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TV Notes: Movie experts promise lively 'Shootout' debate

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Peter Guber and Peter Bart want you to understand: Their new talk show is called "Sunday Morning Shootout." Not "Shoutout."

Guber, a legendary film producer, and Bart, the editor-in-chief of Variety, are dueling co-hosts on "Shootout," which premieres on AMC tomorrow at 11 a.m.

"We're going to discuss and argue about some of the key issues that involve the entertainment business, particularly movies," says Bart, who last year collaborated with Guber on "Shoot Out," a book about the entertainment industry. "We have been friends for an alarming number of years, and we enjoy our feisty exchanges, so maybe other people will, too."

Set in a Hollywood coffee shop where big shots can be found on a Sunday morning (but, oddly enough, not on their cell phones), each "Shootout" will feature a guest -- a star, filmmaker or other insider (first up: Edward Norton). There'll be some gossip, maybe a little news.

But no Tell Me About Your New Film and Let's Show a Clip.

"And no reviews," Bart promises. "No thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Thumbs will be inactive."

At the same time, look for trigger fingers to get twitchy (figuratively speaking). In the movie-world parlance of Bart and Guber, "shootout" refers to a creative clash; conflict in the service of collaboration; a demonstration of power and the willingness to use it, even if a shot is never fired.

"Shootout," says Guber, "will mean something, rather than just two guys on 'The Best Damn Sports Show' screaming about whether Kobe Bryant is guilty."

Of course, it usually means something when Guber or Bart opens his mouth. That's a given with power players of their magnitude.

At 61, Guber has headed studios and been an independent producer since the 1970s, with credits including "The Deep," "Midnight Express," "Rain Man," "Batman" and "Gorillas in the Mist."

After a rollicking term running Sony Pictures with Jon Peters (an escapade in excess that cost Sony tens of millions), Guber in 1995 formed Mandalay Entertainment, producing films such as "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Donnie Brasco."

Editor since 1989 of Variety, the so-called "show business bible," Bart, now 71, wrote for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Then he took a 20-year detour as a studio executive, helping develop such films as "The Godfather," "Harold and Maude," "Rosemary's Baby" and "Being There."

"We have been in the business many years," Bart declares. "And yet we're not two old guys sitting around saying, 'Things were better in 1970 than they are now' -- because in many cases they weren't."

"We have a completely different view on most things," adds Guber. "It's not necessarily just to create drama or conflict on the show. We actually believe differently!"

"For instance," says Bart, eyeing Guber's garb, "I would never wear a shirt that says 'Prada' on it."

"But there's a reason," grins Guber, whose casual togs strike a contrast to Bart's Saville Row nattiness. "He told me not to wear it. I said, 'Now that I found something you don't like, I'm going to be really active in its pursuit.' "

Their differences don't end with their apparel. "I am volatile, emotional," Guber says. "He speaks firmly, quietly, deeply, thoughtfully."

"But I know that he's dangerous," Guber continues, grinning again as he gestures at Bart. "You have an argument with him, and you leave the table and then you drop dead five blocks away and you don't know why. Me, I pick up a fork and stab you right in the heart while you're sitting here."

Could be great TV. But Guber makes movies, as well as arguing about them. Isn't he worried that, on public display every week, his candid style might rub the wrong person the wrong way?

"The reality is, if I have a project that somebody wants to do and they hate me, but the script's really good, they'll do it," he replies. (Frazier Moore, Associated Press)

'Mister Rogers' confronts anger

A week of classic episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" will help children answer the question "What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel?" The episodes air weekdays at 11 a.m. on WQED/WQEX beginning Monday.

Family Communications Inc., the company Rogers founded, recently received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services through its Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration allowing it to expand its anger management workshops into Ohio and Iowa. The workshops previously have been offered in Pennsylvania, Mississippi and California.

Another workshop under development through the grant, "Children Who Have Challenging Behaviors," is now being pilot tested.

This week, a Rogers book of wisdom, "The World According to Mister Rogers" ($16.95, Hyperion), was published and landed on Top 10 best sellers. (Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

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