After the coffee. Before trying to make this a three-day weekend.
The Skinny: I'm picking the Giants and Patriots this weekend, which is no doubt also the match NBC wants for the Super Bowl. Friday's headlines include a look at the new Star Wars video game, a box office preview, the latest on the piracy legislation fight and a tumble in the ratings for "American Idol."
The Daily Dose: Co-worker Ben Fritz asks this burning question: Mirror mirror, on the wall, which media conglomerate engages in the most blatant cross-promotion of them all? "Top Chef" fans likely noticed that this week's episode was essentially an hour-long commercial for June's big-budget movie "Snow White and the Huntsman." Film star Charlize Theron was the guest judge and the challenge was to cook a meal fit for an evil queen (guess which character Charlize plays). Not mentioned in the episode is that "Snow White" comes from Universal Pictures, which like "Top Chef" network Bravo is owned by Comcast Corp.'s NBC Universal. Smart corporate synergy or crass product placement? How about both?
Can't we all get along? The battle over proposed bills to fight piracy continues to rage on. Hollywood is furious that its efforts to curb theft and piracy have been overshadowed by Silicon Valley's claims that the laws will hurt innovation and free speech. In the meantime, an activist group has been hacking into websites to protest the bills and some sites went dark for a day as a form of protest. Of course, if Hollywood and the TV networks shut down for a day for political purposes, they'd hear about it from regulators and consumers. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cancelled the vote on one of the bills. Meanwhile, on Thursday the feds shut down the site Megaupload for violating piracy laws. The latest coverage from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Variety.
An expensive galaxy far far away. It cost $200 million and took six years to make. No, we're not talking about James Cameron's next movie. We're talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic, the costliest and riskiest video game ever made. The Los Angeles Times looks behind the scenes at the making of the game and what it will have to do to be a hit.
Jump ball. Reading the stories about the box office this weekend and it seems to me that there is not going to be any dominating by any movie. "Underworld: Awakening," Sony's latest chapter in its vampire series (is it sign of how out of it I am that I have never heard of this franchise?) is expected to end up on top. I am no expert but I predict "Haywire," the action movie starring Gina Carano, is going to do better than people think. Projections from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
Secrets of phone hacking. Earlier this week, News Corp. settled a bunch of claims having to do with phone hacking at the company's now-closed tabloid News of the World and its still up-and-running paper the Sun. While the company has tried to say that settling is not an admission of guilt, that's a hard sell. In the meantime, the Guardian, the biggest thorn in News Corp.'s side, offers up its story on how the media giant hid and misled authorities about the scope of the scandal.
Out of tune? Fox's "American Idol" returned Wednesday night and only 21.9 million tuned in to watch the season debut of the show's 11th season. Yes, the number is the lowest for the show since Season 1. But it is also an amazing number for a show that old. In my opinion, it is a little too early to start playing Taps for "American Idol." More on the numbers from the Wall Street Journal.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey went crazy for "Haywire."
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. Even when I'm not there, I'm there. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Associated Press.