Vila Vilified? - Bob Vila, who's made millions
hawking home improvement tips to the masses, could
be in a heap 'o trouble. Vila's website (BobVila.com) has
come under scrutiny for alleged violations of the federal
Can-Spam law which went into effect earlier this year.
A lawsuit filed today in federal court on behalf of
Hypertouch, a Foster City, Calif., Internet Service
Provider, alleges that BlueStreamMedia, Sacramento,
and BVWebTies, Boston, which owns BobVila.com,
violated the Can-Spam law by sending Hypertouch
customers unsolicited and unwanted email ads for
Vila's "Home Again Newsletter." The suit may well be
the first filed alleging violations of the Can-Spam law.
The suit alleges that BobVila.com sent email with
fraudulent headers and that it distributed email to
randomly generated and harvested addresses. "The
Can-Spam Act provides only the most minimal
protections to the public," said Hypertouch President
and Founder Joe Wagner in a press release. "But
BobVila.com and BlueStream Media failed to observe
even those." The suit alleges that the defendants sent
spam email ads with fraudulent headers and no legally
required physical address. They also sent email to
randomly generated and harvested addresses, and to
addresses that had been submitted to the "opted-out"
links of other spam.
If the allegations bear out, Vila's empire could become a
landmark example of how not to run a web business.
Vila has become a fairly popular brand of mainstream
America, peddling household how-tos to do-it-
yourselfers. He's considered a trusted voice on the
domestic fix-it scene even if he is a shil for Sears. If it
turns out that his home improvement empire isn't Can-
Spam compliant, think of how many other web
businesses aren't - or is this just a red herring? It
remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, the legal
eagles' fangs are out and ready to lay into alleged Can-
NOTE TO LES MOONVES - Rubber-
stamp "Amish in the City." It'll be UPN's biggest hit. How
do we know, because the story on the show getting
mired in Viacom's development process broke a new
record in terms of Web traffic.
They won't share the precise numbers with us, but
they tell us it's about "30 times" the number of hits
they normally get for their stories. At first we were
wondering whether it was all those Amish people out
their going online to read the story, but then we
All we can conclude is that there is a lot of pent up
interest in the Shaker set. We'll definitely be
watching. "Witness" and "Kingpin" are two of our
NEW YORK (CBS.MW) -- How the mighty have
Who would have thought that the once powerful but
now pitiful Martha Stewart would be convicted by a
jury of her peers and face the prospect of prison?
Who would have thought that so many other previously
unassailable executives face much the same fate?
Or that so many corporate pooh-bahs are having their
power stripped away?
There is, for instance, the arrogant Michael Eisner,
Disney's (DIS: news, chart, profile) mouseketeer in
chief for the past 20 years, fighting for his corporate
life. A stunning 43 percent of the votes cast at the
annual meeting this past week called for him to be
thrown off the board of directors, the very same pliant
body that he previously had played like a flute. Eisner
did manage to remain a director and the CEO -- at
least for now -- but he was dumped as chairman of the
Their misdeeds were different in style and severity, but
Stewart and Eisner had much in common and much that
we could learn from. Each of them had begun to think
that they were perfect, that they could do no wrong,
that they were invincible. Martha and Mike and just
about all the high executives who have been humbled
and humiliated lately are the poster kids for one trait:
hubris. Alas, many organizations and executives suffer
There are some lessons to be learned here. For
· the trees do not grow to the skies.
· the people (or the shareholders) will take only so
much, and then they will rebel.
· it is wise to be nice (or at least correct) to
everybody when you're on your way up. They are the
same people you will pass by when you're on your way
down. (They may even become prosecution witnesses.)
· and an especially important message drawn from the
fate of Ms. Stewart: Always, but always, tell the truth.
There is nothing that law enforcement officers, or the
public at large, hate more than dissembling. If there is
bad news to report, be sure that you are the one who
reports it, that you report it fast and that you report it
Martha Stewart's syndicated television show, "Martha
Stewart Living," has been pulled from CBS's New York
affiliate following the domestic maven's stock
Paramount Names New Movie Marketing Czar
Gerry Rich was named to president-worldwide motion
picture marketing for the Motion Picture Group of
Paramount Pictures from president-worldwide marketing
and co-president of United Artists at MGM-UA. He
succeeds Arthur Cohen, who left Paramount to become
a consultant in September.
Teachers = Terrorists? Last month, President
Bush's Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, called
America's largest teachers' union a "terrorist
organization." Why? Because the union had the gall to
insist that President Bush live up to his own promises to
adequately fund education.
GRAY LADIES WITH RED FACES -- Ordinarily,
intrepid reporting is associated with the efforts that go
into writing Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, not reporting
on the prizes themselves. But that's just what trade
mag Editor & Publisher seems to have accomplished. At
least that's what it's telling its readers in a story that
purports to lead the finalists for this year's Pulitzers.
Unfortunately, E&P is a magazine and does not qualify
for the prestigious newspaper awards.
A publication that was eligible, but is noticeably light in
this year's nominations is the New York Times. The Gray
Lady is in contention for the relatively lightweight
categories of "commentary" and "editorial" and secured
a nomination for "investigative reporting," but was
otherwise absent most of the hard news categories
that it normally dominates.
Could this be backlash to the whole Jayson Blair affair?
Unclear. But what is clear is that the Pulitzer judges
appear to have shifted their allegiances from the East
Coast's Times to the West Coast's. The Los Angeles
Times led this year's pack with nine nominations,
followed by The Washington Post and The Wall Street
Journal, with four each.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Based on what is being called a true story, HIDALGO
opens with the battle at Wounded Knee where half-
breed soldier Hopkins struggles with his conscience as
he fights for the Americans and mourns for the Natives.
Whether or not you like HIDALGO will depend on a
couple of factors. Mainly how much you like horses, and
just how true you expect your "true stories" to be.
But HIDALGO is a big screen adventure movie, not a
documentary. So, how does it stack up on that count?
It's long on adventure and short on logic, but kudos
must be given to the filmmakers for making a horse
movie that really celebrates the horse.
HIDALGO is beautifully photographed and the story is
well-told, but the music score falls a little flat. Rightly
rated PG-13, HIDALGO is a bit too brutal to be
wholesome family fare, yet it shies away from being
fully geared toward an adult audience.
Starsky & Hutch
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
When the two discover a body that's washed up on the
shore, their investigation initially leads them to local
wealthy businessman Reese Feldman (VINCE VAUGHN).
Little do they know that he and his assistant, Kevin
(JASON BATEMAN), have developed a new form of
cocaine that's undetectable to drug sniffing dogs or
even human taste.
The movie isn't quite as laugh out loud funny as I was
expecting, but it does have a few really funny
moments. A scene where Starsky & Hutch interview a
prison inmate played by Will Ferrel is absolutely
hilarious. I don't want to ruin it, but he makes our
heroes do some pretty bizarre things before he'll give
Who will see it? A= fans of anyone in the cast or spoof-
like comedies, they just might.
Wide Releases - Opening today
The Girl Next Door (R)
Secret Window (PG-13)
Johnny Depp stars
Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (PG)
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience
Kiefer Sutherland (narrator), Jeff Gordon
Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy
UPCOMING MOVIES- March 19, 2004
Dawn of the Dead
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer,
Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Ty Burrell, Jayne Eastwood,
Michael Kelly, Jake Weber, Kevin Zegers
Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Webber and Mekhi
Phifer head an ensemble cast in a re-envisioning of
George Romero's apocalyptic horror classic, "Dawn of
the Dead". An unexplained plague has decimated the
world's population and yet...the dead aren't dying.
They've become zombies, stalking endlessly in a
constant quest to feed on the flesh and blood of the
few remaining living. A ragtag group of desperate
survivors in a Wisconsin town seek refuge in a large
indoor mall, where they must learn not only to protect
themselves from the ever-increasing zombie horde, but
also to co-exist with each other as a last bastion of
humanity. Sealed off from the rest of what used to be
the world, the group uses every available resource
(both within and without) in their against-all-odds fight
to remain alive and human.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Studio: Focus Features
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Victor
Rasuk, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood
Joel (Carrey) is stunned to discover that his girlfriend
Clementine (Winslet) has had her memories of their
tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he
contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard
Mierzwiak (Wilkinson), to have Clementine removed from
his own memory. But as Joel's memories progressively
disappear, he begins to rediscover their earlier passion.
From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel
attempts to escape the procedure. As Dr. Meirzwiak
and his crew (Dunst, Ruffalo, Wood) chase him through
the maze of his memories, it's clear that Joel just can't
get her out of his head.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer
Sutherland, Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean
Hugues Anglade, Gena Rowlands
A top FBI profiler, Special Agent Illeana Scott (Jolie)
doesn't rely on traditional crime-solving techniques to
unravel the mysteries of a murderous mind. Her
intuitive, unconventional approach often makes the
crucial difference between catching a killer and sending
a dead-end case to the cold file. When Montreal
detectives handling a local homicide investigation
reluctantly ask for an outsider's help to get inside the
head of a cunning serial killer, Agent Scott joins the
case. With meticulous insight, she theorizes that the
chameleon-like killer is "life-jacking" - assuming the lives
and identities of his victims. As the pressure mounts to
catch the elusive murderer, Agent Scott's unorthodox
methods alienate her from a territorial police team that
feels threatened by her uncanny abilities. Her seemingly
cold demeanor belies an unparalleled passion for her
work, and she's at her best when she's working alone.
But when an unexpected attraction sparks a
complicated romantic entanglement, the consummate
specialist begins to doubt her finely-honed instincts.
Alone in an unfamiliar city with no one she can trust,
Agent Scott suddenly finds herself on a twisted and
terrifying journey, surrounded by suspects in a case
that has become chillingly personal.