The Skinny: I checked out ABC's new talent show "Rising Star" Sunday night. Other than the live-voting aspect (which isn't the case for those of us on the West Coast) it looks a lot like "The Voice." I do think the network might want to rethink the show's catch phrase: "Face the wall." Today's roundup includes the news that an Egyptian judge has sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to prison. Also, the weekend box-office report is in and former Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov's new studio is getting some funding from a Chinese conglomerate.
Daily Dose: A potentially game-changing legal battle between Viacom and Cablevision Systems Corp. will continue. On Friday, a U.S. District Court in New York denied Viacom's motion to dismiss an antitrust suit brought by Cablevision. The suit concerns the way Viacom bundles its cable channels together when selling programming to distributors such as Cablevision. "We continue to believe that Viacom's tying of its popular networks to carriage of its lesser-watched ancillary networks is illegal, anti-consumer, and wrong," Cablevision said in statement.
Kangaroo court. Three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced to at least seven years in prison by an Egyptian judge on charges of being a threat to the country's security, making false reports and aiding a terrorist organization. Egyptian officials have painted the reporters as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt's treatment of the three journalists -- Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian national Baher Mohammed -- has outraged much of the world. Al Jazeera, which plans to appeal, said the sentencing "defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice." The Los Angeles Times notes that during the trial "investigators called to testify acknowledged they could not produce proof of any kind that the three had made false reports or endangered Egypt's national security." Additional coverage from the Associated Press.
"Think Like a Man 2" walks like a man. Kevin Hart's hot streak at the box office continued this past weekend as the comedy sequel "Think Like a Man 2" took in $30 million to just nip last week's champ, "22 Jump Street, which made $29 million. Stuck on the Jersey Turnpike was "Jersey Boys," the Clint Eastwood-directed musical based on the Broadway smash about the Four Seasons. Appealing to mostly older movie-goers, "Jersey Boys" sang for just $13.5 million. Box-office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter.
Check under the hood first. Digital darling Vice Media is this month's pretty girl at the old-media dance. Already 5% owned by 21st Century Fox, the company now is drawing interest from Time Warner and perhaps Walt Disney Co., which may want some or all of the operation that is a combination of "60 Minutes" and TMZ. However, there seems to be a dispute over just what Vice is worth. All I know is that usually when there is more than one interested party, we see the stupid money come out. The New York Times on what makes Vice appealing and risky.
New friends. Former Warner Bros. movie chief Jeff Robinov's new production company is getting a big check from Fosun International, a Chinese conglomerate. Robinov's company is expected to be based at Sony and to make about half a dozen movies of varying budget size. Fosun's investment does not rule out additional partners from China. including Huayi Brothers Media Corp., says the Wall Street Journal.
Not making everyone's day. Clint Eastwood knows how to turn a phrase. He knows how to get the bad guy. He knows how to talk to an empty chair. But not everyone is thrilled with his directing as of late. Andrew Romano, a writer at the Daily Beast, says it's time to stop saying Eastwood is a great director. "Elevating Eastwood to the top tier of directors diminishes the directors who actually belong there: John Ford, Howard Hawks, David Lean, et al. It also suggests that we're lowering our expectations -- that we're accepting a tasteful facsimile of virtuous filmmaking -- right when we should be expecting more," Romano wrote.