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CNN IN THE MONEY
Animated Films Draw A Diverse Crowd; What To Need To Retire Comfortably
Aired November 14, 2004 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From New York City, America's financial capital. This is IN THE MONEY.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty. Coming up on today's edition of IN THE MONEY:
Right hand to mouth: Evangelical Christians lifted the president to a second term. We're talk about what they might be expecting in return.
Plus, on alert: But a little less so with the terror threat level is lowered. Are we letting down our guard? We're going to find out about that.
And a genre for all generations: Animated films drawing in everyone from babies to boomers and old folks. We'll look at how the film business is changing.
Joining me today a couple IN THE MONEY veterans. CNN correspondent, Susan Lisovicz, and "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer.
So an unplanned event, which was Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, caused the FCC to grow some fangs and begin slapping heavy fines on folks when they put stuff on the air that they had questions about. There were 18 or 20 ABC affiliate stations around the country that preempted a planned event, which was the showing of the Oscar winning, and I think one of the great movies ever made, "Saving Private Ryan" on Veterans Day, as perhaps a bit of a protest. And there was quite a to-do made over their decision and whether the FCC intimidating folks and what do you guys think?
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE": Yeah, I don't understand why these ABC affiliates feel intimidated, I mean, what were they doing? What kind of statement were they trying to make? And this movie had been on TV two years in a row before that.
SERWER: So, why can't they do it? I think it's a larger question of -- you know, what movies are being made nowadays. For instance, think about this you guys, could someone make "Saving Private Ryan" today? Would the public have the appetite for it? Would Hollywood do that given the environment we're in? A lot of interesting questions.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was aired on Veterans Day and this nation is at war and I've said this before, my uncle Lenny is a survivor of D-Day a recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart and alive and well, thank goodness in Houston, Texas. It should be required viewing, that there are some things that, in context, are acceptable and the FCC said so, in writing, which I saw this week, two years ago. The FCC never says anything in advance of programming.
CAFFERTY: Of course not.
LISOVICZ: It doesn't censor. It says it reacts to complaints. Well there were some complaints a few years ago.
SERWER: Change the channel.
CAFFERTY: You got that remote, press that little button on there. Yeah.
SERWER: If you don't like it, change the channel. The last time I checked there were 500 channels out there. Right? I mean, there is 499 of them that aren't showing "Privte Ryan." OK, change it!
LISOVICZ: It would seem to me that this is a special event. It's in commemoration of Veteran's Day. There is -- there is a weekly viewing that would seem to be raising eyebrows, that if you're -- if you're going to mount an attack...
CAFFERTY: Of course.
LISOVICZ: To the FCC, that maybe there are other shows that should...
CAFFERTY: Would have much more gratuitous sex, violence, et cetera, et cetera. As far as I'm concerned, the ought to show "Saving Private Ryan" in the public schools in this county once a year and require every kid that goes to school to watch it. That's how important a story was to where we sit right now, here today.
Anyway, on to other things. President Bush calls his longtime political strategist, Karl Rove, the "Architect." And that nickname certainly seems fitting these days. Rove designed the plan to get many of the Evangelical voters who stayed in 2000 out to the polls this year. And don't you know that worked. It put the president back in the White House for another four years. But, Rove helped to build something else, too. A new language for political debate in this country. One with the strongest moral and religious overtones we've seen in some time. With the democrats apparently unable to keep up, we have now what some people are calling the "god gap" between red and blue politicians, but is religion the only way to talk about morales?
Joining us is Stephen Prothero, the chairman of the Religion Department at Boston University.
Stephen, nice have you with us.
STEPHEN PROTHERO, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Great to be here.
CAFFERTY: How is it the republicans have managed to co-op this whole religious idea and carve out an election victory on the impression that the votes for President Bush were from the people in this country who have morales?
PROTHERO: Well, they've been talking morals language and piety language for a good 30 or so years and I think that certainly helped, but this strategy, the church bus strategy that Karl Rove used so effectively in the past, in the South, has been used by republicans, has been taken on the road to other parts of the country to Ohio and to Iowa and to Nevada and places like that and really turning out the vote.
LISOVICZ: You know, Professor, I think there's been a lot of focus on Evangelicals and how President Bush received an overwhelming amount of support for that. But he also received support from some other areas, which may not have been so expected. For instance, Jews in Florida, Jewish voters did not vote for the democratic nominee, Senator Kerry. Catholics did not vote for Senator Kerry and Senator Kerry is a catholic. So he was getting support from other religions, as well. Why do you think that was the case?
PROTHERO: Well, I think this really was a faith-based election and it's misunderstood as purely a victory of the Evangelicals. I mean, one thing that happened here is that Bush spoke very effectively to all sorts of religious groups. He won mainline Protestants, he won Catholics which he failed to do last time around when Gore was running, and he did much better among Jews, he did much better among black Evangelicals, as well.
Basically, the only religious group that Bush failed to do well among, this time, was Muslims which isn't surprising. He lost the Muslim vote about nine -- nine out of 10 Muslims went for Kerry. And the other religious group, if you can call them religious, that mattered here, not mattered quite as much though, are the secularists, those people ones that never go to church and they went overwhelmingly for Kerry. But, they're teeny compared to those that go to church every week or go to religious services every week who went big for -- big for Bush this time, about a 22 percent factor in the "god gap," this time around.
SERWER: All right, Stephen, let me ask you a question. You live up in Boston, right?
PROTHERO: That's right. SERWER: OK, do democrats have moral values?
PROTHERO: Well, sure they do. That's one of the problems with democrats is that they have a hard time speaking about morales and faith and piety in public. It's as if -- it's as if these are bad words. And John Kerry and his people really didn't figure it out until the Democratic National Convention that they needed to start saying things like, Barack Obama said, you know, "We worship an awesome god in blue states." And I think there's a lot of -- there's a lot of truth to that. And there are -- there are people all across the country who are religious who will say -- you know, poverty is a religious issue, war is a religious issue, health care is a religious issue and who have ways to link those issues to broader values to things that they care about and even to god. But the democrats have done a poor job in making those links.
CAFFERTY: You know, there's an old expression that there's no such thing as a "free lunch" and a lot of people are scratching their heads wondering what form, if any, and I'm not suggesting there has to be one, but what form, if any, some sort of payback or "thank you" to the religious right in this country will take.
PROTHERO: Well, that waits to be seen. I mean, I think the most obvious concern that some people have or hope is overturning Roe v. Wade. I'm not sure that that's going to happen on the abortion front, I think perhaps what these voters are going to get is a little more of the same which is a lot of rhetoric and lot of promises about the fact that this is a country where values matter, where faith matters, and that that's coming out of the White House. And some people were voting, I think, merely for that, to have a man of faith in the White House, someone who they know gets down on his knees and prays and that makes them feel comfortable. That make them feel -- feel safe. And it isn't as if they are saying, "Well, we're going to get a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage." I'm not sure that it's the issues that are driving this election result as much as it is the broader values and broader concerns about who is this guy that's sitting in the White House.
LISOVICZ: But, do you not think it's realistic that a large percentage of these voters think that they have something coming to them in return, if it's not Roe v. Wade being overturned or a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, what will it be then?
PROTHERO: Well see, this is why the issues are overplayed. I think what they want is they want a culture where they're respected. They want a culture where they're not condescended to and they're not sneered at, like they are typically, frankly, where I live in Boston by most of the people who live around here.
I think that's lot of what they were voting for. It wasn't this is the issue, we hate stem cell research. I mean, I think that is part of it and they would like to see restrictions on stem cell research, but I think it is a broader matter it's a sense of, they're voting -- what they want for payback is a greater sense that they have a place in the country and that faith is not sneered at and their values are not sneered at. CAFFERTY: One of the many pundits I listened to post-election had an interesting observation. He said that the people who live on the East coast and the West coast and fly back and forth between those two locations, live in a much different worlds than the country beneath those airplanes that they fly over and that perhaps it was a giant miscalculation on the part of the democratic party thinking that the message coming from George W. Bush only had ears in the red states in the South where the religious extremist on the right side of the political spectrum live, that in fact, they're all over this country and that people, as you suggest, in the middle class adhere to a certain spirituality as part of being an American citizen.
PROTHERO: That's right, you don't have to be an Evangelical and you don't have to live in the South in order to care about these things.
CAFFERTY: Right. It has been a pleasure to have your thoughts on the program. We'll do this again. Stephen Prothero who is the chairman of the Department of Religion at Boston University. Thanks.
PROTHERO: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: We're going to step out for a minute, when we come back, the following:
Gauging the threat: The terror alert has been lowered, but does that mean we're safer from al-Qaeda?
Plus, a show for all ages: Animated films scoring big at the box office with kids and adults. Andy Serwer saw one of the real hot films, here in the last few days, he says it's terrific. We'll find out from him what the appeal is.
And flying high with "Halo 2": I have no idea what "Halo 2" is. Apparently a new videogame, though, that is likely to put Microsoft in very good graces with investors this holiday season. We'll explain why.
CAFFERTY: Well, in case you haven't heard or you happen to have gone colorblind this week, the terror threat level has been lowered to yellow for the entire country. That means there is now an elevated risk of an attack which is down from a high risk. So, does it mean we're winning the war on terror? Or that we're any safer (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Well let's find out.
Brian Jenkins is a terrorism expert with the Rand Corporation and he joins us on IN THE MONEY.
Brian, it's nice to have you with us.
BRIAN JENKINS, RAND CORPORATION: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Let me -- let me get your take on this -- this Osama bin Laden tape that surfaced right before the elections. The guy looked like a member of the democratic national committee in that thing except for the beard and the dress. I just wonder how you looked at that tape and what's he doing. Is he doing anything these days besides making handout videos, to your knowledge?
JENKINS: Well, bin Laden addresses us in a number of personas. He has the bin Laden dressed in fatigues carrying an AK-47, which is an appeal to the militants; he has bin Laden, sort of, the fierce Mullah berating the Muslim community for its substandard zeal, and he has bin Laden the statesman in which he addresses political issues and this last tape was bin Laden the statesman in which he addresses political -- political issues and this last tape was bin Laden the would-be statesman.
SERWER: Let me ask you a question, Brian. To the extent that al-Qaeda is a homogeneous entity, and there's some debate about that, obviously, what does al-Qaeda want? What are their goals?
JENKINS: I think it would be incorrect to think of it as a homogeneous entity
JENKINS: It's really -- it's a global enterprise that is composed of a number of, a galaxy of groups. They share -- they share certain religious beliefs, they share certain political goals beginning with the narrowest, they would like to drive the Americans out of Saudi Arabia, out of Afghanistan, out of the Middle East in general. They believe that Islam is on the defensive, backs to the wall. That they think they are the victims of Western aggression both in an actual sense of American troops being in the Middle East, as well as, being on the receiving end of an awesome, and to them, a hateful American culture.
LISOVICZ: And Brian, do you -- first of all, agree with these colors that tell us what kind of alert we should be on in terms of terrorists attacks and isn't it a fact of life that if al Qaeda wanted to do some sort of attack in the U.S., it would it's just that it doesn't do suicide bombings in general, it's much more spectacular.
JENKINS: Well, the fact is, keep this mind, the color-coded system is merely a way of communicating threat information, in short- hand fashion, to the 50 states, to the more than 18,000 police jurisdictions we have in this country, and to those in the private sector with security responsibilities. It's basically a way of telling them that, look, based upon the threat information we have now, it makes sense to take it up a -- to take it up a notch or to lower it a notch. It is -- it is not a statement about al-Qaeda's ability, at any moment, before the election or the week after the election, to carry out an attack in this country.
CAFFERTY: There are a couple of pieces of conventional wisdom I'd be interested in getting your take on. One is that Osama bin Laden is living in a cave somewhere in the mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, that most of his top lieutenants and commanders have been killed or captured by the coalition forces, and that because of that is unable to take an active role in the day-to- day running of this global terrorist's network.
The second one is that by fighting terrorists in Iraq, we are putting off and preventing the necessity of having to deal with them here in the United States and you can take those two in whatever order you want.
JENKINS: Well, let me take the second one first. It's an appealing idea that by fighting terrorists in Iraq we won't have to fight them here. But it doesn't hold up to analysis. It really rests upon three assumptions. One, is that there are a fixed -- there's a fixed number of terrorists and therefore if we kill or capture one in another place we won't have to do so here. We know that's not the case, that recruiting takes place on a worldwide basis and that their numbers are refelonished.
The second assumption is a geographic one that somehow the terrorists must get through Iraq in order to carry out attacks elsewhere. We know that is not the case.
The third assumption is that the terrorists will be so distracted by the conflict in Iraq that they won't have the time or the resources to carry out attacks elsewhere. Again, we have seen, since the invasion of Iraq, 20 months ago, 11 major terrorists operations from Spain to southeast Asia, they're running at the frequency of about one every 50 or 60 days somewhere on the planet and in 2004 that shows no signs of diminishing.
SERWER: Brian -- Brian, let me ask you, how best to fight al- Qaeda? How should we make them unappealing to potential recruits?
JENKINS: That is a -- that's a much more difficult challenge and that's the area where I think we have not done as well as we have, for example, in doing some of the things that we do best. I mean it was an obvious thing after 9-11 to go after the training camps in Afghanistan, to increase intelligence efforts, to launch a worldwide campaign aimed at destroying their leadership, destroying their capabilities to carry out an attack. But now we are at another stage in this contest where we have to think not simply about arresting another terrorists or shooting another terrorist, but rather breaking a system, a complete system that comprises operations which are meant to be recruiting posters, expanding a universe of beliefs, creating like-minded jihadists who then in turn will join this and become part of future terrorists operations.
LISOVICZ: Brian Jenkins is a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation. Thanks so much for your insight.
JENKINS: Thank you.
LISOVICZ: Coming up after the break:
A tough pill to swallow: News Corp makes plots to ward off a potential takeover. We'll take a look.
And stop dreaming about that beachfront condo in Florida. You're worse off than you think when it comes to savings. We'll tell you how to get back on track.
And a how-to guide for the romantically challenged: Pickup lines that could give your dating life a lift or drop it to new lows. That's on our "Fun Site of the Week."
LISOVICZ: Now let's take a look at the week's top stories in our "Money Minute." Alan Greenspan kept the rate tightening trend going by raising interest rates another quarter point. The strong jobs reports removed any doubt that there could be another hike. The fed says it's likely to keep raising rates for the foreseeable future.
There's mixed news on the oil front. A recent spike in oil prices seems to have ended as increased production has boosted supplies. World oil production is now a center The U.S. government thinks oil prices will remain higher than expected through next year with an expected average price of $47 a barrel.
And Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling wants his trial moved out of Houston. Skilling says he can't get a fair trial in the city where Enron collapsed. In a new poll many Houston residents called Skilling a "pig," a "crook," and an "economic terror."
SERWER: All right, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is back in the headlines just as the Fox empire looks to reincorporate in the U.S. The big news this week was the apparent creeping takeover bid by Liberty Media, but Liberty founder, John Malone says his company's move to buy more News Corp shares was a friendly move. Murdoch isn't taking any chances as they look to block a takeover with a number of moves. News Corp is our "Stock of the Week."
And you know, these two guys use to be friends, they worked together, John Malone and Rupert Murdoch, a couple biggies. Interesting also that point about News Corp incorporating in the United States was incorporate down in Adelaide down in Oz, Rupert Murdoch, of course, came from Australia.
SERWER: Now the company gets 75 percent of its revenues from the United States.
LISOVICZ: I think you have to be suspicious about any executive that says we're a large, happy, friendly shareholder. I mean, you immediately start to wonder why when you have two power houses like Rupert Murdoch and John Malone.
CAFFERTY: Well, and if there's any question about the friendship, Mr. Murdoch's company was very public about adopting the poison pill defense.
CAFFERTY: Which was, I would think, a clear and present signal to those who might want to acquire anymore stock, whether a friendly man or not.
LISOVICZ: Just another example of a large, happy, friendly family.
CAFFERTY: Of course.
SERWER: Well, I think, you know, this company -- Rupert Murdoch sees it as his own fiefdom. I mean, he's got the poison pill, he has two classes of stock. You can't take this thing over.
LISOVICZ: And he's got his children in on it.
SERWER: He has sons running about the empire.
SERWER: You know, they own Harper/Collins Books, the Fox Network here, and of course, the "New York Post" which we love those headlines, they splash out every morning...
LISOVICZ: Headless body atop a car...
SERWER: Yeah, and things like that. You know, so this is a big company. And what I think Rupert Murdoch did very successfully is he brought kind of journalism to the United States we never had before. Tabloids, sensationalism, also, let's face it, has a political orientation. And a lot of this brought from Europe and Australia, we've never had -- he was very successful. He's a U.S. citizen now, he's a grandpa, he's a dad. You know, he's kind of a character. A lot of people don't like this stuff.
LISOVICZ: And he's here to stay.
SERWER: Yeah, I think that's...
CAFFERTY: And part about the "New York Post" the headlines not only are clever, but in some cases quite tasteless as in marking the passing of Yasser Arafat with a front page on Friday of Arafat's widow under a big headline "The Arafat Lady Sings."
SERWER: Well, is that clever or tasteless?
CAFFERTY: Well, both.
SERWER: There you go.
CAFFERTY: There you go.
SERWER: I kind of thought it worked. It worked for me.
CAFFERTY: Yeah it was great.
LISOVICZ: Thank you -- thank you Jack. Much more to come on IN THE MONEY, the road to rich retirement and why you're not on it. We'll show you where you made a wrong turn.
Plus, hot ticket to "Polar Express" the latest animated hit to roll through town. Find out why movie goers young and old are lining up.
And Heaven sent: Microsoft is riding the wings of its hot new video release. What "Halo 2" could mean for X-Box sales this holiday season.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, IN THE MONEY: Hello I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Now in the news, former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas down played today's deadly shooting in Gaza as "something that just happened." Gunmen opened fire in a tent crowded with Yassar Arafats mourners. Abbas escaped injury but two security guards were killed. Abbas denies allegations that the gunman's action were politically motivated. Abbas may be a candidate for Palestinian authority president for the election scheduled for early January.
Iran puts its pledge to freeze its uranium enrichment program in writing. A diplomatic source tells CNN Iran has inked its intentions in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agreement is meant to alleviate fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
A sightseeing trip in metro Washington sends ten teenagers to the hospital. Part of the top of their tour bus was crushed after hitting a bridge. None of the injuries was life threatening.
More news coming up in 30 minutes. IN THE MONEY continues right now.
LISCOVICZ: It's the ultimate career goal. No not the corner office, not the corporate jet, but retirement. An early retirement if you can swing it. Let's get real. You probably can't. And neither can most Americans. Here to tell us why is economist author, actor, all- around renaissance man, Ben Stein, he is the chairman of the National Retirement Planning Week which kicks off Monday. Welcome back to the program Ben.
BEN STEIN, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL RETIREMENT PLANNING WEEK: Honored to be here.
LISCOVICZ: Well you know the last time you joined us you told us the U.S. economy is in great shape, everything's coming up roses. But when it comes to retirement savings, a totally different story.
STEIN: That is the fault of the tens of millions of baby boomers who just haven't been disciplined enough to save enough. The rate of retirement savings by us baby boomers, and I'm at the very, very extreme old edge of the baby boomers, is pathetic. I mean, 77 million baby boomers, only something like 8 percent of them have more than $100,000 in savings. The total savings, the average savings are between $50 and $100,000 per family. That's pathetic.
CAFFERTY: How much money do you need to retire Ben?
STEIN: Well it depends on how much you're living on. If you're living on say x, you should have between 15 and 20 times x. And that would include Social Security. Bear in mind, you can only very safely earn between 4 and 5 percent on your money.
CAFFERTY: So in other words, if you're making $100,000 a year, you should have between $1.5 million and $2 million set aside?
STEIN: Yes. Unless you have a particularly generous pension. But something like 21 percent of Americans have meaningful pensions. The others have defined payment, but not defined benefit plans. This is a real problem. It's a serious problem. Do you know how few people have $1.5 million or $2 million saved? Very, very few. I mean lots of the people you know probably do, lots of the people I know probably do, but overall the number of people who have that much saved is trivial and people are going to need that kind of money.
SERWER: Hey Ben I have a serious question. But first of all, I think I saw you in a movie trailer where somebody hits you in the head with something and you say ow. What movie is that coming up?
STEIN: That is called "Son of the Mask," it is a sequel to the "Mask." I have a very, very important part in it.
CAFFERTY: Is the academy listening?
SERWER: It was very funny. I laughed. Hey listen what do you think about privatizing Social Security?
STEIN: That's a super good question. The Social Security system is essentially unsound. It cannot last the way it is. We're either going to have to drastically raise taxes or we're going to have to lower the liabilities of the system. One way to lower the liabilities of the system is to privatize it. Say to people, either get some of your money from Social Security, and some of it from your private savings. The president has decided that you're going to have to privatize it. Because with a system will not tolerate and greatly increase Social Security taxes. So what we are going to have is you'll take say, 90 percent of your money, it will stay in Social Security. Then like 10 percent and (INAUDIBLE) growing percentage after that, put it in stocks, bonds, mutual funds.
And we will reduce the liabilities of the system. Mr. Gore -- not Gore, Kerry. I can't believe I said that. Mr. Kerry said, you're going to blow a hole in Social Security. And that is true. You will blow a hole for a few years in Social Security receipts. But you'll drastically lower Social Security liabilities. So that will be a good thing.
LISCOVICZ: Well yes one of the things perhaps we should take a page from you. That's simply, not retire. Keep working. How likely is it in your view that the retirement age will be increased again?
STEIN: I'd say the retirement age under Social Security is absolutely certain to be increased.
LISCOVICZ: To what?
STEIN: Well, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if it were 69 or 70. You have to think did to yourself, do you want to retire? Psychologically, I think it's generally better if you don't retire unless you have a repetitive boring job you hate. You keep your mind and body more active if you don't retire. But people are not going to be able to retire.
Unless they start right now, this is the crucial thing. They've got to start right now. I don't care how old you are, how little you have. You have to start right now. Saving the stocks, mutual funds, bonds, variable annuities. You've got to start right now. You cannot put it off. You've got to start right now. Can't count on Mr. Bush to do it for you. If it's Hillary Clinton in 2009, you can't count on her to do it for you. You've got to do it yourself. There's no excuse for not doing it yourself.
SERWER: All right Ben Stein's fired up.
SERWER: Listen thank you for coming on the program and sharing that with us. Ben Stein is the chairman of the National Retirement Planning Coalition, renaissance man as Susan said, and again thanks.
LISCOVICZ: A regular visitor to IN THE MONEY.
SERWER: Lots more to come here on IN THE MONEY. Animania, moms, dads, children of all ages are flocking to see the season's kid flicks. Find out why you can't always judge a movie by its ratings.
Plus is it an airport nearby or is that my heart taking off? From cheesy to just plan lame, pickup lines that may or may not work in our fun site of the week.
SERWER: Just when you thought you were all grown up, there you find yourself in front of the ticket counter torn between that hot new Indy film and the feature length cartoon. Don't worry you're in good company. Films like Pixar's "The Incredibles" have done huge business at the box office with both kids and adults. Our next guest says that's because animation houses like Pixar have raised the bar. Leonard Maltin is a correspondent for (INAUDIBLE) "Entertainment Tonight," he is also an author and contributor to several publications. Welcome Leonard.
LEONARD MALTIN, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT:" Heck I also wrote a history of animated cartoons.
SERWER: OK, so know of what you speak. Listen I saw "The Incredibles" just a couple of days ago and I have been raving about it. I wonder if Hollywood can get over itself and nominate this picture for an academy award. I think it should even win.
MALTIN: Well, that's what everybody said a year ago about "Finding Nemo."
SERWER: I think it's better than that.
MALTIN: There are many people who said last year, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree, "Finding Nemo" was the best film they saw last year. And certainly at the box office, it seemed to reflect that feeling. The problem is that the academy has now created a special category for animated films. They never had one. Until ten years ago when this same thing happened. "Beauty and the Beast" became the first animated feature ever nominated for best picture.
When that happened, and it happened in a year that wasn't so hot. The competition was slack. It was the right timing. It was a movie people liked. They nominated it. I think a lot of academy members felt, well, you know, this is not supposed to be mixing up that way. We're making a lot of action films here, they should be a separate category just for animation. Now that they've done that, I think they feel that's where that film belongs.
LISCOVICZ: All right so Leonard, we also have the "Polar Express" coming out this weekend based on the favorite children's story. Do you think that this is really a renaissance of animation? Or is it just all this new technology and Hollywood wants to show off all the bells and whistles?
MALTIN: In the case of "Polar Express," it's really not an attempt to do animation. It is a technology-based film. Trying to capture the look of Chris Vanhousburn (ph) book which so many people love and so many families know and cherish. Bob Zemeckis who has been cutting edge about this, he is the guy who made "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" which was pretty revolutionary in it's technology in its day. And even "Forest Gump" where you know inserted force into those historic film clips.
This is a guy who has that background. He went to the technology people and said I want to preserve the look of that book on the big screen. How do we do it? At first they were trying to get the environment and setting and look of the film. Then they realized that well maybe they could get the characters to look that way, too and they took it to an extreme and made this entire hugely expensive film with that technology.
CAFFERTY: Leonard, Jack Cafferty what is it about Pixar that the others would like to have? They have done five in a row and you can measure the combined receipts in the billions of dollars. What is it about that company?
MALTIN: It isn't just the money Jack it is also just that batting average. Nobody goes 5-5 in Hollywood terms. There's reason for it. There is a reason for it indeed, it is that they are very gifted people. They are passionately dedicated people. They have used the old fashioned Disney model of how to make an animated film which is focus on story and character. Now they married that to this cutting edge technology but they let the technology and they insist that the technology has to serve the story and the characters. That works. It works brilliantly for them.
SERWER: Leonard you know back to my campaign to get "The Incredibles" nominated. I think it was a terrible year for movies, I think. One thing I want to get at is a larger question here. Do you think that this has to do with the times in which we live? I mean movies always reflect that but talking about could they even make a "Saving Private Ryan" today, I mean instead we get "Fahrenheit 9/11" which is a different kettle of fish.
MALTIN: Even when it came out, "Saving Private Ryan" was a film that was swimming up stream against commercial instincts and such. It was only because somebody a cloud of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks made that movie that I think got the recognition and the kind of release that it received and that it was a really good film. People responded to it.
They said that a decade earlier about "Platoon". No one is going to see a film about Vietnam, a really serious film about Vietnam . I think quality often breaks the rules. That's what happened with these animated films it is quality that is making the difference.
LISCOVICZ: Since we brought up Spielberg and "Saving Private Ryan" he's now shooting in the area a film version of the war of the world. It seems and that I think would probably have a pretty good buzz on it. So much of Hollywood is retread, sequels, stuff that has already been done and in some cases like the machoring candidate done very well.
MALTIN: Yes done pretty well. Not great. Pretty well. And Alfie with opened last weekend tanked completing that is another remake of course. And I for one now I like "Bridget Jones Diary" I though it was a cute movie. But did I walk out of that theater saying boy I really want a squeal. No.
LISCOVICZ: Well your not a woman, that is why.
MALTIN: I know, no my wife is quite ready to see Hugh Grant again. But I think that what -- where we're at now is that movies cost so much money. Mainstream movies not the Indies, mainstream movies cost so much money to make and so much more to market. Warner Brothers is reportedly spending $125 million to promote and advertise "The Polar Express" on top of what they spent to make it.
Everyone is looking for the sure thing. They are looking to hedge their bet. They think rightly or wrongly that the way to do that is to go with a proven quantity. A remake of something you have already seen. A remake of a sequel to something you have already seen. That is their mindset.
LISCOVICZ: Well we know that you're a proven quantity that is for sure. Leonard Maltin who is a correspondent with "Entertainment Tonight" and a prolific author among other things. Thank you for joining us.
MALTIN: My pleasure.
LISCOVICZ: Coming up a couple hot new video games could make this a very Merry Christmas for a lot of companies. We put our producers to the test with your email insights. Drop us a line, the address INTHEMONEY@cnn.com.
But first this week's edition of "Money & Family."
If you have been a victim of identity theft it can take more than a year to clear up your credit record. Here are some steps to keep your identity theft. Don't leave your wallet, or purse, checkbook or credit receipts in your car. Car searching is prime source for identity theft.
Thieves tend to look in bags for receipts. Carefully review your account statements and credit card bills. If you notice that these are purchases that you did not make, report them to the credit card company immediately. Make sure to shred your financial garbage including receipts, preapproved credit offers and checks. This will prevent someone from accessing your account information or starting a new one in your name.
Don't give out personal information over the telephone until you initiate the call. Many representatives could be identity thieves. Be protective of your account numbers, passwords and Social Security number.
I'm Susan Lisovicz for "Money & Family."
CAFFERTY: Well if you watch this program with any regularity you probably figured this out. I spend as much time playing video games as I do promoting French tourism. Not everything is like me. That's a good thing. And that is good news also for companies like Microsoft who are banking on some new games to send their Christmas season profits soaring. Allen Wastler joins us with that. And a terrific fun site of the week. How are you doing?
ALLEN WASTER, CNNMONEY.COM: Jack you might like "Halo 2." You get to be like the super warrior blowing things away. It's a fun game. The first version "Halo" sold about five million versions of the game and was really out. Lots of fun. Then now "Halo 2" is expected to come and it's doing twice as much already in the first day $125 million worth of sales. That's a huge amount. About 1.5 million companies already presold.
And it did over $2 million in sales. Get this all right a bunch of stores did like midnight madness sales. It was going to go, so open up at midnight. Lines going around the block, people pouring in. At one retailer's chain first 11 minutes they sold 8,500 versions of the game.
CAFFERTY: This is like a high tech version of the Cabbage Patch dolls this Christmas
WASTLER: It is already out there. They expect actually over the life of it for it to produce about $500 million dollars, half a billion in revenue for Microsoft. All ready first day out $125 million, now some movies we have been talking movies, some movies don't do that well in the first day and a lot of times they don't do that well in the whole weekend.
CAFFERTY: For the whole release. That's a lot of money.
WASTLER: That is true. Now Andy and I you and I were discussing earlier how much over the lifetime because now you getting to a point where video games are sort of an even keel with Hollywood. Big blockbusters they will pull in over $500 million. They will pull in like $600 million, when you do overseas sales and DVD sales. But now games, in just single domestic releases are beginning to push that. You'll see more and more of that, Grand Theft Auto, The War Hammer Series.
LISCOVICZ: But still a heavenly balanced or heavily tilted toward men or boys.
WASTLER: Well some people are saying that --
SERWER: That is OK. We're consumers. Don't we count for anything?
WASTLER: Actually if you look at some of the - the latest demographic info there is more and more women are getting into it.
SERWER: You got to get with it.
LISCOVICZ: Sad news.
CAFFERTY: Next Christmas the Shakespeare in love video game for you. What about the fun site of the week?
WASTLER: Well interesting that you bring up women. I have found the ultimate site for pickup lines. A huge data base. Our producer have selected three to share with you. First of all, the one that the Web site claims is the most successful. Here it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?"
LISCOVICZ: That's the most successful?
WASTLER: Your rolling.
LISCOVICZ: I say that falls into the cheesy category unless it is delivered by Lawrence Olivia or John Deputy.
CAFFERTY: It is all in the messenger.
SERWER: That would work for Jack. WASTLER: You say cheesy too. Ok. Here is cheesy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Hello, I'm a thief and I would like to steal your heart."
WASTLER: How do you feel about that one?
SERWER: She likes that one more. She liked that more. I think we need a new judge.
WASTLER: They also have a direct category. I would like to warn the people at home they get really direct there so be careful.
"I miss my teddy bear would sleep with me?"
LISCOVICZ: that is so wrong on so many levels.
CAFFERTY: All right.
SERWER: What was the one we heard by Bruce. He just told us one. Are you from Tennessee.
LISCOVICZ: And said no why.
SERWER: Because you're the only ten I see.
LISCOVICZ: Well delivered.
CAFFERTY: That's quite enough. All right. Coming up next on IN THE MONEY is time to hear from you as we read some of your emails from last week. You can send us an email if you're so inclined to comment on these cheesy pickup lines. Our address is INTHEMONEY@cn.com write to us.
CAFFERTY: Time now to read your answers to our question of the week about how to unite the country now that the election mercifully is over.
Lori in Hawaii wrote this, "The U.S. needs to start a great public works project like it did under FDR. We should also spur leading U.S. companies to come up with alternative sources of energy. That will bring our country together & make us a leader in the world."
Cheryl in Orangeburg, South Carolina writes this, "I'd have Cheney, Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz go to Fallujah and stay closer to the troops. I'd also like to see more of the sons of the leading hawks in Congress sign up for active duty."
And Sue, Marshall, Michigan "With 54 million Americans thinking evil fools are now in charge the only way to unite the country is by investing our way out of economic woes. I suggest we put our money into any company that makes anti-depressants."
Now now it is not that bad.
Next weeks e-mail question of the week is a follows, What issue would you most like the Supreme Court address in the coming year? Send your answers to INTHEMONEY@cnn.com.
And you should also visit our show page of Money.com/inthemoney which is where your find the address for our fun site of the week.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of IN The Money. My thanks to CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz. "Fortune" magazine editor at large Andy Serwer and Money.com managing editor Alan Wastler. Join us next on Saturday at 1:00 Eastern Time or Sunday at 3:00 or you can catch me all week long on "American Morning" which begins at 7:00 Eastern Time. Hope to see you again soon.
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