It's here!: The gay and lesbian cable service Here! TV, which currently offers several pay-per-view selections each month to viewers in about 22 million homes, has announced that, on Oct. 1, it will launch a full 24/7 channel with original movies and series. Production has begun on a series called "Weapons of Mass Destruction," described as "An intense spy thriller starring International Martial Arts Superstar Cynthia Rothrock as the first lesbian action hero." Original movies will include "Deadly Skies" -- "A Colonel thrown out of the military because of 'don't ask, don't tell' returns with a female colleague to save the world from a killer asteroid." And don't miss Here! TV's answer to "The Sopranos" -- "'Friends and Family': A stylish New York comedy about the real gay mafia."
Air America brouhaha: The new liberal radio network was yanked off stations in Chicago and L.A. this week for allegedly bouncing a check. Air America in turn filed a breach of contract lawsuit in New York charging that it had paid its bills and should be reinstated. (The Smoking Gun)
The final verdict on Jimmy? Newsday ran an editorial note today summing up its take on the dispute over Jimmy Breslin's column quoting conservative Rev. Lou Sheldon on homosexuality. Sheldon says he has no memory of talking to Breslin. Newsday, in which Breslin's column appears, concludes that "the quotes attributed to Sheldon in the April 7  column were incorrect and not Sheldon's precise words. Breslin maintains, however, that they were an accurate reflection of the essence of the reverend's views on homosexuality in the 1992 interview. The April 7 Breslin column should have indicated that it was based on a conversation that took place in 1992. And the column did not adhere to Newsday's standard of publishing only direct quotations that are accurate and precise." (Newsday)
To sell or not to sell: A rare edition of "Hamlet" printed in 1611 failed to sell at Christie's yesterday in New York. It was expected to fetch about $2 million. (BBC)
Illegal cam: Two men were arrested this week under a new California law against recording films in theaters. Min Jae Joun was caught taping "The Passion of the Christ" and Ruben Moreno was nabbed while taping "The Alamo" -- both in L.A. The punishment could be up to a year in jail. (Reuters)
President Body? Former Minnesota Gov. and wrestling champ Jesse Ventura said this week that he might consider running for president in 2008. (AP)
-- Karen Croft
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"Seabiscuit," pro-capitalist epic:
A "study" released on Monday reveals that "moviegoers prefer conservative, patriotic movies with positive moral values rather than movies that push a left-wing agenda." Authored by the Christian Film & Television Commission, an advocacy group in Hollywood, the study compares the box-office earnings of various movies released between 1999 and 2003 based on moral categories; for example, weighing the average box office of movies "with pro-capitalist content, such as 'Seabiscuit,'" against "anti-capitalist" films like ... "Minority Report"? Just how does the group make these tricky distinctions?
"Movies that support capitalist ideals, traditional moral values, and patriotism do much better at the box office than movies promoting socialism, communism, radical feminism, left-wing political correctness and atheism," said Ted Baehr, chairman of the group and publisher of Movieguide, a Christian movie review. (You can read more about Baehr here. )
This is the second report released this month by the group. Its last one was carried without skepticism by outlets as various as UPI, London's Sunday Telegraph, and the New York Post. That study compared the earnings of select movies released between 2001 and 2003, comparing, for example, the success of "Spider-Man" (a movie with a "very strong Christian worldview") to "In the Cut" in order to show that "movies with explicit sex and nudity don't sell."
This week's press release could hardly have been more vague: "Movies in 2003 with very strong moral content, such as 'Finding Nemo' and 'Return of the King,' averaged $92.5 million, while movies with very strong atheist content averaged only $5.3 million and movies with very strong political correctness from a leftist perspective averaged only $20.1 million."
What, precisely, qualifies as "atheist content"? Tom Snyder, editor of Movieguide, says the group analyzed hundreds of movies for the study, and grouped them by content and worldview. "For instance," he says, "we counted about 55 movies with some political correctness in them, and 15 movies with strong homosexual content." Asked for examples of movies that contain strong homosexual content, Snyder cited "Gigli" and "The Guru." The study's main critical distinction, as Snyder outlined it, is between the Christian and humanist worldviews. Films that have strong humanist elements, like "Gigli," are usually pro-atheist. He admits, however, that the lines can be blurred. "We list the dominant worldview, but all movies are hodgepodges. For instance, '21 Grams' was an interesting one -- a humanist perspective with a positive Christian character."
Movieguide.org offers a listing of current movies and assigns them moral acceptability ratings that are "based on a traditional view of the Bible and Christianity." "Ladykillers" and "Jersey Girl" received an "Extreme Caution" rating; "Hellboy" is listed as a "confused Christian allegory"; "Girl Next Door" is listed as "abhorrent," and its review carries this lament: "Regrettably, because it is such an entertaining movie, 'The Girl Next Door' may attract many young people at the local multiplex, resulting in a further loss of innocence and purity among our youth."
Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, a box office tracking company in L.A., says he doesn't think the studies say anything clear. "It's a truism, simply because R-rated films are going to get a smaller audience. The big box-office movies are all in the most popular category: They appeal to teens and they're accessible to teens. Teens are the biggest moviegoers; it's not telling me anything about nudity." And comparing "Spider-Man" to "In the Cut" strikes him as untenable. "I don't know how you make that leap; one of those is naturally a bigger movie. You could never make that comparison."
Publisher Baehr has recently come under some heat for the Web site: a Christianity Today article in March accused him of promoting some of the same movies that he reviews, notably "Gods and Generals." President Bush, however, praises their work.
-- Scott Lamb
Coming to you live -- on the East Coast -- from the same studio where "SNL" is filmed, it's the the grand finale of "The Apprentice" (9 p.m. ET; NBC). In "Hookers at the Point: Goin' Out Again" (11 p.m. ET; HBO), filmmaker Brent Owens revisits the lives of the prostitutes in the Bronx that he followed in his original 2002 documentary. Also -- Courtney Watch: see Love on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (11:30 p.m. ET; NBC).
-- Scott Lamb
Sudden recall: The claim by an 18-year-old man that he was molested by Michael Jackson more than a decade ago -- allegations currently being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department -- are reported to have been prompted by "recovered repressed memories." What's more, Beverly Hills psychiatrist Carole Lieberman and attorney Gloria Allred, both critical of Jackson in the past, are said to be involved in bringing these latest allegations to light, though neither of them will either confirm or deny their involvement in the case. (Reuters)
And the allegations get weirder still: Scott Thorson, an ex-lover of Liberace's, has told the National Enquirer that he and Michael Jackson had consensual sex in 1979. "[Michael] felt comfortable enough to make the first move on me, and I didn't resist," says Thorson. "Michael begged me to leave Liberace. I had to say no." Thorson also claims that, while spending time with Jackson over the next few years, he saw gay-porn magazines on the pop star's nightstand, including one with pictures that "looked like young boys." Jackson's attorney has dismissed Thorson's claims as "false trash." (Rush and Molloy)
Bad news for another Jackson: Janet Jackson's latest album, "Damita Jo," is not selling as well as she might have hoped. The album debuted at No. 2 last week, selling around 300,000 copies, and appears to be headed to No. 3 this week, with just 110,000 copies sold. The album is apparently receiving very little play on major radio stations -- and Jackson's recent appearance on "Saturday Night Live" apparently did little to goose interest. (Roger Friedman's 411)
Egged on: Things got so loud at Adrien Brody's 31st birthday party on Tuesday night that an irate neighbor started chucking eggs down onto the crowd partying around a bonfire in an East Village courtyard. Moby, Rachel Weizs, Alex von Furstenberg, Dan Marino and Princess Olga of Greece apparently escaped getting gooped, but Model and presidential niece Lauren Bush got "slightly spattered." She took it in good stride, laughing at the yolk. But the kicker? The egg-flinging neighbor has been identified as Village People cowboy Randy Jones. (Rush and Molloy and Page Six)
More Bush family news: That recent Page Six report that Tom Hanks recently asked Billy Bush "How does it feel to be famous for being so obnoxious? ... People in this town have long memories" might have been a bit off. The people at "Access Hollywood" have screened the raw footage of Bush's interview with Hanks and Rita Wilson at the premiere of "The Ladykillers" and it turns out that, while Hanks did jokingly chide Bush about climbing over seats to talk to Renée Zellweger at the Oscars, he might not have used the term "obnoxious." What Hanks did say, "Just understand, Billy Bush, any time you are on video, you can do something that will haunt you for the rest of your career and I think you've achieved this. Welcome to the club." (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)
Oh, those wacky jurors: One of the jurors in the Martha Stewart case has expressed regrets at the jury's verdict -- but not about Stewart, just about Stewart's broker, Peter Bacanovic. "If anybody deserves a new trial, it's Peter Bacanovic, because he didn't get a fair one," the juror told the New York Daily News. "Martha Stewart, her persona, her bad behavior, it pulled him down with her. The government was gunning for Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic got sucked in." The juror also says that she called Bacanovic's lawyer a few weeks after the trial to relate that several of her fellow jurors had read newspaper reports about Stewart during the trial, which they were under strict instructions not to do. Yesterday, Bacanovic's lawyer, citing the juror's phone call, filed papers demanding a new trial. (N.Y. Daily News)
Sightings worth mentioning: Meg Ryan and Demi Moore lunching at the same restaurant, but failing to acknowledge each other in any way. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) Monica Lewinsky and "Average Joe" Adam Mesh bowling next to each other at New York's Bowlmor Lanes. (Page Six)
-- Amy Reiter