The Morning Fix: 'X Factor' coming? Jimi Hendrix rocks again! NBC's Jeff Gaspin tries to clean up mess while ABC's Steve McPherson gloats. CBS makes movie push.
After the coffee. Before hearing Fox execs try to explain "Our Little Genius."
Mr. X Factor. Fox's "American Idol" kicks off this week, but the real news is what's going on behind the scenes as judge Simon Cowell is a near a deal to bring his British hit, "The X Factor," to the network in the fall of 2011, reports the Los Angeles Times. That means he's likely to scale back if not completely walk away from "American Idol" after this season. None of this spells the end of "American Idol," as Fox wants to have its cake and to eat it too. Perhaps Ellen DeGeneres, who was hired to replace Paula Abdul, will ultimately replace Cowell.
NBC's late-night mayhem. NBC Universal Entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin told reporters Sunday that while the network was fine with Jay Leno's performance in prime time, its affiliates were not. Fearful that its stations, which were seeing the ratings and revenue for their late news decline, would start dropping the show en masse, the network had to move fast. Leno's last prime-time show will be on Feb. 12, and the plan is to have him back at 11:35 p.m. after the Winter Olympics. Conan O'Brien, whose "Tonight Show" would be bumped to 12:05 a.m. as a result, still has not signed on, but it's going to happen with or without him. One things for sure, Gaspin was pretty smooth Sunday on stage. News and analysis from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety, USA Today and Wrap.
Another win for "Avatar." James Cameron's movie is starting to look like the 1950s Yankees. It just can't be beat. This weekend it took in almost $50 million. New releases "Leap Year" and the Weinstein Co.'s "Youth in Revolt" did not have spectacular starts, but the vampire movie "Daybreakers" had some bite. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
Blue skies. The New York Times looks at 20th Century Fox's Blue Sky Studios, maker of the "Ice Age" franchise, and how it's gone from little player to powerhouse. After you're done reading that, here's movie blogger Dave Poland's take on the story.
Family Feud? Fox News chairman Roger Ailes better not count on any Christmas gifts from Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law Matthew Freud. Here's the New York Times profile on Ailes with the bashing and an analysis of it from Daily Beast.
ABC's A-B-Cs. While much of the attention this TV season has been on NBC's Jay Leno situation and the strength of Fox's "Glee," ABC has quietly gained momentum, particularly on Wednesday nights with its new comedies "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town." Although dramas "FlashForward" and "V" slowed after strong starts and "Eastwick" tanked, entertainment chief Steve McPherson tells Broadcasting & Cable's Melissa Grego the network needs to remain "aggressive."
Nikki's first big hire. Mike Fleming, who has been Variety's ace movie reporter for about two decades has defected to join Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood. It will be interesting to see how these two work together after being hard competitors for years. Like Finke, Flemming works from home. As a joke, a Variety co-worker once sent him a map so he could find the New York office.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: He's been dead for almost 40 years, but Jimi Hendrix is still cranking! CBS Films gets ready for its first big release, the Harrison Ford medical drama "Extraordinary Measures," but is getting into the movies a business strategy or an ego play for the company and its CEO, Leslie Moonves? Does Fox really want Conan O'Brien or does it just want to annoy NBC?
-- Joe Flint