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The Morning Fix: 'Act of Valor' to take No. 1? Weinstein bashes MPAA.

After the coffee. Before finishing my Oscar pool picks.

The Skinny: I don't know about you, but I no longer care whether Sacha Baron Cohen gets to walk the red carpet of this Sunday's Oscar in his dictator suit and big bushy beard. Friday's headlines include a look at the weekend box office, lots of Oscar previews and more negative press for Disney's "John Carter."

Act of Valor is expected to finish first
Daily Dose: Don't look for any advertisements for Eddie Murphy's upcoming comedy "A Thousand Words" during this Sunday's Oscars telecast. The movie originally was scheduled for release in January, but last fall distributor Paramount moved it to after the Oscars in anticipation of getting a little free promotion from Murphy's gig as host of the awards show. Of course, we all know what happened next. Producer Brett Ratner was forced out as producer of the Oscars and with him went Murphy. So much for the best-laid plans. Not only will there be no spots promoting Murphy's flick, he is not expected to make an appearance at the show, his spokesman said.

Big mission. "Act of Valor," the action movie about real-life Navy SEALs, is expected to take the top slot at the box office this weekend, with industry estimates putting the movie's take at $23 million. Tyler Perry's new movie "Good Deeds" has been picked to finish second with $17 million. Also opening but not expecting to do much are the romantic comedy "Wanderlust" starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd and the thriller "Gone." My own hunch is that "Safe House" will still be strong and could stay on top and that "Wanderlust" will do better than people think. Box office projections from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Finding its voice. The New York Times looks at how "The Artist" managed to become the favorite to take best picture at this Sunday's Oscar Awards. Perhaps the most amazing part of the silent movie's journey is that the vision of the husband-and-wife-team Michel Hazanavicius and Bérénice Bejo remained pretty much untouched from inception to the big screen.  

TV's big night. While the Oscars are about movies, it is an important television night and social media event as well. Yes, the idea that people tweet or post comments about television is still apparently a story. I wonder if anyone wrote a story about people who watched TV shows while on the phone. Wouldn't that have been the precursor to Twitter? Anyway, stories about the show, the ads and the social media factor from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and New York Times.

Don't bully Harvey. Harvey Weinstein is mad that his Weinstein Co.'s movie "Bully" has been rated R. The rating, Weinstein fears, will hurt the documentary about teen bullying at the box office and make it harder for schools to screen it. Weinstein often clashes with the MPAA ratings folks, and many of those spats seem designed to generate publicity. However, having viewed a trailer for the movie, this may be one of those cases when he has a point. More on the spat from the Hollywood Reporter.

Stores for rent. Dish Network, the new parent of video rental chain Blockbuster, is closing 500 of the retailer's 1,500 stores. The move was not a surprise as Dish has said it would shutter under-performing stories. Just wondering, are there still any overperforming Blockbusters left? Details from the Denver Post.

Piling on. First the Daily Beast weighed in with its negative story on Disney's upcoming epic "John Carter;" now it is the New York Post warning us that Disney may have a turkey on its hands. Meanwhile some fans of the science fiction work that the movie is based on have taken matters into their own hands by making a trailer they feel tells what the movie is about better than the one Disney has out. A look at that from the Los Angeles Times.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Kenneth Turan on "Act of Valor." Betsy Sharkey on "Wanderlust."

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I'll make the Oscars more entertaining. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: "Act of Valor." Credit: Relativity Media.

 
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