Morning Fix: ‘Social Network’ still doing lots of friending at box office. CBS on a roll. CNN pleads for patience. PBS says it won’t abandon L.A.
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After the coffee. Before wondering what Katherine Heigl will do next.
The Skinny: A slow weekend at the box office is good news for ‘The Social Network’ and bad news for ‘Life as We Know It.’ ... CNN says it will be patient with ‘Parker Spitzer.’ We’ll see. ... Disney’s new marketing chief is suddenly talking more to the press.
Still doing lots of friending. Sony’s ‘The Social Network’ showed it was no flash in the pan, finishing first at the box office for the second weekend in a row. The movie, which looks at the roots of Facebook and the legal battles its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg endured, took in $15.5 million, off a respectable 31% from its opening weekend. Coming in second was ‘Life as We Know It,’ the Warner Bros. romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl. However, the $14.6 million it took in was something of a disappointment and may raise questions about Heigl’s box-office appeal. Of course, it should also raise questions about why a movie with such an absurd plot got the green light in the first place, but anyway. Coming in third place was Disney’s ‘Secretariat,’ which galloped in with just $7 million. But its primary appeal was with older adult viewers, and those folks don’t always feel the need to rush out to see a movie on opening weekend, so if theater owners are patient and Disney keeps promoting it, perhaps ‘Secretariat’ will do better than just show this coming weekend. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.
Just win, baby. Although ABC and Fox already have canceled new shows, and NBC will likely have to do some tinkering, CBS keeps chugging along. The network, which unlike its rivals steers clear of big, sweeping shows and complex serial dramas, is off to a solid start. Not only is it maintaining its hold on all viewers, but the network also has started winning the coveted demographic of adults ages 18 to 49. Furthermore, its one big gamble -- moving ‘The Big Bang Theory’ to Thursday from Monday -- has paid off so far. The New York Times looks at CBS’ low-risk, high-reward approach and how it is paying off.
Welcome to the circus. MT Carney, the new head of marketing for Walt Disney Co.’s movie studio, is having a baptism by fire. ‘Secretariat’ didn’t break out in its opening weekend. Because she’s new to the job and the industry and part of a new team at Disney, she is getting an inordinate amount of attention. She tells the the Wrap, “I feel I have enough sense to say I know what I don’t know,’ adding that she doesn’t mind “people being annoyed at me out of ignorance, but I’d hate to ever think out of arrogance.” She also told the Hollywood Reporter that ‘we’re going to be looking at the media mix and seeing where we should be spending our money.’
Play the lottery; it’s safer. Len Blavatnik, an industrialist billionaire who likes to take gambles, is looking at investing in the movies. He had a brief flirtation with MGM and has made some smaller bets on production companies. Now, according to Deadline Hollywood, Blavatnik is talking with the Weinstein Co. about putting some money into it. The company, headed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, has had an up-and-down run over the last few years.
CNN won’t impeach Spitzer ... yet. Time Warner Inc.’s CNN said it will be patient with its new high-profile political chat show ‘Parker Spitzer,’ which is hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and columnist Kathleen Parker. The show, which got bad reviews and low ratings in Week 1, is part of a broad overhaul of the news channel’s prime-time lineup that also will see Piers Morgan replace Larry King. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, CNN programming executive Bart Feder said the network was ‘in this to launch and to let it grow. And we’re confident it will.’ Call it a hunch, but if the show doesn’t improve soon, it’ll be gone.
Arbitration option. Regulators are considering whether -- as part of approving its deal to take control of entertainment giant NBC Universal -- it should try to force Comcast to agree to arbitration when the cable giant has programming disputes with other distributors, such as DirecTV. Well, that’s good news for lawyers, if not for Comcast. More on the latest twist in the Comcast-NBC Universal regulatory process from Bloomberg, whose parent company is no fan of the merger.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The Hallmark Channel has forced out a top programming executive and is rejiggering its schedule, which hasn’t taken off since Martha Stewart was given a ton of real estate on the network. PBS, which last week lost KCET Los Angeles as its primary affiliate here, said it would make sure viewers here didn’t lose their favorite shows, including ‘Sesame Street.’
-- Joe Flint
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