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Monday, December 19, 2011

Zynga, Apple to take a byte out of TV, Even Sherlock could not find the missing Box Office



Tom Cruise's latest Mission Imposible opened strong
 From the LA Times Company Town...click here for industry news.

The case of the missing box office. There are some mysteries that even Sherlock Holmes can't solve. Once again it was a disappointing weekend at the box office. The debuts of the much-anticipated sequels "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" were soft. A bright spot was a sneak preview of "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol." I saw the new "Mission Impossible" and enjoyed it, but if you asked me today what it was about I'd probably say BMW. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Don't rush to judgment. The decision by home improvement chain Lowe's to pull its advertising from TLC's "All-American Muslim" wasn't the only headache for the cable network. Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched its own protest against the reality show -- about Muslim Americans living in suburban Detroit -- after two of the show's characters, newlyweds Shadia and Jeff, got rid of his 10-year-old dog because of her allergies. However, if PETA had just waited a week they would have seen that Shadia felt guilty and, after talking with her mom, agreed to welcome the pooch Wrigley back into the home.




Getting ready to take its bite. Apple has already changed how we use computers and phones as well as listen to music. But can the software giant revolutionize television? That's what Hollywood wants to know. Or, more specifically, the industry wonders if Apple will join Netflix and Amazon and spend big bucks buying rights to old and new TV shows. The Wall Street Journal says Apple is "moving forward with its assault on television." Alas, there were no specifics beyond Apple trying to build its own television that "relies on wireless streaming technology to access shows, movies and other content." I already have a TV that can do all that so, to borrow from the legal classic "A Few Good Men," I need Apple to "please tell me you've got something more."

Control your destiny. Comedian Louis C.K., star of the dark FX comedy "Louie," made a big bet that people would shell out $5 to watch his stand-up special online. So far, it's paid off as the special is expected to gross at least $1 million. The production costs were less than $300,000 so ... ka-ching! That even gave the cynical C.K. something to smile about in an interview with New York Times columnist David Carr.

If it was televised on CNN, he might get better ratings. Piers Morgan, who has struggled in the ratings since replacing Larry King on CNN, will appear before Parliament on Tuesday as part of its probe into phone hacking and other ethical lapses at News Corp.'s now-closed tabloid News of the World. Morgan used to be a star at News of the World as well as the Daily Mirror, another British tabloid. A preview of Morgan's appearance from the Associated Press.

Not happy. Wall Street has punished Cablevision stock for the recent and still unexplained departure of Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge from the company, which has over 3 million subscribers. One reason for the street's concern is a lack of faith about the Dolan family, which founded the company. Variety takes a look.

He's a believer. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire who is a big investor in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is putting his money on Twitter. According to the Associated Press, Bin Talal is investing $300 million in the micro-blogging service. Prince, my handle is @JBFlint and you are welcome to follow it and -- if you desire -- throw some coin my way.

Jeffrey Katzenberg on Zynga
Zynga Board gains Stellar Hollywood Player. DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg surprised many in Hollywood when he announced in April that he had joined the board of a San Francisco start-up that makes games played on Facebook. On Friday, that company, Zynga Inc., went public on Nasdaq, cashing in more than $1 billion -- the most raised in an initial public offering of a U.S.-based technology company since Google Inc. raised $1.66 billion in 2004. Katzenberg, who had rarely spoken publicly about his involvement in Zynga, on Friday explained in an interview with The Times what drew him to the developer of FarmVille, CityVille and a dozen or so other games.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Rebecca Keegan on how the makers of the "Chipmunks" movies try to make it entertaining for parents too. Actor/director Ed Burns on why he believes in video-on-demand. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg on why he's hot on Zynga.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. You won't be disappointed. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible." Credit: Paramount Pictures