The Morning Fix: Media meltdown ... not! Zucker out, Burke in at NBC Universal; Klein out, Jautz in at CNN. ‘Wall Street’ rules Hollywood. Does Joel McHale have legs?
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After the coffee. Before hoping the second episode of NBC’s ‘The Event’ is good.
Dog bites man. A couple of long-expected events happened over the last three days. On Friday, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker said he would leave after cable giant Comcast Corp. closed on its deal to take control of the entertainment giant. On Sunday, Comcast and NBC Universal parent General Electric announced that Steve Burke, currently the chief operating officer of Comcast, would run NBC Universal. Even though both Zucker and Comcast said Zucker would continue to run the show after the deal was done, no one really bought that. The question is why they even bothered to try to sell that to the industry and Wall Street. Another question, though: Shouldn’t Comcast and NBC at least pretend they are worried about getting through the regulatory review before setting up the new executive team? Coverage on Zucker and Burke from media outlets forced to pretend all this was a surprise. Here are the takes on it all from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood, Advertising Age, Broadcasting & Cable, Variety, Wrap and Hollywood Reporter.
Dog bites man II. Also on Friday, CNN removed Jon Klein as head of its U.S. operations and said Ken Jautz, who had been running sister channel HLN (formerly CNN Headline News), would take over. As with NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker, there had been rumors about Klein’s future for some time. However, inside CNN, he recently had been signed to a new long-term deal, which probably meant that the push to get rid of him came from CNN parents Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner. Although both denied it, it wouldn’t be the first time companies said one thing and did another (see above item about NBC Universal and Comcast). Jautz, a veteran journalist who pumped up HLN’s ratings by taking a somewhat more tabloid and personality-driven approach, said his goal was to keep CNN nonpartisan (or at least not as partisan as its rivals sometimes seemed to be). Lots of press tried to connect the Zucker and Klein departures to a crisis in big media, but in actuality the two events were unrelated, each had been anticipated, and they happened on the same day, giving them greater weight than they normally would have had. More on the CNN shakeups from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post and Daily Beast.
Dog bites man III. Comcast isn’t skimping on spending when it comes to getting its deal to acquire control of NBC Universal through the regulators and lawmakers in Washington. For some reason, the fact that the two media giants involved in a $30-billion merger would be blowing lots of cash on legal fees and lobbying to get regulatory approval is seen as big news, and the latest to jump on the story is the New York Times. The real question should not be what Comcast is spending on its deal, but whether its lobbying efforts will be effective in keeping conditions on the deal to a minimum. Oh, and what about all the groups raising lots of money on the backs of the proposed merger?
Money may not sleep, but it does snooze. Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,’ the sequel to his 1987 classic, made $19 million at the box office, which was enough to take the top spot on a slow weekend. Coming in second was the 3-D animated flick ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,’ which made $16.3 million. Although some projections for ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ were higher, the $19 million is a decent figure and proved that people over the age of 30 will go to the movies too if there is something there for them. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.
Ross the boss. The New York Times checks in with a favorable piece on Disney’s new studio chief, Rich Ross. Although the former head of Disney Channel doesn’t have a track record yet to judge, he does have hires and some deals to analyze. Of course, Ross is in the gig in part because Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger wanted someone to carry out his vision of films with big brands that can be marketed easily, not necessarily big creative aspirations. It’s about the toys, not the story.
Week 1 winners. The Hollywood Reporter and Variety look at the winners and losers of Week 1 of the television season. It’s pretty easy. CBS had no real losers while Fox (‘Lone Star’) ABC (‘The Whole Truth,’ ‘My Generation’) and NBC (‘Undercovers’) all had some clunkers.
McHale’s paycheck. Does Joel McHale, star of NBC’s low-rated but critically loved ‘Community’ and host of E!'s ‘The Soup,’ have what it takes to be the next George Clooney or Steve Carell? Vulture tries to look into his future as a movie star. My advice to McHale is don’t look to the future, look at your fellow ‘Community’ cast member Chevy Chase and do the opposite of everything he did.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at Jim Burrows, television’s master director. Not only is it always sunny in Philadelphia, it’s also always sunny for the bean counters at FX, which carries the low-budget hit sitcom.
-- Joe Flint
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