Off Beat

Sauce, Lies, and Videotape

BELIEVE IT OR not, Vice President Al Gore's July 29 campaign visit to the Twin Cities actually generated some controversy. Informed late that afternoon that there'd be no further photo ops before the evening's fundraiser, most local news crews missed out on the Veep's impromptu stop at Minneapolis's annual downtown meat frenzy, Ribfest. Footage of a rib-flipping Gore turned out to be a hot property. KSTP-TV (Channel 5) news director Scott Libin, whose station did happen to be on the scene to capture the moment for posterity, says he subsequently got a frantic call from a campaign staffer in Washington, D.C., asking him to share his footage with the other local news outlets. When he declined, Libin says, the Gorester spun him a "random, imaginary scenario" about how one of the other news vans had broken down when the driver had a seizure. A Gore aide explains the situation this way: When Gore's folks told the press corps the vice president was heading straight for the fundraiser, they didn't realize he'd change plans en route. They did ask KSTP to share its tape, the aide admits, but it was the station's prerogative to refuse. KTCA-TV (Channel 2), which was also there to document the meat-eating goings-on, was more amenable, sharing its tape with WCCO-TV (Channel 4).

You Read It Here First

OFF BEAT GOT curious when we overheard the word "vomit" as we were heading out for more popcorn during a recent screening of The Blair Witch Project at the Lagoon Cinema. And indeed, "People have been throwing up on the floor in the theater and then just leaving without telling anyone," a Lagoon staffer named Michel tells us. She estimates that 20 people per show were vomiting during the sold-out run at the Lagoon's sister house, the Uptown, and says the two theaters have averaged two in-house pukers per sold-out screening. "But at the Uptown most of the people who got sick would leave the theater house and throw up in the trash cans outside the door," she imparts. Like most art-theater staffers, Michel boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of film, in particular the obscure category known as Movies That Induce Vomiting. Breaking the Waves, which featured jerky camera work like Blair Witch's, was one. Though Michel predicted that Celebration, a handheld work from Denmark, would get a rise out of the barfometer, hardly anyone came to see it. Then there was the ipecac of all hurl movies, The Exorcist, whose noises-from-a-slaughterhouse soundtrack had to be changed because viewers were losing their Milk Duds. Michel can't supply an estimated local Exorcist vomit count, though--the Lagoon wasn't around then, and the Uptown's cleanup records don't date back that far.

Tell the Gentleman What He's Won

IF YOU'RE A careful reader of either of this town's dailies, you know that the lawsuit the Artist Formerly Known as Prince filed against the Swedish fanzine UPTOWN--the one Andrew Carter detailed in a Browser column awhile back ("The People Formerly Known As Fans," June 23)--has been settled. The Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press ran brief stories on July 30 noting that UPTOWN had, among other things, agreed to stop trafficking in discographies of bootleg Prince recordings. Both stories were suitably neutral in tone. The same, however, cannot be said for an August 5 Reuters piece on the subject, which was headlined "Artist Formerly Known As Prince Wins Settlement" and which referred to the settlement as a "favorable legal outcome" for Prince. Predictably, since the Yahoo! news service posted the Reuters story--which is also prominently featured on Prince's own site, www.love4oneanother.com--postings on fan sites have been dripping with vitriol. "This is a victory for P? Pulllleeeeeeeze!!!!" reads the heading of one posting. "Talk about LYING--this one tops it all," reads another. Says Alex Hahn, UPTOWN's lawyer: "UPTOWN is viewing the settlement as an unequivocal victory. Prince set out to shut down the magazine and he clearly failed." The agreement to stop publishing discographies of bootlegs, Hahn says, is an extremely minor concession. "UPTOWN would have agreed to these terms without any lawsuit being filed, but for some reason Prince decided to enter an expensive, drawn-out legal battle that gained him nothing but a bunch of bad publicity." Furthermore, according to Hahn, Reuters's assertion that the magazine will "immediately stop using his likeness and his copyrighted materials for any purposes other than those that are editorial" is patently false.

 
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