The Morning Fix: 'Avatar's' reign at top could finally end! TNT's money gone without a trace. Stop presses: Letterman hires female writer!
After the coffee. Before figuring out if your Toyota Prius is defective.
So much for knowing drama. Although most of Time Warner's fourth-quarter earnings were very positive, with Warner Bros. and its cable networks all having strong numbers, there was a little nugget of bad news out of TNT, the cable network whose slogan is "We know drama." Seems those reruns of the FBI missing-persons drama "Without a Trace," for which TNT shelled out almost $1.4 million per episode, made money disappear. The cable network took a $104-million write-down on the purchase. It's rare that a rerun deal blows up that badly. More on what happened and the risks of buying reruns in general from the Los Angeles Times.
When in doubt, make a sequel. One of the few bright spots for Universal Pictures last year was the success of the fourth (yes, fourth) installment of "Fast & Furious." So it should come as no surprise that the studio is racing to get a fifth one up on the big screen. Variety reports that Vin Diesel will be back. Question? If I haven't seen the first four, will I be lost if I see this one?
Picking your spots. We all know that advertisements will soon be standard on all online-video content. Would it make it better if you could choose the commercial you were going to watch? That's what advertising giant Publicis Groupe has spent the last year trying to figure out, along with Yahoo, CBS, Microsoft and Hulu. The Wall Street Journal has the skinny.
This is news? It's kind of sad that the promotion of a woman
from assistant to full-time writer on a TV show merits a story, but
when we're talking late-night television in general and David Letterman
in particular, this is an unusual occurrence. Late night has pretty much been the last bastion of complete male domination in writing rooms (as opposed to just regular domination elsewhere in television land). The New York Times on how it only took Jill Goodwin nine years of sweat to become a writer on the CBS show.
Super spots. Walt Disney Co., Paramount and Universal are the only three studios willing to gamble $3 million or so on spots in Sunday's Super Bowl on CBS. Paramount will be promoting "Shutter Island" and "The Last Airbender." Variety guesses that Universal will be hyping "The Wolfman" and "Robin Hood."
Goodbye Mickey, hello Bugs. Veteran Disney and ABC television executive Mark Pedowitz is leaving the company after almost 20 years for a production deal at Warner Bros. Television. Pedowitz had risen from a business executive to head of Disney's TV production arm before consolidations and clashes left him without much turf. More from the Hollywood Reporter.
Choosing sides. Comcast and NBC Universal chiefs Brian Roberts and Jeff Zucker will be grilled about their merger by the House and Senate today. More on what's coming from the Los Angeles Times and Broadcasting & Cable.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The reign of "Avatar" at the box office could end this weekend, with some chick flicks coming and the Super Bowl likely to take men out of the equation on Sunday. AEG Tim Leiweke on the challenges in the concert business. Little guys fear the marriage of Live Nation and Ticketmaster will squeeze them out.
-- Joe Flint