The Morning Fix: ‘Inception’ stays on top! Zucker talks future. ABC’s Paul Lee bobs and weaves.


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After the coffee. Before hearing Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly duck questions about the ‘American Idol’ panel.

The dream is real. Warner Bros.’ ‘Inception’ was on top at the box office for the third weekend in a row, taking in $27.5 million and beating back the Paul Rudd-Steve Carell comedy ‘Dinner for Schmucks,’ which earned $23.3 million, and the Zac Efron tearjerker ‘Charlie St. Cloud,’ which made $12.1 million. For ‘Inception,’ $300 million in U.S. box office remains a possibility. It also has made almost $200 million abroad. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Hot Blog and Hollywood Reporter.


And I thought they didn’t make an ‘Anchorman’ sequel because it would stink. The Wall Street Journal has discovered that the overseas marketplace plays a big part in what movies get made. It’s why we’re not getting ‘Anchorman 2,’ and for that perhaps we should be grateful. Nothing against the original, which was hilarious, but was a sequel really necessary and would it have really been any good? Just go remake ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ into a movie and cast Will Ferrell as Ted Baxter. (Actually, why hasn’t anyone done that yet?) Anyway, the WSJ looks at the growth of the international market and how it is changing the creative process of movie-making. Apparently, it’s bad news for Derek Jeter.

What now, Harvey? Variety looks at the Weinstein Co. now that its hopes of reacquiring Miramax from Walt Disney Co. have been dashed. ‘Now that we have completed our restructuring, it is a clear opportunity and time to go back to the basics. This will be a tighter, more efficient operation,’ Weinstein Co. executive David Glasser said. And yes, they’ve been saying that for awhile.

Welcome to your first day, Mr. Lee. Paul Lee, ABC’s new entertainment chief, was baptized by the media Sunday. Lee, the former head of ABC Family, took the job last week after Steve McPherson’s surprise exit, for reasons not yet fully explained. Lee appeared at ABC’s portion of the semiannual press tour and did well considering he was talking about television shows he had nothing to do with making and a schedule he had no role in designing. The English accent doesn’t hurt. More on Lee’s big day from USA Today, Variety and the Los Angeles Times. As for McPherson, he did provide the press with lots of entertainment and was one of the few executives willing to talk beyond canned quotes. An appreciation of that element of McPherson from Broadcasting & Cable’s Ben Grossman, who definitely won’t be getting a Christmas card from Warren Littlefield this year.
Zucker talks. NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, who had been keeping something of a low profile lately, chatted with the Wall Street Journal. Asked what his future might be at the company should cable giant Comcast Corp. succeed in its efforts to acquire the entertainment conglomerate, Zucker said, ‘Nobody is entitled to any job.’ He also expressed regret that the late-night fiasco with Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno played out in public but didn’t do any second-guessing of his own decision to replace Leno with O’Brien and then switch back.

What about Katie? With the move to have Piers Morgan take over for Larry King on CNN all but wrapped up, the New York Times looks at what that means for Katie Couric, the CBS News anchor whose name was often mentioned as a King successor. Couric still has a little less than a year to go on her contract. She was seen having lunch with Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of CNN parent Time Warner, and that is pretty much all you need to start speculating. Why assume that Couric would only want King’s slot? CNN’s prime-time ratings are a mess across the board, and one could argue that Couric would help the network better at 8 p.m. Yeah, I know they have that Eliot Spitzer show there, but they’d bump that in heartbeat for Couric.

Didn’t they learn from the Dodgers? The New York Post and Dallas Morning News are reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is expected to make a play for a couple of Dallas sports franchises. The Dallas Morning News says the media giant is looking at the Dallas Stars hockey team. The Post adds that News Corp., which owns the Post, also wil be in on the auction for the Texas Rangers baseball franchise. News Corp. owns the cable sports channel that carries both teams. Folks here may recall the less-than-memorable stint News Corp. had as owner of the Dodgers, although at least Murdoch’s personal life didn’t wreak havoc on the team.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Ann Powers on the makeover of ‘American Idol.’


-- Joe Flint

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