Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

This just in

LOS ANGELES (API) – In a stunning development today Michael Eisner, who has ruled the Disney empire with an iron hand for years, said he would step down as CEO. He said that it was finally time to think about Disney’s customers and shareholders and not merely about his own ego and net worth. He vowed to lead the search for the most creative-thinking and honest replacement he could find. He said that he hoped that Disney could regain the magic and excitement of its earlier days.

At the same time that the dramatic events at Disney headquarters were unfolding, Bob Weinstein of Disney’s Miramax division was giving a press conference, in which he outlined the studio’s new policy of not spending huge amounts of money trying to buy votes in the annual Oscar competition.

“From now on, we will just concentrate on making the best films possible,” said Weinstein, “and we’ll be content to let their quality speak for itself.” He added, “Personally, I have adopted a new attitude of hiring the most talented filmmakers to make movies for us and to give them the creative space to do their best work, without studio interference. In the end, quality is more important than profits, but I say that, knowing that if quality is allowed to flourish, then profits will follow naturally.”

Weinstein’s comments may have been in response to the recent announcement from Dreamworks. Yesterday, Steven Spielberg said that there would be a new emphasis on quality films at Dreamworks. “We plan to make movies that people really want to see,” he said. As an example of this renewed philosophy, Spielberg announced that Dreamworks had entered into an agreement with Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson to make several new big-budget films.

“Peter has clearly established his ability to handle multiple films at a time and still give them the highest quality in terms of production values and creative inspiration,” said Spielberg. “This is why we have contracted with him to direct not one but two series of new movies simultaneously.”

It was announced that Jackson would direct a series of big-budget science fiction movies based on the television series Babylon 5, with series creator J. Michael Straczynski writing all the scripts. “We will give these two men all the money they need to do this project right,” affirmed Spielberg. At the same time, Jackson will also be directing a series of movies based on the TV series Dark Shadows. “We will give these projects top priority,” added Spielberg, “and will rush them to release as quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality, so that audiences will not have to wait one minute longer than necessary to see them.”

The news caused an immediate stir in the community of science fiction fans, who were still digesting the news that Paramount had fired Rick Berman in an effort to return the Star Trek franchise to its former glory.

In a totally unrelated development, actor Sean Penn gave a press conference, in which he gave qualified praise to the Bush administration for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Flanked by fellow actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Penn read his prepared comments before a dismayed Hollywood press corps. The biggest surprise was the appearance of documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who stood to one side of the stage, glumly nodding in agreement.

“While I disagree vehemently with most of the policies of the current Republican administration,” said Penn, “and have serious reservations about the timing and conduct of the Iraq war and its aftermath, no reasonable person can overlook the fact that the war resulted in the overthrow of one of the most brutal dictators of modern times. This man massacred tens of thousands of his own people every year over a long period of time and, while every individual life lost in the war is a tragedy, it should be remembered that the number of casualties in the war was a mere fraction of the number murdered by Saddam Hussein in the past and likely to have been murdered by him in the future—not even counting the thousands, mainly children, who were dying every month as a result of U.N. sanctions. Furthermore, if a democratic government can be established successfully in Iraq, this would be a good thing for the Iraqi people and for the region. I would not wish my personal political views to obscure those facts.”

In other media news, National Public Radio issued a statement retracting its earlier announcement that Bob Edwards would be replaced as host of the daily news program Morning Edition.

“We never had any intention of switching Edwards out of the anchor position,” said a spokesperson. “That story should never have been released because it simply wasn’t true. Bob Edwards has been the host of the program for a quarter-century and, as far as we’re concerned, he will continue in that role as long as he wants to.”

When pressed to explain how the false story had been released in the first place, the spokesperson shrugged his shoulders and said, “It was just somebody’s ill-conceived idea for an April Fool’s joke.”

-S.L., 1 April 2004

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