'Goldmember' zipped up as MPAA mulls legalities

LOS ANGELES: James Bond has a new mission: dismembering Austin


New Line Cinema has been forced to stop using the title Austin Powers in

Goldmember for now and recall promotional materials for its third

installment of the spy spoof after United Artists and MGM - owners of

the Bond franchise - won a decision from the Motion Picture Association

of America (MPAA) ruling the title "inadmissible."

The dispute has been festering since last fall, when New Line began the

approval process with the MPAA. MGM has been protesting not only the

ribald satire of the film's name, but also images of Mike Myers covered

in glittery gold paint - in homage to the Bond film Goldfinger. New Line

apparently thought the MPAA decision would swing in its favor since

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me - a takeoff of the 1977 Bond

flick, The Spy Who Love Me - was cleared for use despite protests by


However, the current battle boiled over when New Line began promoting

the film in mid-December - before the MPAA made its final decision. That

put New Line "in violation" of the titling rules, according to one

industry executive, giving MGM the high ground.

After the MPAA ruling, New Line pulled trailers from theaters, took

information off the web, and recalled thousands of posters and other

materials, a move that the Wall Street Journal estimated cost "millions"

but that studio executives say cost "far less." New Line plans to

appeal, and could even take the issue to court under "fair use"

copyright laws if they lose with the MPAA, but the title still couldn't

be promoted until a legal decision was reached. That leaves the studio

in the unenviable position of promoting their tent-pole summer feature

with the temporary name The Third Installment of Austin Powers.

That's a position MGM can appreciate: Ironically, the same week, MGM

found itself stalled in federal court for its own bit of alleged brand

infringement - the use of Universal's The Fast and the Furious in

promotions for Rollerball. The studio was similarly forced to pull ads

and promotional materials last week.

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