The Morning Fix: ‘Evil’ does good! Spike’s ‘Entourage’ commercial overload. Lopez finalizing ‘American Idol’ deal.


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After the coffee. Before deciding whether that ‘Catfish’ movie is real.

‘Evil’ does good. ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife,’ the only new movie to open wide over the weekend, took in $27.7 million at the box office. That’s another strong performer for Sony; the performance for the fourth ‘Resident Evil’ flick was in line with the last two releases from the franchise. Of course, the 3-D helped some. Internationally, ‘Afterlife’ outperformed its predecessors. Sony also had the No. 2 movie this weekend with ‘Takers,’ which took in $6.1 million. As you might have guessed, when there is a gap that wide between a first-place and second-place movie, it was a really weak weekend. Box office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.


Did Ari Gold negotiate this deal? Spike TV, which shelled out $600,000 per episode for reruns of HBO’s ‘Entourage’ only to see the show bomb in the ratings, is overloading its episodes with commercials, in part, no doubt, to try to make some coin off of the flop. According to Advertising Age, commercial breaks in Spike’s reruns of ‘Entourage’ have ranged from six minutes to almost 10 minutes. ‘Viewers could use the ‘Entourage’ ad breaks to brown a chicken for a casserole or walk briskly around the block,’ cracked Ad Age’s Brian Steinberg. One of Spike’s rationales is that it has to trim risque content. Said Jeff Lucas, executive vice president of sales for Spike parent MTV Networks: ‘We don’t want to put our customers in an environment that is not appropriate for their commercial messages.’ Uh, anyone ever watch Spike’s ‘Blue Mountain State’? Minus the nudity and some language, its just as crude, but not nearly as funny, as ‘Entourage.’ Lucas would be better off telling it like it is: Spike overpaid for Vince & Co. and is loading it with ads to ease the pain.

Jenny may finally be on the block. Deadline Hollywood reports that Jennifer Lopez is wrapping her deal to join Fox’s ‘American Idol.’ Lopez, as reported often over the last month, had been haggling with Fox and its parent, News Corp., for a wide-ranging deal that would go far beyond just hosting the talent show. Deadline says she didn’t get most of her diva demands, but Lopez will pull down $12 million for being part of a new team of judges that will attempt to replace Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi. Look for Fox to announce sometime this week the hiring of Lopez and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as new judges. Then look for tons of second-guessing by the media, and once the show debuts, we’ll see what the people think.

Let’s make a deal. Variety says overseas sales are driving the Toronto Film Festival. Big deals, per Variety, include IM Global’s $7-million pre-sale deal of ‘Dredd 3D.’ On the domestic front, IFC Films cut a seven-figure deal for U.S. rights to ‘Super,’ a dark comedy starring Rainn Wilson (‘The Office’), who tries to become a superhero. Hmmm, sounds like an adult version of ‘Kick-Ass.’ The New York Times weighs in with a look at the number of documentaries at the festival focusing on the woes of Wall Street.

It’s not TV, it’s DirecTV. The Hollywood Reporter pegs a slight decline in HBO’s subscriber numbers to a spat the pay cable channel is having with DirecTV, the satellite broadcaster with about 19 million subscribers. The two are tussling over a new deal, and DirecTV isn’t hyping HBO to its users the way it used to, says Hollywood Reporter. That may be, but the drop is fairly minor, and in actuality, HBO’s numbers have been relatively flat for the last five years regardless of how hot or cold the network has been in the ratings.
Stop the presses! The New York Times, which seems to enjoy writing about others who cover Hollywood, now looks at the effort to remake the Hollywood Reporter into a weekly magazine with a daily website. The plan is to mix enough general entertainment news to lure the mainstream audience with hardcore business news, so as not to alienate its industry readership. To this reader, it sounds like it wants to be what Entertainment Weekly used to be a few years ago. Rivals, particularly the Wrap’s Sharon Waxman (who Monday had a story on her site about a sex-slave case clearly aimed at drawing traffic), argue there is no business model for what the Hollywood Reporter wants to do. But one might counter that perhaps THR and its new owners should be allowed to try -- and either succeed or fail -- before being judged.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A recap of the MTV Video Music Awards. Patrick Goldstein on Werner Herzog’s new 3-D documentary.

-- Joe Flint

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