The Critics: AMERICAN GRAFFITI

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Along with Hollywood's horror-movie renaissance comes renewed debate (of sorts) about the auteur theory. Scripted by Kevin Williamson (who wrote Scream), the teen slasher flick I Know What You Did Last Summer has been the No 1 movie in America for the past three weeks. In Columbia Pictures' TV ads for the film, the studio announced that I Know What You Did ... was "from the creator of Scream", and used the tagline, "Last time he made you scream - this time you won't have the chance." Mirimax, the company behind Scream, filed a lawsuit against Columbia last month, claiming that the ads misleadingly suggest the involvement of Scream's director Wes Craven, who had nothing to do with I Know What You Did ... (it was helmed by Scottish newcomer Jim Gillespie). Columbia changed the ads (new tagline: "Don't see it alone") - but Miramax is still seeking compensation. As tends to be the case with Hollywood squabbles, there's a fairly juicy back story: not too long ago, Columbia took issue with Miramax's use of the title Scream, calling it an unlawful appropriation of Screamers (a 1996 sci-fi flop); Miramax settled out of court. Scream 2 - a Craven-Williamson collaboration - opens next month, promising to build on the original's giddy self-reflexivity (events from the first film are turned to a film- within-a-film). Williamson - who's already committed to Scream 3 - has expressed a desire to move away from horror eventually, insisting that he's more John Hughes than John Carpenter. The 32-year-old's proposed directorial debut is unlikely to resolve the confusion; titled Killing Mrs Tingle, it's a revenge fantasy inspired by his high-school English teacher.

NBC's famously monolithic Thursday line-up (essentially Seinfeld and ER plus parasites) is starting to look a little shaky. The new season of Seinfield is uncharacteristically reliant on broad humour, provoking an unprecedented critical backlash. "Is Seinfeld still great?" the New York Post recently pondered; Entertainment Weekly followed suit, asking "What's Wrong With Seinfeld?" Still, the sitcom ratings remain high and the chief concern for NBC now is that it might lose ER, which is up for renewal in February. Other networks are said to be plotting a takeover; notably, Rupert Murdoch has threatened to spend obscene amounts to boost his Fox network. To retain the medical drama NBC might soon have to cough up a profit-depleting $10m per episode.

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