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So, what you’re saying is, Wolverine is gayer than Superman?

We’re supremely amused by the frantic denials of any ubermensch gay-ness that “Superman Returns” director Bryan Singer has been issuing of late.

Today, Reuters offers this tidbit:

“After weeks of Internet buzzing that the new Superman movie portrays the Man of Steel as gay, the director of the film issued a strong denial on Friday and said it was the most heterosexual character he has filmed. Superman “is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie I’ve ever made,” said Singer, director of “Superman Returns,” a new movie about the crime-fighting superhero that opens June 28. “I don’t think he’s ever been gay.”

The “most heterosexual character in any movie I’ve ever made”?(!)

Can we infer from this that Wolverine might enjoy a little antique-hunting on Fire Island? Or that Verbal Kint is more likely to hit the gym and then head over to Rage in West Hollywood for a few Mojito shooters?

The whole thing is so patently ridiculous, we lack the words for it.

This is the problem with the web: Rather than asking a more justifiable question (“Isn’t “Superman” wildly overpriced at $250 million?) web conspiracy theorists want to equivocate being in the closet, with ducking into a phone booth.

And what if Superman was gay? It would explain a lot: Can’t commit to Lois. The always-dashing-off-whenever-she wants to spend the night. (“The Barneys Winter Sa- er, a runaway train, Lois. Couldn’t be helped!”) It would make Clark Kent‘s secret life a far more empathetic than a pathetic one. But with a quarter billion on the line, Warner Bros. can’t take the chance that Red State America might boycott the film.notgay.jpeg

Besides: Does anyone really think a gay Superman would be caught dead wearing red and blue together in this combination?

Ovitz’s $109 million severance secure, but the means by which he got it? Not so much…

Yesterday’s unanimous high court ruling in Delaware upheld the exceedingly slipshod and over-generous way that Michael Eisner hired and fired Michael Ovitz.


Interestingly, today, the Wall Street Journal carries a closer look at the way corporate boards are held accountable – or rather, frequently not held accountable.

Two weeks ago, the New York Stock Exchange announced it was seeking commentary about a potential rule change. Its considering ending the practice of letting brokerage firms vote the shares they hold on behalf of their stockholders who don’t express a preference in director elections.

What isn’t widely known is that unless you, the shareholder, bother to read the mind-bendingly small print, narcolepsy-inducing proxy statements that come in the mail and select actual candidates for a company’s board, your brokerage firm gets to vote for you.

We know: You were too busy deciding between Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee to take notice. But if you’re Disney shareholder, you ought to care, because – to use an analogy “American Idol” watchers would understand, if you didn’t vote for Taylor, essentially, your cable company could wind up using your vote to for Katharine instead.

“In the election of Walt Disney Co. board members in 2004, 45% of the votes were cast against, or ‘withheld’ from, former Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Eisner. But hundreds of millions of shares cast for Mr. Eisner were voted on behalf of stockholders who never returned their broker-supplied proxies querying how they wanted to vote.”

What if they only counted the votes actually cast? Well, as the Journal notes, Eisner would have been toast.

We’re all in favor of the change: Not because it will incentivize shareholders to pay attention to who’s running their companies, but because it will incentivize CEO‘s to pay attention to their shareholders.

mySpace: The spooks’ final frontier?

A scoop today from a place we least expected it: New Scientist says that the governments most notoriously-secretive spooks, the National Security Administration, are all over mySpace and the like just leaves us shaking our heads. friendster Logo.jpg

“…the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone’s contact network, a process sometimes called “connecting the dots”. Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or “degrees” separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation.”

In other words, think twice before you list “buying lots of fertilizer” or “letting strangers pack my bags before flying” as hobbies on Facebook.

A farewell from yours truly

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am headed off to bastion of vox pop, starting on Monday, where I’ll be writing the City of Industry column – essentially, all about Hollywood’s foibles in business.

After today, I am handing off the vaunted FishbowlLA to a variety of guest bloggers over the next week or two, until our vast international search comittee secures the services of a permanent media and culture business scrutinizer-in-chief. goodbye_mr_chips.jpg

It was great fun blogging for you here, and most of you were very patient as I learned the ropes of blogging. As a reporter, I have mixed emotions about blogs: They can be the most insightful, inventive and open areas of discussion and discoure on the web, though some are simply places that indulge the lazier, sloppier aspects of journalism. We’ve always tried to be the former and not the latter. Hopefully, you’ll continue to check back in the coming weeks to keep the ‘bowl honest with your engaged, thoughtful criticism – and, of course, your helpful tips.

So, as they say in the movie business, “That’s a wrap… print it!”

With best regards,

Claude Brodesser-Akner

LAT in 90 seconds

– Apparently, “Crash” captured the hearts of Academy voters for a reason. This is it.

– The Dixie Chicks are singing the Red State blues, at least when it comes to touring.

– Today’s teens are drinking, smoking and screwing less than Generation X-ers. The bad news? It’s because their smoking more and more dope and juicing up with steroids.

Ah, America. Your future terrifies us.

People who need people?

The missive below comes from one of our favorite Los Angeles journalists, Jenny Hontz. We just had to share it with you:

We had dinner Friday night with People magazine’s Cynthia Wang at the Sawtelle Franco-Japanese fusion joint Orris. We were joined by Cynthia’s husband Matthew Brand, a sound recordist she met on location covering “Survivor,” and San Jose Mercury News sports reporter Victor Chi. But Wang was on weekend duty and unable to enjoy a meal without checking her Blackberry every five minutes. When I was under contract at the magazine a few years ago, weekend duty meant monitoring certain top celebs and filing by Sunday night. Now People‘s reporters are never off the job. The competition for wedding and baby news has grown so intense that People now time codes scoops on its website.

Beating the competition by minutes means bragging rights. Wang said AP
incorrectly claimed credit for breaking the Brangelina baby news, but
People‘s time coding allowed the celeb behemoth to set the record straight.

Do the readers really care? People thinks so.

Competition is even more ferocious for photos, and pic scoops are just as hard to protect in the web era. People denies paying $4 million for the rights to print Brad and Angelina’s baby photos, the first of which is posted on today, with more to follow in tomorrow’s issue.

“We’ve heard figures between $3.5 and $5 million, and this latest one of $4.1 million,” said executive editor Peter Castro. “They’re all incorrect.”

Whatever People paid, the scoop was ruined when several websites prematurely posted the first embargoed photos, scooping People and Britain’s Hello! magazine. Now there there’s talk of lawsuits to settle the score. All this for charity?

Of course, fingers are pointing to an inside job at Hello!, whose logo graced the leaked photo. Hello! features editor Juliet Herd expressed her shock and horror at the breach. “It’s a complete mystery,” she said.

A spokesperson for People magazine told reporters that “somebody from Hello! must have leaked it.”

Shall we call Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate?

Pixar’s “Cars” no hybrid

Of all the pieces that offer a look at Disney Pixar Animation‘s “Cars,” perhaps none is as interesting at the International Herald Tribune‘s assessment:

“An animated fable about happy cars might have made sense before gas hit three bucks a gallon, but even an earlier sticker date couldn’t shake the story’s underlying creepiness, which comes down to the fact that there’s nothing alive here – nada, zip. In this respect, the film can’t help but bring to mind James Cameron‘s dystopian masterpiece “The Terminator,” which hinges on the violent revolt of the machine world against its human masters. To watch McQueen and the other cars motor along the film’s highways and byways without running into or over a single creature is to realize that, in his cheerful way, Lasseter has done Cameron one better: Instead of blowing the living world into smithereens, these machines have just gassed it with carbon monoxide.”

We wonder aloud if “Cars” will suffer the same fate as Fox / Blue Sky’s “Robots” – a good but not great movie that was so oddly bereft of organic living things that audiences somehow rebelled.

Surely, it’ll be number one at the box office this weekend, but then what?

We’re also a bit surprised to learn there isn’t a hybrid in the movie, and that references to eco-friendly fuels made by George Carlin‘s character are largely relegated to stoner-hippie blather. Not that Pixar is necessarily a bunch of bed-wetting pinko Commies just because they’re up in Northern California, but really: Has John Lasseter been so busy with “Cars” that he never got a chance to see “An Inconvenient Truth“?

“Code” broken in China

What’s surprising isn’t the Chinese’s decision to pull “The Da Vinci Code” out of theaters – it’s the way they went about it. YINYANG.jpg

For starters, the AP says that

“Chinese authorities said the withdrawal of the movie from theaters Friday was to make way for locally produced films, one industry executive said, declining to be named because she wasn’t authorized to speak to the media on the matter.”

Look, I’ve lived in China, and I can tell you: Opaque, if not utterly obscured rationales are the rule. No one ever really knows why something has happened, only that it has. Was it because of a beef the Vatican has with China over the government’s decision to appoint bishops without papal approval? Maybe. It could be a sign of goodwill, since the Vatican loves the “Code” about as much as it loves the Pill.

In this case, the Chinese decision, however capricious, doesn’t really much matter to Columbia’s bottom line. Sony’s already made $13 million from the “Code” and with piracy being what it is over there, they weren’t going to make much more than that.

The real issue is what this act of vagarious pique will do to China’s relationship with other studios looking to invest and explore the Chinese market. It may well be that to “get rich is glorious” as Deng Xiaoping once said, but the Chinese are clearly determined to remind the West that they’ll have plenty to say about who’ll do the getting.

LAT in 90 seconds

– Oh. My. I think the LA Times just won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, with this whopper of a story about 21 Las Vegas judges who cry out who are practically yelling “Hit me!” with corruption and conflict-of-interest charges.

Not that we do much better when it comes to picking those in the black robes.

– Disneyland gets a new marketing campaign: A million prizes, photography by Annie Leibovitz and free access to “the exclusive, members-only Club 33 at Disneyland.” Disneyland has a private members-only club? We find this terrifying. Can you imagine who’s “on the list”?

The Cruise to nowhere? Actor’s reps offer clues as to how to rehab the world’s biggest star…

Kim Masters today offers a fascinating peek behind the curtain of Tom Cruise‘s management team, citing interviews with anonymous sources, presumably Rick Nicita or some other naughty lad at CAA.

“Cruise is said to be looking at a couple of possible projects, including 3:10 to Yuma at Sony Pictures with Walk the Line’s James Mangold directing. Sony likes to spend, it has a lot of Da Vinci Code money, and sources say Mangold isn’t scared of the “cootie factor,” so maybe that will happen. But a comedy sounds like it would be VIM’s choice. “I’d like to see him in another Jerry Maguire-type movie,” he says. “That’s a role that he plays well—and smiles.” A role like that would be aimed at women, who haven’t cottoned much to Cruise lately. But VIM (Very Informed Member of Team Cruise) says this would be the chance to win them back.”

More alarming: It looks more and more like his deal at Paramount may not be renewed…