The Morning Fix: ESPN to serve up Wimbledon! 'Transformers' rules world. HBO needs to put a top on.
After the coffee. Before figuring out what I'll listen to while Dan Patrick's off shooting another Adam Sandler movie.
The Skinny: Hope everyone had a nice long weekend. For those headed off to Sun Valley and Herb Allen's annual conference of media bigwigs, be nice to the poor reporters hanging around looking for scoops. But don't feed them. Otherwise they'll never go away.
Transformative box office. The latest "Transformers" movie set off fireworks around the world, taking in $116.4 million for the holiday weekend in the U.S. and an additional $217 million around the globe. "Transformers" blew away the other two new releases as "Larry Crowne," the romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, took in only $15.6 million and teen romance "Monte Carlo" managed only $8.8 million. Among the returning movies, "Cars 2" and "Bad Teacher" were still solid. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood and Movie City News.
No laughing matter. Comedy doesn't pay as well as it used to for big movie stars. Besides the usual issue of U.S. comedies often not translating well overseas, the genre has been particularly hard hit by the softening DVD business. "Because of the weakening DVD market, even when we love the material it doesn't make sense for us to make a creatively risky or daring comedy for much more than $25 million," Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad told the Los Angeles Times. Remember when movies were made because executives believed in them creatively and not because of how they would play 10,000 miles away from here?
ESPN's serve. Another staple of broadcast television is headed exclusively to cable. This time around it's Wimbledon, which is on the verge of moving from Comcast Corp.'s NBC to Walt Disney's ESPN, according to Sports Business Journal. NBC's current deal expired at the end of the tournament and cost about $13 million. ESPN wanted Wimbledon in part to beef up its already potent lineup of sports, in anticipation of Comcast putting more money into its sports channel, Versus. For tennis fans, the move may be welcome, because unlike NBC, ESPN is not expected to show matches on a delayed basis. ESPN is expected to announce the contract Monday.
Mogul mating season. Investment bank Allen & Co.'s annual gathering of media and technology bigwigs kicks off today in Sun Valley, Idaho. As usual, top executives from around the U.S. will take over the resort town and attend panels, listen to world leaders, ride bikes and go rafting. The media will be there too, trying to track their every move and to practice their lip-reading skills. I'd love for TMZ to find a way to infiltrate this thing. A preview from the Wall Street Journal.
Who needs scripts anyway. A new report from the Writers Guild of America West shows that salaries for movie writers took a 10% hit in 2010, and that the overall number of writers employed in the film and TV biz dropped by almost 5%. More on the numbers from Variety.
Ten percenter chases video game dollars. Business Week profiles Jeff Hilbert, considered to be the biggest agent in the video game business. "Jeff's the kind of guy who can find us the crazy ... that we would never think of ourselves." Feargus Urquhart, chief executive officer of Obsidian Entertainment, said of Hilbert.
Bogus tweets. A Fox News Twitter feed was hacked and used to send disturbing messages about President Obama. The Secret Service is looking into the matter. Maybe Twitter needs to do a better job of safeguarding accounts, because this seems to be happening more often. Details from the New York Times.
A new low. The British News Corp. newspaper "News of the World," which has been accused of hacking into the voice-mail accountants of celebrities and members of the royal family, did the same to a missing girl's phone, reports the Guardian. News of the World is even accused of deleting voice mails from the girl's family to clear space for more messages.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara says HBO needs to put a sweater on some of its shows. Betsy Sharkey on how Hollywood is squandering opportunities with 3-D. Netflix is expanding into Latin America.
-- Joe Flint
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