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July 24, 2000

Online cafe in Paris serves up $3.4 mil headache for Vivendi

The Hollywood Reporter

A month after the launch of its wireless Internet service Vizzavi, Vivendi said it has paid 24 million francs ($3.4 million) to the Vis-a-Vis Internet cafe in Paris after Vis-a-Vis asked the government for a ruling. Although spelled differently, the names are phonetically similar. The three partners who run the cybercafe registered the name in October, six months before Vivendi and U.K. mobile firm Vodafone settled on the brand name for their multiaccess Internet portal. One of the trio, Ababacar Diop, was the spokesman for a group that occupied a Parisian church in 1996 to protest the difficulty encountered by immigrants while obtaining papers in France. The occupiers were evicted brutally by police, and television broadcasts of the event outraged many French citizens. The Vis-a-Vis cafe has since opened opposite the church, and clients use its facilities to chat with friends and relatives in Africa. Diop said he will spend part of his share of the settlement on Internet projects in Africa. (Charles Masters)

Slipping AOL-TW merger a Mickey

A 10-minute video from the Walt Disney Co. that blasts the pending America Online-Time Warner merger is making the rounds. Newsweek reports that the video was mailed anonymously to AOL by someone using the name Mickey (as in Mouse, perhaps?). The video, which "combines ominous music and catchy graphics," preaches against what it forewarns is a monopoly that can only hurt consumers. The news comes days after TW's Gerald Levin called Disney's aggressiveness "psycho-drama" and told Wall Street that Disney's Michael Eisner is "seeing demons" that nobody else sees.

Punky grows up

She's Punky Brewster no more _ Soleil Moon Frye has signed as a series regular on Viacom Prods.' "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," which is headed to the WB Network in the fall after a four-year run on ABC. Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) is headed to college next season, and Frye will play her roommate, Roxie. Frye, who turns 25 next month, starred in the mid-1980s NBC sitcom "Punky Brewster." More recently, she has had roles in a slew of television movies and indie films, including the upcoming dramas "Girls' Room" and "Sex and a Girl." Frye is repped by Don Buchwald and Associates. (Cynthia Littleton and Chris Gardner)

High price of fame

The highly publicized "Who Wants to Be a Movie Star?" project, which ran afoul of labor laws before revamping its rules, has raised more than $200,000 for production via online bidding. The film project from Yahoo! Auctions, Blockbuster, and DNA Studio encourages Internet users to bid for leading roles to give as gifts. The average price paid has been about $13,500, with one role going for $50,010, participants said. (Paul Bond)

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