June 1, 2000

Short Takes, June 2000

These are the days when Birds come back—
A very few—a Bird or two—
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies resume
The old—old sophistries of June—
A blue and gold mistake

-Emily Dickinson

 

These are the days, my friends—with IDA now firmly ensconced in its new headquarters in downtown LA to breathe in that delectable zephyr called change. And what a dynamic new neighborhood! The LA County performing Arts Center to the north, Museum of Contemporary Art to the east, the library to the south and the Hollywood sign to the west. Not to mention film crews galore at the Los Angeles Center Studios. It feels like culture. It smells like victory.

The IDA Awards process is under way, with Gilbert DeGloria joining the crew as Awards Coordinator. Gilbert comes to IDA from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and local PBS affiliate KCEITV before that. Gilbert replaces Jessica Rath, who's been doing a lot of hand-holding, firedousing and task-mastering as the newly created Managing Editor of this magazine.

Otherwise, readers, it's June—and more importantly, it's summer—and whether you walk down the aisle for a diploma or a ring, whether you celebrate your paternal prowess or your natal anniversary, rejoice in the simple pleasures of longer, lazier days.

 

NEWS BRIEFS

 

CNN Celebrates 20 Years on the Air

"To act upon one's convictions while others wait; to create a positive force in a world where cynics abound; to provide information to people when it wasn't available before; to offer those who want it a choice... I dedicate the news channel for America, the Cable News Network."

So proclaimed Ted Turneron June 1, 1980, and an empire was born. And to think it all began in the basement of an old Atlanta country club, with one satellite, seven bureaus and viewership of 1.7 million US households. Today, CNN manages six networks, 35 bureaus, 24 satellites, 11 web sites, 800 TV affiliates and 1,900 radio affiliates, reaching more than one billion people worldwide. Its products include news coverage and analysis, documentary programming, news magazine features, business news and talk shows.

As part of the celebration, CNN is airing daily packages that feature news events from the past 20 years, with reflections and perspectives added from CNN journalists who covered these stories. The media giant will also host the 2000 CNN World Report Conference this month, with more than 300 CNN contributors, politicians, world leaders and sports and entertainment figures in attendance. Check "North American Broadcast Premieres" for programs this month.

Aussie Film Commission Cuts Funding of Australian Film Institute

The Australian Film Commission announced in April that it would cease funding key elements of the Australian Film Institute's programs, including distribution and sales of short films and documentaries and the AFI's research and information center. The AFC will continue to support the institute,s awards and exhibition program, however. The commission wants to redirect its resources toward industry development.

Archive Photos to Represent Eastman Collection

Archive Photos, a leading supplier of images spanning 3,000 years of history, has agreed to worldwide representation of selected images from the George Eastman House Photography Collection. The collection includes more than 400,000 photographs dating from the invention of photography to the present day, establishing a timeline of virtually every photographic process employed throughout the history of the medium.

Selections from the George Eastman House Collection can be found on at www.archivephotos.com.

 

CHANGES AT THE HELM

 

MacGillivray Freeman Doc-Makers Exit for New Ventures

Three producers from MacGillivray Freeman Films—Chris Blum, Joshua Colover and Myles Connolly—left the large-format producer to form Aperture Films, which will also specialize in large-format productions. While at McGillivray Freeman, the trio had worked on such acclaimed IMAX films as Everest and The Living Sea. Aperture Films will also provide consultation to emerging filmmakers who are looking to get into large-format production.

 

DOCS WATCH

 

IDA member David Grubin is readying his four-part bio-epic Napoleon for a Fall 2000 airing on PBS. The film is part of Devillier Donegan Enterprises's EMPIRES series.

Long Night's Journey Into Day, the Sundance Grand Jury prize-winner from Deborah Hoffman and Frances Reid, will be released through Seventh Art Releasing and will open in San Francisco and Los Angeles this year, following its successful run at New York's Film Forum in April. Seventh Art will also distribute Justin Mitchell's Songs for Cassavetes, a documentary about the indie rock scene.

Solaris, the indie production company, will provide finishing funds for Mule Skinner Blues, Stephen Earhart's examination of life in a trailer park near Jacksonville, and My Generation, Barbara Kopple's new film about the evolution of Woodstock culture, from its utopian promise in 1969 to its cynical demise in 1999. Director/producer Michael Pack is working on a one-hour documentary entitled, The Character of George Washington. The film will examine the qualities of the man who help lead a revolution and found a democracy. The film is tentatively slated to air on PBS in late 2000.

Oscar-Winner to be Altered

The makers of the Academy Award-winning One Day in September, which chronicles the 1972 Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes, have agreed to edit certain scenes that the widows of the victims have deemed too shocking, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Producer Arthur Cohn and director Kevin McDonald will blur out the most disturbing shots of the victims. Cohn will spend $100,000 to alter the negatives of the prints currently in circulation.

Discovery Empire Eyes 2000-2001 Season

Discovery Communications recently announced its line-up for the 2000-2001 season.

Discovery Channel will launch a year-long initiative called 2001: A Discovery Space Journey, consisting of quarterly specials that focus on exciting developments in the final frontier. Discover will also reveal the next chapter of the Siberian wooly mammoth saga with The Mammoth Revelead, the sequel to the highly successful Raising the Mammoth. TLC is focusing more on the human experience with shows ranging from The 70s: Bell-Bottoms and Boogie Shoes to John Cleese's Language of Looks.

Animal Planet will return with three new series—Shark Gordon, Parklife: Africa and Thoroughbred.

Travel Channel launches two new series—Hidden Worlds and Wolrd's Best, in which Travel Channel declares the best in a particular travel category.

Discovery Health, the newest member of the Discovery family, will premiere specials like Class of '75,in which Discovery Health follows a group of former classmates for one year as they wok to improve their health and lifestyles.

In another development, Discovery Communications and UK's Canada Media announced at Mipcom in April a $3-5 million co-production agreement to develop programs over the next three years.

 

AWARDS ROUNDUP

 

The 59th annual George Foster Peabody Awards, which honor excellence in radio and television broadcasting, were presented last month in New York. These were the winners in the television category: ABC 2000, ABC News and Peter Jennings; Bob Simon for international reporting for CBS News: Singled Out, WAGA-TV, Atlanta; Stadium Investigation, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati; Investigative reporting by GMA Network, Manila; 2020: Those were our Children, ABC News, with investigative correspondent Brian Ross; Biorhythm, MTV Networks; Playing the China Card, Brook Lapping Productions for Channel 4, and presented on PBS by WCBH-TV Boston; Facing the Truth with Bill Moyers, Public Affairs Television, presented on PBS by WNET, New York; The Second World War in Color, a TWI/Carleton co-production for ITV Britain; ESPN Sports Century, ESPN; Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabet Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Florentine Films in association with WETA-TV, Washington; FRONTLINE: The Lost Children of Rockdale County, a co-production of 10/20 Productions, presented on PBS; Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports, HBO Sports; Arguing the World, Riverside Films, New York, presented on PBD; The Valley, a Mentorn Barraclough Carey Production for Channel 4, Britain; First of Freedom: The Story of the '68 Summer Games, HBO Sports; Murder in Purdah, BBC News; I'll Make me a World: A Century of African-American Arts, Blackside, Inc. in association with WNET, New York, presented on PBS; The Life of Birds by David Attenborough, BBC in association with PBS; VH1 Save the Music Campaign, VH1 Public Affairs, MTV Networks; and American Presidents: Life Portraits, C-Span. In Addition, IDA Trustee Sheila Nevins of HBO earned a special award. IDA member Lynne Littman's fiction film Having our Say: The Delancy Sisters' First 100 Years also earned a Peabody.

The following documentaries were nominated for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards: After Stonewall (PBS), E! True Hollywood Story: Divine (E!), Golden Threads (PBS), The Man Who Drove Mandela (PBS), and Out at Work (HBO).

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards were presented last month. These were the nominees in the doc categories: HUW Weldon Award for Best Arts Program or Series—The ABBA Story, ITV; Hitchcock: Reputation—Alfred the Great/Alfred the Auteur, BBC2: Hip-Hop Years, C4; This is Modern Art, C4. Flaherty Documentary Award—Divorce Iranian Style, C4; Gulag, BBC2; Kosovo—The Valley (True Stories), C4; Malcolm and Barbara—A Love Story, ITV.

The following is a selection of the winners of New York Emmy Awards, presented in April: Historical/Cultural Programming Program, Special or Series—Eyewitness to the Century, WABC, Michael Bencivenga and Glenn Steinlast, producers. Historical/Cultural Programming Segment or Series of Segments—City Arts: Reading Room Restored; WNET, Elliot Caplan, producer. Writer, Documentary—Rich Newberg: Our Two Most Cherished Rights, WIVB. Director, Documentary—Brent Sterling Nemetz: The Souls of New York 5, WNET. Camera, Documentary—Joseph A. Picciotto: Forward Lockerbie, WTVHI; Jem Cohen, Jeff Folmsbee, Kevin Lombard, Mark Mannucci, Bernard McWilliams, Scott Sinkler, Ezra Bookstein, Randy Drummond: City Life: Inventing Yourself, WNET. Editor, Documentary—Alan Oxman, Tom Patterson, Wilson Van Law: City Life: Winning and Losing, WNET.

 

FESTIVALS ROUNDUP

 

Adrian and Roko Belic continue to round up the trophies for their celebrated doc Genghis Blues, which won the Audience Choice award and a special jury award at the Bermuda Film Festival and Best Documentary honors at the Sedona International Film Festival.

At the third annual DoubleTake Documentary Film Festival, the Jury Prize went to The Way I Look to You by Jean-Stephane Bron; Edward Rosenstein's The Gospel According to Mr. Allen and Linda Duvoisin's You Don't Know What I Got shared the Audience Award, and the Jury Award for Best Short went to But, the Day Came by Eugene Richards.

Well, it was bound to happen: AnotherTake: A Documentary Festival with a Political Edge made its debut in Durham to knock some of the starch off DoubleTake. Jen Schradie, AnotherTake's director, notes that "the idea for the festival started with the usual filmmakers gripe sessions when our films were rejected. But when we looked at the other documentaries DoubleTake rejected, we noticed that many of them went beyond the so-called objective, issue-oriented documentaries we see on PBS or The History Channel. A lot of documentaries they wouldn't show had more of a political edge to them than the documentaries shown on TV." AnotherTake screened its slate of docs at a venue right next to DoubleTake headquarters.

Simeon Soffer and Jonathan Stack took the Best Documentary award at Aspen Shortsfest 2000 for The Wildest Show in the South: The Angola Prison Rodeo.

At the Tahoe International Film Festival, the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary went to Bobby Houston and Robert Hudson's Little Secret, which tells the story of ten kids with HIV who come together for a rafting trip down the Salmon River.

IDA member American Movie Classics was the toast of Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, taking home a dozen awards. And they included: Special Jury Award—News and Documentary Program Editing/Graphics: Behind the Planet of the Apes; Special Jury Award—News and Documentary Program Directing: Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman, which also earned a Gold Award in the TV Special Documentary category; Silver Award for News & Documentary Program Editing/Graphic: Hollywood Fashion Machine, which also took the Bronze Award in TV Series-Documentary, a Bronze for News & Documentary Program Research/Writing and a Bronze for News & Documentary Program Directing; Bronze for News & Documentary Program Editing/Graphics: Between Heaven and Hell: Hollywood Looks at The Bible, which also nabbed a Bronze for News & Documentary Program Research/Writing.

St. Clair Bourne was honored with the presentation of the Connecticut Filmmaker Award 2000 by the Connecticut Film Commission at Film Fest New Haven last April. The festival screened two of his works Paul Robeson: Here I Stand! and John Henrik Clark: A Great and Might Walk.

 

PASSINGS

 

Gregory B. Shuker, 67, Vérité Pioneer and Drew Associates Veteran

Gregory T. Skuker, a documentary filmmaker and an early practitioner of cinéma vérité technique, died of cancer in New York in April. He was 67.

Shuker studied journalism at Northwestern University, where he was editor-in-chief of the school paper. After graduation, he worked as a correspondent for Life magazine. While at Life, he got to know the magazine's film unit, headed by Robert L. Drew. Shuker later joined Drew Associates and helped to create some of the seminal works in the history of documentary, including The Chair, which earned the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963: Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment; and Faces of November, which won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Shuker left Time-Life for Public Broadcast Laboratory, later PBS, where he produced Free at Last, which documented Dr. Martin Luther King's final days in 1968. Shuker also wrote and narrated the film, which won an Emmy Award and First Prize at Venice Film Festival.

In 1912, Shuker founded Playback Associates, a production company specializing in industrial training videos and instructional tapes. He is survived by a son, two daughters and five grandchildren.

 

CYBERTAKES

Directors Guild Announces Internet Production Agreements

In response to the plethora of activity on the Internet, the Directors Guild of America issued a set of agreements for media projects made for the web. The agreements are similar to the Low Budget Film Agreements for the time being, until "the economics of Internet productions and distribution become clearer."

According to the DGA, "the new agreement requires that signatory Internet companies provide all DGA members with a deal memo and set up the rules for residual compensation should the project migrate to other markets such as theatrical. television or home video."

Showtime Hits the Net

Showtime Networks recently launched an online entertainment site, alt.SHO.com. which debuted last month as a festival of user-generated submission.

"alt.SHO.com is about spotlighting the work of digital media creative talent who are using Web-appropriate technology to create exciting and innovative entertainment," said Showtime Digital Media Croup Senior Vice President Gene Falk.

MPI Networks Unveils New Web Site

Chicago-based MPI Networks launched a unique web site at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April that provides access to thousands to high-quality moving images dating back to the invention of film in the late 1800s. The site www.mpienetworks.com, can be searched by themre, personality, event, decade, etc.

The site currently has more than 8,000 moving images, and MPI expects to make available the bulk of its library to the Internet. The content will include The WPA Film Library of stock footage and a portion of MPI's original full length programming, as well as the MPI Home Video Library of videocassettes and DVD programs, which will be available for on-line purchase.

Horizon Entertainment Showcases Portal for Teen-Driven Media Project

Horizon Entertainment, a Venice, CA-based production company, is working with five teens from Northem and Southern California on a unique media project entitled Wrong Way Right: The Online Experience. In response to the rash of rampage killings and suicides at American high schools, Horizon founders Erahm Machado and John Pohl equipped five high school students with video cameras to capture the typical pressures that teenagers face. Their ongoing work can be found on www.wrongwayright.com, which is also an interactive community for teens.

Tags: