week in review digest


Score one for Morricone at the Oscars

Ennio Morricone, who has composed more than 300 motion picture scores during a 45-year career, will receive an honorary Oscar from the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (HR 12/14).The honor will be presented Feb. 25 at the 79th Annual Academy Awards "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." Morricone has been nominated five times for best original score — for "Days of Heaven" (1978), "The Mission" (1986), "The Untouchables" (1987), "Bugsy" (1991) and "Ma-lena" (2000) — but has never taken home an Oscar. He is best known for his work on such Italian films as Sergio Leone's spaghetti Western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and the epic gangster tale "Once Upon a Time in America" as well as Giuseppe Tornatore's "Cinema Paradiso."

Venice fest slims down lineup for '07

ROME — A newly streamlined version of the Venice Film Festival is scheduled to take place Aug. 29-Sept. 8, organizers said Wednesday. The 64th edition of the event — which will mark the 75th anniversary of the original festival on Venice's famed Lido — will include fewer films than the 2006 edition (HR 12/14). On tap are 20 in-competition films, compared with 22; eight out-of-competition films, compared with nine; five midnight selections rather than seven; and 18 films in the Horizons documentary sidebar instead of 19. The festival has added an additional prize — the Golden Lion 75 "prize for excellence" — and will host a special retrospective dedicated to the spaghetti Western.

Hathaway on board thriller

Anne Hathaway has a ticket to star in "Passengers," a supernatural thriller being produced and financed by Mandate Pictures (HR 12/14). Rodrigo Garcia is directing the movie, which Columbia Pictures will release domestically. The film centers on a grief counselor (Hathaway) who helps six plane crash survivors and develops a special connection with one of them. When the survivors begin to disappear mysteriously, she suspects a conspiracy and becomes determined to uncover the truth.

Vivendi keeps stake in NBC Universal

Contrary to speculation, Vivendi said Thursday that it has decided against selling its remaining 20% stake in NBC Universal, though it did announce modified terms of its holdings (HR 12/15). The Paris-based company, which once had majority control of Universal Studios before selling most of its interest to General Electric, maintains a right to demand an initial public offering of NBC Universal. GE keeps its right to call Vivendi's interest in NBC Uni. Also, the timeline on those respective rights has been extended, officials said. Vivendi now will be able to demand an IPO during any November until 2016, and GE will be able to exercise a call option on Vivendi's interest each May through 2017. The new terms also maintain an annual floor price on Vivendi's NBC Uni stake valuation of $8.3 billion, and they boost from $3 million to $4 million how much Vivendi can reap from a sale of shares in any year. The earliest Vivendi could now signal its intent to cash out is November, but such a transaction could not be executed until 2008. The most it could reap from the sale in '08 would be $4 million.