Forced Entertainment - Tim on Sun, 14 Apr 2002 23:13:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> copyright the view from your window now

Ad man vs Spiderman in NY billboard battle

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Saturday April 13, 2002
The Guardian 
  It takes a lot to tarnish the reputation of Spiderman. Thanks to his
superhuman ability to shoot webs from his hands and scale skyscrapers, the
public-spirited Marvel comics superhero is credited with doing an even
better job than Mayor Rudy Giuliani in eliminating New York crime. But now
he appears entangled in a legal web of his own devising.
  A lawsuit filed in Manhattan accuses Columbia Pictures, producers of the
new Spiderman movie, of digitally manipulating shots of Times Square to
block out an advert for Samsung, arch-rivals of Sony, which owns Columbia.
  Sherwood Outdoor, which controls the illuminated billboards and plasma
screens on the 2 Times Square building - otherwise known as the
Renaissance Hotel - says Columbia replaced the Samsung logo with a USA
Today advert in the movie trailer, and with a plug for the phone company
Cingular in the TV version.
  "Our client feels that they have a property right, they own the signage,
and for someone else to come along and change the image is inappropriate
when the scene is otherwise depicted as how it really is," Sherwood's
lawyer, Anthony Costantini, said yesterday.
  His concerns over the film's realism did not extend to the fact that the
lead character gleans magical powers after being bitten by a radioactive
spider. Both companies refused to comment.
  In fact, it is something of a miracle that the film - starring Tobey
Maguire as Spiderman, out on May 3 - ever got made, due to understandable
fears among the makers that plots involving tall buildings might be in
poor taste.
  Although this is thought to be the first case of a lawsuit being brought
for digital manipulation of a fictional movie, it is not the first time
Sherwood has responded angrily to misrepresentations of its ads.
  In 1999, during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, the CBS
television network superimposed its logo on a facade owned by Sherwood to
cover one for its rival, NBC. The CBS anchorman, Dan Rather, was later
forced to make a public apology on behalf of the network.

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