week in review digest


Germany to introduce PC license fee

COLOGNE, Germany — In the face of massive public and industry protest, Germany is set to take the lead in Europe by introducing public broadcasting license fees for personal computers. Starting in January, German households and companies with Internet-capable PCs will be charged a monthly license fee of €5.50 ($7). The resulting revenue will be used to offset the cost of producing and adapting public broadcaster programming for the Internet. The charge will apply only to people or companies that do not already pay the standard TV license fee of €17 ($21.50) a month. Most European broadcasters charge citizens this kind of so-called "TV tax" to pay for public broadcasting.

'Fraggle' rocks it to big screen

Jim Henson's 1980s cult hit TV show "Fraggle Rock" is being developed by executive producer Ahmet Zappa into a full-length live-action musical fantasy starring the classic characters (HR 10/20). Lisa Henson, who serves as co-CEO of the Jim Henson Co. with her brother Brian Henson, brought Zappa on board as exec producer after a pitch meeting with the children's author. Zappa is developing a treatment in which puppet stars Gobo, Wembley, Mokey, Boober and Red will travel from beneath the Rock and venture into the human world for the first time. The original Henson puppets will be refurbished and updated for the film, with little expectation of CG enhancements.

Warner Bros. opens store in Macau

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. Consumer Products has opened a flagship studio store in Macau — its second such store in Greater China — with a grand-opening ceremony attended by local celebrities, Tweety, Batman and a host of Looney Tunes characters. The 300-square-meter shop occupies part of the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center and is operated by Cartoon Matters, which has been granted the rights to open and operate Warner Bros. Studio Stores in Macau.

'Heaven' in Shepard's sights

Sam Shepard is attached to star in "Descending From Heaven: The Strange and Extraordinary Tale of Claude Eatherly, A-Bomb Pilot" for director Sandy Smolan and producer Marcia Nasatir (HR 10/19). The $10 million period biopic will recount the story of the pilot who flew the reconnaissance B-29 that gave the OK to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. Shepard will play the pilot's father, who eventually had to commit his son to a veteran's psychiatric hospital.

Eurocinema, First Run pact for VOD

Eurocinema, an on-demand video service featuring European theatrical films, has signed an exclusive deal with independent film distributor First Run Features that will make premier titles from its catalog available to foreign-film lovers across North America via video-on-demand starting in December (HR 10/18). First Run titles debuting on Eurocinema in December will be "La Petite Lili," "Go for Zucker," "Merci pour le chocolat" and "Kira's Reason."