The Morning Fix: Weekend box-office losers! Upfront rebound? Conan O'Brien gets even closer to Time Warner
After the coffee. Before feeling guilty about not hitting the gym since Saturday (yes, I'm that obsessive).
Can't tame that dragon! DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon" moved back into the No. 1 spot at the box office with $15 million in ticket sales on what was the slowest weekend of the year. CBS' "The Back-up Plan" starring Jennifer Lopez opened to a so-so $12.3 million, while Warner Bros.' "The Losers" certainly lived up to its title. Total ticket sales for the weekend were about $100 million, the smallest total for the year. More analysis (do you really need more?) from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
Big-shot banker is back. Skip Paul, a veteran Hollywood investment banker who is pals with Steven Spielberg and Irving Azoff, is returning to action with Centerview Partners. Paul, whose deal credits include the Matsushita-MCA deal, seems to know everyone who is anyone in the world, according to the rather fawning piece on him in Monday's New York Times. Even retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who Paul used to clerk for and now plays golf with, got on the phone to sing his praises. When that many power brokers and players get on the phone to gush about you and you get that kind of treatment from the gray lady, you're either very good or very scary or, most likely, both.
Up upfront? The television advertising market appears to be rebounding just in time for the networks to start selling commercials for this fall's new television season in what is known as the upfront market, reports the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ notes more on how strong a comeback there will be will become clearer as Viacom, CBS, Disney and News Corp. start to report results in the next few weeks. Industry cheerleader analyst Jessica Reif of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research (thank you, consolidation, for that mouthful of a name) tells the paper, "It's pretty clear this is going to be a pretty buoyant upfront."
Development purgatory. Wonder whatever happened to that movie version of "Confederacy of Dunces?" The Wrap looks at some of the more high-profile projects collecting dust. I'm still waiting for "What Makes Sammy Run?" Is Ben Stiller still developing that? If so, what's taking so long?
And I thought they loved his mind. The Wrap looks behind-the-scenes at why NBC's critical darling but ratings-challenged "Parks and Recreation" signed Rob Lowe to join the show. His hiring was pushed by NBC Universal Entertainment chief Angela Bromstad in the hopes that the aging pretty boy (that's fair, right?) can bring some Alec Baldwin-like charm to the show. Any fan of "Tommy Boy" knows Lowe has pretty good comedic skills.
Might as well keep it in the family. Conan O'Brien, who will join Time Warner's TBS this fall, is also moving his production company to the media conglomerate. Deadline Hollywood's Nellie Andreeva reports that Conaco will move its base from NBC Universal to Warner Bros. Television. Honestly, is this really a surprise to anyone? On another note, I had the pleasure of catching O'Brien's show Saturday at Universal and just want to know: When did Jim Carrey start to look like Jackson Browne? Eat something, Jim!
Hockey's back! Really, we're not kidding. Media Week reports that ratings on both Comcast's Versus and NBC are up this season. Timing couldn't be better as the NHL's current deals are nearing the finish line. I wouldn't get too excited though, the numbers are still pretty small. A good garage sale on Pico can get just as many viewers on the right day.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The good, the bad, the video game. Rockstar Games' co-founders Dan and Sam Houser are launching a Western-influenced video game that our Ben Fritz has the details on.
-- Joe Flint