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April 1995, Week 4


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"Mary G. Pratt" <[log in to unmask]>
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Association for Moving Image Archivists <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Apr 1995 15:44:20 CDT
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FROM THE "Mr. Showbiz" SITE
For M-G-M, the Color of Money Matters Most
M-G-M has decided to start colorizing films from its 1,500-title library.
The studio announced yesterday that CST Entertainment Inc. will begin
tinting seven M-G-M/UA classics including Sweet Smell of Success, with Burt
Lancaster and Tony Curtis, and Red River, the Howard Hawks western starring
John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. (To be persnickety, the titles are
actually part of the United Artists library. The M-G-M library was sold
several years ago, but we'll get to that in a minute.)
Naturally, not everyone is tickled about M-G-M's decision. "Most directors
believe that a colorized film is an inferior version of the original black
and white film," says Chuck Warn, director of public relations for the
Directors Guild. "Whether or not you agree with that, it's wrong to
colorize a film without permission from the original artist."
Unfortunately, U.S. copyright law sides with the owner of the artistic
property rather than the creator on that one. Despite
legislation--languishing in Congress--which would require companies who
alter artworks to at least label the works that have been modified, the
situation doesn't figure to change soon.
In the meantime, explains Alan Cole-Ford, the executive in charge of
M-G-M's strategy and development, "M-G-M is committed to maximizing the
value of its extensive library." And maximizing M-G-M's value happens to be
a particularly pressing priority right now, because the studio will soon be
on the block, again. M-G-M has changed hands so many times in recent years,
we've lost track. Credit Lyonnaise, the French bank that currently owns the
studio, is required by U.S. banking laws to unload at least 75 percent of
M-G-M by May 1997. Credit Lyonnaise has been entertaining offers for
M-G-M's extensive chain of European movie theatres, which since the sale of
M-G-M's priceless library in 1986 is
probably the studio's most valuable asset. Former studio chair Kirk
Kerkorian, in what can only be viewed as a grave error in judgment, sold a
collection which included Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz to Ted