Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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CBS Corp is exploring a possible entry into the movie business, with a view toward producing a handful of smaller-budget films annually, Chief Executive Les Moonves said on Wednesday.

“We are exploring it,” Moonves said at a PricewaterhouseCoopers media event in New York. “We’re not looking to do Superman.”

Moonves did not provide details on how CBS would set up a movie venture, whether through acquisition or building up its own properties.

But he said the television and radio broadcaster would be interested in producing six to eight movies a year on smaller budgets of US$20 million to US$30 million.

“We could get in in a small way, doing six to eight movies a year in a risk-free way,” Moonves said.

CBS, home to the tele-vision network of the same name, separated from corporate parent Viacom Inc. at the beginning of the year. Viacom retained the Paramount Pictures movie studios.

Hollywood writer/producer Aaron Spelling, who has helped create some of America’s most popular and beloved television shows, suffered a stroke in his home over the weekend and is recovering, his publicist said Wednesday.

Spelling, whose credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels, suffered a stroke on Sunday in his Los Angeles home.

“He is now at home resting with his wife under a doctor’s care,” Kevin Sasaki, Spelling’s publicist, said.

A filmmaker who made one of France’s biggest domestic box-office hits, The Choir, on Wednesday lost a court fight against several Internet companies he accused of promoting illegal downloading of movies.

Christophe Barratier had alleged that AOL France, Telecom Italia France, Neuf Telecom, Voyages, financial firm Finaref, and the state lottery company La Francaise des Jeux were complicit in the activity by putting illicit download sites on poster ads.

But the Paris court, while recognizing that such sites were illegal, refused to convict the companies, saying that Barratier’s claims “relied purely on hypotheses”.

It added: “No evidence shows their intention to commit the infraction they are accused of.”

Several of the companies themselves blamed the

presence of the offending sites on their posters on advertising management companies.

Barratier had been seeking a symbolic, rather than financial, court victory to make an “example” of the companies.

His movie The Choir, about a group of boys in a harsh boarding school who are transformed by a teacher who introduces them to singing. It generated more than US$8.5 million in ticket sales in France and was nominated for an Oscar last year.

Tom Cruise’s next mission may not be impossible, but it could be difficult: He wants free run of downtown Tokyo for a week to shoot action sequences for a future movie. “I’d like to shoot in Tokyo, if I could have downtown for a week. Just at night,” Cruise, in Tokyo for the premiere of

Mission: Impossible 3, told a news conference on Tuesday.

Piracy in China cost film makers US$2.7 billion last year, with

domestic firms shouldering more than half those losses, according to a study commissioned by a trade group representing the major Hollywood studios. China’s film industry lost about US$1.5 billion in revenue to piracy last year, while the major US studios lost US$565 million, according to data released on Monday by the Motion Picture Association, whose members include the studio units of Time Warner, Walt Disney Co and Viacom Inc.

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