The Morning Fix: ‘No Strings Attached’ scores big! Keith Olbermann’s exit gets tongues wagging! Sundance sizzles.


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After the coffee. Before letting it sink in that I’m one year older.

The Skinny: Very bummed about the Jets, but they had their chance and almost pulled it off. Rooting for the Packers, but I think Steelers will win. While the guys were watching football, the ladies were making ‘No Strings Attached’ No. 1 at the box office. Conspiracy theories are still flying about Keith Olbermann. It’s as though everyone forgets he has been fighting with his MSNBC bosses for years and that this really isn’t a surprise. Oh, and running Viacom pays really well!


Women want strings. Although the reviews were less than stellar and one of its stars was Ashton Kutcher, the romantic comedy ‘No Strings Attached’ from Paramount -- which also stars the red-hot Natalie Portman -- took the top spot at the box office with $20.3 million. Women in particular flocked to the movie about a couple who decide they can have a physical relationship without the emotional entanglements. Coming in at No. 2 was Sony’s ‘The Green Hornet,’ but the movie was off almost 50% from its opening. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News. As for me, I steered clear of the multiplex and still couldn’t escape Natalie Portman. I watched ‘Brothers,’ which was good but something of a downer.

Olbermann out the door. Keith Olbermann, whose clashes with management during his long career are legendary, left his gig as host of MSNBC’s ‘Countdown’ on Friday night. Although the move got conspiracy theorists thinking that Comcast, which later this week is expected to take control of NBC Universal, was behind Olbermann’s exit, people close to the anchor said his relationships with MSNBC brass were broken. Indeed, when Olbermann was thanking people who helped him at the network over the years, most noticeable was whom he didn’t thank -- his boss Phil Griffin. Coverage from The New York Times, Daily Beast, Los Angeles Times and The Hill. The questions now are what will MSNBC do to try to replace the ratings Olbermann got them and where will the sometimes-volatile but always interesting-to-watch personality land next.

There’s an opening at MSNBC. Eric Schmidt, who stepped down from his job as chief executive of Google last week, may have small-screen dreams. The New York Post says Schmidt has been chatting with a CNN producer about creating a TV show for himself. Maybe to juice the ratings, Schmidt can threaten to release private info about people unless they tune in.

Year of the woman. Women prospered in front of and behind the camera in 2010, according to USA Today in something of an Oscar preview piece. One would hope that we’d be beyond these trend pieces, and the work -- not the gender or race of the person who made it -- would be the news. Apparently not yet. But that day will come. As Nicole Holofcener (‘Please Give’) observed, ‘As long as a director makes a movie that makes money, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman.’ Hopefully that doesn’t mean that women will soon make as many vapid and insipid movies that do well despite their lack of quality as men do.

Sundance sizzling. Lots of deal-making at the Sundance Film Festival, which kicked into full gear over the weekend. On Sunday alone, more than six deals were done. Latest on the action at Park City from Variety and the Wrap.

‘Jersey Shore’ star Pauly D. may have the hair, but boss Philippe D. has the dough. Apparently corrupting the youth of America pays really well. Viacom, parent of cable channels MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and movie studio Paramount, awarded Chief Executive Philippe Dauman a pay package for the media giant’s 2010 fiscal year worth almost $85 million. Since Dauman and other top executives at the media giant are pulling in so much money, maybe they can cover any advertising shortfall from MTV’s controversial new teen drama ‘Skins.’ More on Dauman’s pay day from the Los Angeles Times.


How Comcast worked the FCC. Last week, Comcast manged to score a 4 -1 approval vote from the Federal Communications Commission for its deal to take control of NBC Universal. Key for Comcast was securing a yes vote from African American FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has made diversity a priority, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. In its selling of the deal, Comcast stressed its commitment to diversity in front of and behind the camera. Although a 3-2 vote would not have mattered from a legal standpoint, Comcast wanted a strong majority. The odds of getting a 5-0 vote were long from the start since FCC Commissioner Michael Copps is an outspoken critic of media consolidation.

Not closed yet. Last year, TNT said it was ending its long-running drama ‘The Closer,’ starring Kyra Sedgwick. Now, the cable network is considering ways to extend the show either with or without its leading lady. Apparently, someone at TNT realized that just because Sedgwick was leaving didn’t mean it couldn’t try to keep the show going. More from TV Line.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Is your dream job watching movies all day? Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, reports Amy Kaufman. The webs may not always stick to the ceilings, but ‘Spider-Man’ on Broadway is still selling tickets.

-- Joe Flint

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