Week of January 29, 2001
Fox Broadcasting: owners of the alphabet?
A popular web site created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has come
under fire from an unexpected source - but it's not a fan site residing on
the campus web servers. WhyFiles.org is a
site which routinely posts scientific explanations of timely news events - and
for the past year, Fox attorneys have been badgering UW-Madison administrators
to take the site down, claiming that it "confuses consumers and infringes
on its trademark television show, The X-Files." The catch? UW-Madison
has registered the "WhyFiles" name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark
office, just as Fox has with The X-Files. Fox has reportedly offered to settle
if the university will surrender that trademark to the network, which would then
be willing to license the name back to them. The editor/coordinator of
WhyFiles is quoted as saying, "I'm not sure if Fox is trying to get a legal
hammerlock on the alphabet or what their motives are, but that's what it
seems." UW-Madison's final offer was to steer WhyFiles clear of any
science fiction or supernatural-related content, an offer which Fox has rejected
in favor of opening a legal battle. WhyFiles.org receives thousands of hits
each month, is used by teachers at many grade levels across the country,
and does not feature advertising banners or merchandise - which are often
the sticking points with studios or networks bringing legal pressure to
bear on web entities. We'll be watching this closely - if Rupert Murdoch,
rich as he is, does succeed in buying the entire alphabet, we can all
expect to revert to good old fashioned numerical IP addresses.
OSHA fines Fox for X-Files crew member's death.
A total of $41,000 in fines has been levied at 20th Century Fox Television
by California's OSHA office for an incident which occurred last summer.
One crew member was killed and six others were injured when their metal
scaffolding came into contact with high-voltage power lines during set
preparations. OSHA has cited Fox for allowing the worked near the power
lines without adequate safety precautions, for failing to secure the
scaffolding, and for failing to post a written code of safety at the job
site. The production company can challenge the fine within 15 days, but
there is no word yet as to whether or not they will contest it. If the fine
seems lenient for an incident involving a death on the job, you ain't seen
nothing yet - OSHA's findings could open Fox up for liability and civil suits
from the dead and injured crew members' families.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Sega bowing out of the console wars?
It may not be the kind of industry-wide crash that burned investors in the
video game industry in 1983, but it appears that the modern-day console
wars between Nintendo, Sony and Sega have claimed a victim. Word has it
that Sega will phase the Dreamcast out of production this spring and begin
operating under a new business model as a supplier of software to its
former competitors. Dreamcast games will continue to be marketed through
the end of 2001 in order to empty the company's existing inventory, and
technical support will be available indefinitely. But it seems that the
majority of Sega's weight will be shifted toward creating games for
Nintendo's upcoming home and portable game systems, the Microsoft X-Box,
and the Playstation 2. Such franchises as Sonic The Hedgehog, Crazy
Taxi and Phantasy Star may show up on these other systems by this
year's Christmas shopping season. Sega's only official statement on this
strategy is somewhat evasive, simply stating that the company's has yet to
officially say that they'll be doing this yet.
Source: Daily Variety
JFK is Nowhere, Man!
Bruce Greenwood, the hero of UPN's best-ever (and therefore, of course, very
short-lived) drama, Nowhere Man, is
taking on the role of none other than President John F. Kennedy in the new film
Thirteen Days, another take on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kevin
Costner, fresh from a string of big-budget bombs (The Postman,
anyone?), plays Kennedy's assistant. The movie dramatizes the sometimes
made-it-up-as-they-went stabs at diplomacy made by both Kennedy and then-Soviet
Premier Kruschev to stave off nuclear war.
Maglev train to become reality in China.
Two German engineering firms have inked a contract with Beijing to construct
the world's first magnetic levitation, or maglev, train. Operating on the
principle of the attraction and repulsion of magnetism, the system would
use alternately-polarized supermagnets to push the train away from the track
and pull it toward the track simultaneously, resulting in levitation of
barely an inch, allowing incredible acceleration with very little noise or
vibration. Current plans call for the train to run from Shanghai to the new
Beijing airport. The trip only covers 20 miles, but with the maglev train
traveling as fast as 260mph, it'll only take about eight minutes. The
timetable currently calls for service to begin by 2003. Remind you of the
Excalibur bullet cars on Crusade?
Source: Associated Press
Movie sign - killer DVD of the week!
Rhino Home Video is back with two brand new digitally-dolled-up slices of
cinematic silliness. Two classic Mystery Science
Theater 3000 episodes, The Beginning Of The End and The Wild Wild
World Of Batwoman (no, not that Batwoman), are now available on DVD.
As with Rhino's previous MST3K releases, these deluxe editions not only feature
the entire show divided up into neat chapters, but also include the original,
unedited film sans robotic rowdiness. (But the question is...could you take
the sheer amount of pain involved in watching these bombs without the
help of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo?)
The Beginning Of The End
The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman