The Morning Fix: ‘Toy Story 3’ dominates! Speak now or hold your peace on Comcast-NBC deal. Larry King has lost his fastball

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After the coffee. Before determining how much Tom Cruise has at stake with ‘Knight and Day.’

Blowout opening weekend. Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 3’ exploded out of the gate, taking in $109 million in its opening weekend. The $41 million it took in on Friday was a new record for an animated movie. The opening was the best ever for a Pixar movie, and although Sunday’s box office slowed a little, ‘Toy Story 3’ could easily beat the $340-million benchmark that Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’ set in 2003. Alas, the only other major opening over the weekend, ‘Jonah Hex’ from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, bombed. More box office from the Los Angeles Times, Vulture and Hot Blog.


Box-office trading fight will heat up on the Hill. Though the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is giving its blessing to allow the creation of an exchange to trade on box office, the two companies looking to get into that game will now have to win over Congress. More from Variety on the battle on Capitol Hill and how much weight the movie industry is putting on this one.

Get the reading glasses ready. Got a take on the Comcast-NBC Universal deal? You have till the end of Monday to say your piece to the Federal Communications Commission. No doubt media watchdogs will blast the deal -- as they have since it was announced late last year. And some industry competitors will raise a few concerns but won’t come right out and say it shouldn’t be approved. Most big media companies, however, won’t file comments because should one of them merge, they don’t want Comcast or NBC coming after them. It’s kind of an unwritten rule for big media -- thou shalt not make a stink about a rival’s mergers (broken occasionally, such as when Disney went after the AOL-Time Warner deal). What they do instead is covertly fund the watchdogs. How do I know this? Too many years at this job. One group that will be filing and giving its blessing if a few conditions are met is NBC’s own affiliates (these are the stations that carry NBC programming but are not owned by the network). Here are the stories on that from Broadcasting & Cable, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and our piece on it from, uh, almost two weeks ago.

Live Nation’s not-so-live stock price. The New York Post notes that the stock price of concert giant Live Entertainment is off 16% from April. One reason the article cites is a recent spate of canceled tours. Among those who pulled the plug on summer road trips were U2 and Christina Aguilera. So have the Go-Gos, but as much as I love them, I’m not sure their tour woes (guitarist Jane Wiedlin took a spill on a hike) can be blamed for Live Nation’s problems.

Urge to merge back? The Hollywood Reporter looks at a handful of deals (News Corp. buying e-reader Skiff, Cablevision buying some cable systems and the possible investment by private equity firm KKR into talent agency CAA) and says that’s evidence of ‘the renewed willingness of media and entertainment players to explore mergers and acquisitions after a lull driven by the recession and financial crisis.’ Considering that one of the biggest mergers of all time, Comcast-NBC, was announced last year, we’re not sure the economy can be blamed for the ‘lull.’ Perhaps more likely is an uncertainty about what the future of media is has deal-makers holding their cards for now.

Time for King to get off his throne? New York Times media columnist David Carr took some time to watch CNN’s ‘Larry King Live’ (the lengths some people go through just to write a column!) and tells us it’s time. Noting the lack of anything remotely resembling even basic interview skills when he was chatting with Lady Gaga the other week, Carr writes: ‘In Lady Gaga, Mr. King had a willing, wildly famous subject. If he can no longer hit a hanging curve ball over the middle of the plate, shouldn’t CNN be thinking hard about who is on deck?’ By the way, not to get all ‘TOLDJA’ on the folks writing about the decline of Larry King’s interviewing prowess, but here’s a column I wrote about King’s slipping skills back in 2006 for the Wall Street Journal.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Scott Collins looks at cable network TLC’s strategy of avoiding glitz and glam when it comes to its reality TV and how it’s paying off.


-- Joe Flint

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