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December 07, 1998 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-07

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 7, 1998 - 9A

Charm
teigns
*
41*M Ali S
stor
King of the World
David Remnick
Random House
Perhaps Muhammad Ali is
not the greatest American of the
past 40 years.
Perhaps a man who influ-
enced so many aspects of our
lives - from the way we see
skin color, to what we expect to
hear from our celebrities, to the
'way we insult one and other -
was just a needless bag of hot
air.
Perhaps all the hype and
media attention should not have
been wasted on the loud-mouth
Nation of Islam convert.
And perhaps the pope's not
Catholic.
In "King of the World," David
Remnick, the new editor of The
New Yorker magazine, exam-
ines the dynamic and iconoclas-
tic history of the man who start-
:e out in the world as Cassius
.ZCay
The title comes not from
ta~mes Cameron, but from the
champ himself. After defeating
odds-on-faorite Sonny Liston,
'A i proclaimed himself the
king of the world" and told all
the sports writers who thought
he was full of bull to eat their
r words.
No need to wonder about who
'would win in a fight between
Leonardo DiCaprio and him for
-fill dibs on the throne.
-Always rambunctious and
*rely the conformist, Ali's life
7 comes out of its corner punch-
ing at all who get in its way.
Remnick's poetic prose help
keep the champ's unparalleled
spirit alive and fighting.
Remnick begins the story by
giving some background on the
two heavyweight champions
who immediately preceded Ali:
the respectful if not damaged
Floyd Patterson and the under-
handed bad boy Liston.
Patterson's sad and tragic
story tells of a insecure New
York boy who turns to boxing
for a cathartic hobby. His tale is
not flawless: He looses fights,
cries at his defeats and secludes
himself from the rest of the
world when times are tough.
Liston's life is not as emo-
tional. The ex-con Mafia puppet
had few scruples about partici-
pating in a fixed fight or being
jerked around by as many
"thumb-breakers," as Remnick
puts it, as could get a hand in
his pot.
The characters of the mob-
sters are no less dynamic than
the boxers. Kingpin Frankie

Carbo, a.k.a. Jimmie the Wop,
comes to life along with his
enemies from other families
including Albert "Tick Tock"
Tannenbaum and Abe "Kid
Twist" Reles, to name a few.
But it is Muhammad Ali who
steals the show. He says in an
interview in 1970 "they don't
look at fighters to have brains.
They don't look at fighters to be
businessmen, or human or intel-
ligent. Fighters are just brutes
that come to entertain the rich
white people."
With this, Ali is set up as the
opposite of all American boxing
champions.
He resents the powerful
whites ruling the sport and
brings his politics - involving
Elijah Muhammad and Malcom
X - into the ring and into all
press conferences. He is a busi-
nessman, an intelligent human
and could not be further from a
brute.
Remnick documents his rise
to king-hood as Homer relates
the tale of a Spartan hero. From
pre-fight interviews to promo-
tional radio spots with profes-
sional wrestler Gorgeous
George, Ali always has a quick,
sassy remark that gets the press
talking, the opponents enraged

Crucial timing makes
or breaks film success
Los Angeles Times "Bug's;' a film with strong reviews and word of
HOLLYWOOD - Was Friday the right day to mouth that was aimed for the same demographic as
release "Psycho"? Universal Pictures, which bun- "Babe." It was no contest: "A Bug's Life" racked up
gled its choice of date for "Babe: Pig in the City" is a record $46.5 million over the five-day
betting it hasn't made the same mistake twice. Thanksgiving weekend, while "Babe" staggered to a
Even before Universal launched a hip ad cam- lowly fifth-place showing at $8.5 million.
paign designed to attract young moviegoers, it tried Although "Rugrats" easily bested "Enemy of the
to gain a competitive edge by securing the best pos- State" on the previous weekend, "Enemy" had such
sible release date for "Psycho." Universal decided on good word of mouth that it did almost as well in its
Friday for two good reasons: "Scream" and "Scream second week as its first, putting it on a pace to top
2," two hugely successful teen horror films that were $100 million by year's end.
released in early- to mid-December. "We thought that 'Rugrats' had a lot more
Whether a film is a hit, especially in a packed hol- drive in the marketplace than 'Babe,' so we put
iday season, is closely tied in to one of the most 'Bug's Life' up against the weaker of the two
arcane of all Hollywood arts - the jockeying for movies," explains Disney Chair Joe Roth, who
opening-day release dates. Picking the wrong date describes himself as a "big believer" in the
can almost destroy a film before it opens, as the impact of release dates.
"Babe" sequel illustrates. A rival studio marketing executive was more
For the outside world, the first sign that "Babe" blunt: "When Disney moved 'Bug's Life' to I
was in trouble came on Nov. 16,,when Universal Thanksgiving you knew 'Babe' was in trouble. It
abruptly canceled the film's Los Angeles premiere, was like watching a lion go in for the kill against a
saying "Babe" director George Miller was still at wounded lamb. It was a classic example of how a ;
work completing the movie. But as far back as mid- good release date can help a movie -and how a bad
September, industry insiders sensed that Universal's release can really hurt a movie."
talking pig sequel, which arrived in theaters Nov. 25, Universal is hoping to stage a comeback with
was headed for the slaughterhouse. "Psycho," director Gus Van Sant's much-debated re-
In a little-noticed series of shifts, Paramount creation of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock horror classic.
Pictures moved its Thanksgiving film, "The Rugrats Following the lead of Hitchcock, who made I
Movie," up a week to Nov. 20. Responding to that, reviewers see the film in the theaters, Universal
Disney Studios made two moves. First, it took "A decided not to screen the film for critics. The strate-i
Bug's Life," which had been slated to open Nov. 20, gy also allows the studio to minimize the impact of
and pushed it back to Nov. 25, where it would go up any negative reviews, which could affect opening 1
against "Babe." Second, it moved "Enemy of the weekend box office.'
State" up to Nov. 20, pitting the Will Smith-starring Until recently, the first half of December was con-
thriller up against "Rugrats." sidered a movie graveyard, since filmgoers were
The result was a disaster for "Babe." Instead of thought to be too busy attending holiday parties orl
going up against "Enemy," which was geared to an Christmas shopping to make time for movies. The
older audience, "Babe" was matched against rules changed in 1996 when Miramax hit the jackpot
sh bounces 'roun in

cowitesy of Universal Pictures
The release date of "Babe: Pig in the City" may have been the reason for its box office demise.

with "Scream."
What Miramax discovered was that one key seg-
ment of moviegoers wasn't busy shopping: young
males, who made up the bulk of the original
"Scream" audience. That's why the two studio
films that are in wide release in early December
are both movies whose primary audience is young
men: "Psycho" and "Star Trek: Insurrection,"
which opens Friday.
To ensure it had this weekend to itself, Universal
wasted no time in planting its "Psycho" flag on Dec.
4. The last thing Universal wanted was any competi-
tion for its "Psycho" date. In the first week of July,
even before filming began, the studio ran a teaser
trailer in thousands of theaters announcing the film's
release date. Universal knew "Psycho" would be
preceded by several teen thrillers, including
"Halloween H20" and "I Still Know What You Did
Last Summer"
"Since it was impossible to come out first, our
basic objective was to make it appear that we were
first in the marketplace, even if was just having the
first trailer out," explains "Psycho" producer Brian

Grazer.
Universal kicked off its campaign with a
series of MTV-style ads that ran Sept. 10, aptly
enough, on the MTV Video Awards. It also
blanketed urban areas with billboards showing
the silhouette of a woman in the shower, with
the tag: "Check in. Relax. Take a shower." It's
telling that the one piece of hard information,
the billboards offered wasn't the title, but the
film's release date: "Coming December 4th."
Each year studios stake their opening-date claims
earlier and earlier. This Thanksgiving, New Line ran
a teaser trailer announcing that it would open its
"Austin Powers" sequel, "The Spy Who Shagged
Me," on June I1, 1999. Warner Bros. took out full-
page trade ads this summer staking out the 1999 July
4 weekend for "Wild Wild West." Disney just
claimed Thanksgiving 1999 for "Toy Story 2"
"The reason to do it early is to give pause to your
competitors, to make them think, 'Do I really want
to be on that date against you?"'says Roth, who put
"Armageddon' on July 4, 1998 - more than a year
in advance of its release.

The Phish Book
Richard Gehr and Phish
Villard
Loring Air Force Base was the place
where, in the summer of 1997, Phish
jammed for 65,000 roaring fans at per-
formances dubbed the Great Went.
Band member Trey Anastasio
described the show as "a weekend of
throwing away all my
worries and
indulging myself
in Phish fantasy-
land." This sum-
mertime jamboree is
just one of the many
points covered in "The
Phish Book."
The book follows band
members Anastasio, Jon
Fishman, Mike Gordon and Page
McConnell from their New Year's
Eve 1996 Boston show to their 1997
end-of-the-year blowout at Madison
Square Garden. Phish fans will relish
the access to the band that the book
gives them.
Colorful photos bounce off the
pages giving readers a bright look at
the everyday happenings of the band
on tour. Author Richard Gehr com-
bines his narration with interviews
from all four band members to create a
behind the scenes look in the aquari-
um.
Gehr traces the roots of Phish back

to its humble Vermont beginnings in
the early 1980's. One defining moment
was when the band performed "The
Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,"
a.k.a. "Gamehendge," Anastasio's
work to fulfill his senior requirement
at Goddard College.
From this point the band began a
gradual climb to their popularity with
several albums, including "Junta,"
"Hoist" and "Billy Breathes"
and through voracious tour-
ing around the world.
Gehr describes the
tireless wandering,
explaining "Phish
makes touring itself
another element in
an alchemical
.e a.reaction
achieved by
combining
moment, materi-
al, and audience." Alchemy aside,
the band seems to satisfy and build
nuch of its fan base through cross
country tours across the nation and
certain special shows such as
Halloween and New Year's Eve.
One of the book's strong points is
the backstage photos of the band
before, during and after shows and in
the recording studio. Photos such as
the one of Fishman snoozing on a
couch in France are priceless for fans.
Bassist Gordon shows up in a photo
montage displaying the awkward boy's
development from geek to gorky

superstar (Don't believe it? Check out
the scuba getup on p. 99).
Another interesting picture is the
full frontal nude spread of more than
1,100 riled-up audience members at
the Great Went. The photo was submit-
ted to "The Guinness Book of World
Records" as the largest nude photo in
the world but was turned down as it
was deemed indecent for young eyes.
Bummer.
In the book, many of the greatest
photographs are poorly labeled, which
may leave non-Phish followers
scratching their heads at what they see.
In general, the book is enjoyable but it
may go a little deep into certain stories
for non-Phish fans.
Basically, this "Phish Book" is
about as enjoyable as an unexpected
"Buffalo Bill" at a concert or the much
beloved killer "Hood." Don't be a
slave to the traffic light, this wolfman's
brother ain't no ghost.
- Matthew Barrett and Aaron Rich

C

Park it here,

3

% molop,

-0C Gt [ ).. .
t~l 447tSALE
real music.
scheduled for
_AI -
(tuasday)
MV ; II5
release dates subject to change without notice, sorry.
owpa &scc~Ia

When your favorite downtown
parking structure is demolished
or closed for repairs, you can't
park there. And you can't just
move to a different parking
spot down the street. Most of
the other lots and structures
are full. So select the simpler,
easier, cheaper alternative:
The Ride.

Park free all day at one of our
Park & Ride lots and Ride the
Ride downtown to work.
Maple Village Shopping Center
Pioneer High School
State Street Commuter Lot
Plymouth/Green Road Lot
ATheRide
For more information: 996-0400 or
http://theride.org

23
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