Public money

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but BBC’s website seems to have an insatiable desire to fill up bandwidth.

The front page of the New York Times on 11 January had an interesting piece about the lengths of film credits –

Surprisingly, the BBC news website had an interesting article bylined Michael Osborn ‘Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 17:41 GMT ‘ on:

BBC: ‘The Lord of the Rings trilogy has reached its climax by setting a new record for having the longest closing credits in Hollywood history…’

NYT: ‘They are known as closing credits, but the other day at a movie theater in Times Square, after three and a half epic hours of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the credits did not seem to want to close’

BBC: ‘This is in stark contrast to the dawn of Hollywood, when silent horror flick Nosferatu mentioned just 16 names in a mere ninety seconds.’

NYT: ‘The 1922 vampire classic “Nosferatu,” a kind of special-effects vehicle of its day, credited only 11 cast members and 5 others, including the director and cinematographer, and the credits lasted 1 minute 35 seconds’

BBC: ‘The Return Of The King lists oddities such as “compositing inferno artist” on its epic credits, while Mr Fay’s personal favourite is “cockroach wrangler”.

NYT: ‘At eight minutes, the moviegoers still in the theater were watching a scroll of completely inscrutable titles like “wrangler manager” and “compositing inferno artist.” Of course, the caterer had to be immortalized, too.’

BBC: ‘Big name stars often like their vast entourages to be mentioned – Russell Crowe boasted a 17-strong team on the credits of Master and Commander.’

NYT: ‘And in big-budget movies with powerful stars, the stars often succeed in winning screen credit for anyone who has anything to do with their performances. In “Master and Commander,” the list of attendants to Russell Crowe alone reads like the staff list at a small company: his costumer, two hairstylists, a makeup artist, two special makeup artists, a stunt double, a stand-in, a trainer, a dialect coach, a swordmaster, three violin coaches, two assistants and the name of the company that provided his personal security.’

BBC: ‘While a film credit name-check can be an important career boost to someone in the business, …’

NYT: ‘In some movies with limited budgets, travel agencies and other companies are sometimes given credit – in essence free advertising in a prestigious format – if they agree to work for less.’


1922 Nosferatu – 16

1977 Star Wars – 143

1999 The Matrix – 151

2003 LOTR II – 559

2003 Matrix III – 701

Source: Baseline Hollywood ‘

NYT: ‘According to Baseline, which compiles information about movies, the original “Star Wars” in 1977 listed 143 people in its credits. In 1999, “The Matrix” listed 551, including Longy Nguyin, a sports masseuse. Last year, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” listed 559 names, “Finding Nemo” listed 642, and the third installment of the “Matrix” series had 701.’

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr Osborn – did you really contact Baseline Hollywood, or is the NYT article the source of the figures?

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6 Responses to Public money

  1. Dave F says:

    Well, I have joined the masses who rise as one from their seats as soon as the credits start to roll. It’s become a joke. Mind you, the sports masseuse must have had a large staff and worked overtime on the Matrix movies, which make severe physical demands of the actors and stunt people.

    I think the point of these credits is that they then a) accrue to your CV in the industry. b) entitle you to some categories of payment.

    Unless there was an actor you didn’t recognise or something like that, I really don’t see why the public should pay attention at all.


  2. PJF says:


    The BBC is continuing with the ‘peace activist’ lie when referring to advocates of the Palestinian Arab cause – a lie that it knows to be a lie (it knows because it has been told repeatedly).

    Despite the recent emphasis by the The International Solidarity Movement of the mention of non-violence as a tactic for itself , it remains a fact that the organisation is active in promoting the interests of the “Palestinian struggle”, and supports the use of violence by those Palestinians. It is not an organisation that is active in promoting peace.

    Tom Hurndall was not a peace activist. The BBC knows this to be a fact, and chooses to lie deliberately.


  3. PJF says:

    OFF TOPIC continued:

    The BBC feels the need for thoroughness in its report of this issue by mentioning other instances of non-combatants killed in the disputed territories. But that thoroughness doesn’t extend to mentioning that the Israeli soldier charged in the case is – an Arab.



  4. ken says:

    Shock horror! BBC reporters plagerize old US media pieces. Given the Kelly affair, why is this a suprise?

    The sad thing is that the incident you cite is hardly unique. As a Yank while living in Britain and closely reading/watching both media, I was originally stunned that there was so much “lifting” going on by the BBC. But I learned it was chronic. Newsnight broadcasts were just laughable in that none of their political (i.e. anti-american) analysts or reporters ever seemed to have an original thought or commentary. They all seemed to come virtually verbatim from various US left wing reports that I had read earlier – especially the soundbite zingers (the clever ones).

    God, they must hate the internet.


  5. Barry Meislin says:

    On the other hand, why bother to make it up when it’s already made up for you?….

    (Though if anyone has/is documenting such “borrowing,” a double-column comparison might be rather interesting.)

    And yes, the blogosphere has much to be proud of, though it be double-edged…


  6. Robert Dammers says:

    For some time I’ve been wondering why we bother to have BBC correspondents in the US – they merely parrot the NYT, for the most part, including its errors. They could do that more economically from London, or, indeed, they could outsource plagiarising the the US left-wing press to Bangalore, just like the call centres – though the staff there are probably too highly qualified for the task.