Studio responds to rumors by ignoring them

As the intense competition for Hollywood scoops floods the blogosphere with unsubstantiated rumors and anonymous posts, everyone is experimenting with how to cope.

Lionsgate seems to have come up with an innovation: responding to rumors by ignoring them.

In an email sent to Variety and other entertainment-focused outlets on May 5, the studio wrote:

“I wanted to let you know that moving forward, Lionsgate’s film division will be announcing/confirming all movie casting news via Twitter. Beginning immediately, we won’t be providing any background info, confirmations or denials about casting outside of this feed, which every news outlet will have equal access to by following @LionsgateNews on Twitter. Each news tweet will link to a page that will supply bulleted information necessary to write up a story such as talent representation, project logline or synopsis, and an approved headshot if available.”

As the saying goes, good luck with that.

On the face of it, there’s some logic, as it spares the overworked Lionsgate PR team (recently down a body) from a flood of calls every time the rumor mill churns up a name attached to “The Hunger Games.” On the other hand, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that by the time a studio sends out its official release, it’s old news. Nobody will wait for that.

And while most studios complain when reporters post stories without giving a heads-up, Lionsgate would seem to be wishing for just that.

But Lionsgate’s publicity team insists that’s not the case, and that the change is minimal — the studio’s longstanding policy is not to confirm castings until a deal is signed (repeat: old news!), and that the Twitter feed will supplant traditional e-mail press releases.

Variety reporters will keep an eye out for those Lionsgate tweets while we continue to chase stories — and only post the ones we feel confident about.

Speaking of being confident about stories …

A funny thing happened on the evening of May 5, long after Variety broke the news that Universal was getting cold feet about its ambitious “Dark Tower” series: The Hollywood Reporter matched the report several hours later but, as many bloggers noted, swiftly pulled it off the site. (Fortunately for Blogdogger, the original version was cached in Yahoo!’s news pages for all to see.)

And then, on Friday morning — voila! — it reappeared, slightly tweaked, but essentially a rehash of the news from the night before, with a much friendlier-to-Universal headline: “IMAGINE DENIES ‘DARK TOWER’ TURNROUND AS QUESTIONS MOUNT.”

New York Magazine’s Vulture blog also weighed in, including the line: “Contrary to a recent Variety report, another source familiar with the situation insists that the project is not in turnaround.”

Variety never said it was.

In fact, Variety’s story was unequivocal that U brass were merely weighing the idea of shopping “The Dark Tower” to another studio — not that it had happened, was imminent, or even likely.

Reading comprehension, people. Might want to look into it.

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