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Thursday, February 14, 2008

EU commissioner: Let’s extend music copyrights to 95 years. Ars: 50 years is plenty

Coming soon to a European country near you: longer copyright periods! That's the proposal from EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who wants to extend the copyright term for musicians from 50 to 95 years. His proposal will be presented in the next several months.

Announcing the new plan, McCreevy made two arguments: 1) the "poor artist with no pension" argument and 2) the "it's not fair" argument. Argument number one makes the point that artists who began singing or playing instruments in their 20s could end up as a pensioner with no more royalties rolling in. "I am talking about the thousands of anonymous session musicians who contributed to sound recordings in the late 50s and 60s," said McCreevy in a statement. "They will no longer get airplay royalties from their recordings. But these royalties are often their sole pension."

Argument number two points out that songwriters and composers—the people who actually write music and lyrics—have protection for life plus 70 years, while performers do not. "It is the performer who gives life to the composition," said McCreevy, "and while most of us have no idea who wrote our favorite song—we can usually name the performer."

If the proposal sounds a bit familiar, that might be because the same idea came up for debate last year in the UK. Cliff Richard lobbied the UK government over the perceived unfairness of no longer receiving royalties from his 1958 hit Move It! once the 50-year copyright protection expires this year, and Roger Daltry of the The Who also expressed outrage. Despite the lobbying of famous musicians and recording industry groups like the BPI and IFPI, the UK decided not to move forward with the term extension. It drew in part on the work of the Gowers Review of intellectual property, which decided back in 2006 that the 50-year limit was fine for musicians, even if it meant the loss of royalties for some in their old age.

From the perspective of those who think that current copyright terms are plenty long enough to provide incentives for artists to create (a group that includes the Ars editorial staff), a 45-year extension in copyright seems grossly excessive. When the musicians in question created their works—works to which they rightly deserve limited copyright protection—they knew the tradeoffs going into the studio. The government would offer a 50-year monopoly on controlling copies, plenty of time to monetize a work before it enters the broader pool of cultural materials known as the public domain. This was clearly enough incentive to go ahead and make music; after all, musicians actually recorded the songs and albums in question. If a 50-year copyright meant that it wasn't worth their time to do so, they wouldn't have bothered in the first place.

Now, years after implicitly agreeing to the compromise (the government provides copyright control and enforcement powers in order to encourage the arts, but won't let these rights extend forever), musicians want to nearly double the copyright term. Andrew Gowers didn't like the idea, the UK government didn't like the idea, and we hope that the EU has the sense to see its weaknesses as well.

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Twentieth Century Fox / WETA
Hayden Christensen portrays a man who finds he can teleport to the Great
Pyramids and other exotic locales in the science-fiction movie "Jumper."

Everyone knows Anakin Skywalker can't really teleport himself to the Great Pyramids of Egypt, even though Anakin ... er, Hayden Christensen ... does just that in the movie "Jumper," opening Thursday. But isn't it possible to go through a wormhole in the space-time continuum? Wellllll, maybe - if you've got a galactic black hole's worth of power. Such are the issues that come up when science meets fiction, at the movie theater as well as in the classroom.

When scientists met up with Christensen and the director of "Jumper" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last month, neither side knew what to expect. But the result wasn't at all like the battle between the Jumpers and the Paladins in the movie. Both sides came away with that most sought-after Hollywood ingredient: a happy ending.

"The event was much more fun than I thought it would be," said MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark, who sat in a lecture hall along with quantum physicist Edward Farhi and a gaggle of students to watch a selection of scenes from the movie.

"It was actually an amazing experience. I was waiting to get shredded," said the movie's director, Doug Liman, a veteran of such big-name blockbusters as "The Bourne Identity" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

In a telephone interview from Paris, where Liman was in the middle of a global publicity tour, the director recalled how he was thrown out of a physicist's office when he went looking for advice about teleportation. He was afraid the eggheads at MIT would react the same way, despite reassurances from the publicists.

"That just seemed like a recipe for disaster in terms of how I was going to come across," Liman told me. "But it was incredibly inspiring, because the physicists explained how they use movies to make physics more appealing and more magical."

Tegmark recalled that the affair had a party atmosphere, with some students sporting Darth Vader masks and lightsabers. "I remember thinking, 'Whoa, I never realized that MIT undergrads were such a bunch of groupies,'" he said with a laugh.

Getting technical about teleportation
The premise of "Jumper" is that the character played by Christensen somehow gains the power to teleport himself to distant locations, to get himself out of a jam or to save the girl.

Some of the advance publicity has compared the trick to quantum teleportation - but that would be wrong. As numerous bloggers have pointed out over the past couple of weeks, quantum teleportation is all about transferring information rather than beaming up in the "Star Trek" sense. In the movie (as well as the novel on which the movie is based), the main character doesn't know how he does what he does. And that suits Liman just fine.

"You don't have to understand why and how we do certain things," he told me.

Nevertheless, Liman said he does care about making scientific sense.

"I said that I was only going to take this one leap of faith," he said. "I tried to observe the laws of physics as best I could outside this one leap."

For example, Liman worked it out so that every time Christensen made a jump, the surrounding medium would whoosh in to take his place. "He has a certain volume," Liman explained. "If he's no longer there, something has to fill that space."

Another rule of the movie is that Jumpers have to enter a new reference frame with the same momentum they had when the left the previous reference frame. For example, let's say Christensen is in the middle of a fall from the top of the Empire State Building. "Yes, you can teleport away from that spot, but wherever you arrive, you will be traveling with that velocity," Liman said.

Limiting the liberties
Tegmark liked how Liman limited the liberties he took with basic physics. "He saw through things at a different level than the typical Donald Duck physics that you see," the physicist said.

"The main thing that he took liberties with was what we call energy conservation," Tegmark continued. "Einstein told us that E=mc2. In other words, matter is the same thing as energy. ... That means that a modest amount of matter, like you, corresponds to many, many megatons of energy. It's no small task to eliminate that from one place and put it in another place.

"If you turned yourself into energy, it would be like a hydrogen bomb had gone off," he said.

Let's say mad scientists had unlimited energy at their disposal (bwa-ha-ha!). It might be possible to bend space-time into an extradimensional wormhole and teleport to distant locations. But that would take some expertise - more expertise than the high-school dropout in "Jumper" could muster. And there would be a high price to pay.

"If you were able to somehow create a wormhole, when you try to jump through it, it would probably turn into a black hole - which kind of sucks," said Tegmark, fully aware of the double meaning.

The real-world physics behind the possibility of wormholes has been entangled with science fiction for decades. The concept was fleshed out by Caltech physicist Kip Thorne when Carl Sagan asked him to come up with a plausible way to get his heroine back and forth through space-time in the novel "Contact." To Thorne's surprise, he found that there was nothing in physics that absolutely ruled out the existence of wormholes, as long as you could get your hands on a huge amount of negative energy.

"Wormholes are probably not stable, but we still haven't been able to prove that in a convincing way," Tegmark said, "so there's still a slight possibility that lingers. People are looking into whether you can stabilize them with dark energy."

Science fiction and science fact
Tegmark said the best thing about science-fiction movies, even movies where the science is especially fictional, is that they spark more interest in science fact.

"As a scientist, often the hardest thing is not finding the right answer, but finding the right question - and science fiction is great for generating the right questions," Tegmark told me. "It's like when you're watching a movie and you say, 'It's obvious that that's impossible.' Then you realize, it's not so obvious why it's impossible. You start asking very basic questions about the nature of space and time."

That's how Einstein started along the path that eventually led to E=mc2 and more.

"It was precisely because Einstein was trying to understand the nature of time that we arrived at nuclear power," Tegmark said. "This goes to show that anything that stimulates basic research, even though it might seem completely useless, often has great applications."

So what's next? One of the fundamental issues surrounding wormholes is that they might (or might not) essentially work like time machines. There's even talk that microscopic time machines could be created later this year at the Large Hadron Collider.

That claim may be highly debatable - but Liman is already aware of the connection to time travel, which is a time-honored tradition in sci-fi cinema.

"I saved that for the sequel," Liman said. "That is definitely something that would be part of this, but it was too much for this story. I felt like it would have limited the depth to which I could explore this one idea."

To learn more about what Hollywood has done to scientific ideas over the years, check out Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics, the Cartoon Laws of Physics and the Bad Movies page at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Web site. If you have any other funny (or fantastical) examples of cinematic science, feel free to add them as comments below.

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'Star Trek' pushed back to 2009

Paramount shuffles major releases

Paramount is pushing back the release of J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" from Dec. 25 to May 8, 2009, saying the pic's gross potential is greater as a summer tentpole.

Move was part of a major reshuffling to the studio's release calendar, as well as to DreamWorks' release sked. A second key change: DreamWorks' 2008 Ben Stiller summer comedy "Tropic Thunder" is moving from July 11 to Aug. 15.

That's likely to mean that another film will take "Tropic's" old spot on July 11, particularly since there is such a dearth of broad comedies in the May-July stretch.

Like Par, many of the majors are likely to revisit their release skeds in the wake of the writers' strike as they try to balance out their 2008 and 2009 calendars.

"Star Trek" has no competition in its new slot -- at least not so far, although it opens one week after 20th Century Fox bows "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and one week before Sony is slated to bow sequel "Angels and Demons."

Paramount also dated two titles. Martin Scorsese's Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer "Shutter Island" will be released Oct. 2, 2009.

An untitled comedy produced by Marlon and Shawn Wayans will be released on Feb. 9, 2009. Their brother Damon Wayans is directing from a script the three co-wrote with two other family members. Par is keeping the logline under wraps.

Here are the other release changes to Par's sked:

  • Eddie Murphy family pic "Nowhereland" is moving from Sept. 26, 2008, to June 12, 2009.
  • Renee Zellweger horror-thriller "Case 39" is moving from Aug. 22, 2008, to April 10, 2009.
  • David Fincher's Brad Pitt starrer "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is moving from Nov. 26, 2008, to Dec. 19, 2008.

In addition to the new date for "Tropic Thunder," DreamWorks and Par announced that Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet "Revolutionary Road" will be distributed by Par Vantage, and not the studio proper.

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5 Ways Hollywood Tricks You Into Seeing Bad Movies

Movie studios rarely worry whether the film they're producing is "good" or "bad" or "technically pornography." There's only one driving motivation, and if you can't guess what it is, there's a good chance this is the first time you've heard of the economic system referred to as capitalism.

In the rare instance an inferior product does slip out of Hollywood, producers have plenty of tricks to convince you to see it anyway. Here are the five most shameless:

The Genre Bait & Switch

Sometimes, even movies with expensive stars and famous directors are hard to market. Maybe the film's plot can't be explained in eight words or less. Maybe it's a bit heavy on "themes" and "character development" and too light on the important things like "low-cut shirts" and "explosions."

Whatever the case, it's nothing a little creative trailer editing can't fix.

The Movie: A deliberately-paced meditation on boredom and isolation set during the Gulf War. Many have described it as "a war movie without the war," a phrase that ranks up there with "deliberately-paced" and "meditation on boredom" among "Phrases Producers Really Don't Want To Hear."

Lucky for producers, the trailer puts the damn war back.

The featured battles and shenanigans falsely promise a film somewhere between Saving Private Ryan and Police Academy 8: Drafted! Of course, it's all editing room smoke and mirrors. Even a shot of Jake Gyllenhall dodging enemy fire at 1:22 turns out, in the film, to be nothing more than stray fireworks.

Sweeney Todd
Some people like musicals. Some people like incredibly graphic horror films. However, as the bloody yet melodious Sweeney Todd neared completion, producers made a tragic discovery:

Some creative trailer editing should solve that ...

Another delightfully wacky Johnny Depp character? Accents? Boats? Why, it's Pirates of the Caribbean for the Hot Topic crowd!

Good Luck Chuck
In this 2007 film, lots of women want to sleep with Dane Cook for some contrived and difficult to explain reason. The original trailer goes to great lengths to convince you that Dane Cook should be allowed to star in movies.

Producers eventually realized that not only was co-star Jessica Alba an actual celebrity, she was pretty damn easy on the eyes, too. A new trailer was quickly cut:

Why, Dane Cook is barely in this film! And the only time we hear him is when he's uttering grunts of pain while being abused by an underwear-clad Jessica Alba! To the box office, my good man!

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Indiana Jones IV Trailer Makes Us Wet Our Pants

Here's the trailer for the most anticipated movie of all time, at least for me: Indiana Jones IV. We knew there are going to be aliens and Soviet soldiers led by Cate Blanchett, but one thing is seeing those made of LEGO and the other is to actually see how all looks like. Which is, amazing. Let's hope it is as good as it feels now. And yes, there are no weird mechanical traps and gadgets on the trailer, but this is Indiana Jones, people. There's nothing higher. Update: official video is up. [Yahoo Trailers]

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Darth Vader met Superman

PICKING up the paper, Dave Prowse could hardly believe his eyes.

News of Christopher Reeve’s tragic riding accident and subsequent paralysis was splashed all over its pages.

Dave, who had brought Star Wars villain Darth Vader to the screen, sighed as he realised the man who’d immortalised Superman would never walk again.

While the story shocked fans around the globe, Dave, who formerly worked as a personal trainer, was touched even deeper by the tragedy.

He had turned Christopher from a gangly 6ft5in actor, to the muscle-bound superhero who would save the world.

Superhero ... Christopher Reeve in career-defining role

When Dave later heard the news of his friend’s death in 2004, he vowed to support the continued efforts to treat spinal cord injuries.

And now he’s patron of Walk Once More, an organisation dedicated to getting people like Christopher Reeve back on their feet again.

Dave, 72, from Croydon, South London, says: "Naturally it was a huge shock when I first heard about his accident.

“For someone who was so fit to suddenly break his neck and never walk again doesn’t bear thinking.

“It was tragic for Christopher to lose control of that body, and yet his plight brought so much attention to spinal cord injuries.

"It made him God's gift to the spinal injury cause.

“And I hope to keep that momentum going by supporting Walk Once More.”

Dave was in his mid-40s when the unknown 20-something actor Christopher Reeve arrived in London to film Superman.

Surprisingly, after playing the popular Green Cross Code Man on television, Dave had dreams of landing the lead role of Clark Kent himself.

Superhero ... Christopher Reeve in career-defining role
Superhero ... Christopher Reeve in career-defining role

But in the end he had to make do with being Christopher’s personal trainer.

Dave says: “Back in the late 70s, the producer Leslie Linder called me to say Superman was being filmed at Shepperton Studios in Middlesex.

“He reckoned I should try for the lead part.

Buff bod ... Dave in his prime

“I was working as a 6ft7in trainer, weighed 20st and was reasonably good-looking, so I decided to take the chance.

“Unfortunately they were adamant an American should play Superman because they feared otherwise it wouldn’t go down well with US audiences.

“Despite that I made an appointment with the film’s director, Richard Donner, and took along shots from a one-off Maxx Factor ad in which I’d dressed up as Superman.

“He agreed I looked the part, but my nationality and thick West Country accent were too much of a problem.

“Richard called me a week later, and I immediately thought he was going to offer me the role.

“Instead he said they’d found a guy called Christopher Reeve for Superman, and asked me to take on the challenge of getting him into shape.”

Despite his disappointment, Dave jumped at the chance to work with an upcoming Hollywood actor.

At the time he ran the gym at the luxury Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, and this was an exciting job he couldn’t refuse.

Dave says: “I can reveal the real secret behind Superman’s strength is steak.

It’s ironic both Chris and I played massively popular characters which mean a lot to so many people. Actually the Star Wars director, George Lucas, had me in mind for Chewbacca and Darth Vader

“I made Christopher eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and by the end of the six weeks, it showed.

"Admittedly when I first set eyes on Christopher I thought ‘Boy, I have my work cut out.’

“He was 6ft5in, but weighed just 12.5st – much to skinny for a superhero.

“With just six weeks before filming, I put him on a strict training regime, which included an intensive workout five times a week.

“That, together with all the steaks, gave him the rippling muscles to fill the Superman suit, and filming began as planned.”

Dave was delighted he’d transformed skinny Christopher into a muscle-bound superhero.

In the process, he also made a firm friend.

He adds: “Back then Chris was just a young guy and totally alone in London.

“We worked together five times a week, but we also met up during his time off.

“I have fond memories of taking him for his first ever afternoon tea in Harrod’s.

“Christopher was from New York and he’d never seen anything like it.

“He was such a pleasant lad, and a great person to be around.”

Although Dave missed out on playing Superman, he did bag the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars.

And he’s thrilled he had the opportunity to play one of the most popular baddies ever.

Dave says: “It’s ironic both Chris and I played massively popular characters which mean a lot to so many people.

“Actually the Star Wars director, George Lucas, had me in mind for Chewbacca and Darth Vader, but when he described Chewie as a gorilla I thought ‘No way’.

“Spending three months inside a sweltering costume wasn’t my idea of fun, so I chose the baddie.

“It was definitely a good decision, and 30 years later I still attend Star Wars conventions and receive loads of fan mail.”

Thanks to the attention Dave receives for playing Darth Vader, he’s in an ideal position to highlight the ongoing need for research into spinal cord injuries.

He says: “I suppose I’m carrying on Chris’s legacy.

“It’s a privilege to have known him and to now be involved with Walk Once More.

“My friend never did walk again, but someday we'll find a way to cure this terrible affliction.”

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Happy Valentine's Day!

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Unquestionably the Oddest, Most Objectionable Band Name Ever

Which of course goes nicely with the rest of what we regularly serve at

(Photo by Bill Hector Weye).

You can learn more about My Baby Wants to Eat Your Pussy here and here.

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Ten Movies That Make You Hot

What is it about certain films that make you want to strip down and take your partner right then, right there? Is it the whole film, or a specific moment when you anticipate that two characters are going to get down? For me, it’s usually a specific scene that plays upon me like the memory of a hot dream recalled first thing in the morning (on days like these, I wake up smiling).

However, when I scrolled through my mental Rolodex of sexy films, I could only come up with a handful. Armed with my social networking tool and a hundred friends, I posed my question to both men and women: “What movies make you want to, you know, do it?”

My female friends tended to describe the entirety of films that made them hot, including the overall feel of the movies. For my male friends, sex was in the details. One guy friend told me about some specific scenes that made him hot. Another took it a step further, providing not only a movie title but also the names of actresses that heated his loins—as well as Internet Movie Database keywords that would aid me in my search (the use of which demonstrated yet another novel way of using technology to advance my knowledge).

Further research using these tools proved that I was not alone in a few of my beliefs, such as the hotness of certain actresses, certain scenes (often featuring threeways), movies somehow involving France, and all films directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Of course, it may be simply the hot shorts, tube socks, and roller skates worn by Heather Graham in Boogie Nights that do it for all of us.

Ten Movies That Make You Hot (in no particular order):

Last Tango in Paris. Two words—butter scene.

9-1/2 Weeks. In high school, my girlfriends and I watched this film religiously in our ongoing attempts to perfectly reenact the strip scene. We hoped that our mastery would inspire a man to squirt honey all over us when we hit our sexual prime.

Lolita. The 1997 version with Jeremy Irons and Dominque Swain was hot; the original 1962 version was not.

Shortbus. Although this movie’s title brought to my mind some impolite slang from high school, my girlfriend begged to differ. “[It’s] an artistic, beautiful movie with just the right lighting, colors, textures, and hot women. The movie follows the love drama of several different people, couples, [and] groups, while covering a thematic range including all kinds of sexuality, deep neuroses, and pleasure.” I’m renting it.

Y Tu Mamá También. Older woman with two younger men—now that’s a fantasy worth renting.

Chocolat. A quaint village in France, hands moving through lots of chocolate, and Johnny Depp; what’s not to love?

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Semi-Pro: Will Ferrell and Heidi Klum in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

As the “Month of Funk” leading up to the release of Will Ferrell’s Semi-Pro rolls on, the marketing for the film continues to get weirder and weirder. Today’s oddball movie marketing comes by way of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. As Will Ferrell told us when we spoke with him, he likes to keep his body in great shape so that he can show it to the world, but we had no idea that he meant that his chesty brilliance would end up all over Heidi Klum. In the upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Will Ferrell (as Jackie Moon) will show off his sexier side with one of the world’s most beautiful women. Take a look at a selection from the issue below.

Click Here to see the Entire Gallery from Sports Illustrated
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Science fiction has always had a dark obsession with destroying things, and spaceships are a constant target. When not worrying about enemy ships fragging them to pieces, crews have to worry self-destruct sequences, on-board bombs, lousy construction, bad driving, and suicidal commanders who seem hell-bent on piloting their ships to certain death in what we like to call "shipicides." Damn the photon torpedos! Set the engines for ramming speed in our picks of the best ship sacrifices in science fiction.
  • Alien: Blowing up the Nostromo in order to kill one single Alien was one of the biggest (and best) sacrifices in movie history, and the resulting explosion as Ripley flees in the shuttle still stands alone as a perfect example of why you don't need 40 billion rendered polygons showing you just how the ship would look as it broke up into its component atoms. (You can see video of it above.) Plus, you have the audible countdown over the ship's PA system literally beating a ticking clock against Sigourney's ass every step of the way. It worked so good that they decided to repeat it in Aliens.

  • Battlestar Galactica -- "Exodus Part 2": Lee Adama's emotional outbursts might not win him another command anytime soon, because when he took over as the helmer of the Pegasus he got complacent and fat. However, he redeemed himself by sacrificing his superior ship (with its fighter-building ability) in order to save the Galactica, his pop, and everyone on the planet below. This still stands as one of the most powerful moments in the show. Just when you think everything is hopeless, the camera pulls extremely far back, and... boom. Pegasus to the short-lived rescue.

  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Captains of the Enterprise sure have been careless with their ships. What are they on, Enterprise-Q by now? However, the first time the Enterprise was sacrificed was probably the best. Faced with insurmountable odds, Kirk proves he's best at surviving by activating the ship's self-destruct sequence and letting it take out some nosy Klingons. As he watched it burn to cinders from the planet below, he asks Bones "My god, what have I done." Nothing that Starfleet will court martial him for, apparently.

  • The Fifth Element: Even cruise ships aren't safe in this film, especially when carrying blue-skinned singing divas with stones buried in their stomachs. The poor luxury spaceliner Fhloston Paradise survives an attempt by Zorg to blow it to smithereens, only to find itself blown up moments later by someone with the sense to use a very short timer and not a wonky thing that you deactivate with a hotel cardkey. Cool escape pods, though.

  • Tron: While fleeing Sark and his troops, Tron and his girlriend Yori narrowly escape on a Syd Mead designed Solar Sailer, which rides beams of light around Tronworld. Sark's massive carrier eventually catches up with it and opens up a ship-chomping hole, reducing it to pieces. The best comparison would be if a modern-day aircraft carrier chewed up a catamaran. Sark and the others leave the ship, and he orders it to be derezzed, which is what is really cool about Tron. If you need something, the system can rez it up, and when you're done, you just recycle it.

  • Lost in Space: Bonehead Joey, er... Major West uses remote control to ignite the engines on the superior Proteus, full of futuretech and possibly life-saving equipment in order to get hull-burning space spiders off the Jupiter 2. However, not content to just let them burn up in the engine's wake, he also makes the ship self-destruct. Even though his ship has had its systems majorly trashed by the malfunctioning Robot, he still blows up the first sweet ride they find. Oh, and it manages to make their own ship crash. Genius.

  • The Last Starfighter: When video game expert turned space pilot Alex keys the "Death Blossom" onboard his Gunstar, it turns into a hypersonic laser death machine. However, once it's in the post-orgasmic glow it's rendered dead and useless. They can't even steer out of the way of Xur's approaching ship, which shipicides itself into a moon. However, that bastard Xur got away, never to be caught since the movie didn't get a sequel.

  • Independence Day: This is more of a shipicide from within, but when Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith fly up to the alien mothership and plant the virus, they're basically giving the thing a huge case of indigestion, which it doesn't quite recover from. Sadly (or maybe gladly) I couldn't get a clip from this since three of the Blockbuster stores I visited in Los Angeles don't carry ID4. Lame. But as a bonus, enjoy this clip mashing up Star Wars with Independence Day. Randy Quaid uses the Force.

  • Return of the Jedi: While this one wasn't done on purpose, it's sort of a hilarious "Oops" moment as a rebel A-Wing pilot banzais into the bridge of the Imperial Flagship Super Star Destroyer Executor. This causes the ship to veer out of control and crash right into the the new and improved Death Star. Either that was one extremely lucky hit on the bridge, or whoever built the windshield of that thing needs to be fired. It can withstand the rigors of laser fire and hyperspeed, but can't take the impact of a measly A-Wing? I wonder if that have a transportation safety board that investigates these things.

  • Vanilla Sky: Cameron Diaz gets an honorable mention in this film for tanking her "ship" (okay, a Buick Skylark) off a bridge in an effort to die in a warped suicide love pact with Tom Cruise. Let this be a note to you love 'em and leave 'em types out there: if you scorn someone, they may seek revenge, fuck up your face, and force you to go into a bizarre cryogenic freeze / lucid dreaming / virtual reality state of existence. Just so you know.

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Paris Hilton’s Masterpiece: $81 per screen average this weekend

Not all marketing pays dividends. Here’s an example that’s bound to bring a delicious smile to your face:

Despite a jam-packed three weeks of promotion for Paris Hilton’s new film The Hottie and The Nottie, the opening weekend numbers were complete cow dung. A romantic comedy starring Hilton, Joel David Moore, and Christine Lakin, it opened Friday to $9,000 on 111 screens, or $81 per screen, according to Box Office Mojo.

For those keeping track on the Paris Hilton temperature scale, that’s NOT hot. In fact, it’s colder than a Eskimo’s refrigerator. Basically, 2-3 people were watching her film, on average, each screening. The weekend gross tumbled in at $27,000. Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, she got “paid $100K to have her 25th birthday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.” So don’t worry about the princess going broke.

The only comparable box office disaster is Jessica Simpson’s 2007 “star vehicle” Blonde Ambition, which averaged $48 per screen on a Friday opening for a total box office of $384. The film grossed $6,422 domestically before – thank God!/ at long last!/please kill me! – it came to DVD.

Paris had premiered the film in Hollywood and Dallas, appeared in Philadelphia, at Harvard University, and the Sundance Film Festival, and even shmoozed on talk shows such as the Late Show with David Letterman. And even with all that marketing effort, she still couldn’t get people to watch her movie. What did I tell ya? Marketing ain’t easy.

So what does all this mean for the old marketing adage: does sex still sell? Probably. But sometimes content gets in the way.

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Introducing the 2008 SI Swimsuit Issue ROOKIES!

2008 Swimsuit Header

Marisa Miller was a rookie. Petra and Heidi were rookies. Brooklyn Decker and Tori Praver were rookies in 2007. The following girls are first-time SI Swimsuit Issue models, so know that any one of them could grace the 2009 SI Swimsuit Issue cover this time next year.

Check out the collection of 2008 SI Swimsuit Issue Rookies after the jump!

[Click each picture to view the gallery and vote at the bottom]

Melissa Baker

Yasmin Brunet

Jeisa Chiminazzo

Jessica Gomes

Quiana Grant

Melissa Haro

Jarah Mariano

Who Is The Sexiest Rookie?

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