Jewish World Review Oct. 3, 2003 / 7 Tishrei, 5764

Greg Crosby

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What's News | Let us bow our heads and have a minute of silence in respect for a major loss that has occurred in Hollywood this week.

No, I'm not speaking of Elia Kazan or Donald O'Connor - as great as those men were. I'm talking a really, really, MAJOR LOSS for the Hollywood community here - a loss that rips into the hearts and into the very souls of so many in the entertainment industry. A loss of such magnitude that words such as "grief," "sorrow," and "anguish" are woefully inadequate in describing what the artists and craftsmen in this community are feeling at this heartbreaking time. (Oh, agony! Oh, agony!)

I'm referring, of course, to the devastating news this week that those freebie DVDs and videocassettes of movies for award consideration which were sent out by the studios to voting members of the academy and other organizations, will no longer be coming to their local mailboxes. (SOB!)

It seems the major studios got together with the Motion Picture Assn. of America and agreed to a sort of self-imposed ban on mailing out copies of current films in an effort to combat the growing problem of movie piracy.

Needless to say, (but I will nevertheless) lots of film folk are none too happy over losing this really big perk. Now they have to get off their ass and actually GO OUT to see the films like the rest of the world. (BOO HOO!) But not QUITE like the rest of the world - they'll still be entitled to get in to see the movies for nothing.

The free tapes and DVDs (commonly referred to as "screeners" in the biz) were being mailed out to as many as 32,000 voters each year. Illegal copies of these screeners wind up on the internet and being sold on sidewalks all over the world, resulting in something like $3.5 billion in lost revenue for the studios.

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Illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers of California a lot more than that, but Hollywood couldn't care less. Illegal movies, however, now that's TROUBLE - with a capital T, and that rhymes with P and that stands for pirates.

The end of the free tape entitlement might just be the tip of the iceberg and that's what's got this town scared. What's next? Will the Hollywood elite be forced to drive their own cars to the award shows? Will they have to wear their own clothes? Furnish their own jewelry? There's no telling how far this injustice will go. I wouldn't be surprised if the vast right wing conspiracy was behind this whole ugly mess. How sad.

It reminds me of another sad event at another time in another town. It happened many years ago in a place called Mudville.

So, as a last tribute to a fallen Hollywood entitlement, I offer up (with some minor alterations) the final lines from that classic poem, "Casey at the Bat." Should you feel a slight lump in your throat or a tear in your eye after reading it, don't worry - it's only the smog from the limos.


(with apologies to Ernest L. Thayer)

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.

And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout

But there is no joy in Hollywood -

Since the "screeners" perk pooped out.


When big mouth, big phony Arianna Huffington dropped out of the California governor's election, you could almost hear the entire state sighing collectively, "who cares?" Larry King cares - that's about it. Not only did she quit, but she threw all her support behind Gray Davis - all .03 percent of it. Let's see, first Mrs. Huffington went from being a Republican to an independent; now she's going from an independent to a Democrat. Interesting metamorphous. If she continues in this direction she should be a full fledged Communist before Thanksgiving. Now that her campaign is over, Huffy, as her friends call her, will be free to pursue her main interest - attending Hollywood liberal cocktail parties with other pretend "independents" like Bill Maher.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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