David Byrne speaks out on his $1 million lawsuit against Florida governor

An article from http://www.hitfix.com

Florida governor Charlie Crist used Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere” in campaign video on his website and on YouTube earlier this year, and David Byrne is not happy about it.

The frontman and solo artist is suing Crist for $1 million, as the politician did no secure rights to use the song, monetarily or through Talking Heads’ permission.

The ads were used during the Republican primaries for the state, in attacking Crist’s then-rival Marco Rubio. Crist has since gone from Republican to Independent.

Byrne wrote up his reasons for the lawsuit on his blog, and took a swipe at the Republican party while he was at it:

A while back a friend told me that the Republican Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, was using the Talking Heads song “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign ad. He’s running for Senate.

Well, using a recording of a song, or even just using that song and not the original recording, in an advertisement without permission is illegal, unless the composition has gone into the public domain. It’s not just illegal because one is supposed to pay for such use and not paying is, well, theft — it’s also illegal because one has to ask permission, and that permission can be turned down.

Besides being theft, use of the song and my voice in a campaign ad implies that I, as writer and singer of the song, might have granted Crist permission to use it, and that I therefore endorse him and/or the Republican Party, of which he was a member until very, very recently. The general public might also think I simply license the use of my songs to anyone who will pay the going rate, but that’s not true either, as I have never licensed a song for use in an ad.

It might be pointed out that Republican campaign organizations have done this kind of thing before. John McCain’s campaign used the Jackson Browne song “Running on Empty” and Reagan’s folks used Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Both were used illegally without permission, and in the case of the Jackson Browne song a lawsuit was brought. After the Republicans lost several motions attempting to dismiss Browne’s complaint, they settled with him. Part of the settlement said that the Republican National Committee promised to respect artists’ rights and to obtain licenses for the use of copyrighted works in the future.

Now, there is such a thing as fair use. Typically the type of free use that doesn’t require a permission might be a student quoting a passage in a book to make a point in a graduate paper, or someone using part (not all) of “Road to Nowhere” to identify, say, the marching groove in that song as a metaphor for the inexorable forward momentum of time, or some such notion. These uses are typically exempt from licensing, permission and fees. In this case, however, the use was not to comment on or explain something about “Road to Nowhere,” ’80s music in general, Talking Heads or Cajun accordion riffs — it was used solely to further Governor Crist’s advertising strategy in his Senate primary campaign… a campaign that has nothing to do with me or my music.

Another tactic the Republicans have used to justify this kind of thing is the right to political free speech. Their argument is that the song is integral to making a political point, and therefore falls under free speech. Well, that’s just crazy talk — the song has nothing to do with Crist’s political views. It simply has a title that is a handy catchphrase, as does the Jackson Browne song — but the content of the song itself doesn’t have any connection with the politician’s campaign or agenda.

Interestingly, as Daily Swarm points out, Rubio was allegedly abusing the same copyright laws with his use of Steve Miller Band’s “Take the Money and Run.” Though a suit was not filed, Miller was not pleased.

John Wallace Is Awesome

Well done to my good friend John Wallace. He knows how to back a winning pony…

The IFTA winning short film ‘Runners’ has won the award for Best International Short Film at th0e Malibu Film Festival and has been selected as a finalist at the Producers Guild of America’s Producers Challenge.

Directed by Ronan and Rob Burke, the filmmaking pair behind the award winning ‘Jellybaby’ and ‘Smalltalk’, ‘Runners’ centres around Derek, an eighteen year old drugs runner who is finding it increasingly difficult to juggle his ‘career’, having a relationship and family issues. The short recently walked away from the Malibu Film Festival with the title of Best International Short having also recently received a Jury Commendation at the 2010 Belfast Film Festival.

Furthermore the short has been selected as one of four projects that will compete in the Narrative Shorts category of the Producer’s Guild of America’s Producers Challenge. This is the second annual installment of the event which will give the chosen shorts and their respective filmmakers access to top professionals and the opportunity to win exceptional prizes. The four finalists will also have their work judged by top producers and screened at the Produced By Conference.

Rob and Ronan voiced their delight at the selection of their work for the event, telling IFTN: “We’re thrilled that Runners is getting such a great reception in the US, it was an honour to win at Malibu and being selected for the Producers Challenge is a great opportunity for the film to gain further exposure and for John Wallace in particular who will be attending the conference in LA and the screening at 20th Century Fox.”

‘Runners’ is written by Pierce Ryan (Jellybaby) and produced by John Wallace (Corduroy) for Black Sheep productions in conjunction with the Irish Film Board’s Signature’s Scheme. It stars Mark Butler (Song for a Raggy Boy) and Aidan Gillen (The Wire)

The Producers Challenge is intended to promote the work of emerging storytellers, spotlighting producers who demonstrate outstanding promise in their respective fields. The event will take place from June 4th-6th in Los Angeles.


Shia LeBeouf

All of a sudden I don’t hate this guy as much

Shia LaBeouf is no Indiana Jones. He said so himself in an interview with the Los Angeles Times at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday. “I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished,” he said, referring to his performance in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He went on to amplify his self criticism, saying “The actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple.” He indicated that he and Harrison Ford were aware that the film wasn’t working while it was in production “We had major discussions. He wasn’t happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn’t universally accepted.” When the 23-year-old actor was asked whether he expected to be reprimanded by producer-director Steven Spielberg for his public criticism of the film, he replied, “I’ll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this. … He’s done so much great work that there’s no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film. But when you drop the ball you drop the ball.”

Woody Allen on Death…Again

From Studiobriefing.net

Woody Allen, generally regarded as the quintessential New York movie director, told a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday why he now prefers to make his movies in London. “The films I do in London, I could make in New York,” he said. “It’s just less expensive to do them there.” Allen also seemed to suggest that the settings of his films were far less consequential than the actors appearing in them. “The trick in making these films is to be a good hirer,” he said. Bring together a talented cast, he said, “and you can’t go that wrong.” His policy: “Hire the right people, give them the responsibility and then keep your mouth shut — and pick up your paycheck.” He also revealed why he now rarely appears in his films: age. In his earlier films, he observed, he was able to play the romantic lead, something he can no longer do at the age of 74. “It’s no fun not playing the guy who gets the girl,” he said. Nowadays, he quipped, he’s just “the old guy over there who’s the director.” Asked whether the title of his new movie, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, referred to “the grim reaper,” Allen said that it was intentionally “ambiguous” but had both a literal and a figurative meaning — And yes, the figurative meaning was death. “How’s your relationship with death?” a reporter bluntly asked. Allen parried, “My relationship with death remains the same. I’m strongly against it” (bringing a roar of laughter from the assembled reporters). The same for old age, he indicated. “I find it a lousy deal,” he said “There is no advantage in getting older. You don’t get smarter you don’t get wiser. … It’s a bad business getting old, and I would advise you to avoid it.” In fact, Allen didn’t have many good things to say about living, either. “I have a very grim, pessimistic view of it,” he said. “I do feel it’s a very grim, nightmarish experience.”Woody

No Star for you!

This is a story from E! Online which reminds me of when the county council lads in Milltown put up a sign for the townland of Quarrymount but spelt it Quarrymoumt. How did no one guess that wasn’t right.

This is the kind of embarrassing gaffe that’s normally reserved for Kathy Griffin. But it was longtime A-lister Julia Louis-Dreyfus who suffered Hollywood’s latest (kinda funny) indignity.

Yesterday, JLD donned her finest ensemble and hightailed it over to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where she was ready to receive her very own star.

Unfortunately, the sidewalk salute honored some lady named “Julia Luis Dreyfus.”

The funny thing is, the hyphen-lacking misspelling was not caught by whoever submitted the name in the first place, nor by the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, which approved the name, nor by whoever chiseled the name into the marble, nor by whoever laid the star down on the fabled walk (good system you got there, Hollywood!), but rather by passing-by CNN correspondent David Daniel, who informed the higher-ups of the 11th-hour issue (but not, God bless him, before snapping a pic of the offending star).

He tipped off the Walk of Fame press rep, who had the unfortunate task of informing the Emmy-winning actress of the mistake. Luckily, you don’t work on arguably the best sitcom in history without finely tuning your sense of humor.

“Right when you think you’ve made it, you get knocked down,” she said afterward. “It’s an ideal metaphor for how this business works.”

The quick-thinking Walk of Fame folks broke out the chisel to make some hasty corrections just in time for the ceremony. A rep says that a permanent replacement will be installed soon and that good-sport Louis-Dreyfus wanted the incorrect version as a memento.

Abu wins Celtic Media Award

Congrats to my dear friend Dathai Keane and all the lads in Abu for winning a Celtic Media Award for their fantastic series ‘Mobs Mhericea’.

They won the Best Factual Series for Mobs Mhericea. Up against Mobs was CSI : Corks Bloody Secret from RTE, Stephen Fry’s “Last Chance to See” for BBC Wales, The Ian Brady Story (Moors Murderer) from BBC Wales and Jonathan Meade from BBC Alba.

Bríd Seoighe who received the award along with Eileen and Pierce says, “It was a really competitive category. We were up against the best factual series from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany so to win this is a great achievement. And we are so grateful to all the cast and especially the Abú crew who make all our projects so memorable. Micheal O’Meallaigh the Commissioning Executive from TG4 also deserves special mention for his foresight in commissioning the series.”

Click here to see some clips from the show.

Restoring Metropolis

I was in Berlin recently and visited the German Museum of Film and Television, which apart from being in a truly wonderful space was full of really interesting exhibits. While we were there they had dedicated a floor to an exhibition on Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis‘. An astonishing achievement for its time, the film still has the capacity to inspire awe today. The main thrust of the exhibition was given over to an explanation of the painstaking process of restoration.

Metropolis fans should check out Rintaro’s Anime homage, also called ‘Metropolis‘ which is quite entertaining.

This is an article on what is now believed to be as close to the original as possible from the L.A. Times and written by Kenneth Turan

It’s often been said that silent films are a lost art twice over. Not only are movies without sound not being made anymore, but many of the classics of the period also no longer physically exist. That, however, is not the end of the story.

For what’s less well known is that pictures long thought to be lost forever, key works unseen for decades, have a remarkable tendency to regularly turn up in ways as exciting and dramatic as the films themselves. And so it is with Fritz Lang’s masterwork, “Metropolis”. A new version of which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year.

Considered the most expensive German film of its day, “Metropolis” is celebrated as much for its spectacle as its story. Set in a mechanized city of the future where captains of industry live in towers and the slaves who do all the work dwell underground, “Metropolis” is simultaneously an examination of the future, a parable about capital and labor and the complicated story of an enigmatic young woman named Maria, played by Brigitte Helm.

This “Metropolis,” which will be accompanied by a live performance by the always compelling Alloy Orchestra, is 25 minutes longer than any version seen in more than 80 years. Because Lang’s picture is an icon of the silent era and the foundation stone of science-fiction cinema, this news has electrified fans and scholars of early film. Finding this new material was, as Glenn Erickson of the Web column DVD Savant put it, “akin to recovering lost books of The Bible.” Experts were so certain it was lost that a restored version of “Metropolis” completed in 2002 was declared definitive.

Making the story even better is the circumstances of the recovery. The missing footage turned up in the storeroom of Argentina’s small Museo del Cine, a location described by Sight & Sound’s Karen Naundorf as “a forgotten and temporarily closed museum, surrounded by warehouses and factories in the Baracas district of Buenos Aires.” This was so unlikely a situation that when Germany’s Lang experts were informed of the find, they didn’t even bother to reply. “You can’t imagine,” one of them later said, “how often I get e-mails from people who claim to have found ‘Metropolis,’ and it’s never true.”

Yet small museums and private collections often lack the money and manpower to properly examine their holdings and thus are often the scenes of surprising discoveries. One of the great Japanese silents, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1926 “A Page of Madness,” was found in a rice barrel in the garden of the director’s country home. “The Last of the Duanes,” a celebrated Tom Mix western, was discovered under layers of bird excrement on the floor of a chicken farm building in a remote Czech village. And actor James Mason came across many of Buster Keaton’s personal 35mm prints lying neglected in the garage of the comedian’s former home.

The story of the rediscovered 25 minutes goes back to the 2-hour, 33-minute premiere in 1927 of the film. The initial critical and audience response was tepid and that length made UFA, the German distributor, nervous, so the film was cut to approximately 90 minutes, which is how “Metropolis” went out to most of the world.

However, the Argentinean distributor, Alolfo Z. Wilson, had other ideas. He brought the long version to Argentina, and in time, that print became the property of a critic-collector named Manuel Peña-Rodriquez. He eventually sold his films to the Argentinean state, which destroyed the dangerous nitrate original and made the 16mm copy, which came eventually to the Museo del Cine.

One of the key people in the rediscovery of that footage was a historian and collector named Fernando Peña, who’s not related to Peña-Rodriquez, who had suspected since 1988, when a friend recounted vivid memories of seeing a 21/2-hour version, that the full version of “Metropolis” was in Argentina.

But logistical difficulties and internecine rivalries meant that it wasn’t until 20 years later, when Peña’s colleague (and former wife), Paula Felix-Didier, became director of the Museo del Cine that Peña got to look inside the museum’s storeroom. “When Fernando came to the museum, it took only 10 minutes,” Felix-Didier told Eddie Muller of the film journal Noir City Sentinel. “But those 10 minutes were the culmination of a whole lifetime spent studying film history.”

Just finding the footage, however, was yet another beginning, because it required major cleaning and restoration.

That 2002 restoration, working from the original script and the original score, had gaps that the new material snugly fit into. Partly because a tiny bit had been cut by Argentinean censors, partly because some material was too far gone to restore, this new version does not have every last minute of Lang’s original cut, but it comes miraculously close.

Perhaps the best thing about the film’s unlikely saga, as co-discoverer Felix-Didier explains, is what it might lead to: “I hope it inspires others to go through their collections and think, ‘Maybe we should take a look in that unassuming film can.’ “

A Rebuilding Phase for Independent Film

An article from today’s NY Times

Only five years ago, the center of the still thriving independent film universe lay behind the green doors of a converted TriBeCa warehouse from which the Weinstein brothers, Bob and Harvey, ran Miramax Films. With their possible deal — negotiations continued through last week — to join investors in reacquiring Miramax, which they left in 2005, the Weinsteins are again in the middle of something. But it is not the business they once ruled.

For more than a decade, the indie film movement centered in New York flourished, at times almost eclipsing the output of the mainstream Hollywood studios in terms of impact and accolades. But the financial collapse and the credit crisis had a deep impact on all of the movie world, which has responded with fewer expensive releases and safer bets. And that new austerity has decimated the indie film business, ending with the collapse or downsizing of distributors like New Line Cinema, Picturehouse, Warner Independent Pictures, ThinkFilm and Miramax, all in the last few years.

“The world is different now,” Richard Abramowitz, a new-wave film distributor, said last week. While he expressed regard for the Weinsteins, he said of the possible Miramax purchase, “I don’t see it as the kind of game-changer it might have been a few years ago. And I’ll probably get chased down the street for saying that.”

There are, however, signs of life. The struggling indie scene is getting a boost from fleet-footed, penny-pinching guerrilla operations that are trying to resuscitate the business by spending less on production, much less on marketing and embracing all forms of distribution, including the local art house and the laptop. A result has been a flush of energy reminiscent of early days in the 1990s dot-com boom, with a touch of old-fashioned indie-film spirit thrown in.“It reminds me of the early years of Miramax, where you had to be disciplined,” Harvey Weinstein said. He declined in an interview on Friday to discuss his attempt to buy Miramax in partnership with the investor Ronald W. Burkle.

Indie experiments are being closely watched in the business because what happens in Hollywood often first happens in New York City. While many in Los Angeles continue to struggle with the studio system and the emerging intricacies of 3-D, New York has locked on a different challenge: how to wring even the tiniest profit from that enormous investment in smaller movies. According to Mr. Weinstein and others, the New York-centered independent film world faltered largely because companies, flush with cash from a DVD boom that has since played out, put too much money behind too many films for an audience that was never large enough to absorb them in theaters.

At his own Weinstein Company, said Mr. Weinstein, the best model for an era of diminished expectations is “A Single Man.” That film, written and directed by Tom Ford, took in only $9 million at the domestic box office. But the Weinstein Company acquired the rights for far less and held its promotions in check, rather than spending heavily to chase an audience, and Oscars, as it might have done only two or three years ago. Mr. Weinstein said the film would yield a return both for his company and for its producers.

Independent distributors that survived the great shakeout include Focus Features, a Universal Studios unit that is anchored in Manhattan, and Sony Pictures Classics, a specialty film label based in New York that has consistently released about 20 movies a year with a staff of just 25. Along with the survivors, there are some newly established companies, like Apparition. For many of these companies, austerity is a given, and that means looking at digital distribution.

At Tribeca Enterprises, a sponsor of its namesake festival, the chief creative officer, Geoffrey Gilmore, in March joined the company’s co-founder Jane Rosenthal and others to announce a new distribution unit focused on video-on-demand — where the dollars are small, but the potential audience is vast. Already, Rainbow Media, which operates IFC Entertainment, is feeding about 120 films a year to cable television systems, while perhaps 50 of those movies are shown in one or more theaters. The company, led by Joshua Sapan, also operates an independent theater complex. Producers cannot recoup their investment from the marginal payout from on-demand showings, but a run on IFC’s channels or those of other services brings recognition that helps increasingly entrepreneurial filmmakers make money on DVDs — from foreign release, sales to airlines and, often, at screenings for political, religious or other groups, often with appearances by the writer, director and cast.

“The business is coming back smarter,” said Marian Koltai-Levine, a veteran of Fine Line and Picturehouse, who is now a marketing and distribution adviser through Zipline Entertainment. Zipline is one of the so-called garage companies run by alumni of the studios. Mr. Abramowitz’s company, Abramorama, handles about 20 films a year, on marketing and budgets that are counted more often in tens of thousands of dollars than in tens of millions. Ten days ago, he helped the Producers Distribution Agency, a new company started by John Sloss, the past master at placing films like “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Tadpole” to older-style indies like Miramax, to bypass the big players by releasing a movie, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” directly to a handful of theaters.

The film, an eccentric documentary by the elusive street artist Banksy, took in about $391,000 in its first 10 days. Much of that was attracted by a low-cost Web campaign that drew young viewers so new to indie film that a disproportionate number arrived on Friday evening, thinking the movie, like a Banksy prank, was a one-night event. The attention surrounding the opening was enough to mark “Exit” as a potential winner. The trick will be to expand the theater audience without spending heavily on newspaper ads, a major expense for indie films in the past.

Producers who routinely spent $12 million on a film five years ago are now being advised by Mr. Sloss and others to keep their budgets to a third of that. Thus, “East Fifth Bliss,” a romance directed by Michael Knowles, spent last week shooting in New York, with a budget of less than $2 million, a substantial boost from the state’s tax incentive program, and a cast that includes Lucy Liu (“Charlie’s Angels”) and Michael C. Hall (“Six Feet Under”).

For Sri Rao, a one-time Booz Allen Hamilton business consultant who now writes, produces and hopes to direct films from his base in New York and another in Philadelphia, a scaled-down indie world is simply a better place for low-cost operators like him to thrive. “The independent film landscape is so different than it was, this is not the heyday of the ’90s,” said Mr. Rao. His Sri & Company has made a pair of Bollywood-style films, the second of which, “Badmaash Company,” is scheduled for release by Yash Raj Films of India next month. Mr. Rao’s company is lean enough that it has no office at all unless a film is in production.“It’s an overhead-free world,” he said.

Anti-Glazer Projection

Man Utd supporters pulled off one of their most audacious stunts yet in their protests against the club’s owners by tonight projecting anti-Glazer slogans on to the side of Old Trafford to demand the American owners’ removal.

Messages such as “We want the Glazers out” were flashed on to the stand directly behind Sir Matt Busby’s statue in a move reminiscent of the time FHM magazine beamed a 100ft image of a naked Gail Porter on to the side of the Palace of Westminster. The logos of the club’s main sponsors were also projected on to the glass walls of United’s stadium, together with messages such as “Time to choose sides” and “Are you keeping the right company?”

Security guards tried unsuccessfully to intervene and there were some minor scuffles as other slogans followed in a 30-minute show.

Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, said the idea was to send a message to the sponsors that they should share and understand the fans’ concerns about the financial state of the club under the Glazers.

“Sponsors wish to benefit from the affinity generated by association with the most loved football club in the world but the commercial value of that relationship is being diminished due to the unpopularity of the current owners,” he said

Faceless Monsters

Today marks the Galway launch of ‘Faceless Monsters’, the new collection of short stories by ‘The Atlantis Collective’ of which my girlfriend is a member. This is their second collection after last years ‘Town of Fiction’ and the new book which I got a sneak peek of last night is a marked improvement. Not only have the quality of the stories improved but also the layout and presentation of the book is far superior to last years. There is a very nice foreword by guest editor Nuala Ni Chonchúir which explains what the collective is about, something I felt was sorely lacking in last years edition. The typeset is quite large but I think that its acceptable as it makes the book heavier and it looks like a proper collection.
As far the stories themselves, well the authors have definitely matured, as the string of competition success that various members have garnered indicates but if you really want to find out you’ll just have to buy the book. Copies will be on sale down at the launch in Massimo’s tonight from 6 and from then on at the collectives website and from Charley Byrnes