The Morning Fix: 'Battle: Los Angeles' defeats all! Journalism's grim report card. Alec Baldwin tells Charlie Sheen to go begging.
After the coffee. Before getting your NCAA brackets ready.
The Skinny: Time to take a crash course in college basketball and pretend I'm obsessed with March Madness. "Battle: Los Angeles" destroyed the box office this weekend. How long before "Battle: Des Moines"?
Not much of a battle. Sony's "Battle: Los Angeles" rolled to the top of the box office this weekend, taking in $36 million and easily beating back Warner Bros. dark new version of "Red Riding Hood" and Disney's "Mars Needs Moms," which made $14.1 million and $6.8 million, respectively. Hard to get excited about any of last weekend's offerings, but clearly "Battle: Los Angeles" provided a cheap diversion for folks who didn't feel like doing much thinking this weekend. Lots of head-scratching over why "Mars Needs Moms" flopped, but I'm going to go with confusion over just what the movie was about. Sorry, but if you put Mars in the title, people think science fiction. Put moms in the title and people think kids. Put both in the title and no one knows what to think, so they stay away. Box-office coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News. Also, the Hollywood Reporter weighs in with its report on which studio had the best 2010.
The middle man is bad news. The Pew Research Center released its annual -- and, as usual, depressing -- State of the News Media report Monday morning. Newspapers continued to take hits to their bottom lines. Cable news ratings are, generally speaking, on the decline. But the biggest dark cloud is that Google, Facebook and others are the new delivery system of news. The good news in that is that news no longer knows geographic borders and that everyone can read everything. The bad news is, they usually get to read it for free because newspapers are still giving it away online. Details on the report from Poynter, the New York Times, Broadcasting & Cable and the Hollywood Reporter.
Fourth and real long. The NFL owners and their players have stopped talking to each other and started talking about each other. With no new contract for the players, the owners have locked them out. We're still a long way from the season being canceled, but the two sides are still far apart on money and the length of the season. The NFL, thanks to its TV deals, has stockpiled money and can deal, at least for now, with no games come this fall. The networks keep claiming that no NFL won't be a disaster, but I'm not buying it. As usual, the ones hurt by this most are fans, except Redskins fans like me who may be spared another season of frustration. Analysis from the Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated.
Tweet this preview. Paramount Pictures last week became the first major studio to preview a movie via Twitter. In other words, they posted a link to a trailer. Yes, this is news. The bigger question is why studios, already on YouTube with trailers, have not been linking to them on Twitter as well all along. More from Cnet.
Rename it South Buy Southwest. Variety reports on the deal-making at this year's South by Southwest festival. And here I was thinking it was just a place reporters went to tweet about parties.
Listen to this man. Alec Baldwin has some advice for Charlie Sheen. Get your you-know-what together and go beg for your job back. "Take a nap. Get a shower. Call Chuck. Go on Letterman and make an apology. Write a huge check to the B'nai Brith. And then beg for your job back. Your fans demand it. You will never win," Baldwin told Sheen in a article on Huffington Post.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The secret to the success of CBS' "The Good Wife."
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. It'll make that hour we lost easier to swallow. Twitter.com/JBFlint