The Morning Fix: ‘True Grit’ rides off with top spot! History Channel backs off Kennedy miniseries. Hugh Hefner wants privacy.


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After the coffee. Before feeling old because Rod Stewart turns 66 Monday.

The Skinny. Too bad I don’t gamble since three of my four playoff picks were right. The only one I was off on was the Seahawks beating the Saints, and even so, I would have taken Seattle to cover the spread. I still need to see ‘True Grit,’ but obviously lots of other people saw it over the weekend as it finished in the top box-office spot. The tragic shootings in Arizona had journalists scrambling and media watchdogs questioning (before all the facts were out, of course) what role media may have played in fueling the shooter’s motivations.


‘True Grit’ a true hit. With most men glued to the TV for the NFL playoffs, it was not a big weekend at the box office. ‘True Grit,’ the Coen brothers’ remake of the classic John Wayne western, took over first place from ‘Little Fockers’ with about $15 million in ticket sales, compared with $13.8 million for the comedy sequel. Neither of the new movies that debuted -- ‘Country Strong’ and ‘Season of the Witch’ -- came out of the gate fast, but I still say ‘Country Strong’ will be around awhile. Box-office results from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Arizona shootings have some looking at the media. The Saturday shootings in Arizona, which killed six and wounded 14 others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, have a few media critics debating whether there are dots to be connected between that act of violence and the media. No doubt when Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik cited ‘vitriolic rhetoric’ in his press conference about the shootings as accelerating real violence it gave the pundits plenty of material to take a side. More from the Financial Times, Washington Post and Slate.

Radical business. The New York Times offers up a profile of Barry Levine’s Radical Studios, which has movies set up at three different places. A former rock photographer, Levine’s company has assembled an array of comic characters and stories. He is ‘definitely one of the more colorful characters in an industry brimming with oddballs,’ writes Brooks Barnes.

Demand for on-demand. Indie producers, struggling more and more to get their product to the big screen, are banking on video-on-demand to level the playing field. The Wall Street Journal on how filmmakers are trying to find a way around sole reliance on the big screen. Director Ed Burns talked about the importance of VOD in a letter he sent to the Federal Communications Commission last week in support of cable company Comcast’s deal to acquire control of NBC Universal, which was reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Hefner wants privacy. Yes, believe it or not, Hugh Hefner wants some privacy. Not for his life, mind you, but for his business. The founder of Playboy has made an offer to take the publishing company private. Playboy has struggled in recent years as the number of people who read the magazine for the articles has shrunk and those who don’t read it for the stories have lots more options. Details from Bloomberg.

Still some juice left. Although there are no Kennedys currently serving on Capitol Hill for the first time in decades, the family still has plenty of clout. The History Channel on Friday said it would drop plans to air an eight-part miniseries on the Kennedys. Although the network said the series, which starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as John and Jackie Kennedy, did not live up to its standards for historical accuracy, people close to the project said the family and friends successfully lobbied History Channel’s parent companies Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst Corp. to pull the plug over the objections of the network’s top brass. One does wonder why History Channel would not have stopped the project in its tracks earlier if it had such issues and why it didn’t move the program to one of its sister channels, such as Lifetime, which does not have to live up to the standards that History Channel, now best known for reality shows such as ‘Ice Road Truckers,’ claims to maintain. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.


Inside the Los Angeles Times: Teen girls are getting tougher on film. Scott Collins on midseason TV.

-- Joe Flint

We’re already deep into 2011 and you’re still not following me on Twitter? Come on, get it together already!