news digest


'Babel' clears China's censors

BEIJING — China's censors have cleared multiple-Oscar nominee "Babel" to screen on the mainland, local media reported, citing an unnamed source at the Film Bureau. Foreign distributors expressed surprise that "Babel" had cleared China's censors, who historically have rejected sex and violence in the absence of a ratings system. The Film Bureau could not be reached for comment. State-run film giant China Film Group, the country's sole licensed film importer, would not confirm "Babel's" approval.

Von Finckenstein tapped chair of CRTC

OTTAWA — The Canadian government has named federal judge Konrad von Finckenstein chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Von Finckenstein, who made a landmark legal decision in 2004 that denied major record labels relief from Internet-driven music piracy, replaces Charles Dalfen as head of Canada's TV and telecom regulator. Von Finckenstein was appointed judge of the Federal Court in 2003 and before that worked for six years as commissioner of the Competition Bureau.

YouTube boss eyes revenue sharing

YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said the leading online video service is mulling a plan to share advertising revenue with users who contribute to the site, according to a user clip and media reports from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "In terms of paying users revenue against the content that they are uploading, we definitely are going to be moving in that direction," Hurley said in video recorded during a forum session by a YouTube user and posted on the site. "We feel we are at a scale now that we will be able to do that and still have a true community around video."

15 staffers given pink slips at AOL

AOL has laid off more than 15 employees from its corporate communications division, sources said. The most senior of those leaving the company is Ruth Sarfaty, vp corporate communications for the programming division. Sources attributed the layoffs to an effort to align the department with the new organizational structure AOL unveiled in December under the direction of new chairman and CEO Randy Falco.

Set dresser killed after 'Jumper' shoot

TORONTO — A veteran Toronto set dresser was killed on the set of the Samuel L. Jackson starrer "Jumper" — a sci-fi thriller from director Doug Liman — when frozen sand, earth and ice from an exterior set rained down on workers below. The accident occurred Thursday as crew members were dismantling the exterior set for shipment to Baja California for reshoots of outdoor scenes. David Ritchie, 56, died instantly, a second man was sent to the hospital with serious head and shoulder injuries, and a third man escaped harm.

SPE pros with LMU grads

Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television is partnering with Sony Pictures Entertainment on the launch of a career-development program that will pair five recent graduates with showbiz veterans in a yearlong mentoring course designed to kick-start their careers. The Transition After Graduation program, developed by Teri Schwartz, dean of LMU's film school, and Sony Pictures TV president Steve Mosko, will include monthly meetings between the students and their mentors, networking and educational opportunities and guidance in navigating the film and television festival circuit.