The Morning Fix: Mega-weekend at box office! SAG-AFTRA reach deal. Olbermann’s long weekend.


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After the coffee. Before making a guess on Conan O’Brien’s opening numbers.

The Skinny: Big weekend at the box office for DreamWorks Animation, Warner Bros. and Lions Gate. Keith Olbermann’s suspension turns into a long weekend. Comcast starts planning to redo the executive suites at NBC Universal.


Done deal. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists struck a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers that will bring some small pay increases (about 2%) and a big bump in contributions to the union’s health and pension plans. The deal, which came after about six weeks of talks, was announced in the wee hours of Sunday morning, which makes one wonder just how happy everyone was with it. Details on the contract from the Los Angeles Times, Dave Poland’s Hot Blog (which called the new deal ‘another nail in the coffin for the acting middle class’), and The Wrap.

Box office explosion. As was anticipated, this past weekend was a huge one at the multiplex. Yes, I did go see ‘Due Date’ and perhaps my expectations had been so lowered by the bad reviews that the movie actually was better than I expected. The Jamie Foxx subplot was absurd and only there to set up a sight gag at the end of the movie. While I was at ‘Due Date,’ the rest of the country was checking out DreamWorks Animation’s 3-D comedy ‘Megamind,’ which raked in $47.7 million. ‘Due Date’ delivered $33.5 million for Warner Bros. while Tyler Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls’ made $20.1 million for Lions Gate. Overall, the box office was north of $155 million and will likely be a new record for the first weekend in November. Box office coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Variety and Movie City News.

Asia invasion. Former News Corp. President Peter Chernin, who has been gradually building up a U.S. TV and film production company, unveiled plans Sunday to create CA Media, which will look to build a media presence in Asia. Backers include investment bank Allen & Co., media investor Gordy Crawford and Brookside Capital. Paul Aiello, who used to run News Corp.’s Asia unit Star Group, has partnered with Chernin on CA Media. Hope this goes better than ‘Terra Nova,’ the troubled sci-fi show Chernin’s company is co-producing for Fox, which has more behind-the-scenes drama than action in front of the camera.

That was fast. On Friday, MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann because it learned from a story by Politico that the host of ‘Countdown’ had made political donations, which apparently violated a policy MSNBC has prohibiting its on-air talent from making such donations. Well, it really was more of a four-day weekend for Olbermann, because on Sunday night MSNBC said he’d be back on Tuesday. There was a lot of backlash against the suspension. Some observed that Olbermann’s politics are hardly a secret, so while maybe he should have disclosed the donations to his bosses and viewers, it is not like he hides his agenda. Others cried double-standard, since MSNBC and NBC executives who may shape what airs on the network can make donations. All and all, it gave the blogosphere something to rant about for three days. Some thoughts on the suspension from New York Times columnist David Carr and Daily Beast scribe Howard Kurtz.

Meet the new bosses. Comcast Corp. hasn’t closed on its deal to take control of NBC Universal (and odds are it won’t clear regulators until early next year), but the cable company is already getting ready to put its executive team in place. Much of it is obvious. Dick Ebersol, NBC’s sports guru, will remain in that post in the new company. Jeff Shell, one of Comcast’s top programming executives, will likely end up with oversight of international operations. There is still some debate over whether Comcast will seek an executive to have business oversight over NBC and whether it will be an outsider or insider. Currently, NBC executive John Eck is president of the NBC TV Network, and he could be headed back to NBC’s current parent, General Electric Co. Former CBS big shot Nancy Tellem’s name has been out there for awhile. She is now an advisor to the company. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves demands extreme loyalty from his people, so if Tellem is considering leaving, one assumes she got a blessing. I’ve wasted enough space on this topic. If you want more, check out Deadline Hollywood and New York Post. Or you could just wait and see what the government does to this deal before worrying about who will run what.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Harry Potter is nearing the end of an incredible run for Warner Bros. Betsy Sharkey on the late Jill Clayburgh.


-- Joe Flint

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