News, June 21: Author Bradbury Wants “Fahrenheit 9/11” Renamed, Method Man Unhappy with Sitcom, Miramax Considers Layoffs, More…

Author Ray Bradbury wants Fahrenheit 9/11 renamed

Ray Bradbury, author of the classic 1953 science-fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, wants an apology from filmmaker Michael Moore for taking the book’s title for his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 without permission and wants the documentary to be renamed. Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press Friday he called Moore‘s company six months ago to protest the use of the film’s title, but only received a call back from the filmmaker last Saturday. “He suddenly realized he’s let too much time go by,” Bradbury said. Fahrenheit 451, which takes its title from the temperature at which books burn, depicts a futuristic society in which firemen burn homes and libraries in order to destroy the books inside to prevent people from thinking independently. Moore has called Fahrenheit 9/11 the “temperature at which freedom burns.” Bradbury, a registered political independent, said he would rather avoid litigation and is “hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he’ll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title,” the AP reports. A spokeswoman for Fahrenheit 9/11 said the film’s makers have the utmost respect for Bradbury, adding: “Mr. Bradbury’s work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9-11.”

Method Man unhappy with new sitcom

Rapper/actor Method Man, whose new Fox comedy series Method & Red drew more than 8 million viewers in its debut Wednesday, says he’s unhappy with the network for veering from his original version of the sitcom. “I’m trying to keep this show ghetto, and there’s a way for it to be both ghetto and intelligent,” Method Man, who co-stars and executive produces the show, told the Los Angeles Times. “I know what I wanted this show to be, but there’s been too much compromise on our side and not enough on their side.” In the series, Method Man and fellow rapper Redman play two successful hip-hop stars who move into a rich and predominantly white gated community in the suburbs. Method Man blames the show’s executives and writers for trying too hard to appeal to Middle America with “lame jokes.”

Blake’s lawyer needs more time

Robert Blake‘s latest lawyer, Gerald Schwartzbach, said he will not be prepared to defend the actor on charges of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakely, by Sept. 9 when the case is scheduled to go to trial, the AP reports. Blake, 70, is charged with murdering the 44-year-old Bakley on May 4, 2001. Schwartzbach said the 60,000 pages of evidence and a large number of audio and video recordings to review, plus several missing items of evidence to locate, would make beginning the trial in three months all but impossible. But while Deputy District Attorney Shellie Samuels agreed that items have been inadvertently misplaced in the three years that have elapsed since the murder of Blake‘s wife, she said they do not represent a major gap in the evidence and accused Blake of wanting to delay the trial to extend his freedom. Schwartzbach said he would give Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp an estimate of when he would be ready for trial at a status conference set for July 16.

Miramax considering layoffs

As the end of the fiscal year nears, Miramax Films is considering some cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, a source close to the studio told AP. Miramax, which operates on $700 million yearly from parent company Walt Disney Co., has already spent most of that on upcoming big-budget films such as Martin Scorsese‘s The Aviator and Johnny Depp‘s Finding Neverland. Miramax co-heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein are currently in the throes of a very public and sticky renegotiation process with Disney chief Michael Eisner, who wants to reduce Miramax’s budget and the Weinsteins’ pay.

Former Vivendi chief arrested

Jean-Marie Messier, the former head of Vivendi Universal, who left the corporation amidst controversy in 2002, was taken into police custody Monday in an investigation into financial wrongdoing during his time at the media and telecommunications giant, police told AP. French investigators are probing a massive share buyback in which Vivendi allegedly spent over $1.2 billion to prop up its own share price in the weeks following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Messier. Police said Messier was being held by the financial crime brigade and could remain in custody for questioning for up to 48 hours.

Archbishop considers Simpsons appearance

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is not only the head of the world’s 70 million Anglicans, he is also an avid fan of The Simpsons. Reuters reports producers of the hit animated comedy invited Williams, 54, to take part in an episode after he praised the program for its humor and humility in Britain’s Sunday Times. “We’d love to have him on the show…It’s a great thrill that the archbishop is such a fan,” Simpson‘s executive producer Al Jean said. “In the beginning, some religious groups in the United States disliked the show, so to have such a prominent religious leader defend it is great,” he added. A spokesman for the archbishop said they had not yet received an invitation but that it would certainly be considered. “It would be a very intriguing prospect,” he added.

Dallas hands key to Spike Lee

Filmmaker Spike Lee received a lifetime achievement award in Dallas, Tex., and the key to the city Friday at the Fourth Annual Lyrical Underground, an event celebrating Black Music Month, AP reports. “Spike Lee is the most remarkable African-American filmmaker in the last 18 years,” said event spokesman Noel Hankin. “Through his movies, he has challenged his audiences to think as well as question the status quo.” Past recipients include Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Hamptons Festival winners eligible for Oscar

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has recognized the Hamptons Film Festival as a qualifying fest for the Academy Awards’ shorts categories. Variety reports that provided title complies with Academy rules, winners of the festival’s Golden Starfish Award for best short will qualify for Oscar consideration. The Hamptons Film Festival runs Oct. 20-24.

Kit Bowen contributed to this report.