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'Dark Knight' PR Campaign Exploits Heath Ledger's Death?

James Hirsen By Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:05 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. 'Dark Knight' PR Campaign Exploits Heath Ledger's Death?
2. China Censors Entertainment
3. Miley Cyrus' Achy Breaky Makeover
4. Amanda Peet Apologizes for 'Parasite' Comment
5. Roman Polanski Seeks Reopening of Case Based on New Film

1. 'Dark Knight' PR Campaign Exploits Heath Ledger's Death?

The box office bonanza of "The Dark Knight" is pushing this summer's movie take to the highest levels in years.

The film opened in 4,366 theaters, the largest number of theaters ever to show any movie.

It shattered several records, including a midnight opening of $18.5 million, a one-day opening with more than $60 million and a weekend box office of over $155 million.

Did you notice, though, that the pre-release publicity overlooked one important character in the flick?

The trailer, poster and publicity ignored Batman and instead focused on the Joker, who is played by the late Heath Ledger.

All the buzz centers around Ledger's performance, which admittedly is very compelling.

And summer talk about a posthumous Oscar nomination is providing additional promo for this particular Batman sequel.

Could it all be a phenomenon engineered by the PR gurus at the movie studio?

Director Terry Gilliam believes so. As reported by the U.K. Telegraph, Gilliam thinks that the posthumous Oscar buzz for Ledger is a publicity stunt.

"That's what Warner Brothers are saying, but they'll do anything to publicize their film," Gilliam says.

Best known as a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, Gilliam directed Ledger in the yet to be released film, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," in which Ledger acted days before his tragic death.

"That's just what they [studios] do and you can't get upset because it's bull---- They're like a great white shark which devours whatever it can," the director explains.

2. China Censors Entertainment

China is busily shining up its image before the Beijing Olympics begin in August.

Government officials have launched programs that are designed to clean up the roads, air and water. And just for good measure, there's a clamp down on free expression.

Hollywood critics of the U.S. should take a look eastward and leftward to see the real deal when it comes to government censorship.

China has been muzzling dissenters for decades. But now the government realizes that protests, which can come in the form of songs, plays and other forms entertainment, might be embarrassing when the whole world is watching.

New rules, imposed by the Ministry of Culture, ban performances by foreign entertainers who have participated in activities that the Chinese government labels as threats to sovereignty.

"Those who used to take part in activities that harm our nation's sovereignty are firmly not allowed to perform in China," the Web site of the Ministry of Culture reads.

Musicians, singers and other performers who are viewed by government officials as promoting ethnic hatred or "obscenity or feudalism and superstition" will be prohibited from performing.

In other words, if the government doesn't like your words, songs or acts, you won't be able to say, sing or perform them.

Chinese officials have set up security checkpoints throughout Beijing, deported some foreigners or refused to renew visas, and shut down protests.

The government may have imposed the new rules in part because of a March 2008 Shanghai concert by Icelandic singer, Bjork.

After the singer finished a song from her 2007 "Volta" album, titled "Declare Independence," she began to shout the words: "Tibet! Tibet!" This resulted in a predictable outcry from posters on the content-limited Chinese Internet.

Beijing had pledged to the International Olympic Committee that it would conform to international human rights standards.

The country has already breached the promise and is likely to continue to do so.

3. Miley Cyrus' Achy Breaky Makeover

News stories about tween phenom Miley Cyrus are becoming more and more disturbing.

Millions of young girls follow the star's every move and imitate her to a T.

Parents are growing weary at having to field questions over Miley-related news stories that are slowly morphing Hannah Montana's alter ego into a broken Britney clone.

Girls of primary school age, still clutching teddy bears, are having to reconcile their idealized image of the Disney star with that of a semi-nude picture on MySpace and suggestive photos in Vanity Fair.

Either Miley herself, or perhaps her handlers, think that giving the teen idol a bad girl makeover may serve to broaden the scope of her career.

Maybe it's time for Miley's conservative leaning dad, Billy Ray, to be a little more proactive in the protection department.

Parents the world over would appreciate it.

4. Amanda Peet Apologizes for 'Parasite' Comment

Amanda Peet's remarks about vaccinations for children have some Hollywood celebrities fuming.

The "Whole Nine Yards" actress recently told Cookie Magazine, a lifestyle and family publication, that "there are a lot of misconceptions about the dangers of vaccinations ... Frankly, I feel that parents who don't vaccinate their children are parasites."

Lots of folks, including celebs Jenny McCarthy and Charlie Sheen, are concerned about the wide variety and frequency of vaccinations being given to infants and children.

Reactions to Peet's "parasite" comment prompted her to issue an apology.

"I believe in my heart that my use of the word 'parasites' was mean and divisive," Peet said in a statement.

McCarthy and others are advocating caution in the use of vaccinations for children because of claims based on some preliminary research, which may indicate that the vaccinations contribute to the onset of autism.

"I completely understand why it offended some parents, and in particular, parents of children with autism who feel that vaccines caused their illness," Peet said. "For this I am truly sorry."

In the words of Elton John, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," but thankfully once uttered it goes a long way to heal the hurt.

5. Roman Polanski Seeks Reopening of Case Based on New Film

A new film documenting the infamous conviction of fugitive director Roman Polanski has prompted a request to reopen the case.

Polanski, director of "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown," brought 13-year-old Samantha Gailey to Jack Nicholson's mansion (while Nicholson was out of town) to conduct a photo shoot for a magazine.

Polanski allegedly gave drugs and alcohol to the young girl prior to having sexual relations with her.

A while back Hollywood saw fit to award Polanski an Oscar for "The Piano," but the director was unable to accept the trophy because of his flight-from-the-country status.

The new movie, titled "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," has spurred a reopening of Polanski's case.

After being convicted of unlawful intercourse, Polanski fled the U.S. and for three decades has lived in Paris, France.

The documentary attempts to minimize his crime as well as demonize Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, who presided over the case, has since passed away and is unable to answer charges put forth in the film.

Gailey, victim of the alleged circumstances whose name is now Samantha Geimer, appears in the movie saying that she harbors no anger toward Polanski.

Polanski, through his lawyer, has requested that the Los Angeles District Attorney view the film.

Fugitives normally have no standing to appeal a case or move to reopen one, but because the movie features a former deputy district attorney who claims to have coached the judge in the case, it is remotely possible that a judge or the prosecutor could initiate a motion to dismiss the case based on judicial impropriety.

It's hard to have sympathy for someone who would commit the alleged offenses and then jump bail.

Any ordinary criminal defendant would have to answer for such actions.

But ordinary criminal defendants don't have the opportunity to jet over to France, avoid sentencing, and for decades following, live in luxury.

And ordinary criminal defendants don't have fawning filmmakers at the ready to create cinematic appeals for them.

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. 'Dark Knight' PR Campaign Exploits Heath Ledger's Death?2. China Censors Entertainment3. Miley Cyrus' Achy Breaky Makeover4. Amanda Peet Apologizes for 'Parasite' Comment5. Roman Polanski Seeks Reopening of Case Based on New...
Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:05 PM
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