EBay has halted sales of NECA’s Django Unchained dolls depicting characters from Quentin Tarantino‘s slavery movie as prices on the auction website jumped upwards of $2,000 after complaints from civil rights groups led The Weinstein Company to stop production on the action figures, which were also pulled from retailer shelves. Listings for the dolls “were removed as they were in violation of our Offensive Materials policy”, an eBay representative tells Deadline. EBay forbids offensive products “that graphically portray graphic violence or victims of violence, unless they have substantial social, artistic, or political value” including “racially or ethnically offensive language, historical items, reproductions, and works of art and media”.
Fleming Q&A’s Participant’s Jeff Skoll And Jim Berk On What The eBay Billionaire Wants Out Of Hollywood (It’s Not More $$$)
EXCLUSIVE: After Jeff Skoll made his fortune turning eBay into a juggernaut, he turned to Hollywood as the first financier/producer not looking to make more money and rub elbows with the stars. Skoll formed Participant Media — and hired former Hard Rock Cafe CEO Jim Berk to run it — as part of his mandate to use his fortune for good causes forged by his belief that movies can illuminate important issues more powerfully than any other medium. After eight years, Participant has done that — its films have won five Oscars and 22 nominations — and shown there’s a sound business in issue-oriented films. They are in the Oscar hunt this year with three films: Lincoln, Promised Land and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; and Middle Of Nowhere created buzz at Sundance on the indie film circuit.
DEADLINE: Jeff, before eBay made you a zillionaire, you wanted to be a writer. Will you write one of these issue-oriented films for Participant?
SKOLL: Funny you should ask. All these years, I’ve felt that for the amount of time it would take me to write something, we could have 10 projects going with really good writers. But I have an idea. It’s not fully fleshed out, but I want to write the screenplay. I’ve never done it before, and respect the people who can. Whether or not it turns out to be a great screenplay, I think making the effort will help me understand how hard it is to actually write and come up with something creative. I want to keep the issue close to my vest for now and let it unfold the way most creative efforts do.
DEADLINE: The decision to hold back Lincoln until after the election hasn’t worked against the film, judging by its $144 million domestic gross. Did you have a sway in not putting it out during the elections, when interest might have been higher?
SKOLL: Steven had a very strong opinion from the very start that the film should not be used as a political football. He was pretty firm that he wanted it to come out after the election, and given it is Steven…
DEADLINE: You were grateful he bothered to tell you?
BERK: Actually we had never done a film with him before and he was very amazingly collaborative. I was like, “Why are you asking us? You’re Steven Spielberg.”
DEADLINE: How much input do you require? Do you consider yourselves creative producers?
SKOLL: It really depends on the film. In some cases, we develop. Contagion, Waiting For Superman, they started with an idea on the blackboard and then you bring in people. On Lincoln, you defer.
BERK: We were involved in The Help early days, and were part of that process all the way through. Where we played an active role in Lincoln was in positioning in the marketplace, enlisting ingenious folks that would put this film in certain conversations, getting it into the zeitgeist.
DEADLINE: Of all the places you could spend your money, Jeff, why Hollywood?
The Stop Online Piracy Act was wounded by a tweet on Thursday. “Need to find a better solution” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter in response to a question about her position on the bill that would empower the federal government to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. Pelosi’s opposition to SOPA is significant — she’s the House’s most powerful Democrat, after all. But it isn’t surprising: Most of her district is in San Francisco, and the tech companies that dominate the city overwhelmingly oppose the bill. Companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Twitter, and eBay say that it could open the way for the government to attack sites that don’t violate other people’s copyrights, possibly quashing free speech. That view crosses party lines: Republican Darrell Issa, who represents the San Diego area, responded to Pelosi’s tweet: “If even we agree…” Hollywood studios, represented by the MPAA, are leading the charge in favor of SOPA. They say that piracy of movies and other forms of entertainment endangers thousands of jobs. They add that the bill would only affect Web sites that are violating U.S. copyright laws, but can’t be prosecuted because they’re based in other countries.
UPDATED: The House Judiciary Committee has wrapped up its hearing about the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would enable the government to block overseas websites that traffic in copyright-infringing content. Movie studios support the measure and tech companies oppose it. Representatives from the MPAA, U.S. Library of Congress, Pfizer, MasterCard, Google, and the AFL-CIO testified.
Bill opponents complained that the witness list was overloaded with supporters. “Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers, progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today’s hearing,” Consumer Electronic Association CEO Gary Shapiro says. Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter said in a letter to the committee yesterday that the bill poses “a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.” Google says it would rather see lawmakers pass legislation that would trace consumer payments to copyright-infringing sites. “If we can cut off their financial ties, they won’t have a way to make money,” Google counsel Katherine Oyama said, warning that SOPA could lead to “unintended consequences” stifling free speech. “Getting the balance right is important.”
But Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s senior EVP for global policy and external affairs, says that the measure “is about jobs” noting that movie and TV companies account for more than 2M jobs across all states with $38.9B going in …