Strong apes. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" climbed to the top of the box office, taking in $54 million, according to 20th Century Fox, which distributed the movie from Hollywood big shot Peter Chernin's media company. Coming in second was "The Smurfs" with $21 million, followed by "Cowboys & Aliens," which took in $15.7 million. The big disappointment of the weekend was Universal's "The Change-Up" starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, which took in only $13.5 million. Box-office coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.
Wisteria Lane being closed. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC met the media on Sunday to preview its new schedule and say goodbye to one of its staples as the upcoming season will mark the last for its long-running prime-time soap "Desperate Housewives." More from USA Today, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.
Care for a spot of tea? BBC signs co-production deals. Starz, the Liberty Media-owned pay-TV channel that is usually an afterthought to Time Warner's HBO and CBS' Showtime, is hoping it can class up the joint with a co-production deal with the British Broadcasting Corp. The two have agreed to pursue co-productions, with the BBC contributing between 30% and 40% of the budget and getting international rights. More on the partnership from the Wall Street Journal.
Gym, tan, profits. Viacom Inc., parent of MTV and Paramount Pictures, released its third-quarter results Friday morning and reported a 37% jump in profits. The engine, as usual, was the company's cable networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Paramount Pictures didn't do so bad either, thanks to "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Every time I type that title I want to add the word "side." More on Viacom's numbers from Bloomberg.
Another casualty of the Internet. Guys no longer have to hide the cable bill from their wives and girlfriends. The Wall Street Journal reports that revenue from adult entertainment, one of the more dependable sources of money for cable and satellite operators, has been trending down. No surprise there. Why would someone spend north of $10 for a movie they likely won't watch all of when they can find material free on the Web.
Different direction. Brett Ratner, the director of action flicks "Rush Hour" and producer of this summer's comedy success "Horrible Bosses," will produce next year's Oscar broadcast with Don Mischer. "This went beyond my wildest dreams," Ratner told the Los Angeles Times. More on the unusual choice from Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.
Rupert's tormentor. Deadline Hollywood chats up Nick Davies, the reporter for Britain's Guardian who has broken the bulk of the big stories regarding phone hacking that went on at the News of the World, the tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Separately, Liz Murdoch, daughter of the mogul and a prominent media executive in her own right, will not be joining the board of News Corp. as expected after all. There is a News Corp. board meeting Tuesday in Los Angeles. I'm working on infiltrating the catering staff to gain access. More water, Mr. Murdoch?
Imitation is the sincerest form of television. Advertising Age tries to explain why we have so many reality shows about pawn shops. One word: Lazy!
Taking more than his 10%. United Talent and one of its top agents, Michael Camacho, are targets of an ugly lawsuit from producer Scott Einziger. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Einziger has sued UTA alleging that Camacho steered him away from good deals and into ones that would favor another client -- Ellen Rakieten -- because of a personal relationship he had with her.
Maybe his audience will be bigger. CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who used to be an editor at a couple of British tabloids, is under pressure to appear before Parliament to talk about phone hacking. Britain and the world have been rocked over the last month at the extent of phone hacking done by the tabloids there, particularly News Corp.'s News of the World. The latest from the New York Times. Separately, even cute Beatle Paul McCartney told TV critics Friday that he's been told he's been hacked. More on that from the Los Angeles Times.
Read the fine print. Cable giant Comcast Corp. is taking issue with the newest marketing campaign from rival distributor DirecTV. The satellite broadcaster's new sales pitch promising people who sign up with the service free access to the NFL is misleading, Comcast claimed in a lawsuit it filed Thursday. Legal spats between distributors are nothing new, but DirecTV and Comcast seem to always be fighting over something. Of course, in this case the NFL could make it easier by ending its exclusive deal with DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket package that allows viewers to see any game they want. More on the suit from Reuters.
Epix exit. The head of original programming at pay-TV channel Epix, Lavernne McKinnon, has left the channel after just a couple of years in the job. After making lots of noise about making original shows, Epix has gone quiet on that front. More on the departure from Deadline Hollywood.Recent. Warner Bros. wants to organize your online library of content with its new Flixster Collections application. Kenneth Turan goes bananas for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
-- Joe Flint and others....
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