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October 2001
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TELETHON RAISES $150 MILLION

The "America: A Tribute To Heroes" telethon raised more than $150 million to aid the families of the World Trade Center and Pentagon victims. The money will be distributed through the United Way. Pledges are still being accepted at www.tributetoheroes.org. The show was broadcast on 35 different networks, and included performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen and featured actors like Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Organizers of the event are considering releasing a CD of the performances.



NYC IS OPEN TO FILM MAKERS ONCE AGAIN

New York City is back in the film business. The Mayor's Office of Theater, Film and Broadcasting has begun to issue filming permits once again. The office had been closed for over a week, taking reservations for permits but not issuing them. The biggest problem with shooting in the Big Apple was a lack of police officers, many of who have been on duty elsewhere at Ground Zero.


FBI WARNED STUDIOS OF TERROR PLOTS

The FBI informed the major studios last month that there is "an increased threat of a bombing attack aimed at one or more of the movie studios," according to an internal memo circulated to all Fox employees. Representatives for Warner Bros., Sony and Universal confirmed that they were also contacted by the FBI and the studios are taking joint efforts to increase security. "In this environment, we are taking the warning very seriously and are taking appropriate measures to enhance our security," said a Warner Bros. spokesman.



RENTALS SOAR AT BLOCKBUSTER, OTHER VIDEO STORES

Perhaps overwhelmed by the disaster of September 11, people are headed for video rental stores in droves. Published reports noted an increase in traffic at Blockbuster stores nation wide. The Wall Street Journal said that the increase was especially pronounced in the New York area. Several papers reported a big demand for "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow," a documentary about the predictions of the 16th century clairvoyant Nostradamus, narrated by Orson Welles. Ironically, with film studios altering plans to release terrorist-themed thrillers, many of the most sought-after films were ones with terrorist plots, according to the Los Angeles Times.



STUDIOS REWORKING MATRIX

With the death of Aaliyah, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures are trying to decide what exactly to do about "Matrix" 2 and 3. Aaliyah spent at least two weeks shooting scenes in the San Francisco Bay area in June. She was to continue with the films when they start shooting in Australia later this year, but the now the problem is whether all her scenes will have to be reshot.



MORE SUPPORT FROM ARTISTS

Artists are still working hard to support victims of the terrorist attacks. Tyrese, Swizz Beatz, RZA, and Fat Joe have already pledged funds and artists like Maxwell, Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Britney Spears have pledged a percentage of their concert proceeds to relief efforts.



WHITNEY WAIVES ROYALTIES

One of Whitney Houston's greatest ever live performances is being re-released. According to label executives, Houston was in the process of selecting songs for a best of LP just before the terrorist strikes. The Jersey singer/actress decided to do her part to help the country recover by agreeing to have her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" re-released, and she has waived her royalty rights to the recording, donating the proceeds to be split between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund.



MO'NIQUE KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS

"I want to be a movie star … I’m honored that ‘my’ people know who I am … but I want everybody to know who I am. I want to go to fu*kin’ Germany and have people, ‘there goes Mo’Nique!’ That’s what I’m working for, that’s what I’m reaching for." As one of the Queens of Comedy, Mo’Nique has been busy making herself a genuine member of the movie 'star' set. She is currently starring in "Two Can Play At That Game," and the actress recently began her third season on the UPN comedy ‘The Parkers." And this fall, she is ready to unveil a clothing line of own her designs and bearing her name.


AALIYAH VAMPIRE MOVIE TO GET THEATRICAL RELEASE

Warner Bros. has denied a report in the New York Post that the studio had planned to release the Aaliyah movie "Queen of the Damned" straight to video. "We had always planned to release the film theatrically in 2002," a spokesperson for the studio said. She also dismissed as "absurd" another claim in the Post that the studio was planning to redub Aaliyah's dialogue with the voice of another actress.


BLOCKBUSTER WARNS ABOUT TERRORIST MOVIES

Blockbuster has announced it will place "signage" in its stores to warn customers of terrorist-themed movies and video games, in the wake of the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. But a press release issued by the company did not say whether the warnings would appear on signs in Blockbuster stores, on shelves, or on the cassette and DVD boxes themselves. In a statement, Blockbuster chief John Antioco said: "We know that there is heightened sensitivity to terrorist themes right now. On the other hand, we do not want to pull product from our stores. We see that as playing right into the hands of the people who would like to curtail our freedoms in this country."



SHANICE DELIVERS A GIRL

R&B singer/actress Shanice and her husband Flex Alexander, of the new UPN series "One on One," welcomed a bouncing baby girl into their lives on August 31. The new arrival was named Imani Shekinah and weighed in at 7 lbs., 6ounces. Shanice had just completed recording the theme song for the new series in which hubby Alexander plays a single dad, raising his teen daughter.



SHOWTIME CUTS PRODUCTION

Showtime, has decided to reduce its production of original movies and miniseries. According to Jerry Offsay, the show's programming president, Showtime will cut original movies to 24 annually from 35, but this is still more than any other network -- cable or broadcast. The average production cost for a movie is expected to rise to about $5 million from $4 million, and the budget for an episode of a weekly series will climb to $1.3 million an hour, up from $1.1 million. For first run movies, Offsay said Showtime has begun signing three or four name actors instead of the one or two they planned for previously.



ACCIDENT CLAIMS WYCLEF'S FATHER

Singer/actor Wyclef Jean's father, the Reverend Gesner Jean, died last month after being pinned between his garage door and one of Clef's cars. The 60-year-old man suffered chest injuries and died at a local New Jersey hospital. Police investigators say there were no signs of foul play.



CHICAGO LITTLE LEAGUE COACH LOSES FIRST INNING VS. PARAMOUNT

Chicago Little League coach Bob Muzikowski is in a legal battle against Paramount Pictures over the film "Hardball." A federal judge refused to block the movie's release, which stars Keanu Reeves as a character reportedly based on Muzikowski, who coaches poor inner-city kids in Chicago. Muzikowski claims the movie defames him and misrepresents the kids on his team. Responding to Paramount's claim that the film is fiction and is only loosely based on Daniel Coyle's 1994 nonfiction book that features Muzikowski, also titled "Hardball," Muzikowski told the Chicago Sun-Times: "If it's not a true story, why are they filming on my block?" He said he will continue his lawsuit and that if he wins against Paramount, he will use the money for Little Leaguers. "We're going to build a stadium for the kids ... on Paramount's dollar" Muzikowski said. "The irony is beautiful.



ATTACKS CREATE CIVILITY IN HOLLYWOOD

The Los Angles Times observed that, "Hollywood's trademark ruthless practices and myopic, egocentric nature have given way to much more civil business dealings," since the attacks of September 11. The newspaper quoted numerous top producers who said the events had changed their perspective on dealing with others in Hollywood. Entertainment attorney Bertram Fields told theTimes that while negotiating a deal with a top studio, an executive whom he regarded as "a very tough brusque guy," he noticed the man's "voice and attitude were totally changed. We commiserated and talked about our families. ... I'm not saying he gave up a deal point, but his manner and style were totally different." Another entertainment lawyer, David Colden, remarked: "This is not the Hollywood I've known for the last23 years. ... There's a sense of humanity among businesspeople that often doesn't exist."