The Morning Fix: 'Avatar' buzz is strong. Reality bites. Paramount thinks small. '2012' huge in China. Jeff Zucker's new deal.
"Avatar" gets an A. Variety film critic Todd McCarthy says James Cameron's "Avatar" (you know, that little low-budget special effects movie he just threw together) is "breathtaking" and needs to be seen by "just about everyone who ever goes to the movies." Hollywood Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt says Cameron has "proven his point: He is king of the world." Meanwhile, USA Today looks behind the scenes of "Avatar," and the Wall Street Journal weighs in with the obligatory marketing piece on the movie, which had its London premiere earlier this week.
Reality check. Once again TV executives are shaking their heads and rubbing their hands debating whether reality TV is going too far. The escapades of wanna-be "Real Housewives of D.C." participants-turned-party-crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi (could their names be more difficult to spell? I had to check three times to make sure I got it right) has producers trying to figure out that fine line between compelling and crazy when it comes to casting reality shows. A look at the genre's latest headaches from the Los Angeles Times.
Zucker gets new deal. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker signed a new three-year deal at the same time majority control of the company is being sold to cable giant Comcast Corp. Because Comcast won't close on the deal for at least a year, Zucker's deal was done by current NBC parent General Electric. One would think that GE wouldn't just sign him to a new multiyear deal without the new parent company's covert blessing (and covert is what it would have to be). Either way, its a nice parting gift from the industrial conglomerate. Details from the Hollywood Reporter.
Radio Nowhere. Citadel Broadcasting, the nation's third-largest radio operator, is expected to file for bankruptcy at the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citadel has about $2 billion in debt and first started having financial trouble after its big 2006 deal to acquire Disney's radio stations. "If I knew the economy was headed to where it was, I would have sold, not bought," said Citadel chief Farid Suleman. Well, duh.
Zalaznick on the move? Deadline Hollywood says that Lauren Zalaznick, the NBC Universal executive who oversees Bravo and Oxygen is in talks for a top job at MTV and VH1. People close to Zalaznick are throwing cold water on the story, or at least the idea of her taking a new gig. Zalaznick cut her teeth at VH1 years ago, but would also seem to have lots of room to move up at NBC, even with Comcast coming to town.
Discovery's million-dollar man. Former Fox and HBO executive Peter Liguori, who earlier this week became COO of Discovery Communications, will be getting $1 million a year for three years with incentives that could make his contract worth $4.7 million in total. Deal notes from Multichannel News.
Stop the presses, literally. More big shake-ups at the trade papers that cover media, as Nielsen sells the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Media Week and several other publications to e5 Global Media, a joint venture made up of private equity fund Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Management. The new owners promptly announced they were closing Editor and Publisher, the longtime journalism trade publication. Well, since there are fewer editors and publishers to cater too ... This deal comes just a week after the sale of Broadcasting & Cable and Mulitchannel News to NewBay Media. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Associated Press.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Paramount is launching a micro-movie studio that will look for the next "Paranormal Activity." "2012" is huge in China. It's official: George Stephanopoulos is joining ABC's "Good Morning America."
-- Joe Flint