Entertainment Industry

Category: Comedy Central

Morning Fix: 'Social Network' scores. Rupert Murdoch tilts right again. Sanchez adds to CNN's woes. Quick hook in new TV season. CAA gets an infusion.

After the coffee.  Before seeing if I had the Kansas City Chiefs going undefeated this season.

The Skinny. In Monday's roundup: Sony's "The Social Network" takes the top spot at the box office, but don't look for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to buy the DVD. CAA has landed a big investment from TPG, a private equity firm, that the talent agency hopes will position it for a bright future in an uncertain world. No new hits so far in the TV season. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died late last week, not only created great TV, he stood up for independent producers against the networks.

Sony likes this! "The Social Network," Sony Pictures' attempt to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Facebook and the legal battles that followed its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, finished first at the box office, taking in $23 million. That is just a little off from what industry analysts had projected, and the movie easily beat the other two major releases that opened -- "Case 39" and "Let Me In." The real challenge for "The Social Network" will be to avoid being the MySpace or Friendster of movies, starting out hot and then vanishing from the zeitgeist. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News

Zuckerberg's thumb is down. Although the box office was good, Facebook and Zuckerberg are not fans of "The Social Network," which people close the company claim is a very distorted look at the history of the social-networking site. Hollywood take creative liberties? Shocking. David Kirkpatrick, who wrote a book on Facebook with the cooperation of Zuckerberg, talks about what he thinks the movie got wrong in the Daily Beast. After reading his article and seeing the movie, I was more surprised by how much Kirkpatrick said the movie got right versus what he said the movie got wrong. OK, so Zuckberberg didn't have sex in a bathroom as implied with the movie; I think he can survive that hit to his reputation.  In the meantime, Zuckerberg is trying to improve his own profile, making a big donation to public schools in Newark, N.J., and appearing on both Oprah Winfrey's show and Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons."

Disney's new new media duo. Walt Disney Co.'s digital aspirations are so big that it takes two executives to run its interactive unit. Over the weekend, the company announced that John Pleasants, chief executive of Playdom, a social gaming site that Disney bought earlier this year, and James Pitaro, who oversees Yahoo Inc.'s media operations, will be co-presidents of Disney Interactive. They replace Steve Wadsworth, who left a few weeks ago. Details from Bloomberg.

CAA's new look. On Friday, Creative Artists Agency announced TPG Group, a firm whose investments include Burger King and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, bought a 35% stake in the talent agency whose clients include Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey. The deal will also see CAA and TPG create a $500-million fund for future investments. The move comes as the movie and television industries struggle to adjust to the shifting digital landscape. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Deadline Hollywood.

CNN's struggles. It is a cash cow with a brand known the world over, but Time Warner Inc.'s CNN has seen its ratings plummet in the U.S. over the last decade as Fox News has raced to the top and MSNBC has made big inroads. New York magazine looks at the unsuccessful efforts of recently ousted CNN U.S. President Jon Klein to shakeup the network and turn it around, and how its competitors have managed to steal the spotlight. CNN's headaches only got worse on Friday when one of its hosts, Rick Sanchez, was canned for calling Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" a bigot and for taking some shots at CNN management as well. The Washington Post on how Sanchez imploded.

Rupert leans right. Once again, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has made a big donation that has people talking about the influence of his media company -- whose holdings include Fox News -- on the country's political climate. Murdoch wrote a $1-million check to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is working primarily on behalf of Republican candidates. The New York Times takes a look at Murdoch's spending and what it has people saying about his company.

Quick trigger. The TV season is only a couple of weeks old and already two shows -- Fox's "Lone Star" and ABC's "My Generation" -- have been canceled. So much for having patience when, with so many shows launching at the same time, it's hard to get the attention of viewers. Of course, some shows just are not good, and all the marketing in the world won't make a difference. Variety has a look at the quick hook of the networks.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Scott Collins looks at the lack of success for most of the TV season's new shows. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died on Friday, not only made a lot of great shows ("The Rockford Files," "Wise Guy"), he was a strong voice for independent producers.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter because it will make Monday go by faster. Twitter.com/JBFlint

The Morning Fix: TV's manic Monday and Fox's fizzling 'Lone Star'! DC moves to L.A. Blockbuster nears bankruptcy. Another MySpace remake.

After the coffee. Before wondering if the Oscar talk for "The Town" isn't just a tad premature.
 

Here we go again. Monday night marked the official start of the new TV season, but it was an old show -- ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" -- that ran away with the viewers. Still, CBS can crow about the launches of "Hawaii Five-0" and "Mike & Molly," NBC can breathe a little easier about its big-budget drama, "The Event," and Fox can ... never mind. Poor Fox might have to adopt the Boomtown Rats song "I Don't Like Mondays" as its new marketing song if things don't improve. "Lone Star," its critically acclaimed drama about a Texas con man failed to hustle up much of an audience. The 9 p.m. show barely broke the 4-million-viewer mark as more than half of the audience from its "House" lead-in fled. There is already talk that "Lone Star" might join that small list of shows canceled after just one episode. HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which played in less than one-third of the homes of "Lone Star," got a bigger audience and was already renewed for a second season. Ratings analysis on night one of the season from the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.

No rush on returning that DVD. Blockbuster Inc., once the king of the home-entertainment business, is expected to finally file for bankruptcy later this week. The chain has been shuttering stores for years as it has struggled to keep up with Netflix and Redbox and has a $900-million debt load it is struggling to pay off. Hard to believe that Viacom once paid more than $8 billion for Blockbuster. Then again, it's hard to believe I used to go there all the time and even its heyday didn't like the way the stores were run. Details on Blockbuster's late-fee issues from the Wall Street Journal.

Heard this before. News Corp. is once again promising a "dramatic remake" of MySpace, that other social-networking site that Hollywood isn't making a big movie about. Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Wrap, Jon Miller, the digital czar of News Corp. said the new MySpace will take the site "back to its roots of music, discovery and self-expression" and will "jar some people and excite others." As long as it excites boss Rupert Murdoch, Miller can jar as many people he wants. More on the latest do-over for MySpace from Bloomberg. For more on the other sessions at the Wrap's daylong conference, here is the roundup.

DC moves to L.A. No, not Washington, D.C., DC Comics. Warner Bros. has wrapped up its yearlong reorganization of its DC Entertainment division, otherwise known as DC Comics. The bulk of DC's New York-based operations are headed West, and about 50 people will be let go. Details on the moves from the Los Angeles Times.

Amy on the move. Amy Banse, who has been running much of cable giant Comcast Corp.'s digital operations, is exiting that post, and her job was so big it will be filled by two people, reports Peter Kafka at All Things Digital. Banse isn't expected to leave the company and, in fact, has a very close relationship with Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts and his family and could end up with a very senior position in the new Comcast after the NBC Universal deal closes.

Ready for his closeup. John Gotti Jr., son of the late New York mobster John Gotti, is participating in an effort to bring his life and relationship with his father to the big screen. Gotti told Variety, "The story's about redemption. ... My father had a hard time accepting that I ultimately didn't want to follow his path." No word on who will play Curtis Silwa, the Guardian Angel founder, radio personality and target of a shooting that Gotti Jr. was accused but not convicted of arranging.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: James Rainey on tabloid gossip and how even good things are said without attribution. Patrick Goldstein on the premature Oscar hype for "The Town." Will there be enough hooting from audiences to make "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" a hit? A former assistant to a top Disney executive pleaded guilty to charges related to insider trading. Ex-"SNL" star Norm MacDonald is developing a new show for Comedy Central.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter and at least the day won't be a total loss. Twitter.com/JBFlint

It is always sunny in Philadelphia as reruns of FX comedy go for big bucks

It just got a little sunnier in Philadelphia.

No, we're not talking about the Phillies being on the verge of making the World Series for the second year in a row. News Corp.'s Twentieth Television has just sold reruns of the FX sitcom "It's Always Sunny in Philadephia" to Viacom's Comedy Central for roughly $400,000 per episode plus some commercial inventory, people familiar with the deal say.

SUNNYPHILLIE For a cable comedy, that is a pretty healthy price tag. Throw in the commercial time and the value of the deal could end up being being north of $700,000 per episode for Twentieth Television and the creative team behind the show. Of course, that is also dependent on the economy and what is happening in the advertising market when Comedy Central starts running the show.

While the $400,000 cash part of the deal still pales compared with what a hit comedy in broadcast television can get in rerun sales (Lifetime paid Twentieth Television about $800,000 per episode for reruns of "How I Met Your Mother"), the gap is definitely narrowing.

Furthermore, the cost of producing an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is nowhere near what a typical episode of "How I Met Your Mother" or NBC Universal's "30 Rock" runs, meaning that the little sitcom that could -- which is off to a strong start this season -- could end up turning a very nice profit.

While FX looked at buying the reruns, Twentieth Television, by selling to Comedy Central, doesn't have to worry about any producers thinking it cut a sweetheart deal within the company. That has been a problem in the past, as actors Alan Alda and David Duchovny and producer Steven Bochco sued News Corp. claiming just that over rerun sales of "M*A*S*H," "The X-Files" and "NYPD Blue," respectively, from Twentieth to FX.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / FX

Exit laughing: Lauren Corrao leaves Comedy Central

LaurenCorrao Lauren Corrao, the longtime Comedy Central head of programming and development more recently responsible for ushering in "The Sarah Silverman Program," is leaving the cable channel.

In a memo sent to staffers Monday, MTV Networks Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog said he and Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless would use the next few months to find a replacement. Corrao's direct-reports are Senior Vice President Jim Sharp and newly hired Lisa Leingang, but sources said an external hire is more likely. Corrao will stay at the Viacom-owned cable network through the end of her contract, which expires in December, and will thereafter segue into producing.

Herzog credited Corrao, who has been at the network for seven years, with the rise of hits like the short-lived "Chappelle's Show," "Drawn Together" and "Reno 911!" More recently, she signed comedian Demetri Martin to his own series ("Important Things with Demetri Martin").

But lately, the network has struggled to find new hits. Among the more recent high-profile launches that didn't click are "Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire" and the David Alan Grier news show "Chocolate News," both of which flopped. A renewal for "Michael & Michael Have Issues" is also unlikely.

In a statement, Corrao said, "I feel that this is exactly the right time in this ever changing world of television to personally create, produce and own content. I am very much looking forward to the new and exciting challenges in the next chapter of my career."

Before joining Comedy Central, Corrao was a producing partner with Peter Tolan and helped shepherd such series as ABC's "The Job."

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Comedy Central

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