By Joe Flint
7:17 AM PST, February 10, 2014
After the coffee. Before finding a giraffe to hug today.
The Skinny: If you are not watching HBO's "True Detective," you're missing something good. The last 10 minutes of last night's episode was as intense as it gets. Also good to have "The Walking Dead" back and to see a backstory on one of the show's most mysterious characters. Today's roundup includes the weekend box-office report, Fox's decision to cancel "The X Factor" and Los Angeles names a new film czar.
Daily Dose: Remember "Playmakers," the ESPN drama about a fictional football league that got under the NFL's skin and lasted only one season? Amazon may have the comedy version in "The Rebels," whose executive producers include NFL legend Michael Strahan. Like "Playmakers," "The Rebels" -- about a dysfunctional Los Angeles football team -- features a few players who live on the edge. Strahan, who works NFL coverage for Fox, also got his network buddies, including Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long, to work on the pilot. If the pilot goes to series, it will be interesting to see if the NFL has a sense of humor about it or throws a flag on it.
Snapping in place. "The Lego Movie" topped even the most optimistic projections with a take of almost $70 million at the box office to become the first breakout hit of the new year. Heck, even I want to see this movie now, and Warner Bros. no doubt is already thinking "franchise!" "The Monuments Men" made just over $20 million, which was considered decent given the less than stellar reviews for the George Clooney-directed World War II drama. Showing no bite at all was "Vampire Academy," which was supposed to make $10 million, but took in just $4.1 million. I confess I thought "Vampire Academy" would do much better. Oops. Weekend box-office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
X'd out. Hoping to bury the news, Fox said late last Friday that it was pulling the plug on Simon Cowell's musical talent show "The X Factor." Although the spin was Fox made the move because of Cowell's decision to leave the show to return to the British version, which is a hit, I'm guessing it was more the other way around. Even though Cowell said in December "The X Factor" would come back, the writing was on the wall. For Fox, "The X Factor" was a disappointment right from the start. The network hoped it would be a fall version of "American Idol" and provide an unbeatable one-two punch. Instead, it played musical chairs with judges and struggled to differentiate itself from "Idol" and "The Voice." More on the demise of "The X Factor" from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.
Charting a course. Having failed to persuade Time Warner Cable to embrace its $37-billion bid ($61 billion including debt), Charter Communications is now preparing for a proxy fight. Charter is expected to unveil its own slate of directors it will nominate to the Time Warner Cable board, according to the Wall Street Journal. Time Warner Cable has said it is not against selling the company, which is the biggest pay-TV distributor in New York and Los Angeles, but it wants Charter to pay more. Until now, the media have resisted calling Charter's efforts hostile, but moving to push out a board of directors seems a tad unfriendly.
Something to quack about. Nickelodeon is hoping a pair of animated ducks will become its next big hit. The network, which has faced intense competition from the Disney Channel, is going outside the usual development circles to find new product as some of its key shows start to show some age. The Los Angeles Times tracks the unusual path the new show "Breadwinners" took to land a spot on Nickelodeon.
This sounds scary. HLN, the cable channel once known as Headline News and now seen as the Nancy Grace Network, wants to become Twitter TV. "Our headlines are going to be ripped from social media,” HLN chief Albie Hecht told BuzzFeed. Does that mean HLN will have story scripts no longer than 140 characters and based on what's trending on Yahoo and Google? Maybe. “We’re not the news, you are” is one slogan Hecht is toying with for the new HLN.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Hollywood legal eagle Ken Ziffren, whose big clients include Jay Leno, has agreed to become the new film czar for Los Angeles.
Follow me on Twitter and maybe you can be my valentine this Friday. @JBFlint.
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