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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


AP: "Jack Valenti Dead at 85"

And God won't divulge who reviewed Valenti's life, either

From Yahoo AP comes the news of Jack Valenti's death:

Film lobbyist Jack Valenti dies at 85

By DAVID GERMAIN, AP Movie Writer Fri Apr 27, 3:10 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - Jack Valenti was not just Hollywood's top lobbyist. He was one of its biggest stars. The 85-year-old Valenti, who died Thursday of complications from a stroke in March, led the movie industry out of the prudishness of old Hollywood and into an age of freer expression with the creation of the film rating system that has endured nearly 40 years.

The former White House aide went from politics to show business, overseeing the Motion Picture Association of America with eloquence, bullheadedness and flair.

Valenti was a passionate envoy, deflecting criticism of Hollywood with wit and humility, fostering its interests overseas and fiercely combating threats to the industry such as film piracy.

"In a very real sense, he was the ultimate leading man," said Dan Glickman, Valenti's successor as head of the MPAA.

A former aide to Lyndon Johnson who was in the motorcade the day President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Valenti went from Beltway insider to Hollywood baron when he took over the MPAA in 1966.

His impact on American culture was almost immediate. Recognizing that the industry had outgrown the morality code regulating movie content since the 1930s, Valenti replaced it with a ratings system that survives today with its G, PG, PG-13 and R designations.

Valenti's ratings system "enabled the industry to give parents the information they need to make appropriate decisions for their children while at the same time eliminating the possibility of government censorship from the content of the movies," said John Fithian, who heads the National Association of Theatre Owners.

The ratings system has its critics, but Valenti always defended it as an example of democracy in action.

Without it, films might have been subject to government censorship, so it ensured freedom of expression for moviemakers, Valenti said. And, he said, the ratings designations gave fair warning to audiences about content they might prefer to skip.

"While I believe that every director, studio has the right to make the movies they want to make, everybody else has a right not to watch it," Valenti told The Associated Press shortly before his retirement in 2004. "All we do is give advance cautionary warnings and say this is what we think is in this movie."

More than anyone, this man was responsible for the entrenchment of the existing distribution system that now exists to promote major product to the exclusion of all others. He and his team used the MPAA to shore up the studios at the expense of independent producers. They did it using the cover of dopey housewives and petulant industry washouts as "reviewers" while always being overseen and manipulated by studio / industry tentacles.

Watch "This Film is Not Yet Rated" for a good look at the MPAA and its bizarre, secretive operations in the Valley.

- posted by Jim in LA

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