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April 08, 1998 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-08

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The University Arts Chorale presents a show tonight at Hill
Auditorium. Take a break from monotonous academia and listen
to some campus talent. The Art Chorale will perform a program of
Britten, Copland, DeLasso, Haydn, Effinger, Farrow and others.
The evening begins at 8 p.m. and admission is free.

f1 tcAWg Oatig

lomorrow in Daily Arts:
0 Weekend, etc. brings you stories about some of the folks
that give Ann Arbor personality.
Wednesday
April 8, 1998

dl

'Cool News' heats up World Wide Web

By Ed Sholinsky
and Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writers
Once upon a time, people read about the news in
newspapers the day after it happened. Then people
watched the news on television hours after it hap-
pened. Now people get their news on the Internet sec-
onds after the events take place. The World Wide Web
has not only made the world smaller; it has made
accessing news and information an instantaneous
process.
The Internet has also spawned a generation of news
"anchors" and "reporters" dedicated to bringing news
(and often unsubstantiated rumors) to the computer-
savvy masses. People like self-styled Cronkite disciple
Matt Drudge, who broke the Monica Lewinsky scan-
dal on his "Drudge Report" Website, after Newsweek
decided to kill their cover story on the matter, and
Harry Knowles, scourge of Hollywood bigwigs and
friend to the gaffers and set dressers, have challenged
conventional news mediums with their Websites devot-
ed to bring the news, correct or inaccurate, to the info-
hungry, now!-now!-now! gossip-mongers.
Knowles, a 26-year-old college dropout, has been
running his incendiary Website, "Ain't It Cool News"
(http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com/), for close to three
years. In that time, he has won a modicum of fame
(and infamy) as the man feared by studio executives
everywhere. Claiming he uses his site for the good of
the people, he has not hesitated to blast movies that he
deems unworthy of existence.
For instance, the repercussions of his unrelenting
"Batman & Robin" smear campaign perpetrated by

himself and his "spies," informants who range from
the construction foreman on a set to unemployed
Hollywood hopefuls who crash test screenings, are
partly blamed for the film's poor performance and the
departure of Warner Bros. marketing exec Chris Pula.
Knowles also sings the praises of underdog films
like "187" and even "Titanic" (remember when it was
an underdog?). Director Paul Verhoeven ("Starship
Troopers") and producer Dean Devlin
("Independence Day") have flown him to premiere
industry events not to curry
. Kfavor with his site, but because
they actually approve of and
Ain't it appreciate what he's doing as
the down-to-earth movie watch-
Cool News dog. In fact, many theatre own-
ers and studio heads have start-
http://www.aintit. ed to use his site to gauge pub-
cool-news.com lie opinion about upcoming
films.
Knowles often posts missives
directed at studio executives,
imploring them not to ruin
potentially good projects with
bad casting and production
choices. He reads hundreds of scripts before most
projects get off the ground and shares his opinions
with his readers on what would make a great movie.
Knowles has been championing pictures like Pixar's
"A Bug's Life," Dreamworks SKG's "Prince of Egypt,"
TriStar's "Apt Pupil" and "Six String Samurai," which
has yet to find a distributor, all in the name of getting
better product into theatres and before the eyes of

movie-goers who are routinely forced to pay top dollar
for substandard fare. Knowles has lambasted movies
such as "Speed 2" and "Spawn" for not living up to
their potential, blaming money-minded corporate suits
for putting box office gross above quality.
Despite all of this power, Knowles still lives with
his father in a one-story house without air condition-
ing in Austin, Texas where he barely scrapes by on
proceeds from sales of movie memorabilia. The man
who has been in "GQ," "US," and "Vanity Fair" still
counts on friends like Glen Oliver (who runs the tele-
vision section of the Website) to ferry him to movie
theatres. Of course, he also hangs out with the likes
of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Richard
Linklater and gets hundreds of e-mails each day.
Despite all the attention, "Ain't It Cool News" still
looks very simple, compared to sites devoid of content
which look flashy. Using photos of himself, movie
stars and his family. Those who access the page can
choose from movie rumors and news, movie reviews
and television rumors and news.
One would think that this would make him arrogant
- and perhaps it has. Knowles did not respond to our
request for an interview. Oh well.
Knowles belongs to a new generation of both news-
makers and newsgivers, living out the ultimate
Internet American Dream by going from a nobody
with a tiny website to a powerful thorn in Hollywood's
side with upwards of 300,000 hits per day. His normal
life as a film geek has been radically altered by his
emergence as a bona fide Hollywood player, albeit
one who still lives hand to mouth - but what he real-
ly wants to do is direct.

AP PHOTO
"First lady of country music" Tammy Wynette died Monday at the age of
55. The cause of Wynette's death was not immediately disclosed.
CounILtry's 'frst.
lady Wynette
dead at 55

Willis'

'Mercury' falls from lack of substance

By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
One would think that there wouldn't
be a larger source of creativity and
originality than Hollywood, hub of the
thousands of exciting and captivating
movies that have ever been produced.
This may be true, but it seems as
lately though the scriptwriters for

blockbuster hits ran
for their movies.
S ~
Mercury
Rising
**
At Showcase

out of new plots
Suspense
movies in par-
ticular have
lacked creativi-
ty in the past
10 years.
There are
certain features
of a suspense
movie that are
favorites for
H o1 y w oo d
producers:
demeaning the
government

("Taps") dishes out his latest movie,
"Mercury Rising," starring the ever-
macho Bruce Willis and his greasy-
haired opponent Alec Baldwin.
Basically, given the characters'
roles, it's simple to figure out the sce-
nario -- and even the ending. Just plug
in the right formulas for a typical
Hollywood suspense, and a movie is
made.
Art Jeffries (Willis) is an FBI
undercover agent who feels com-
pletely betrayed by the government
agency he's been working under for
the past 17 years. After a planned
operation that gets screwed up and
makes him the scapegoat of the
whole mess, he is demoted to the
more menial tasks of criminal inves-
tigation.
To add to his troubles, he feels very
alone, and wants to care for someone,
the upstanding moral citizen that he is.
Just his luck: He is placed on a case
that involves an autistic boy whose
parents are mysteriously murdered,
leaving the child alone.
Simon's (Miko Hughes) unfortu-
nate predicament stems from his
ingenuity. He is an autistic savant, and
while dabbling with some puzzles,
cracks the most sophisticated coding
system ever invented. When he calls
the decoded phone number, the trou-
ble begins, placing National Security

Courtesy of Universal
Look over there, Bruce! It's your
career, falling with "Mercury Rising."
Agency head Lt. Col. Nicholas
Kudrow (Baldwin) hot on the boy's
trail.
Coming to the conclusion that the
FBI will not be able to adequately
protect the boy, Art hauls him from
home to home, sometimes sleeping in
the car, but forever running away
from the bad guys. This definitely
gets a little tedious, as Willis pre-
dictably wins every battle, but of
course, just barely.
Good thing he's got Tommy (Chi
McBride), his true friend and alibi who
is eventually convinced by Art that he
isn't having delusional, "paranoid con-

spiracy" theories, that Simon is truly in
deep trouble. McBride's role is flat just
like the rest of the dull, predictable
characters.
But there is one fine moment worth
note. A face-off between Art and
Kudrow in the basement cellar adds
some humor to an otherwise dry film.
Willis makes Baldwin look like a
complete fool when he smashes expen-
sive wine bottles left and right, and the
witty dialogue between them is rela-
tively funny.
Miko Hughes also turns in a fairly
impressive acting job as an autistic
child. At times, however, he sounds
like a cross between Frankenstein's
monster and Carol Ann from
"Poltergeist.'
An amusing aspect of "Mercury
Rising" that isn't intended to produce
chuckles is the computer shuffling
sound that we hear when Simon is try-
ing to decipher the Mercury code. The
noise makes Simon out to be an inhu-
man, quasi-supernatural being, and
therefore cheapens the integrity of the
film.
After visually laboring through such
plots devoid of any substance or cre-
ativity, such as that in "Mercury
Rising," we can appreciate those
movies that really make an effort to
produce something unique and enter-
taining.

and FBI, favoring those who have
weaknesses (especially those who are
mentally or physically disabled) while
at the same time, championing the
strong and morally correct. And, in
lieu of our technologically expanding
world, digital electronics always get a
lead role.
Using that recipe, Harold Becker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -
Tammy Wynette, who rose from
beautician to "the first lady of country
music" with hits including "Stand by
Your Man," died Monday. She was
55.
Wynette, who had a history of
health problems, died Monday
evening at her home, said spokesper-
son Wes Vause. The cause of her death
was not immediately disclosed.
Her 1968 top-seller,"Stand by Your
Man," which she co-wrote with her
producer Billy Sherrill, became her
signature song, with its advice to for-
give one's mate because "after all he's
just a man." But her throbbing voice in
other tunes, such as "Till I Can Make
It on My Own," expressed flashes of
independence.
She was one of country music's
greatest success stories, catapulting
from a job in a beauty shop to a three-
time winner of the Country Music
Association's
female vocalist
of the year award
- 1968 to 1970.
Co un t ry .,
music fansM
polled for the
annual Music
City News
awards voted
her a legend in
1991, but she Wynette re-teamed
said it was pre- and sometime sng
mature.Jones In 1995.
"I don't consider myself a legend. I
think it's kind of overused," she said.
Throughout her 25-year career, her
stormy marriages and hospital stays,
even a kidnapping and beating for
which no one was ever convicted,
threatened to overshadow one of the
most successful singing careers in
country music history. But she didn't
emphasize the negative.
"I've had a wonderful life,"she said
in a 1991 Associated Press interview.
"I absolutely feel I'ye been blessed
tremendously. I can't complain at all."
Besides "Stand by Your Man,"
Wynette's hits included "D-1-V-O-R-

C-E," "I Don't Wanna Play House,"
"Womanhood," "Your Good Girl's
Gonna Go Bad," "Singing My Song"
and "The Ways to Love a Man."
In the fall of 1993, she teamed up
with fellow country queens Dolly
Parton and Loretta Lynn to record the
album "Honky Tonk Angels." She
also recorded several duets with coun-
try star George Jones, to whom she
was married from 1969 to 1975.
Wynette was born Virginia Wynette
Pugh on a cotton farm in Itawanba
County, Miss. She picked cotton as a
child, and as a young woman worked
as a waitress, a doctor's receptionist, a
barmaid and a shoe factory worker.
In the mid-1960s, she was working
as a beautician in Birmingham, Ala.,
and making periodic 180-mile trips to
Nashville in hopes of getting discov-
ered as a singer.
She visited music business offices
in Nashville and caught the eye of
Grand Ole Opry
star Porter
Wagoner who
asked her to sing
at his road

shows.
Shortly there-
after, she met
record producer
Billy Sherrill
who recorded
her for Epic
Records and
launched her

Film Farm breeds winning filmmakers
Daily Arts would like to congratulate the winners of the second Film Farm,
presented by M-Flicks on April 3, 1998.

A P"UU
with ex-husband
ing partner George

career.
She was hospitalized for various
ailments dozens of times, and admit-
ted in the late 1970s to being depen-
dent on painkilling drugs.
In 1978, Wynette was abducted at a
Nashville shopping center, driven 80
miles in her luxury car, beaten and
released by a masked assailant, who
was never identified or arrested
arrested, but Wynette said a few years
later that the man apparently ended up
in pri son for another crime.
Wynette is survived by five daugh-
ters and one son, children from her five
marriages.

Best of Festival:
"White Sheets," V. Prasad,
director
Best Story/Screenplay:
"White Sheets," V. Prasad,
screenwriter

Best Cinematography: "Wide
Awake," Brian Ralph, director;
Matt Strauss, photography
Most Original Piece:
"Graven Images," Josh Herman,
director

I

, i
t

111

11

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