The Fix

Times buys "Bleep." Neverland staff stiffed and "in trouble." Plus: Frey-gate fallout at Harpo.

Published January 30, 2006 2:30PM (EST)

Morning Briefing:
New York Times buys "Bleep" line: Wow, the New York Times really seems to like "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" the 2004 movie starring Marlee Matlin. In its breathless take on the "Bleep" phenomenon -- a sequel is slated to open in select theaters next month -- the paper calls it "a quirky cinematic look at the intersection of science and spirituality" and takes its mixture of quantum physics and consciousness at face value. Funny that the Times doesn't mention the film's deep ties to a New Age sect, not to mention the inclusion of several questionable experts. As Salon noted back when the first film was nationally released: "At least one scientist prominently interviewed in the film now says his words were taken out of context. And two other key subjects in the film are not fully identified: a theologian who, the film fails to divulge, is a former priest who left the Catholic Church after allegations of sexual abuse; and a mysterious woman identified only as Judy "JZ" Knight, who is actually a sect leader claiming to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit named Ramtha. The film's three co-directors are among those who follow Ramtha and look to Knight's channeled maxims to decipher the mysteries of life." (N.Y. Times, Salon)

With Neverland in chaos, M.J. heads to Hamburg: Roger Friedman at Fox 411 is reporting that employees at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch have gone without pay since Dec. 23, 2005. "Every employee of Michael Jackson in California is in trouble," a source says. What does the King of Pop do when his house is crumbling? Goes to Hamburg, Germany: He's there visiting über-fan Anton Schleiter, and will be heading from there to Munich and Venice. (Fox 411)

Oprah's "I"s have it: While reports from inside Harpo, Oprah's production company, say Frey-gate is no longer a kosher topic of conversation, an analysis of her show last Thursday reveals what some may have already suspected: It was really all about her. claims she used the word "I" 119 times during the broadcast, and you can see a video of a number of them here (QuickTime). Also, despite reports over the weekend that "A Million Little Pieces" was continuing to sell well, its sales rank on Amazon had dropped to No. 247 on Monday morning. (, People, Amazon)

Awards season continues with SAG, DGA: Philip Seymour Hoffman (for "Capote"), Reese Witherspoon (for "Walk the Line") and the cast of "Crash" took the top honors on Sunday from the Screen Actors Guild, while Ang Lee won the Directors Guild Award for "Brokeback Mountain" on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Lindsay Lohan needed 10 stitches for a cut on her leg on Friday; her mom, Dina, describes the unlikely-sounding accident like this: "Lindsay was going up the stairs, carrying a ceramic teacup. She had just come out of the shower, so she was still wet and had some lotion on, and she completely flipped on the stairs ... The teacup went flying, it was shattered and one of the pieces cut Lindsay on her shin." (N.Y. Daily News) ... Apparently, shows like "CSI" are making criminals better at covering their tracks, though the head of the LAPD homicide division doesn't watch the show because he finds it to be too unrealistic. (Associated Press) ... A U.S. doll-maker has just released a 12-inch talking Princess Diana doll (described by the maker as the "Princess of Whales") whose 25 preprogrammed phrases include: "There's far too much about me in the newspapers, far too much." (The Sun) ... After actress Natasha Lyonne failed to show up in court in Manhattan for the fourth time in the case against her for (among other things) threatening to sexually molest a dog, a judge issued a warrant for her arrest. (Gothamist) ... Although Geena Davis just picked up a best-actress Golden Globe for the show, ABC's first-woman-president series "Commander in Chief" is taking a "brief broadcast hiatus" and won't be airing new episodes until the spring. (N.Y. Post)

Money Quote:
Steven Spielberg, during a round-table discussion with other directors about the state of the movies, on why so many of 2005's films were provocative: "I think we all have been given our marching orders ... Maybe I shouldn't get into this. [Pause] I just feel that filmmakers are much more proactive since the second Bush administration." (Newsweek)

Turn on:
BBC America brings you the debut of a new crime miniseries, "Conviction" (9 p.m. EST), and there's a new episode of "24" (Fox, 9 p.m. EST). Also, A&E is broadcasting its special about the passengers aboard the United Airlines flight who fought back on 9/11, "Flight 93" (9 p.m. EST).

-- Scott Lamb

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By Salon Staff

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