The Morning Fix: Sherlock vs. Alvin at movies. Howard Stern debate.


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After the coffee. Before figuring out how to look cool in a VW bug.

The Skinny:I’m driving a rental VW bug while my car is being fixed. If there was ever a car that makes you want to drive slow, it’s a bug. At least it’s not red. Friday’s headlines include a look at the holiday box office season, debate over Howard Stern’s joining NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ and analysis of the Golden Globe nominations.


Strange bedfellows.Competing movie studios don’t usually help each other at the box office, but it could happen this weekend. About 60 Imax screens playing Paramount’s ‘Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol’ will feature a six-minute preview to next summer’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ from Warner Bros. Given the huge interest in Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie, some fans are sure to buy ‘Mission’ tickets just to see the ‘Dark Knight’ footage. The irony is that Warner is opening its own film this weekend: ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.’ But it’s not playing in Imax so -- no synergy.

Busy season. Figuring folks don’t have anything better to do between now and Dec. 25 -- like, say, holiday shopping -- Hollywood is releasing a slew of movies. While this time of year is always a big one for the industry, there might be a risk of saturation. Notes the Los Angeles Times: ‘The offerings come at a steep price for the studios, which collectively invested more than $750 million to produce the films and will spend additional hundreds of millions to promote them around the world. The stakes are particularly high this year, as box-office revenue so far is down 4% from the same time in 2010 and attendance is off 5% — the largest such drop since 2005.’

Sherlock vs. Alvin.Speaking of the box office, this weekend’s big battle is between the new Sherlock Holmes flick, ‘A Game of Shadows,’ and ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.’ Oh, and the latest ‘Mission Impossible’ movie ‘Ghost Protocol’ will be available in 425 Imax screens. Previews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Talk about cord-cutting!Tom Rutledge, the well-regarded chief operating officer of New York-based cable operator Cablevision Systems, is out. Rutledge is the second major executive in the past few weeks to leave Cablevision, which was founded by Chuck Dolan and is run by his family, primarily son Jim. Also gone is cable systems chief John Bickham. The departure of Rutledge sent shock waves through Wall Street with analysts downgrading Cablevision stock and trying to figure out Rutledge’s next move. Coverage from The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Let the debates begin. Part of NBC’s rationale for hiring shock jock Howard Stern as a judge for its singing talent show ‘America’s Got Talent’ was no doubt to generate a little controversy for the show. It’s already working as pundits debate the move. Forbes columnist Dorothy Pomerantz thinks NBC is making a mistake signing Stern as a judge for its singing competition show. Stern, she thinks, is more likely to drive away viewers and advertisers than to boost ratings. Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker counters, NBC has ‘finally done something right.’ I can argue the pros and cons of adding Stern to the show, but one thing that should be of concern is how Stern will mesh with the other judges. Stern loves the sound of his own voice and the producers will have to be careful that he doesn’t overwhelm and alienate everyone else with his forceful personality.

Don’t tweet during hearings! A debate in Congress over a new bill to fight piracy grounded to halt Thursday after lawmaker Steve King (R-Ia.) tweeted that another member of Congress -- Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) -- ‘has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.’ Needless to say, it didn’t take long for King’s tweet to get back to Lee, who ripped into him. Details from CNet News.


Get your cameras off my lawn!Cable network E!, home to the Kardashians, is looking to make a show featuring the family of legendary actor/director Clint Eastwood, according to TMZ. The show, TMZ said, would focus on Eastwood’s (much younger) wife Dina and their daughter as well as another Eastwood daughter from a previous relationship. Clint may make a cameo or two but is not part of the show. I hope Clint puts a stop to this one.

Denied.Biker-turned bodyguard-turned-actor Chuck Zito lost his fight against the cable network FX in which he claimed the network had stolen his idea for a show about a motorcycle gang and turned it into ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ Details from The Hollywood Reporter. Guess I should toss the lawsuit I was considering against the makers of HBO’s ‘Hung.’

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on Harvey Weinstein’s prowess as an Oscar campaigner. The Golden Globes seem star obsessed.

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-- Joe Flint