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The Morning Fix: 'Hunger Games' devours all! Rock back in ring.

March 26, 2012 |  7:14 am

After the coffee. Before seeing what the ratings were for "Mad Men."

The Skinny:I saw "The Hunger Games." It is "Survivor" meets "The Truman Show" with a little bit of "The Bachelorette" thrown in. Still, nothing like seeing a movie in a packed theater. Monday's headlines include the big box office take for "The Hunger Games," Dwayne Johnson's return to the wrestling ring and James Cameron's long trip.

The Hunger Games
The Daily Dose: Fox Broadcasting has indicated that it would consider hiring Sean Payton -- the New Orleans Saints coach who was suspended for the season as a result of his role in the team's bounty program that encouraged defensive players to take out opposing players -- for its broadcast coverage of the NFL. Such a move would not make the network any new friends at the NFL. After all, if the NFL has decreed that Payton's behavior has made him bad for football, it seems unlikely it would look kindly on anyone giving him a job where he would seemingly be a face of the league. "Our feeling about Sean is that he’s bright, articulate and obviously contemporary,” Lou D’Ermilio, a Fox spokesman, told the New York Times. “Any network with NFL rights would have to consider it.”

Appetite fulfilled. As expected, Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games" had a massive opening weekend, taking in $155 million. That is a new box office record for a non-sequel and behind only the last "Harry Potter" movie and "The Dark Night." About 61% of the audience for "The Hunger Games" were women. That's about 20% less than what the last "Twilight" film averaged. At the screening of "The Hunger Games" I attended, there was a fair amount of chuckling when a preview for the next "Twilight" movie was screened. Box office coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Movie City News and the New York Times.

Ratings race.There is a shakeup going on in cable television viewing as many of the top-rated cable networks -- including Time Warner's TNT and Comcast's USA -- have seen their ratings take a dip this year. On the rise are the History Channel and AMC. Of course, the good thing about the cable business is that the programmers have long-term deals with distributors and often their subscriber fees are immune to fluctuations in their ratings. More on this year's cable numbers from the Wall Street Journal.

Layup for Lauer. Matt Lauer, lead anchor of NBC's morning news program "Today," appears to be in the driver's seat as he and NBC try to hammer out a new deal to keep him at the network. Lauer's contract is up at the end of the year. While ABC's "Good Morning America" has closed the gap on "Today," a loss of Lauer could easily give its No. 1 rival even more momentum. A look at Lauer's leverage from New York magazine.

Lightening his load. James Murdoch has resigned from boards affiliated with News Corp.'s British newspaper unit, which is currently under investigation for ethical abuses by lawmakers there. Next month, the Parliament committee investigating phone hacking and other wrongdoings by News Corp. tabloids is expected to release a report critical of Murdoch's handling of the situation. More from Bloomberg.

Double duty. Dwayne Johnson, who first rose to fame as the wrestler "The Rock" before leaving the WWE to become a movie star, is returning to the ring. Interestingly, Johnson is doing this when his box office star continues to rise, not because it has taken a tumble. Variety looks at Johnson's career strategy.

Can you hear me now? Director James Cameron ("Titanic," "Avatar"), best known for taking movies where no one has gone before, has now taken himself where no man has been before. Cameron dove to the deepest point on Earth in a special submarine. According to the Associated Press, Cameron reached a depth of almost 36,000 feet. Guess his favorite album is Van Halen's "Diver Down."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Randall Roberts on Madonna's latest release. James Rainey on celebrity profiles.

-- Joe Flint

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Photo: "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate.