The Morning Fix: 'Thor' and 'Bridesmaids' soar at box office! Shake-up at Dish Network. NBC unveils schedule.
After the coffee. Before the NBC and Fox upfronts.
The Skinny: Because it's upfront week, expect lots of TV news in the Morning Fix for the next few days. Hey, if they sent me to France instead of New York, you'd have lots of Cannes news. Play the hand you've been dealt.
"Thor" soars and "Bridesmaids" roars. In its second weekend out, "Thor" had enough juice to finish first again, taking in $34.5 million, which is a 48% drop from its premiere weekend. The real surprise -- at least to people who get paid big bucks to figure out how movies will do -- was the $24.5 million that "Bridesmaids" pulled in. I say "surprise" somewhat sarcastically because anyone who saw the previews and the reaction to them could sense that the Kristen Wiig movie would score with women while not alienating men either. If they couldn't see that or got so worked up with some raunchy humor, then they are sadly out of touch. Look for articles to talk about how Hollywood discovers there is a hungry female audience and look for those same articles to miss why "Bridesmaids" worked, which was because it wasn't another tired movie about a woman losing a guy, a woman resisting falling for a guy that we then know she'll fall for, or two women fighting over a guy. Also, not having Katherine Heigl or Kate Hudson in it probably didn't hurt. The downside to the success of "Bridesmaids" is Hollywood will now green-light a bunch of unfunny female comedies. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Movie City News and Deadline Hollywood.
New dish. Charlie Ergen, the longtime chairman and chief executive of Dish Network is giving up his chief-executive title, and Joseph Clayton, a former chairman of Sirius Satellite Radio will take over. The news was announced early Monday morning and comes as Dish enters a new era with its acquisition of fading movie-rental chain Blockbuster. Details from Bloomberg.
And they're off! NBC and Fox get upfront week going Monday with presentations of their fall TV schedules to advertisers. It's called "upfront" because advertisers buy the bulk of ad time before the season starts. NBC unveiled its new schedule to the media on Sunday, while Fox will detail its lineup later Monday. NBC's schedule features several new sitcoms, including comedies starring Christina Applegate and Hank Azaria. It also has a drama set in a Playboy Club in the 1960s. In detailing the network's 2011-12 programming plans, new entertainment president Bob Greenblatt said he hoped Donald Trump would not run for president so NBC would not have to find a new host for "The Celebrity Apprentice." I hope so too. Details on NBC's new lineup from the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today.
How Ashton Kutcher ended up on "Two and a Half Men." In today's digital world in which news outlets strive race against each other to throw news on the Web and pray for Google hits, the media often move on from a story just hours, if not minutes, after it's broken. Analysis or deeper reporting into how and why something happened the way it did has, sadly, becomes an afterthought as reporters chase the next headline. Fortunately, Variety remembered and tries to go behind the scenes on the scramble by Warner Bros. to get a new star on "Two and a Half Men" to fill the void left by Charlie Sheen, who was fired earlier this year. The machinations included serious talks with Hugh Grant too, and also interesting is that CBS was holding out a little hope that Sheen could somehow be brought back but that Warner Bros. resisted.
If the story you've been selling doesn't work, change the story. For years, NBC was obsessed with the 18-49 audience. Older viewers didn't matter. Now that the network doesn't do so well with younger viewers but has some shows that work with people past the ages of 40 and 50 -- "Harry's Law" and what's left of the "Law & Order" franchise -- it is changing its tune. On Saturday, the New York Times did a story about the case for the value of viewers over the age of 50. Of course, it's not that advertisers don't know that demographic has money, it's that there is a sentiment that middle-aged folks and beyond are less likely to change brands than younger consumers. Take it as a compliment: They think you are too smart to fall for advertising.
X marks the spot. Advertising Age looks at how Fox is selling "The X Factor," Simon Cowell's new musical talent show, to advertisers. Although "American Idol" has done very well with season-long sponsorships from companies such as Coke, when it comes to X Factor, says Ad Age, "only Pepsi has been sold a season-long sponsorship of the program; other marketers are free to purchase pacts that will insert their names and products into "X" -- as well as link to various social-media and digitally-based extensions -- for just a few episodes, according to media buyers and other people familiar with the program."
-- Joe Flint
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