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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Comcast Degrades HD Quality To Make Room For More Channels

When you order Hi-Def TV, you expect it to be on the shining Excalibur level, but it looks like Comcast is degrading the quality of some HD channels in order to make room for more channels. To test this theory out, Avsforum member bfdtv recorded the same shows from the same channel at the same time on both Comcast Hi-Def and Fios TV. The left is the FiOs. The right is the Comcast. As you can see, the Comcast signal looks like crap. The forum thread has more screenshots, a signal analysis, and some source videos. So far the Comcast channels receiving extra compression are: Discovery Channel, SciFi, USA, Food, NatGeo, UHD, A&E, HGTV, Starz, Cinemax, HBO, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery HD Theater, and History HD.

Original here

AFTRA opposes joint talks with SAG

With feature-primetime contract negotiations looming, AFTRA has declared war on SAG and carried through on its threat to negotiate a separate deal with the majors.

SAG announced Saturday afternoon that AFTRA had withdrawn from Phase One joint bargaining.

The unions had been scheduled to give final approval Saturday at a joint board meeting to a contract proposal to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Had that happened, informal talks would have started over the next few days.

Instead, the AMPTP must now decide whether to start negotiations first with AFTRA or SAG. It is likely that the majors would prefer going first with AFTRA, since it covers only three primetime shows under the contract and has been far more moderate than SAG.

The AMPTP responded late Saturday by saying it was pleased that AFTRA is ready to negotiate while not mentioning SAG. And it noted that it had told the actors unions seven weeks ago that it was ready to start negotiations."

The current feature-primetime contract expires June 30.

AFTRA leaders voted at their national board meeting Saturday to dissolve the 27-year Phase One bargaining partnership after multiple disagreements with SAG on jurisdictional issues such as AFTRA offering lower initial terms on basic cable and SAG exploring moving into AFTRA's turf in soap operas.

AFTRA leaders were also perturbed over SAG's attempts over the past year to seek more seats on the joint bargaining committee -- which is split 50-50 even though SAG covers the lions share of work.

Upon conclusion of their national meeting, AFTRA president Roberta Reardon and national officers including Susan Boyd Joyce, Denny Delk, Bob Edwards, Matt Kimbrough and Shelby Scott entered SAG's national board meeting and reported their board's effective termination of Phase One and declared that they will not negotiate jointly with SAG the TV Theatrical contract, including their Exhibit A.

Reardon made the following statement regarding the meeting today: "For the past year SAG leadership in Hollywood has engaged in a relentless campaign of disinformation and disparagement, culminating in a recent attempt to decertify an AFTRA daytime soap opera. As a result of this continued and ongoing behavior by SAG leadership, which at its core harms all working performers and the labor movement, we find ourselves unable to have any confidence in their ability to live up to the principles of partnership and union solidarity."

SAG president Alan Rosenberg said: "We remain focused on negotiating the best terms for actors covered by the TV Theatrical contract. We spent weeks working with our fellow actors in AFTRA on joint proposals to improve the lives of all working actors. AFTRA's refusal now to bargain together and their last second abandonment of the joint process is calculated, cynical and serves the interests of their institution, not its members."

Original here

Worst 7 Bond Girls

Worst Bond Girls Denise RichardsWe all have our favourite Bond Girls – but who is your least favourite? There is no doubt that Bond has bedded some of the most attractive film actresses ever, like Diana Rigg, Ursula Andress, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry and… errr, Grace Jones.

But even Bond's quality control has been shaken and stirred by one too many dry martinis. Not that any of us at hecklerspray would kick any of these misfiring flames out of bed, of course. After all, it's all for Queen and country.

Plus one is called Goodhead.

7. Lois Chiles

Holly Goodhead in Moonraker (1979)

Let's face it, the only thing memorable about this boring former model is her name. Possibly the worst actress ever to appear in a Bond film, we're not sure even Roger Moore took to her. She looked good in a spacesuit, though.

6. Lynn-Holly Johnson
Bibi Dahl in For Your Eyes Only (1981)

One question: Why have they cast a 14-year-old annoying girl as a Bond Babe? We can't even remember if she dies in the film. We hope she did.

5. Britt Ekland

Mary Goodnight in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Now, there's no doubt that Britt Ekland is a beautiful and sexy woman. But her performance as the bumbling Mary Goodnight was a real turn-off. Sure, she has the looks and certainly the bikini, but she is totally braindead and lacks spunk. She's even scared of that French dwarf, for God's sake. The final insult is when Bond kicks her out of bed for bloody Maud Adams!

4. Maud Adams
Octopussy in Octopussy (1983) and Andrea Anders in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Quick question: If you are going to pick a Bond girl to appear in two films, which one would you pick? Ursula Andress? Honor Blackman? Ok, so where did Maud Adams, the bland Swedish model-actress killed halfway through The Man With The Golden Gun, appear? Last? Yep, she was pretty much last on our list too. We just don't get it. She isn't even that attractive. Was she boning Roger Moore?

3. Karin Dor
Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice (1967)

Quick note to Bond producers and casting directors: never pick a Bond girl that even the average Joe would hesitate over bedding. Seriously, even the red-blooded males at Hecklerspray Towers would need a couple of pints in us before we even thought lying back and thinking of England. She didn't live long either. The piranhas gobbled her up faster than Bond did.

2. Denise Richards
Dr Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Casting Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist is possibly the worst decision ever. In fact, the whole point of her being in the film, apart from prancing around with just a flimsy top and hot pants, was the final pay off line. You know the one, something about 'Christmas coming twice a year' or something.

1. Tanya Roberts
Stacey Sutton in A View to A Kill (1985)

Isn't it amazing that the worst Bond girls appear in the worst Bond film. Well, A View to A Kill Is the worst Bond film, and Tanya Roberts is the worst Bond girl of the lot. The former Charlie's Angel spent most of the film screaming and whining in a really high-pitched voice. Oh, and we are supposed to believe she is a geologist. Yeah, right!



Original here

"21" wins jackpot at North American box office


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new gambling drama "21" played a winning hand at the weekend box office in North America, earning an estimated $23.7 million in its first round, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday.

The fact-based saga revolves around a team of college whizzes who conspire to count cards at blackjack tables in Las Vegas. The cast includes Kevin Spacey, a professor who coaches the students, and Laurence Fishburne, who plays a casino thug. The movie was directed by Australian filmmaker Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde").

Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp, said the opening for the $35 million film exceeded expectations, and it played strongly to old, young, male and female moviegoers.

After two weekends at No. 1, the animated smash "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!" slipped to No. 2 with $17.4 million. The 20th Century Fox comedy, featuring the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, became the first release of 2008 to hit the century mark, with sales of $117.3 million to date. Fox is a unit of News Corp.

New at No. 3 was the spoof "Superhero Movie," with a disappointing $9.5 million. Industry observers had expected an opening in the low- to mid-teen millions. Two months ago, the similarly themed "Meet the Spartans" opened to $18.5 million. "Superhero Movie" was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., and produced by Weinstein Co's Dimension Films banner. Both are privately held. MGM declined comment.

'STOP-LOSS' MISFIRES

Prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry's latest comedy "Meet the Browns" tumbled two places to No. 4 with $7.8 million, 61 percent lower than its opening weekend haul. Its total stands at $32.8 million. The film was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The Owen Wilson comedy "Drillbit Taylor" fell one place to No. 5 with $5.3 million, also in its second weekend. Its drop was 49 percent, and its total rose to $20.6 million. The film was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

Paramount also released the Iraq war-themed drama "Stop-Loss," which opened at No. 8 with just $4.5 million. War-related films, such as "In the Valley of Elah" and "Rendition" have bombed at the box office, and expectations were low for "Stop-Loss," which stars Ryan Phillippe as a soldier who faces a second tour of duty. It was made by Kimberly Peirce, who directed Hilary Swank's Oscar-winning performance in the 1999 film "Boys Don't Cry."

The British comedy "Run, Fat Boy, Run," the feature directing debut of former "Friends" star David Schwimmer, opened at No. 13 with $2.4 million. The film topped the U.K. box office in September, and was initially scheduled to open in North America the following month. It was released by Picturehouse, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Overall sales fell for a second consecutive weekend and the first quarter finished on a flat note. Ticket sales for the quarter stood at $2.1 billion, up 0.64 percent from the year-ago period, according to Media By Numbers, which collects box office data. Attendance was down 2.6 percent. A year ago, sales were up 5.7 percent from the first quarter of 2006 and attendance was up 3.9 percent.

Media By Numbers president Paul Dergarabedian said the box office faced a tough comparison with last year. By the end of the first quarter last year, three films had made over $100 million: "Ghost Rider," "Wild Hogs" and "300."

He predicted business would remain tough for the next few weeks. The lucrative summer period begins May 2 with the Marvel comic book adaptation "Iron Man," but no one expects the Robert Downey Jr. movie to come close to the record-breaking $151 million opening for "Spider-Man 3" in 2007.

Original here

SO, YOU WANNA DATE A SUPERMODEL?

There’s the assumption—which we can neither endorse nor reject—that extraordinarily good-looking women aren’t like the women you know. The theory is that women who inhabit the uppermost echelon of conventional beauty are so otherworldly, so demanding, so desired, that no ordinary semi-self-respecting man (i.e., you) could ever make them happy. Your best line? She’s heard it. Your lavish gifts? She’s got a drawerful, thank you. Your supersecret, private vacation island? She used to date the guy who owns it. These pampered, fawned-over creatures maintain expectations so outlandishly high that anyone who attempts to scale the heights required to meet them is destined for crushing failure and frustration.

Or that’s the theory, anyway. But is it true? Hell if we know. So we asked the extraordinarily good-looking Adriana Lima to set the record straight. Here’s her take.

Don’t let me scare you.
Usually, guys are nervous. I think they are afraid of me. I don’t think I look scary. Be however you are. Don’t try to be what you’re not. If you’re nervous, be nervous. If you’re shy, be shy. It’s cute.

Put the Treo down and pay attention to me.
If you’re having dinner with friends and they’re always on the phone or always texting, it’s just impolite. Unless it’s something important—like someone is in the hospital or something—don’t do it. It’s not attractive. It’s a girlie thing.* It makes you seem like a teenage girl. Especially if you’re talking about parties and which clubs you’re going to and who’s going to be there…it’s just silly.
[*Ouch.]

Get jealous…
I like jealous men. I love jealousy. I do. Everything has a limit, of course, but once in a while you have to stand up and say, “I love this person.”

...but not violent.
It’s never okay to defend my honor by beating someone up. You have to control yourself, even if the other person is drunk and crazy. Just say, “Let’s go home. Let’s leave.” You don’t have to say a thing to him. I never have to see that person for the rest of my life. I don’t like fights. I don’t like aggressive people.

Don’t hit on my girlfriends!*
(No matter how hot they are.)

Don’t treat them like a piece of meat. Don’t flirt with them! We’re not competitive. It has happened before, and it never works.
[*While we imagine a man with the courage/gall/nuts to hit on one ludicrously beautiful lingerie model while on a date with another ludicrously beautiful lingerie model may actually exist, we’ve never met him and wouldn’t know what to say to him if we did.]

A beautiful girl is a beautiful girl, not an accessory.
Don’t change your personality when you get around people at a party, or don’t walk in and think you’re the hottest person because you have the hottest girl.* If you start carrying me around like a trophy, it’s not good.
[*Your modesty, Adriana: It slays us.]

Just remember, you’re really dating the waiter.
A man needs to be polite, not just to me but to everyone. I watch that. How does he treat the waiter? How does he treat the coat-check girl? How does he treat the driver?* Don’t give orders to these people. You don’t own everything around you. Treat people with respect.
[*We have a driver? Awesome!]

Your first move should be no move at all.
Sometimes people are too aggressive. I need time to realize exactly who you are before I go out with you. Don’t be pushy. Don’t pressure me. “When can I see you? When can I meet you? When can we go out?” No. Take your time. When I’m ready, I’ll make the move.

Make friends with your inner viscount.
Show me you can take care of me. Say you’re taking me to dinner: I expect you to pick me up and open the car door for me. Hold the restaurant door while I enter and pull out the chair for me when I sit down. Stand up when I go to the restroom and again when I return. I love old-fashioned manners, as long as it’s not forced. I can tell when it’s natural or when someone is just trying to impress me.*
[*Wethinks it most unbecoming a man of good breeding to imperil a lady’s high virtue with beguilement and common trickery.]

Take me away.
(But not too far.)

When we’re traveling together for the first time, we sleep in different rooms. That’s the number one thing. And you should plan the whole trip. Buy the ticket, get the car to the airport, organize everything so I don’t have to think about it. And yes, carry my bags. I don’t travel light, either—at least two bags. Always. But if you say, “Oh, I’m going to fly you to Paris for the weekend,” or something like that, make sure we know each other well first. I’m not going to fly a million miles with somebody I don’t know.

A gift is only as good as the time, energy, and effort you put into it.
Sometimes people think they need to show you how successful they are and how much money they have, so they get you something too big. Don’t do this. The simple thing is always the best. Write me a letter, because it shows that you made an effort and that you gave of yourself. I love that. I also love flowers. It could be even one flower. You don’t have to buy something big to show that you love me.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim high.
You know how you can have a star named after a person, as a gift? A few years ago, a friend of mine received this present* from her husband, and I thought it was so romantic. I thought, Ohhhhhh. That’s really amazing. That’s unbelievable. This guy must really love her!
[*Given Adriana’s estimated 2007 income—roughly $6 million from modeling fees, endorsement deals, Super Bowl advertisements, etc.—and the rock stars and royals she tends to run with, we thought it would be helpful to find out how much it costs to have a star named for that someone special. Five grand? Ten? Fifty? Actually, on Starnamer.org, it’s more like $19.95. Or roughly the price of one mango martini at a hotel bar in Midtown Manhattan. No wonder kids stopped dreaming of becoming astronauts.]

There is no such thing as casual dating.
I don’t understand dating when you go with someone but you can see other people at the same time. Huh? I don’t do that. I’m always serious. I’ve only had four or five relationships, and I’ve never stayed with anyone for less than one year. I don’t date too much because I find it very difficult to find men who are willing to compromise, and when you’re in a relationship you have to compromise. You have to make sacrifices. You can’t just continue doing everything you did before.

Call your mom. For real.
It’s important that a man has a good relationship with his family. Your family is your base—they make you who you are—and if you don’t respect them, I don’t think you can respect anyone else. If you have problems with them, you need to resolve those problems. And while I’m at it, treat my mother like your mother: with respect, with care. I love it when you ask about my family. You should always ask about how my family is doing, because in the future they may be your family, too.*
[*Uh, we haven’t even slept over yet.]

Go home. Now.
You have to have limits—limits on everything: on drinking, on going out, on jealousy. Everything has to have a limit. Nothing too much is good.

Rethink those nurse fantasies.
When I’m sick, I want a lot of caresses.* Make sure I eat. If you don’t know how to cook, call and get food delivered. Go to the pharmacy and get the medication I need. Just take care of me until I get better. That’s it. Simple. If you don’t know what to do, ask me. Just say, “What do you need?” I will tell you. Whatever I tell you, do. That’s it.

Original here