The Morning Fix: Letterman sticks around. Kardashian 'stock' drops!
After the coffee. Before seeing if I can get through the day without any petty arguments.
The Skinny:My new year's resolution is to cut down on emails. No doubt email is an important tool for communication, but the phone where voices can be heard and tones registered is the way to go for most things. Friday's headlines include CBS' David Letterman nearing a new deal to keep him on late night, previews of the weekend box office and, hopefully, a look at the drop in interest in the Kardashians.
Am I an assassin or a dinosaur? An anonymous piece by a TV executive in the Hollywood Reporter describing the types of writers who attend the TV press tour going on right now has got many critics up in arms. Among the participants, according to Mr. X, are the "angry young blogger" (mad about "having to attend and write about something other than himself"), "the twit" ("spends the entire time tweeting back and forth with a few other like-minded tweeters"), "the assassin" ("views himself or herself as an investigative reporter dedicated to the destruction of the evil empires that run the world and provide an inadequate breakfast") and the dinosaurs ("Their place at the top of the food chain is increasingly being occupied by smaller, quicker, warm-blooded animals with much smaller brainpans but opposable thumbs more suited to digital work."). So who is Mr. X? Well, this dinosaur's reporting (I asked two other writers what they thought) has led me to CBS communications chief Gil Schwartz, known for his sharp tongue and acid wit. Schwartz, who has written books and a column for Fortune, said he does not comment on rumors and speculation.
Retro weekend. Walt Disney Co. is re-releasing "Beauty and the Beast" in 3-D this weekend and hoping that the 20-year-old animated flick can recapture its old glory. Last year's reissue of "The Lion King" in 3-D certainly showed that more money can be squeezed out of these classics. Also entering the box office race this weekend is "Contraband," an action movie starring Mark Wahlberg. The third big entry is "Joyful Noise," a musical starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. If you don't catch it now, don't sweat it. It will probably be on DVD by the end of the month. Projections from the Los Angeles Times and Variety. Also, USA Today looks at what other classics are being dusted off and given a 3-D makeover.
Surging Insurge. The surprise success of the low-budget horror movie "The Devil Inside" makes Paramount Pictures' relatively new Insurge label two-for-two. Its first movie, the concert film "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," made about $100 million around the globe. The studio's goal is to make movies on the cheap aimed at teens and young adults. Its next big movie project is "Ultimate Dog Tease," based on the popular YouTube clips about a talking dog. "The plan for Insurge is never to have a business plan because it's an incubator and is always evolving," Paramount Film Group President Adam Goodman told the Los Angeles Times.
Sticking around a little longer. Not much of a surprise here, but CBS is close to wrapping up a deal with David Letterman to keep the late night host on the air until 2014, according to the New York Times. That would mean Letterman would be on the air longer than Johnny Carson was. It also means that his in house heir apparent -- Craig Ferguson -- will either have to wait a little longer for the network's top job in late night or perhaps embark on a new path if he doesn't want to play the waiting game or is feeling burnt out by the genre.
Showtime's time. CBS' pay cable network Showtime -- once seen as the Pepsi to HBO's Coke -- has been closing the gap. Successful dramas like "Dexter" and the new CIA thriller "Homeland" have given the network great buzz with critics and the number of subscribers has grown to 21 million. Though it still trails HBO in terms of customers and profits, the game is no longer as one-sided as it once was. A look at Showtime's hot streak from the Financial Times.
Kardashian crash. Are we over our obsession with all things Kardashian? Actually, let me tweak that sentence. Are you over your obsession with all things Kardashian? The New York Post says if the Kardashians were a stock, their share price would be plummeting. That's bad news for Comcast's E! cable channel, which basically bankrolls the family and counts on them for huge ratings. It's good news for the rest of the world until E! finds some other previously obscure family to turn into celebrities for no real reason.
He who laughs last. Former Viacom Chief Executive Tom Freston, whom Chairman Sumner Redstone famously (and some would say stupidly) fired in 2006 for, among other reasons, not buying the social networking site Myspace, penned a short piece on the experience and how he moved forward for Business Week. U2's Bono had the best advice for Freston.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The FCC is going to review the NFL's TV blackout rules, which prevent games from being shown in a team's home city if the stadium is not sold out. Hollywood's biggest guessing game these days is trying to figure out who will be the new head of marketing at Disney's movie studio.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I'm a truth vigilante. Twitter.com/JBFlint