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Randi Schmelzer

Bin Laden Hits the Big Screen

Osama: Slytherin, most definitely

It took 10 years for U.S. forces to track down Osama bin Laden, but only hours for Hollywood to start planning movie versions.

An agent for former Navy Seal sniper Howard Wasdin, whose yet-to-be-released memoir SEAL Team Six documents his time with the elite counterterrorism unit that shot Bin Laden, says he’s already had several offers for a movie adaptation.

And (perhaps inconveniently) the terrorist’s death provides The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal with a new, solid ending to their already-in-the-works thriller (working title: based in part on “a Delta Force commander’s” 2008 memoir Kill Bin Laden), about a U.S. special ops team on the hunt for bin Laden in Tora Bora.

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‘Frowning Flower Girl’ Saves the Day

For those more interested in pints of Boddingtons than royal-nuptial pomp, little Grace van Cutsem came to the rescue.

It’s no wonder Prince William’s cranky three-year-old goddaughter – and great-great-great-granddaughter of William Waldorf Astor — became an instant Internet sensation: As Aaron Morrisey at DCist.com noted, with a single pose, the blogger-dubbed “frowning flower girl” summed up how “most of us feel about the whirlwind, nonstop royal wedding coverage that has filled the airwaves over the past few days, weeks and months.”

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‘New Egypt’ Activists Back on Facebook to Bring Back Tourists

Egyptian activists are once again taking to Facebook — and this time, the government isn’t likely to shut down the Internet .

To help rebuild their country’s suffering tourism sector, social media-savvy Egyptians who three months ago focused online efforts on driving old leaders out are using the same tactics to bring new visitors in, with Facebook campaigns like Come Back to Egypt.

Egyptian officials estimate that the 18-day revolution alone cost the country $1 billion in tourism revenue. And since Jan. 25, tour bookings have shown little sign of improvement.

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A New Model for Celebrity PR

“She’s in your face and sure of herself, and she has no filter.”

This, from a profile in Thursday’s New York Times, is a description of ID PR founder and CEO Kelly Bush — who’s also referred to as an “Internet fixer,” “grizzly bear” and “tough customer,” among other (complimentary) things.

The piece explains that instead of serving as their clients’ gatekeepers, Bush and her team tackle the “Web-driven, 24-hour media culture” — that is, celebrity PR in the TMZ era — head-on: addressing controversy (and creating it, at times), playing “Internet fixer,” even managing actors’ careers. (Bush handles publicity for and manages clients including Ellen Page and Paul Reubens.)

Efforts such as these, the article contends, are changing entertainment publicity as we know it.

What do you think? Anyone else helping to shake up the business?

‘Black Swan’ Blasted for Ballet Cover-Up

Coinciding perfectly with its Tuesday DVD release, “a major scandal” may leave Black Swan with a black mark on its publicity efforts, and Natalie Portman‘s Oscar-winning performance as a prima ballerina in question.

Identified in the movie’s credits only as “Hand Model” and “Lady in the Lane” — and not thanked in Portman’s Best Actress acceptance speech — real-life ballerina Sarah Lane claims she was in fact Portman’s Black Swan dancing double.

“Basically, I did all of the dancing,” Lane told the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog, among others. “And then they digitally put [Portman's] face on my body.”

Lane, a soloist with San Francisco New York-based American Ballet Theatre, says exec producer Ari Handel asked her not to speak to the press, “to create this facade that [Portman] had become a ballerina in a year and a half.”

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Coming Soon to Theaters: Calorie Counts

Across the U.S., movie theaters are preparing to make some unwanted concessions.

For weeks, theater owners have lobbied the Food and Drug Administration and congressional staff members for exemption from proposed rules requiring their snack stands to post the calories in popcorn, nachos, hot pretzels and other prepared foods. Today, the FDA is expected to announce its decision. (Update: As of March 30, it looks like a decision still hasn’t been made.)

Movie-concession disclosure rules fall under the same healthcare law provision that seeks to educate consumers by requiring chain restaurants to post the nutritional content of menu items. But the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) fought for exclusion, contending that Congress didn’t specifically mention movie theaters when deliberating the measure last year.

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‘Miral’ U.N. Premiere Causes Controversy

Julian Schnabel‘s latest film Miral may not be getting great reviews, but it is getting attention — especially following its Monday night premiere at the U.N.

Based on the semi-autobiographical book by (Schnabel’s girlfriend) Rula Jebreal, Miral tells the story of a Palestinian girl growing up in a Jerusalem orphanage in the decades following Israel’s independence. Starring Freida Pinto, this is Schnabel’s first movie since the Oscar-nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in 2007.

In addition to its reviews, the film drew protests from groups including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, and the American Jewish Federation when Monday’s red-carpet premiere was held in the main hall of the United Nations General Assembly — an inappropriate venue for what AJC called a “highly politicized, one-sided film” in which Israel’s concerns are blithely dismissed.

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Anti-Smoking Crusaders Add MLB to Hit List

Re-energized by Rango‘s top spot at the box office, anti-smoking organizations this week reiterated their call to slap automatic R-ratings on movies that feature tobacco use — even when those users are cigar-chompin’, gun-shootin’, cowboy-hat-wearin’ gila monsters.

But the anti-smoking crusade isn’t limited to the multiplex. Last week, Rango-rivals the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Legacy Foundation, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids partnered, along with seven other health-focused organizations, to target the dusty varmints of baseball.

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No (Strait)jacket Required

Photo: Reuters, Denis Balibouse

After weeks of speculation and rumors — about his declining health, “bad press” and his relationship with fans — former Genesis frontman-turned-soft rock station staple Phil Collins took to the Web with his version of “Breaking News.”

“Many of the articles printed over the last few months have ended up painting a picture of me that is more than a little distorted,” Collins posted Monday on PhilCollins.com.

In his post, Collins wrote that these articles (notably, a recent interview in British FHM) portrayed him as a “tormented weirdo.” In response, the singer-songwriter-drummer explained that he’s really quite normal and in fact “just wants to be a full-time dad to his two young sons.”

With his clarification picked up by dozens of media outlets — the AP, USA Today, E! Online, BBCAmerica.com, Today’s Parent, People.com and The Onion, among others — and links breathlessly shot out via Twitter and Facebook, Collins managed to generate the most diverse coverage he’s had since 1985, when he played same-day Live Aid sets in both London and Philadelphia. This time, though, all it took was a Web post.

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MPAA’s CEO Quest Ends With Dodd

After a 15-month, Lost Ark-rivaling quest, the Motion Picture Association of America‘s search for a chairman-CEO has finally ended. The MPAA announced this week that five-term Connecticut senator and one-time presidential hopeful Christopher Dodd would take on the role.

Dodd didn’t sound a bit shaken when he told the L.A. Times that his years of cross-party work “putting together a financial reform bill and 50 percent of the healthcare bill” have adequately prepared him to wheel-and-deal among cut-throat movie execs, big challenges lie ahead for the former senator, whose only previous experience with Hollywood was a cameo in the 1993 Ivan Reitman movie Dave.

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