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Paramount Denial Leads to Immaculate Re-Conception of Variety Headline

ShutterstockRussellCroweHWoF_FeaturedIt’s one of the oldest tricks in the digital journalism playbook. Adjust the headline without letting readers know that such an adjustment has been made.

At press time, there is no Editor’s Note or Correction to indicate that a March 17 item by Variety New York film editor Ramin Setoodeh was originally headlined “Pope Cancels Tentative ‘Noah’ Meeting With Russell Crowe (EXCLUSIVE).” From a related report in The Hollywood Reporter:

Although Crowe had hoped to meet Pope Francis at the Pontiff’s weekly gathering in St. Peter’s Square, Paramount Pictures is denying a report that the Vatican canceled a planned meeting.

“A meeting was never scheduled,” a Paramount spokesman said. A story posted today by Variety ran under the headline: “Pope Cancels Tentative ‘Noah’ Meeting With Russell Crowe.” The original headline did not include the word “Tentative,” which was added after the studio objected.

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Anchorman 2 Spawns a Food Truck

The endless Paramount PR campaign for Anchorman 2 began with promo appearances by Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy on just about every news show imaginable. Then, a few weeks ago, there was the limited theatrical release of a second, alternate version of the movie featuring “763 new gags.”

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Now comes word via Home Media magazine senior reporter Chris Tribbey of an Anchorman food truck. “AnchorVan” is being launched today at SXSW to support the upcoming DVD release of the sequel and will wind its way to NYC for a close-out appearance on April Fools Day:

The “AnchorVan” will offer free chicken (Champ Kind’s Whammy! Chicken, of course) and give Ron Burgundy fans a chance to go on-camera to test their teleprompter reading skills.

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Novelist Andrea Cremer Chose Veronica Mars Over a Summer Vacation

The best part of Dave Itzkoff’s look at the forthcoming crowd-funded Veronica Mars movie are the personal details about some of the film’s high-end Kickstarter donors.

One guy, Cyrus Chung, is described by his wife Ina in the article as being more excited on-set in Los Angeles as a Veronica Mars extra than he was on their wedding day! The couple ponied up $3,000 for that privilege. Meanwhile, Andrea Cremer, author of the popular Young Adult novel series Nightshade, made a personal sacrifice when she pledged $2,500:

“It’s a big chunk of money,” Ms. Cremer said. “I was planning on going on vacation this summer, and it was like, well, either vacation budget or Veronica Mars.”

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Sigourney Weaver Embraces the Action Figure World

RipleyAlien_conceptWe’re guessing few people were more excited about the news that Sigourney Weaver has finally officially acquiesced to the idea of Ellen Ripley action figures than KPCC managing editor, digital Patrick Lee. That’s because his Twitter handle (@ripleycal) mashes the last name of her character in Ridley Scott‘s 1979 sci-fi classic with that of Winona Ryder‘s in 1997 sequel Alien: Resurrection.*

At right is some initial concept art. Although we’re personally excited that there’s a hint of Jim Morrison, chances are that will not make the final toy-cut. From this week’s announcement:

The officially licensed Ripley action figures from the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) will span multiple movies within the Alien saga: initial plans include a figure of Ripley in her Nostromo jumpsuit from the original 1979 film, to be followed later by a Ripley figure based on the 1986 movie Aliens, directed by James Cameron

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Ralph Bakshi Talks JFK Assassination, Kickstarter

Ezra Glinter, deputy arts director for The Forward, recently got to chat with animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi. As per usual with Bakshi, the interview does not disappoint.

RalphBakshiConeyIslandAfter a long absence from cinema’s frontier, where Bakshi paved the way for South Park, Adult Swim and more, the 75-year-old artist is busy working on his first feature since 1992′s Cool World and first project of any kind since the 1997 TV series Spicy City. It’s called Last Days of Coney Island, with Bakshi planning to release Part 1 online in the coming months:

The first segment centers on Shorty, a four-foot tall dwarf and enforcer for the mob, voiced by Matthew Modine, and other characters include cops named Louis and Max, and a call girl named Mollie, who has recently gotten out of prison…

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Roger Ebert Documentary Filmmaker on the Sequence He Was Happy to Let Get Away

ShutterstockRogerEbertThere was a fantastic interview over the weekend in Roger Ebert‘s paper of record, the Chicago Sun-Times, with the filmmaker getting ready to unveil at Sundance a feature documentary about the late critic.

Anyone who was a regular, early viewer of Siskel & Ebert likely recalls the pair championing Steve JamesHoop Dreams, long before there was a documentary renaissance and-or it was fashionable to hype non-fiction. As many have noted, it’s extra-special to now have James, a filmmaker who rose up alongside Ebert and his balcony-jousting partner, revisit the journalist’s life story posthumously.

At one point in the conversation with Sun-Times reporter Mike Thomas, James recalls the moments immediately following Ebert’s passing and how, although it would have made for an incredible sequence, he was glad in the end that one event turned out to be for his eyes and those of a few others, only:

“[His body] was in the chapel at the Rehab Institute. I said [to his wife Chaz], “Look, I brought the camera, but it’s sitting over there and we don’t have to film at all.” His body was lying in the chapel and there were a few close family [members] and friends and business associates, and I felt privileged to just be there among them. Everyone held hands and we all said the Lord’s Prayer, because that apparently was a prayer that Roger [liked] a lot.”

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Ex-SeaWorld Trainer: Director Asked Me to Wait Until After Awards Season to Criticize Blackfish

Towards the end of a very provocative micechat.com interview with Bridgette Pirtle, a former SeaWorld trainer who was intricately involved with the production of Blackfish, she is asked what she thinks the goal of the film’s director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, was.

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Pirtle’s harsh answer:

“To win the Academy Award®. Once it was apparent that there was no real interest in revealing the whole truth, I knew it was another person’s attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the story of Dawn [Brancheau] and Alexis [Martinez].”

“I know first-hand that any attempt of an experienced trainer looking to speak on behalf of the animals was quickly dismissed. Attempts to publish articles that presented a more fair, honest and unbiased perspective were eventually nixed at the very last minute. It was naive of me to seek to expose the truth that contradicted many of those within the film via CNN, the company which had a vested interest in the success of the film.”

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NYT Talks to Blackfish Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

GabrielaCowperthwaitePicIn case you missed it, Larry Rohter had an informative Q&A the other day in the New York Times with Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

The Oscar-shortlisted Cowperthwaite spoke with Rohter via telephone. At one point, she explained that in an attempt to get SeaWorld to participate in the film, she broke a golden rule of journalism:

“For about six months, I went back and forth with them. At one point they said it was likely they would grant me an interview. They asked for my questions, which you know as a journalist you never do, but I still gave them my questions. And they asked me who I had interviewed. I did not disclose that, for obvious reasons. I did not want to put anybody at risk. But they finally said no.”

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Makers of The Cove Respond to SeaWorld Newspaper Ad

OPSLogoIt’s turning out to be a very messy Christmas for beleaguered attraction SeaWorld. In response to the theme park’s open letter published last Friday in newspapers across the country, the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) – an organization made up of individuals responsible for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove – is this week circulating a much longer rebuttal.

The Boulder, CO-based group warns that “no amount of advertising will counter the Blackfish effect.” Rather, OPS is urging SeaWorld to change its harmful, bottom-line ways:

SeaWorld no longer captures killer whales in the wild — it now has other people capture animals for them. The genetic diversity of orcas in captivity is low, often resulting in inbreeding. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act prevents SeaWorld from capturing wild animals directly without federal permits, it resorts to creative ways of introducing new animals and fresh DNA into the system.

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An Epic Film Collaboration That Began Five Decades Ago at NYU

Shutterstock_ThelmaSchoonmakerWall Street Journal film features writer Rachel Dodes has the next best thing to a new Martin Scorsese-Thelma Schoonmaker movie: an interview piece about their 46-year collaboration.

So often, great things come from modest beginnings. In other words, neither one of these artists schemed in 1967 to conquer the world, garner X amount of Twitter followers or Y Facebook likes. Instead, they just started collaborating and to the benefit of us all, continue this holiday season with The Wolf of Wall Street:

Schoonmaker, 73, met Scorsese 50 years ago while she was taking a summer-editing course at NYU. She helped him edit his first feature film, 1967′s Who’s That Knocking at My Door. They stayed in touch, working together on Woodstock, a 1970 documentary, but didn’t start collaborating regularly until Raging Bull.

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