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Ahmadinejad's U.K. TV Christmas

James Hirsen By Tuesday, 30 December 2008 09:11 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Ahmadinejad's U.K. TV Christmas
2. Oprah's Book Booboos
3. Disney Dumps 'Narnia'
4. Jennifer Anniston Gets Brad Back at the Box-office
5. Warner Bros. Pulls 'Dark Knight' over Chinese 'Cultural Sensitivities'


1. Ahmadinejad's U.K. TV Christmas

It's a preview of what could happen here.

If postmodern programming continues to seep into our news media outlets, we may just have to endure specials like the one that aired in the U.K. on of all days—Christmas.

On that glorious day of the year, Britain's Channel 4 opted to carry a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The BBC and ITV traditionally air a Christmas address from the British monarch.

But Channel 4 decided to broadcast an "Alternative Christmas Message."

With un-Christmas cheer, Ahmadinejad informed folks that "if Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers," an apparent reference to America and her allies.

As reported in Variety, Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4's head of news and current affairs, handed over the TV reins to the bellicose despot for the following reason: "As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential."

"As we approach a critical time in international relations," Byrne added, "we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view."

Apparently Byrne and her ideological cohorts on both sides of The Pond now think that even terrorists have the right to a mike.

Which makes me think that a better date for Ahmadinejad speech would have been October 31. Scary stuff.

2. Oprah's Book Booboos

Oprah Winfrey seems to be in the habit of endorsing folks that she hasn't properly vetted.

The daytime TV diva endorsed James Frey's nonfiction memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," which supposedly was the story of Frey's years as an alcoholic, drug addict and criminal. With Oprah's help it became one of the top-selling books of 2005.

It turned out to be more of a work of fiction, though. And Winfrey later retracted her support of it saying she had been "conned."

"It's embarrassing and disappointing for me," she confessed.

Now another author whose story had been publicized by Oprah has had his book pulled by the publisher. Herman Rosenblat wrote an alleged memoir that told the heart-rending tale of meeting his future wife at a Nazi concentration camp.

Rosenblat's "Angel at the Fence" was supposed to be released in February 2009. But Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, cancelled the publication due to allegations made by scholars, friends and family members that the book was not true.

Incidentally, Penguin also had to pull Margaret B. Jones' "Love and Consequences" when it was discovered that Jones' story of befriending gang members in South-Central Los Angeles turned out to be dubious.

Rosenblat and his wife were interviewed twice by Winfrey. The host told her TV audience that the tale was "the single greatest love story ... we've ever told on the air."

Despite the controversy, Rosenblat is an actual survivor of the Buchenwald camp. A feature film adaptation of the book was also in the works.

In a written statement, Berkley Books said they were canceling the publication "after receiving new information from Herman Rosenblat's agent, Andrea Hurst."

Predictably, the publisher is demanding the return of all advance money given for the book.

Maybe as penance for her endorsement sins Oprah could give away a few thousand Kindles.

3. Disney Dumps 'Narnia'

Disney has announced that the studio will not co-finance the third installment of Walden Media's "Chronicles of Narnia" franchise, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

It is widely believed by Hollywood insiders that Disney dropped the project because of the lower than expected box-office take for the second "Narnia" flick, "Prince Caspian."

The first "Narnia" piled up $745 million internationally while "Caspian" only raked in $419 million.

Although the economic downturn is making Disney execs a tad more timid, they're partly responsible for the skimpier "Caspian" numbers.

Unlike the first "Narnia," rather than a Thanksgiving or Christmas release the sequel came out in the spring, and it was up against superhero summer fare like "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones." Disney tried to market it as an action flick with limited success.

Thankfully, Walden remains committed to C.S. Lewis' remaining books.

And if Fox is as clever as its name it'll jump into Disney's old spot, snag a profit and hoist entertainment content higher at the same time.

4. Jennifer Anniston Gets Brad Back at the Box-office

Jennifer Anniston may have settled a score with ex Brad Pitt in the sweetest of ways.

Aniston's family friendly flick, "Marley And Me," pulled in a whopping $51.6 million for the extended Christmas weekend.

Meanwhile Pitt's "Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" trailed significantly behind with a $39 million take, due in part perhaps to its long run time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

As many have come to expect, Hollywood mavens severely underestimated "Marley"'s movie appeal.

At a time when dim Oscar-seeking stuff keeps creeping onto the screen, even marketing and PR execs sometimes forget that the lion's share of profit in Tinseltown comes from family-friendly films, especially when they feature a loveable pooch.

In box-office lingo, families and a holiday flick go together like Christmas and St. Nick.

5. Warner Bros. Pulls 'Dark Knight' over Chinese 'Cultural Sensitivities'

It looks like Chinese bootleggers have been given a big holiday gift.

Warner Bros. recently issued a statement indicating that the studio had decided against a China release of the box-office blockbuster, "The Dark Knight," due to "prerelease conditions" and "cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film."

It's likely that Hollywood execs are displaying such empathy because there are censors who might take issue with the film's depiction of a Chinese company as a crooked money launderer and Batman's capturing of a Chinese criminal in Hong Kong.

But just like almost every other place on the planet, the film was the #1 box-office flick of 2008 in Hong Kong.

For political reasons China often blocks Hollywood movies from theatrical release. But that just seems to fuel the black market for such films.

Ironically, it's pretty much moot because pirated copies of "The Dark Knight" have been readily available in China for months.

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories): 1. Ahmadinejad's U.K. TV Christmas2. Oprah's Book Booboos3. Disney Dumps 'Narnia'4. Jennifer Anniston Gets Brad Back at the Box-office 5. Warner Bros. Pulls 'Dark Knight' over Chinese 'Cultural Sensitivities' 1. Ahmadinejad's...
Tuesday, 30 December 2008 09:11 PM
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