor fuel rods are in deep water pools. Dry, concrete casks hold a smaller number of these rods.
Much more highly radioactive fuel is stored in pools than is in the more protected reactors -- 103 in total -- at these sites.
Some scientists and nuclear watchdog groups long have contended that these pools pose a much greater danger to a catastrophic attack than do the reactors themselves.
Some plants where pools are all or partially underground present less of a problem. Others, including a series of boiling-water reactors where pools are more exposed, represent greater concern, said Bob Alvarez, a former Energy Department official who has argued for increased protection of used reactor fuel at nuclear plants.
The experts' report "pretty well legitimizes what we've been saying," Alvarez said in an interview.
The scientific panel said reinforced concrete storage pools -- 25 feet to 45 feet deep, with water circulating to keep the fuel assemblies from overheating -- could tempt terrorists.
The report said an aircraft or high explosive attack could cause water to drain from the pools and expose the fuel rods, unleashing an uncontrollable fire and large amounts of radiation.
Nuclear regulators said they would give the report's recommendations "serious consideration." But the NRC has disputed many findings and suggestions from the experts.
After the classified document was provided to members of Congress last month, the NRC's chairman told lawmakers in a letter that some of the panel's assessments about plants' vulnerabilities were "unreasonable" and that certain conclusions "lacked sound technical basis."
"Today, spent fuel is better protected than ever," Nils Diaz wrote.
The NRC said it believes the potential for large releases of radiation from such a fire "to be extremely low." Still, the agency has advised reactor operations to consider refiguring the pools' fuel rods -- pairing new ones with older ones to reduce the heat.
Kevin Crowley, the scientific panel's staff director, said the classified version of the report includes "some attack scenarios well within the means of terrorists" that could result in a catastrophic fire of spent fuel.
Nuclear safety advocates said the report recognizes, for the first time, the vulnerability of spent fuel.
David Lochbaum, a nuclear industry watchdog for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the study makes clear that regulators have not acted aggressively enough.
"Three years after 9/11, our hope would have been more of that homework had been done," Lochbaum said.
The industry says its system of storing the fuel is safe and protected. But in response to the report, the industry said it was "assessing the potential to augment" safety systems for spent fuel facilities.
Marvin Fertel, a senior executive at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's trade group, said a computer analysis the industry commissioned in 2002 showed that fuel pool structures would withstand, without a significant loss of water, the impact of an aircraft crash.
But the study said the pools vary among plants and reactor designs, and that some are more vulnerable than others.
The panel said dry cask storage provides better protection. It also said significant numbers of used fuel rods always will have to be stay in pools for as long as five years before they adequately cool. At least one-quarter of the power plants now have some of their spent fuel in dry casks.
The panel said the government should look into more widespread use of dry cask storage as part of its detailed assessment of risks.
The academy is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government of scientific matters.
Yucca Mountain Squabble Continues
By Erica Werner
WASHINGTON April 6, 2005 (AP) The planned nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada won't be built unless the Energy Department is confident of the supporting science after investigating e-mails that showed workers discussing fabricating data, an official said Tuesday.
Under angry questioning from Nevada lawmakers, deputy director Theodore Garrish said the department was preparing to apply for a license to run the dump, but "we have not made a final decision yet as to when or whether to file those documents, and some of that will be based on this investigation."
"I can assure you we will not go forward unless we can have the feeling ourselves first that this repository will be safe," said Garrish.
Reassurances from Garrish and Charles Groat, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, didn't satisfy the Nevadans. They have seized on the e-mails, written by USGS employees, as the latest reason to kill the dump planned for 90 miles north of Las Vegas.
Officials from Gov. Kenny Guinn on down expressed outrage Tuesday during a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing.
"The fact that data may have been intentionally fabricated in service of shoring up predetermined and politically driven conclusions calls into question the very legitimacy of this entire program," Guinn said.
Location of the proposed Yucca Nuclear Waste dump
The Energy Department disclosed March 16 that e-mails written between 1998 and 2000, principally by two USGS scientists, suggested the workers might have falsified documents. Porter's committee has released redacted versions of dozens of the e-mails that show workers discussing concocting facts and keeping two sets of figures, one for themselves and one to show quality assurance officers.
In one e-mail a USGS scientist wrote: "I don't have a clue when these programs were installed. So I've made up the dates and names. ... This is as good as it's going to get. If they need more proof, I will be happy to make up more stuff."
The workers were studying how water moved through the desert site where the government wants to store 77,000 tons of commercial and defense nuclear waste from the nation's power plants and other sources for at least 10,000 years. The USGS validated Energy Department conclusions that water seepage was relatively slow, so radiation would be less likely to escape.
In written testimony, Garrish downplayed the significance of the e-mails. "This appears to be a lapse in quality assurance protocol and, at this time, we have no evidence that the underlying science was affected," his written testimony said.
He seemed to soften his position when he addressed the subcommittee, suggesting more study was needed.
"The impact of this issue is yet to be determined, and yes, we are concerned about the integrity of the data, and what was done was inexcusable," Garrish said.
The inspectors general of the Energy and Interior departments are conducting criminal investigations with help from the FBI, and the Energy Department is studying the impact on the scientific underpinnings of the planned waste dump site.
But Nevada lawmakers called Tuesday for additional reviews. Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., who chaired Tuesday's hearing, said he wanted an independent commission similar to the presidential commission that investigated the 1979 accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island.
Porter also said he was summoning the two main USGS workers who wrote the e-mails to testify at a hearing next week. Their identities have not been released. Groat said Tuesday they are no longer on the Yucca project but are still employed by USGS.
John Mitchell Jr., president and general manager of Bechtel SAIC, the Energy Department's managing contractor on the Yucca project, also testified Tuesday. He said the e-mails were originally discovered by Bechtel workers in early December and were discussed by high-ranking company officials, but weren't turned over to the Energy Department until March.
Porter was the only member of the House Government Reform federal work force and agency organization subcommittee to attend Tuesday's panel. He invited Nevada's other two House members, Republican Jim Gibbons and Democrat Shelley Berkley, to join him in questioning witnesses. That turned the three-hour hearing into a face-off between Nevadans adamantly opposed to Yucca and government officials committed to it, and there was little budging on either side.
A planned completion date of 2010 for the Yucca project was recently abandoned by Energy Department officials. A new date has not yet been set.
DOE To Move Nuclear Waste
By Travis Reed
SALT LAKE CITY April 7, 2005 (AP) The Energy Department on Wednesday proposed to move a huge pile of radioactive waste away from the banks of the Colorado River - a victory for environmentalists and Western politicians who fear the debris could poison the Southwest's major source of drinking water.
The 12 million-ton pile -- a mostly open-air heap that sits on bare ground and is surrounded only by a chain-link fence -- sits on a flood plain 750 feet (225 meters) from a river that supplies drinking water to about 25 million people in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and other cities.
The Energy Department said it will recommend in an environmental impact statement that the waste be moved to a closed storage facility about 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the north, near Crescent Junction.
The department will review all public comment before issuing a final decision, probably early this summer, according to Don Metzler, who manages the site from the department's Grand Junction, Colorado, office.
"I certainly hoped for this decision," said Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat. "Moving the pile has always been, in my opinion, the right thing to do. Short-term cost considerations, I feared, were driving us to look at keeping the pile in place."
The site, covering 130 acres (52 hectares) near the town of Moab, is the only decommissioned uranium mill overseen by the Energy Department that has yet to be cleaned up. The 94-foot (28-meter)-tall pile contains dirt, toxic chemicals and traces of radioactive substances left behind from decades of uranium ore processing.
The immediate concern is that the waste is seeping into the soil and groundwater, and working its way into the Colorado River. Environmentalists say the contamination is already killing fish.
The larger, doomsday fear is that a major flood on the Colorado could wash the stuff into the river and poison the water with residual uranium, radon, ammonia and other dangerous material.
At the new location, the waste would be covered and buried in a hole, lined with a protective layer to keep the material from seeping into the groundwater. Depending on how the waste got there -- by rail, truck or pipeline -- the cleanup would cost an estimated $407 million (euro316.5 million) to $472 million (euro367 million).
The waste began piling up in the 1950s after the dawn of the atomic age turned sleepy little communities in Utah into uranium mining boom towns. The department took control of the site in 2001 after the most recent owner of the mill, Denver-based Atlas Corp., declared bankruptcy in 1998 when it realized it could not afford to deal with the mess.
In November, the Energy Department outlined four options for the site. Three of them called for moving the waste and burying it anywhere from 17 miles (27 kilometers) to 85 miles (137 kilometers) away in a hole. Option No. 4, which could cost only half as much, called for leaving the pile in place but covering it over with dirt and rocks.
But Gov. Jon Huntsman, Utah's congressional delegation, scores of activists and the Environmental Protection Agency warned that waste is too dangerous to leave it so close to the Colorado River.
The Energy Department has shown it is "willing to listen and work with us to find a reasonable solution for the mill tailings that pose a very real threat to the Colorado River and downstream water users," Huntsman said in a statement.
The last of the starship Enterprise? (Paramount)
Enterprise - Is It Is or Is It Ain't?
Hollywood April 7, 2005 (Sci Fi Wire) - Organizers of Trek United, the fan fund-raising campaign to save UPN's canceled Star Trek: Enterprise, are telling fans that they are in secret discussions with Paramount representatives about keeping the show alive, and that the reps have left open the possibility the show may return.
But a spokesman for Paramount denied to SCI FI Wire that such talks are taking place, adding definitively:
"That is not true. The decision to end the show is final."
So what's the truth?
"I think it's probably a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing," Candice McCallie, the Houston-based spokeswoman for Trek United, told SCI FI Wire in a separate interview.
"I mean, it's a large company, of course, and we've talked to a couple of different people there. Now, as far as whatever they're telling you, my guess is, you know, we've tried to be as open as possible about it. Maybe telling people that we're talking with Paramount was a mistake. But ... until something is signed sealed on the dotted line, they're not going to say anything different from what they said back in February."
McCallie declined to name the group's Paramount contacts, except to say they were "people above the producers."
McCallie added: "Just because he doesn't know what is going on doesn't mean that we haven't talked to someone or spoken to someone about the possibility of the show coming back. ... Obviously, if the possibility wasn't there, they wouldn't fool with us. They would never even acknowledge our existence. I mean, what would be the point?"
Trek United has raised nearly $3.14
Trek United has raised nearly $3.14 million in pledges and contributions from fans eager to finance a fifth season of Enterprise, and McCallie said that donors are promised their money back if the show doesn't come back, "except for the 5 percent handling fee to cover the banks and Paypal and all that kind of stuff."
Some fans have raised concerns about Trek United and its campaign on the official Star Trek: Enterprise message boards. McCallie said that she understood such concerns, but added that the group has been aboveboard in its representations.
"The legally binding document is there," she said. "It's all open on the Internet. All of our names are out there. ... We've [been] pretty open about the whole entire thing.
"Our only goal is to try to get the show back, and we're spending a lot of time and a lot of work and a lot of money out of pocket, and there's no reason for us to do that if we can't get the show back, because, obviously, we've got a legally binding agreement with the contributions. So there is no danger of our embezzling the money or anything like that."
Trek United - http://www.trekunited.com
Enterprise Official - http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/ENT/index.html
|It's your money, but according to most sources, the Enterprise sets are down at Paramount. Pretty much an indication that all Trek production is on indefinite hiatus as one of the two now empty Paramount stages was Trek-dedicated since the late 1970s. Enterprise fans thinking to invest should read this two-part interview with Bill Hamm (Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda) explaining why they should just save their money. Tribune Entertainment's head honcho says dividing up the rights to a series after the original deal is struck makes late blooming independent investors a bad idea. Ed. |
Bill Hamm Interview - http://www.andromedatv.com/about/behind_billhamm01.html
Star Trek New Voyages Has Chekov!
New Voyages blows up Enterprise in Episode 2 (Cow Creek)
Ticonderoga NY April 3, 2005 (AP) Walter Koenig, who portrayed starship helmsman Chekov in the original "Star Trek" TV series and seven movies, will be in Ticonderoga for two weeks in September to shoot a "Star Trek" featurette for distribution on the Internet.
James Cawley, of Ticonderoga in the eastern Adirondacks, will again portray Captain James Kirk in the video, the third to be shot by the New Voyages group.
Cawley, currently performing as an Elvis Presley tribute-artist in a Biloxi, Mississippi theater, tells the Plattsburgh Press-Republican the short feature will be shot on the sets he has constructed in a Ticonderoga warehouse.
In a statement released through his agent, Koenig says he's looking forward to filming in Ticonderoga, though he'd thought the Chekov role was behind him. "But then the folks from New Voyages approached, and we started kicking around ideas for a Chekov story."
Since "Star Trek," Koenig has appeared in numerous movies and TV series, most recently as a villain on "Babylon 5."
Star Trek New Voyages Official - http://www.newvoyages.com
Grey's Anatomy Versus Boston Legal?
The cast of 'Grey's Anatomy'. (Reuters)
LOS ANGELES April 8, 2005 (Zap2it.com) - It's the kind of choice that most networks not named "CBS" would probably kill for: Do you return your successful first-year drama to the air after a planned hiatus, or do you stick with the even more successful replacement drama?
In the end, ABC just looked at the numbers and elected to have "Grey's Anatomy" keep the coveted 10 p.m. ET time slot on Sunday nights, rather than having "Boston Legal" return on April 24 as previously scheduled.
As a result of the move, announced Friday (April 8), "Grey's Anatomy" will continue to be partnered with "Desperate Housewives" through the end of the May sweeps period and the conclusion of the official 2004-05 season.
ABC gave "Boston Legal" an early 2005-06 renewal earlier this week, but the David E. Kelley won't air again until next fall. The five unseen episodes from this season will become the start of a 27-episode second season for "Boston Legal."
"We're in the enviable position of having two shows that have each performed extremely well for us Sundays at 10:00 -- 'Boston Legal' and 'Grey's Anatomy,'" says ABC Entertainment Present Stephen McPherson.
"We had already picked up 'Boston Legal' for next year based on its stellar run thus far this season. Now, with the strong debut of 'Grey's Anatomy,' we are very optimistic about having an additional asset of tremendous value heading into fall. However, with this embarrassment of riches comes a tough decision."
The cast of Boston Legal (ABC)
The numbers were fairly straight forward. For the season, "Desperate Housewives" has averaged nearly 22.8 million viewers per week, as the drama has come out of nowhere to become television's second most watched drama. With its 17 original episodes this season, "Boston Legal" has averaged 12.5 million viewers, making it one of year's top new shows. However, in two episodes since its midseason premiere, "Grey's Anatomy" has averaged just under 17 million viewers, building on its audience from its first to second weeks.
Originally, the "Anatomy" Sunday run was only to be four episodes, but its instant success led to a reevaluation of those plans. There had been rumors that ABC was considering shifting "Boston Legal" to Monday nights at 10 p.m., which would have mirrored a similar scheduling shift that nearly killed its parent drama "The Practice."
"Ultimately we decided that, without having adequate lead time or marketing dollars to devote to moving either show so late in the season, we'd continue to let 'Grey's' build on its tremendous momentum through May," McPherson explains. "We're extremely excited that this will give us the amazing luxury of bringing 'Boston Legal' back next season with an unheard-of 27 original episodes."
ABC Official - http://www.abc.com
Lost and Housewives Renewed - Also Alias and Boston Legal
By Cynthia Littleton
ABC's Lost - renewing the biggest surprise was no surprise.
LOS ANGELES April 5, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC has given early renewal notices to four drama series for the 2005-06 season -- "Alias," "Boston Legal," "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost."
The full-season, 22-episode pickups for "Housewives" and "Lost," both from Disney's Touchstone Television studio, came as no surprise.
The two freshman dramas have led ABC's remarkable ratings turnaround this season.
"Alias," also from Touchstone, was widely expected to return for a fifth season, but the early nod to David E. Kelley's "Boston Legal," a spinoff of "The Practice" from 20th Century Fox TV, came as a strong vote of confidence for the first-year series that has been a middling ratings performer in the cushy Sunday 10 p.m. slot behind "Housewives."
"Housewives," the ensemble drama about the lives of four suburban women, stormed out of the box in October as the hottest new commodity to hit prime time in years. The Sunday 9 p.m. drama is far and away the top-rated new series of the season, averaging 22.8 million viewers and a 10 rating/22 share in the key adults 18-49 demographic for the season to date.
"Housewives" ranks No. 3 among all prime-time series this season in adults 18-49 (behind only the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of Fox's "American Idol") and is No. 4 among all series in the total-viewers derby (behind "Idol"-Tuesday, CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Idol"-Wednesday).
"Lost" has invigorated ABC's Wednesday lineup in the anchor 8 p.m. slot. The thriller about a group of plane-crash survivors on a remote island defied naysayers who predicted it would not be able to maintain the intensity of its two-hour pilot throughout the season. So far, "Lost" has averaged 15.9 million viewers and a 5.8 rating/16 share in adults 18-49.
Desperate swimsuit issue of Vanity Fair
"Lost" also has given a leg up to its Wednesday 9 p.m. companion "Alias," which is enjoying its highest ratings ever this season after relocating from Sunday last fall. For the season to date, the Jennifer Garner espionage drama is pulling in an average of 11.2 million viewers and 4.7/11 in adults 18-49.
"Boston Legal," which stars James Spader and William Shatner as hard-charging defense attorneys, has benefited from its proximity to "Housewives" in its freshman year, averaging 12.5 million viewers and 4.9/12.
"Legal" has been benched for the past two weeks to make room for mid-season drama "Grey's Anatomy," an ensemble about female medical students that has done a better job of holding on to its "Housewives" lead-in than "Legal."
There was no official word from ABC on the prospects for an early pickup of Touchstone's "Anatomy," but sources said discussions are under way given the solid Nielsen numbers the show has posted in its two airings to date.
The series starring Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey has averaged 17 million viewers and a 7.4/18 in adults 18-49.
Jane Fonda Protests War - Promotes Book
Jane and her book
NEW YORK April 7, 2005 (AP) - Another war another protest from Jane Fonda.
Fonda was on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday night and Letterman asked how she feels about the war in Iraq. Fonda got a big hand from Letterman's audience when she said, "I think the war is wrong. I think it's a mistake and I think we that should get out."
Letterman had just held up the infamous photo of Fonda sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Fonda, who is promoting her autobiography, "My Life So Far," said she is the "lightning rod" for the still open wounds of the Vietnam war and she feels "sad about that."
Fonda told Letterman her image as Hanoi Jane is a creation of ideologues to "promulgate their right wing, narrow world view. It really doesn't have anything to do with me and it's kind of sick."
CBS Cameraman Detained in Iraq
BAGHDAD April 9, 2005 (AP) - A cameraman carrying CBS press credentials was detained in Iraq earlier this week on suspicion of insurgent activity, the U.S. military said Friday, while the network issued a statement saying it was investigating the incident.
The cameraman suffered minor injuries Tuesday during a battle between U.S. soldiers and suspected insurgents, and was standing next to an alleged insurgent who was killed during the shootout, the military said.
The military issued a statement at the time saying the cameraman was shot because his equipment was mistaken for a weapon. But on Friday, the military said the cameraman was detained because there was probable cause to believe he posed "an imperative threat to coalition forces."
"He is currently detained and will be processed as any other security detainee," the military said.
In a statement released Friday, CBS News said the man had worked as a freelancer for CBS for three months and that he was videotaping for the network when he was shot.
"It is common practice in Iraq for Western news organizations to hire local cameramen in places considered too dangerous for Westerners to work effectively. The very nature of their work often puts them in the middle of very volatile situations," the statement said.
"CBS News continues to investigate the situation, and when more information becomes available, we will report it."
Gay TV is Here!
By Kimberly Speight
Chad Allen will star as a gay
detective in Ice Blues.
LOS ANGELES April 5, 2005 (Hollywood Reporter) - Here!, the premium cable network tailored for gay and lesbian viewers, unveiled an ambitious programming lineup on Tuesday, and said it has inked on-demand carriage agreements with Cox Communications and Comcast that put the channel in 40 million U.S. households.
"We originally launched with broad-based general entertainment programming for the gay and lesbian community," Here! CEO Paul Colichman said. "Now we're adding a whole layer of sophistication -- we're keeping general entertainment programming but also adding in more provocative fare."
The development slate encompasses original series, movies and specials, including:
"John Waters Presents," a series of independent films selected by the director that he will host.
"Triple Threat," a series from writer Shawn Postoff ("Queer as Folk") that revolves around three young men who start a theater company in New York and are entwined in a relationship.
"Ice Blues: A Donald Strachey Mystery," a sequel to "Third Man Out: A Donald Strachey Mystery," starring Chad Allen ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman") as a gay detective in upstate New York.
"Ryan's Life," an original series about a gay teenager coming out and his experiences in dating.
Director John Waters
"The Elizabeth Birch Project," in which the former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign features guests from the realms of politics, activism and entertainment, including Pat Buchanan, Rosie O'Donnell and Chris Matthews.
Colichman added that another goal of the network's slate is to "record images and stories of the (gay and lesbian) community from the past, present and future," as with the feature-length biopics "Bayard Rustin," about the black civil rights leader who was gay, and "Nijinsky," which tells the story of the legendary ballet dancer and his tumultuous relationship with Diaghilev.
Here! said its deal with Comcast sees it providing video-on-demand content to the cable operator priced at $3.99 per title for digital cable customers.
As part of the Cox deal, Here! will be available to digital cable customers in the company's On Demand markets as a subscription VOD service for $6.95 per month starting this month.
"Being in over 40 million homes is a very important number in the world of cable," Colichman said. "Once you reach that level of distribution, it's the real deal."
Here! was established in 2002 by Regent Entertainment co-founders Colichman and Stephen Jarchow.
MGM Lion Lies Down
LOS ANGELES April 8, 2005 (AP) - The sale of venerable film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to a consortium led by Sony Corp of America was completed Friday, marking the end of MGM as an independent player in the entertainment industry.
The Sony-led group paid $12 a share for MGM, or about $2.94 billion cash, and assumed about $1.9 billion in MGM debt.
MGM will release films already in production, including the Steve Martin comedy "The Pink Panther" this fall. In the future, Sony plans to co-produce films with MGM.
Movies already in production by the United Artists unit of MGM also will be released. But it was unclear whether Sony, which has its own independent film companies, will continue the UA label.
As a result of the deal, Sony and consortium partner Comcast Corp. will gain access to MGM's library of more than 4,000 movies. Comcast has said it will use the films on its video-on-demand service and as the basis for new cable channels.
MGM will continue to develop and produce TV shows such as "Stargate SG-1."
Other members of the consortium include Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners.
In trading Friday, Sony shares fell 20 cents to finish at $40.34 on the New York Stock Exchange.
[As MGM winds down, Warner Brothers TV, AKA The WB, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a cute online sweepstakes game at http://www.wbtv50sweeps.com - be aware that it is a heavy load for dial-up users. Ed.]
By Edie Riggins
Lucas wants his 3-D! (Reuters/
LOS ANGELES April 6, 2005 (Reuters) - If luminary directors George Lucas and James Cameron get their way, a new wave of three-dimensional movies may soon replace goofy, 1950s flicks like "Bwana Devil" that played to bug-eyed audiences wearing blue and red glasses.
"Titanic" captain Cameron, "Stars Wars" master Lucas and even "Lord of the Rings" head hobbit Peter Jackson want fans to forget those odd spectacles.
This new 3D wave, they say, converts their old titles to in-your-face entertainment that may reignite box office fire for movies being re-released, and it puts audiences directly in the action of new films like Cameron's 2007 science fiction adventure "Battle Angel."
The new 3D movies do not replace traditional films. Audiences will get two versions of the same movie for different experiences, and studios and theaters get two movies to market.
Glasses are needed to view the new 3D, although the cardboard cut-outs with blue and red lenses are replaced by plastic frames and clear lenses.
Behind the push for 3D is a major industry overhaul called "digital cinema," which means projecting movies onscreen from digital files, as opposed to filmstrip and showing them with projection systems that cost up to $100,000 a unit to install.
Digital Cinema is supported by Hollywood's major studios who will sharply cut film-releasing costs because they no longer have to ship thousands of filmstrips around the world. Rather, they can transmit cheap digital files via satellite that are then stored on computer networks inside the theaters.
Where are the holodecks when you
But the transition will be expensive -- perhaps costing as much as $3.6 billion over the next several years, industry watchers said.
Theater owners are demanding the studios pay, and they want new types of content and movies to help pack houses for the digital cinema systems. The directors say they have one answer -- updating an old idea, 3D.
BACK TO THE FUTURE, AGAIN
"We're making these movies, and we believe in the technology," Cameron said at a recent convention of theater owners in Las Vegas called ShoWest. "People are seeking out that premium 3D experience."
Lucas, whose "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" hits theaters next month, wants to re-release the entire "Star Wars" series in 3D starting in 2007, and Peter Jackson hinted that a re-release "Lord of the Rings" movies might be coming.
Three-dimensional movies date back to the origins of filmmaking before the 20th century, but it was in the 1950s that the 3D gimmick hit big in Hollywood. Showman Sidney W. Pink was among the vanguard of filmmakers in the arena, producing 1952's "Bwana Devil" about man-eating lions.
Scene from the original 3D version of
House of Wax (Warners)
One year later, Warner Bros. sat Vincent Price in audience laps in the 3D version of "House of Wax." It racked up $23.75 million at box office, a major haul at the time.
Warner Bros. is among the backers of new 3D after seeing a small box office bonanza with 2004's 3D version of Christmas movie "The Polar Express" at giant screen IMAX theaters.
"When you have a big movie like 'The Polar Express' and you convert it to an IMAX presentation, you also add to the event itself. (Creating an event) is another way of helping market a film," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros head of distribution.
"Polar Express" brought in $282 million at theaters worldwide, and $45 million of that was at IMAX.
SHOW ME THE TECHNOLOGY
While old 3D movies with the funky blue-and-red glasses often made audiences dizzy, the new technology that converts 2D film to 3D digital pictures has reduced side effects, said Charles Swartz, executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California.
Swartz said that some technical issues remain, but he also believes the time is ripe for a renaissance. "When you look at the movies that are most successful today like 'Spiderman 2' they tend to be movies in which there is a lot of opportunity to use depth to make the movie even more compelling."
In-Three Inc is one of the companies that converts a 2D feature film into 3D at a basic cost of $4.5 million per movie. The cost changes based on the complexity of the feature.
Michael Kaye, chief executive of In-Three thinks 3D will become a chief catalyst to the rollout of digital cinema systems because it changes the focus for theater owners from spending money on the systems to making money from them.
"The focus is really on the content that uses digital cinema to get it on screen." said Kaye. "Exhibitors have all said this (3D) was the first reason they had to go digital."
Another company behind the 3D push, called Real D, has convinced Mann Theatres to install their 3D delivery system at the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre complex in Hollywood.
"3D is going to succeed this time" because of new digital production and releasing, said Real D chief Michael Lewis.
Cameron obviously agrees. At ShoWest, he had this to say to thousands of theater owners. "I'm giving you guys plenty of warning," he said. "You've got two years to get ready."
By BOB THOMAS
Associated Press Writer
Phyllis Diller poses with her photos at her
home in Brentwood . (AP Photo/ Chris Pizzello)
LOS ANGELES April 7, 2005 - On a chilly March night in San Francisco 50 years ago, a suburban housewife stood in the spotlight at the avant-garde Purple Onion night club and rapid-fired jokes about managing a household with five children and an indolent husband she called Fang.
Female standup comics had never made the big-time, but Phyllis Diller beat the odds, paving the way for Lily Tomlin, Roseanne Barr, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and others who followed. Diller did it despite a squalid marriage and recurring poverty. Even as she was attracting notice at the Purple Onion, she and her family were evicted from their home for nonpayment of rent.
Diller relates her saga in her new memoir, "Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse," written with Richard Buskin.
Don't let the sassy title the punch line of a joke fool you.
Although the text is interspersed with some of her best one-liners, the book is really a moving account of a woman who dealt with many obstacles: two disastrous marriages, a schizophrenic child, the struggle for a career in the man's world of comedy.
She recently told The Associated Press how she came to write the book:
"All my life people said, `You got to write a book.' I never wanted to. Why? I don't know. No. 1, I'm not good at sitting down on long-term deals.
"I gave up standup in 2002, and book offers started coming in. And I really wasn't that busy. Then they started offering me cash; that always gets my attention.
"Finally, I accepted an offer, and we started working. It was painful. There were things that I kicked under the rug and tried to forget. I brought them out for the book; otherwise, there wouldn't be any truth in it."
Diller was interviewed at her Brentwood mansion, 10,000-square feet on one acre that she bought 40 years ago. At 87 she looks much younger she was the first celebrity to acknowledge publicly to a face lift. The white-blond curly wig was in place, and the Diller laugh still seemed capable of stopping freeway traffic.
She quit performing three years ago after several incidents in which she had to leave the stage because she feared a fainting spell. She now wears a pacemaker.
Diller with Hope (AMC)
Does she miss performing?
"I don't miss the travel," she says. "I miss the laughter. I do miss the actual hour. I don't want to sound like I'm on dope, but that hour is a high; it's as good as you can feel. A wonderful, wonderful happiness, and great power."
Diller claims she has never been so busy in her life, including promoting a documentary about her final show; the film won first-prize at the San Diego Film Festival and was shown at Aspen.
"And I have an active social life," she brags. "Next week, five dinner parties! And I have things to wear. I love clothes. God, do I love clothes."
Her years on the road had lows as well as the highs. There was the time she faced a late-night audience of four at a New York club. She played her whole act for them. Her very worst date was at a basement club in Washington, D.C.
"The audience was made up of traveling salesmen and hookers," she recalls. "I was bombing with my precious jokes about irony and children. And Bob Hope came in.
Diller and Buddy Hackett (AP)
"He saw through the whole thing. He saw a person not giving up, not blaming the audience, getting on with the material, sailing through it just like it was working, bowing and leaving the stage."
Hope, who had seen Diller on Jack Paar's TV show, told her she was great. That encounter led to three movies together, 22 television specials and many personal appearances, including a trip to Southeast Asia to entertain U.S. troops during the Vietnam War.
When she was 68, Diller finally found the man of her dreams. He was Robert P. Hastings, 75, co-founder of a prestigious law firm with offices on both coasts, a widower educated at Yale University and Harvard University. They were introduced by a mutual friend and the pair immediately clicked. They never married, but they became steady companions. He died of a stroke in 1996.
Diller was hit with more tragedies: two of her children died, another was institutionalized. Through all her travails, she sought refuge in a book she first read in 1951: "The Magic in Believing," by Claude M. Bristol. The book, she says, showed her how to tap into the power of imagination and self-belief.
Throughout her lifetime, whenever she had a setback, challenge or tragedy, she countered with the mantra, "Give me strength."