Softening the blow ... Channel Seven has agreed to change the name of an upcoming program, Good Christian Bitches, to GCB. Above, cast members of Good Christian Belle.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has ruled the Seven Network breached part of the broadcast code with its new promos for the charmingly titled coming drama Good Christian Bitches. Some promos featured a blonde woman, dressed in skin-tight hotpants with a live python and the words ''Good Christian Bitches'', were shown during last November's The X-Factor finale, before 8.30pm. Complaints came - one from the Christian group Family Voice Australia - and the authority has ruled the station breached part of the code which stipulates promos should not contain ''coarse language other than of a very mild nature''. The show will go ahead, Seven said, but as in America where similar lobby groups protested, it will get a name change. ''GCB, as it has been promoted here for the past six months consistent with its name and marketing in the US, will be broadcast later this year,'' Seven's Simon Francis said. Family Voice Australia's Ros Phillips said: ''We were deeply disturbed by Seven's former use of the abusive term 'Christian bitches', which, if regularly promoted by Seven day after day, could have been taken up as a weapon by school bullies to ridicule and humiliate girls in their class who profess a Christian faith.'' In the US, the show screened under the name Good Christian Belles. However, it has since been cancelled.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
LOVE means never having to say you're sorry, or so wrote a late Yale classics professor, Erich Segal. But it can cost plenty. An eastern suburbs husband shelled out more than $3500 to tell his wife he loved her yesterday. ''Maya I'm sorry'' appeared in the clear blue sky above Coogee Beach after lunch. Skywriting Australia's Rob Vance confirmed it was for a contrite husband. ''But decency and courtesy demands he should remain anonymous,'' he said. The words of reconciliation lasted about an hour before a southerly blew it away. ''The bloke wanted to put it up on Saturday but the weather was too bad to do it, '' Vance said.
Thumbs up ... Alps (above) was awarded best film at the Sydney Film Festival.
ONE FOR THE BIRDS
SINCE Pyotr Tchaikovsky first composed his ballet score in 1875, the story of a princess turned into a swan by a curse has been reinterpreted countless times. Now a French dance company is putting on a show in Paris involving live swans. Not unexpectedly, they've called it Swan. ''The idea is to recreate a new world where communication could [be] possible between living creatures,'' said Luc Petton, the choreographer. ''And specially, birds and dancers are like cousins for me because both of them are dealing with movement, with migration and with international language and they are both very fragile. It is the dancers becoming wild - maybe as wild as the swan.''
The production has been in the works for two years. A zoo offered the dance company eggs, and when the swans hatched, birds and humans began to bond. Giullome Abrias, the company's birdkeeper, explained that the divas on the stage are not necessarily all dancers. ''Swans are moody birds,'' Abrias said. ''This morning, for instance, one of the swans sucked very strongly the leg of one of the dancers.'' Dancers have to contend with more than just the occasional pecking. ''If you are working in this performance, you cannot be afraid of rolling on droppings or touching dirty things,'' said one dancer. ''We have done a lot of imitation process - like spending hours imitating them … we just spend time with them, feeding, sleeping, playing, swimming - some of us also slept with them.'' If you'd like to see the swans in action, you can see this amusing video.
Members of the Sydney Film Festival jury including (from left) Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Rachel Ward and Boyd Van Hoeij (with at right, the festival director, Nashen Moodley).
HOW many film festivals can a state take? The team behind the six-year-old Dungog Film Festival in the Hunter Valley are not only planning the first Cockatoo Island Film Festival this year but are launching one in Dubbo as well. Yes, that rural city will get a program of Australian films and a ''carnival of the animals'' street parade during an expanded arts festival in September. But first comes the Dungog event, which opens with the new Australian romantic comedy Not Suitable For Children on June 29. The festival's director, Allanah Zitserman, told Garry Maddox that it will also have a street parade with a Red Dog theme. ''There's going to be hundreds of dogs,'' she said. For lovers of the hit movie, a highlight will be a Red Dog lookalike competition. And once movie lovers are over the Sydney Film Festival and the coming Spanish, Iranian, Israeli, Italian and no doubt a few other film extravaganzas, the Cockatoo Island festival debuts on Sydney Harbour in October.
BIG DAY FOR … A REAL GREEK WINNER
Buffy ... the online journal Slayage has a vast archive of theoretical explorations into the teenage vampire slayer.
AMID the gloom of Greece's economic and political crisis, one of its directors provided reason to celebrate yesterday. The black comedy Alps won the Sydney Film Festival competition for ''courageous, audacious and cutting-edge'' cinema. Yorgos Lanthimos's film tells of a secret society paid to replace the dearly deceased to help relatives and friends deal with grief. A jury headed by the actress-director Rachel Ward awarded the $60,000 prize to Alps ahead of the favourite, the US's Beasts of the Southern Wild. Ward told the Herald's Garry Maddox Alps was ''a finely calibrated absurdist study of power and identity'' that ''melds pathos, black humour and taut menace''. Lanthimos, whose Dogtooth was nominated for the best foreign language Oscar last year, heard the news on waking with a fever in London, where he is working on two films. ''It was like a pleasant painkiller,'' he said. The festival finished last night with record ticket sales of $1.29 million — up 10 per cent on last year. It was director Nashen Moodley's first festival and the chief executive, Leigh Small, said 122,000 people went to paid and free sessions. The Australian Documentary Prize went to Killing Anna, a film about how director Paul Gallasch dealt with a relationship break-up by holding a funeral for his ex-girlfriend. Actress-director Mirrah Foulkes won the Rouben Mamoulian Award as best short film director for Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke. Best live-action short went to Michael Spiccia's Yardbird, and best animation to Christopher Kezelos's The Maker.
STAY IN TOUCH ...
WITH THE END OF THE WORLD
On a roll ... Julian.
IT'S hard being God. Even a virtual god, one video gamer in the US has found, with his self-made universe seemingly hell-bent on destruction no matter what he does to try and save it. The player, who goes by the name Lycerius, has been beavering away at the computer game Civilisation II for more than 10 years trying to build a utopia for his virtual people to enjoy. The premise of the game is for the player to take a a small village in 4000BC and make various decisions to expand and industrialise it by constructing buildings, developing technologies with the end goal to build a civilisation that can rule everything within 6000 years. Lycerius tried that, but couldn't quite get it to work, so he kept going for another 2000 (virtual) years, watching as his world's ice caps melted 20 times due to nuclear wars, 90 per cent of the population died, and all the cities he'd helped build crumbled. All he really wants is peace, he wrote on the internet website Reddit, so he's asking for help. ''The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation,'' he said. ''I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always overrule me.'' He's allowing fellow gamers to play a saved file in a bid to crowd-source a solution. If it works, we just might wind up with a blueprint to save the world.
WITH A BLOODY STUDY
THE ever popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not just a slightly odd television show about a high school student who hunts the undead, a new study has found. More than almost any other pop culture property, the series and its assorted spin-offs have been the basis of American PhD papers, according to the American media analyst site, Slate. A rummage through the largest repositories of film and culture studies showed the 144-episode Buffy series from The Avengers director (and writer) Joss Whedon had more than twice as many research papers, essays in scholarly journals and books printed by university presses devoted to it than the Alien films, The Wire, The Matrix trilogy and even The Simpsons. "There is so much written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's bone-breakingly weird," said Gary Handman, media centre director at the University of California, Berkeley. "Oddly, Mad Men doesn't have a lot written about it." For those who can't get enough of vampire slaughtering, the sociological, psychological and philosophical dissections of Buffy have been coalesced into the online journal called Slayage.
WITH FLICKERFEST'S FAVOURITE
A SHORT film about a young Julian Assange and his drive to discover the truth no matter the consequences has won the 2012 Flickerfest Audience Award for most popular film. Julian, produced, written and directed by Matthew Moore and co- produced by Robert Jago, had its world premiere at Flickerfest in January and won the special jury prize, before going on to win the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. ''We're on a bit of a roll!'' Moore said. ''A lot of the people who are doing quite well overseas right now have had successes at Flicker, so I'm hoping this will get us to the right people as well.'' One of the right people to have seen the film already is the man who lent his name to the whole idea, Julian Assange. ''It wasn't something we planned,'' Moore said. ''We were pretty tight with our copies, but somehow one ended up in the hands of Assange's lawyer, who took it to London and showed him, and by all accounts, he enjoyed it.''