I know it's only been a month since my last follow-up post, where I gave updates on various entertainment news items I'd previously written about, but there's been a lot going on that deserves some timely commentary.
DirecTV's New Bet on Video On Demand - I swear they never learn. The newest chapter in the early video-on-demand (VOD) wars involves Universal offering the new Brett Ratner comedy "Tower Heist" on Comcast's VOD for $60, three weeks after it premieres theatrically. Cinemark Theaters has threatened a boycott, but everyone else seems to be rolling their eyes. Who on earth would want to pay $60 for a VOD movie? If nobody wanted to pay $30 for a film sixty days after its release in the DirecTV experiment, what makes Universal think anyone wants to pay $60 after twenty-one days? To be fair, the star-studded "Tower Heist," which features Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, is on track to be a bigger movie than anything DirecTV was offering, but this venture seems designed to fail. But hey - maybe that's the point. If "Tower Heist" on early VOD proves to be a major failure, maybe it will put a final nail in the coffin of this nutty trend.
Why Does Arrietty Have Two English Dubs? - As some predicted, Disney has given up its rights to theatrically distribute all but the most recent Ghibli films to GKIDS. Disney will retain the DVD and other home entertainment rights, which lends credence to the idea that they might be moving away from future theatrical distribution of the Ghibli films. Also Stateside anime fans are still waiting for "Arrietty" to hit theaters in February. The old joke about Disney dragging their heels in releasing Ghibli films is getting awfully relevant again.
The Playboy Club and H8er were the first new shows of the fall season to be cancelled. Good riddance.
All "Simpsons," All the Time - In an interesting twist, the future of "The Simpsons" was recently in jeopardy because contract negotiations with the cast got contentious again. The show has gotten less profitable over time with declining ratings, forcing FOX to cut costs. In fact, according to the LA Times, ending the show might become the more lucrative option for FOX, because that would trigger the ability for them to renegotiate syndication deals and sell rights to the reruns to new platforms. But for now, "The Simpsons" has been renewed for two more years. And for those of you who are actually still watching the show, this year's "Treehouse of Horror XXII" is scheduled to air on October 30th.
The "Human Centipede II" Ban - The British censors have given "The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)" a rating and the go-ahead for public exhibition after the filmmakers trimmed a few minutes of the most graphic material. This is an about-face from their earlier declaration that the film on the whole was so egregiously offensive, that no cuts could be made to render it watchable. You could argue the merits of who won and who lost in this clash, but I'm just glad that the BBFC realized that banning a film based on thematic issues was setting bad precedent. However, that won't save "Centipede" from a flood of bad reviews, many of which charge the film with a far worse crime than being offensive - being boring.
Delicious is Going Down - The beloved social book marking site Delicious was supposed to have been rescued from shutdown by Avos, which bought the site back in April. YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen were supposed to relaunch a new and improved version of the site. Well, the relaunch happened at the end of September, rendering the site unusable. Functions have disappeared, bugs are everywhere, and the user base is in revolt. I hope the guys behind the scenes figure out how to fix things quick.
And Your Host, Betty White - Finally, I commented in the linked article last year that I thought Andy Rooney was looking worn and sounding increasingly out of touch. So I, for one, welcomed his recent departure from the "60 Minutes" roster. It was great to have him as part of the television landscape for so many decades, but I felt Rooney hit his expiration date a few years ago and congratulate him on his retirement. There's been some discussion of who "60 Minutes" might bring on to replace him - apparently Lewis Black turned the job down - but I don't know how I'd feel about someone else taking over the closing segment. It's just too soon.