Morning Report - News from Oct. 24, 1998



‘Armageddon’ Alive: Russia’s State Cinematography Committee on Friday defended its decision not to ban “Armageddon,” starring Bruce Willis, which a parliamentary deputy has called anti-Russian. In the hit summer movie, in which Willis’ character saves the Earth from collision with a giant asteroid, a dilapidated Russian space station explodes because of a leaky pipe. And a very eccentric Russian cosmonaut, who wears a fur hat in space, repairs computers by hitting them with a huge wrench. The State Duma, parliament’s lower house, voted Oct. 9 to demand an explanation from the cinematography committee after Alexei Mitrofanov, a deputy from the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, said the film mocked Russian technology. Committee head Armen Medvedev said in a written reply that authorities could interfere with creative work only in cases of “propaganda to war, destruction and cruelty; racial, national, religious, class or other intolerance or exclusivity; or pornography.” He added that the Russian cosmonaut, through “goodness, willingness for self-sacrifice, resourcefulness and manfulness, more than once saves the American crew and the entire world.” Some changes were made in the Russian-language dialogue of the officially released dubbed version of the film, but Mitrofanov was not appeased.


Score One for Arthur Miller: In a British survey, attempting to identify the most significant English-language plays of the 20th century, America’s Arthur Miller received more votes than any other writer, and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” received more than any other play. Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” placed second in the survey by England’s Royal National Theatre of more than 800 theater professionals and journalists. The rest of the Top 10, in order: Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” Miller’s “The Crucible,” a tie between Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” and Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and a tie between Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” and Harold Pinter’s “The Caretaker.” Despite the American presence at the top of the list, only 19 of the top 100 were by Americans.


‘Early’ Criticism: A Los Angeles Asian American group has criticized CBS for including a racial slur in the fall season’s first episode of “Early Edition.” The Media Action Network for Asian Americans said it was offended by the word “Chinaman” used by angry neighbors against a Chinese American grocer--played by George Takei, better known as Lt. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series. “To allow the unchallenged use of this term . . . is inexcusable,” group co-founder Guy Aoki wrote to CBS. “The message to viewers is that ‘Chinaman’ is an acceptable term that can be used to refer to people of Chinese descent.” The episode aired Sept. 26. Media Acts wants the word edited out of future broadcasts. CBS spokesman Chris Ender said he didn’t know if the network would change the episode: “The character who used the term in the episode was clearly portrayed as ignorant by presenting him in an unflattering manner. We believed it was clear that such behavior was inappropriate.”