Ad 15

Publication(s): 
Variety
Date of first publication: 
2003-03-24T00:00:00
Headline: 
And the losers are...
Parent companies in ad: 
Text: 
And the losers are: Michael Eisner of the Walt Disney Company oversaw the release of more smoking movies - and more youth-rated smoking movies - than any other media boss in 2002: almost a quarter of all those produced. Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966. Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who between them managed to produce seven smoking movies (one R, six youth-rated) for DreamWorks SKG in 2002 - and not a single film without smoking. (See studio rankings.) Rob Marshall for Chicago (Miramax), smokiest youth-rated film of 2002. Did he know that Maurine Dallas Watkins, who covered Roxie Hart's trial in Chicago and wrote the 1926 hit play, died of lung cancer in 1969? Whatever their other talents and virtues, the people mentioned above personify Hollywood's blind spot when it comes to on-screen smoking and the havoc it causes worldwide. Individual directors, producers, and studio chiefs may find it easy to explain or excuse smoking scenes in their own productions. But a survey of Hollywood's 2002 output shows why global health authorities have concluded that, like the haunting video in The Ring, these films will keep killing for decades to come. On-screen smoking moves adolescents to smoke. Controlling for every other variable - including smoking friends and family members - the more smoking incidents kids see in movies and videos, the more likely they are to start smoking. This is fact, not conjecture. The scientific evidence is endorsed by the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, L.A. County's own Department of Health Services, and others. All want the film industry to stop promoting tobacco. Why hasn't the industry adopted responsible, voluntary solutions? Perhaps it's because Big Tobacco's Hollywood connection goes back as far as the movies. Glamour shots on-screen and paid endorsements off-screen began early. They contributed to a 300% increase in smoking among U.S. women between the 1920s, when the original Chicago was filmed by the DeMille organization, and the early 1940s, when Ginger Rogers reprised the role of Roxie Hart. That generation of actors paid an agonizing price for the promotional collaborations between studios and tobacco companies. So have their audiences. Today, tobacco kills more Americans than violent crime, car crashes, illegal drugs, alcohol, suicide, and AIDS combined. No wonder tobacco ads have been legally barred from the nation's airwaves since 1973. And that paid product placement by tobacco companies is explicitly prohibited by the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and forty-six state attorneys general. Yet smoking in the movies has doubled since 1990, when tobacco firms supposedly gave up paying for placement. Smoking's screen-time in PG13 films has increased 50% since the Master Settlement Agreement. What gives? If studio heads are giving free plugs to a much richer industry, they're stupid. If they're getting anything back for promoting smoking, from in-kind gifts to off-shore financing, they're corrupt. One thing's for sure. They can't be doing it out of ignorance. Not anymore. Number of Smoking Movies* 1. Walt Disney 27 2. AOL TimeWarner 25 3. Sony 15 4. News Corp. (Fox) 12 Vivendi Universal 12 5. MGM 9 6. Viacom (Paramount) 8 7. DreamWorks SKG 7 Percent of Studio's Releases 1. DreamWorks SKG 100% 2. MGM 89% 3. Vivendi Universal 80% 4. Walt Disney 77% 5. Sony 71% 6. News Corp. (Fox) 70% 7. AOL TimeWarner 69% 8. Viacom (Paramount) 60% Youth Releases With Smoking 1. DreamWorks SKG 100% 2. MGM 80% 3. Sony 77% 4. Vivendi Universal 73% 5. Walt Disney 68% 6. Viacom (Paramount) 67% 7. News Corp. (Fox) 64% 8. AOL TimeWarner 59% 2002 movie survey at SmokeFreeMovies.ucsf.edu
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