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The Morning Fix: 'The Town' is big at the box office! Another bidder for MGM? Fox and Cablevision square off. Fall TV season begins tonight

September 20, 2010 |  7:59 am

After the coffee. Before ranting that "Catfish" doesn't live up to the hype.

Affleck movie leads box office. "The Town," the Boston bank robbery film starring and directed by Ben Affleck apparently caught the so-called expert prognosticators off guard by finishing first at the box office this past weekend with $23.8 million. That the word was that Warner Bros.' "The Town" would be unlikely to take in even $20 million shows once again that not everyone who tries to pick box office actually knows all that much. Anyone who'd seen how the previews played in the theater could have figured out this one was going to open strong. Coming in at No. 2 was the Sony teen comedy "Easy A," which had been picked to finish first and took in a respectable $18.2 million. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Networks, start your engines. Tonight's a big night for network TV as CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox all have big Monday premieres to start the fall TV season with a bang. Among the new shows are CBS' "Hawaii Five-O," NBC's "The Event" and Fox's "Lone Star." Every year, TV reporters have to come up with angles to write preview pieces, and this year there really wasn't a whole lot noticeable about the new season. While there are a few shows with some good buzz ("The Event," "Raising Hope"), there isn't a "Glee" or "Modern Family" in this bunch. The daring moves -- CBS putting "Big Bang Theory" on Thursday -- are few and far between. So instead we have general stories about how the broadcast networks are launching lots of new shows and facing greater competition from cable (including HBO, which launched its latest huge series, "Empire Boardwalk," on Sunday). Oh well, if I was such hot stuff, I'd have found a different story, but I've been caught up in the start of football. Anyway, some fall TV previews from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Deadline Hollywood, and Broadcasting & Cable.

Indian company looking to buy MGM. An Indian conglomerate may be the latest to make a play for the beleaguered Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. The Wall Street Journal reported that Sahara India Pariwar, which according to the company's website, has holdings in "finance, infrastructure and housing, media and entertainment," has made an offer of $2 billion for the studio. No word if MGM, which is trying to come out from under a mountain of debt, is game. Bloomberg added that the Broccoli family, which co-owns the James Bond franchise, is also aligned with Sahara India Pariwar.

Get your job application in early. The Comcast-NBC Universal deal still has a long way to go before it clears Washington with who-knows-what conditions are tacked on, but that's not stopping all the speculation on who will get what job in the new entity. A crazy thought for those busy lobbying: Do your job and let your results speak for yourself. Oh wait, this is Hollywood, so never mind. Instead, spin the media on why you're on the rise and your colleague will be headed to the door. The latest in backstabbing from the Daily Beast.

Guess we'll just have to watch what happens. Disney's new market chief, M.T. Carney, is under the microscope. Earlier this month, it leaked that an outside firm was being brought in to help with the marketing and promotion of Jerry Bruckheimer's next "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Advertising Age checks in with Carney's strategy. Part of her success will depend on new studio chief Rich Ross' slate, but honestly after reading her quotes in the piece, I can't tell you what her approach will be. "A lot of what I've been doing is about breaking down silos," she said. What does that mean? Another quote: "Building a marketing team is like putting together a soccer team -- you're only as good as the people you're playing with." That may be true, but I guess if you put together a bad team then you're not very good either. This is not a slap at Carney, who may turn out to be a brilliant movie marketer. But it would help if executives would avoid industry babble in explaining their plans and if the reporters wouldn't let them get away with lingo that means nothing when you say it out loud.

Here we go again. The companies may change, but the issues are always the same. Earlier this month, Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Cable fought over a new distribution deal for Disney's TV networks on the cable operator's systems. Now News Corp., parent of the Fox network, FX and regional sports channels, is squaring off against Cablevision Systems Corp., one of the main pay-TV distributors in New York City and Long Island. These two signed a temporary deal last year because they couldn't come to terms on a new agreement. If any cable operator has shown a willingness to drop a channel to make point, it's Cablevision, which earlier this year dropped Disney's ABC as well as its other channels and Scripps' Food Network. Deals were eventually reached, but not until the programmers got the idea of what a blank screen in the nation's biggest TV market looked like. More from the Wall Street Journal. Update: Our friends at Cablevision called to remind us that technically, the programmers removed their networks from the systems as opposed to Cablevision dropping them so maybe we should just say in the past Cablevision has indicated they are not afraid of losing a few channels over price. 

ABC's version of "Mad Men." Variety says ABC is developing a drama about the Pan Am airline in the 1960s, a time when pilots were cool and stewardesses looked glamorous. Of course, this is clearly ABC hoping to cash in on the glory of AMC's "Mad Men," which looks at advertising execs in the same time period. Let's hope ABC doesn't get the same small ratings. Wouldn't they have just been better off turning "Catch Me If You Can" into a TV series?

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The latest on the Toronto Film Festival from Steven Zeitchik. Lots of reviews of the new Monday shows from Mary McNamara and Robert Lloyd in Monday's Calender section. 

--  Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. It's cheaper than going to the movies. Twitter.com/JBFlint

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