After the coffee. Before going off the grid for the day.
The Skinny: It was seven years ago today that I quit smoking. While I still occasionally miss my Marlboros, I have no real desire (or the wallet) to pick it up again. Today's roundup includes a preview of the weekend box office. Also, the crowds may have been big at Sundance but the business deals weren't. Oh, and I squeezed in a Justin Bieber piece to bring my demo down. Finally, an obituary for the legendary lawyer and agent Ed Hookstratten, who died Wednesday at the age of 83.
Daily Dose: Time Warner Cable is making some changes at its local Los Angeles channel SoCal 101 that will result in more than 50 people being let go. Primarily known as a sports channel for area high schools -- it has a TV deal with the California Interscholastic Federation -- the channel may be trying to veer a little more toward a lifestyle outlet. The cable operator said it would still honor its existing sports commitments but said, "we may have to slightly adjust our programming schedule."
Cruise control. The buddy comedy "Ride Along" should have no problem staying in first place for the second weekend in a row with a projected take of just over $20 million. The only new movie opening wide this weekend is "I, Frankenstein," a horror flick expected to crack the $10-million mark. "Lone Survivor" and "The Nut Job" are forecast to post solid results as well. Weekend box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
Going for the gold. With the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, just weeks away, attention is starting to focus in the industry on whether NBC will be able to recoup the nearly $800 million it spent for the TV rights to the Games. One estimate has NBC taking in just over $1 billion in advertising for its coverage, which will be spread out across most of its broadcast and cable assets. Another major concern is, of course, security amidst worries of potential terrorist attacks. More on the games from AdWeek and the Los Angeles Times.
Lots of window shopping, not much buying. The Sundance Film Fesitval is wrapping up and while it got the usual attention and drew huge crowds, the Wall Street Journal says spending was off this year. One reason is that Sundance is no longer the only game in town when it comes to finding that next quirky hit. "The market for commercial independent movies is so healthy that they are selling at every major festival and often outside of a festival environment completely," Micah Green, co-head of the Creative Artist Agency's film finance and sales group said. "Most of what premiered at Sundance this year were smaller, more avant-garde movies."
Talk it out. A large Time Warner Cable shareholder is encouraging the company to at least have some conversations with Charter Communications about the latter's offer to acquire the pay-TV company. Time Warner Cable has said it found Charter's offer of $132.50 a share underwhelming. T. Rowe Price has written a letter to Time Warner Cable urging it to talk to Charter about a deal, according to Reuters. T. Rowe Price also has a stake in Charter.
Bieber bonanza. You didn't think I'd let the column slip by without finding a way to work in teenybopper Justin Beiber did you? His arrest has given cable news an excuse to take a breather from trying to be journalism operations in favor of chasing ratings. Have they gone overboard or are the problems of one of the world's biggest entertainers (it's scary typing that) a worthy news story? Variety columnist Brian Lowry offers his take.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Ed Hookstratten, a powerful entertainment lawyer and agent who dominated the worlds of sports, TV news and entertainment, died at the age of 83. Betsy Sharkey on liking unlikeable movie characters
Follow me on Twitter. I have a long memory that comes in handy. @JBFlint.