• Diane Sawyer's World News debut lifted the newscast's ratings a bit. [LAT]
• As for Sawyer's performance last night, some critics weigh in. [NYT, WP, BG]
• Chris Albrecht, who served as HBO's chief executive until he was fired for pulling a Chris Brown on his girlfriend, is now in charge of Starz. [DH, NYT]
• The second episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians has set a new ratings record for the series and E! Congrats, America. You must be very proud. [THR]
• In related news, Kim has replaced Paris in TV's dirtiest burger ad. [NYDN]
• In other random TV news, CNN has made a minor change to its lineup; and Joan Rivers, who ditched E! in 2005 after a dispute over money, is back.
• It may have been Google that decided not to buy Yelp, not vice versa. [Bits]
• Is TMZ planning to launch a sports-related site? It's looking like it. [PC]
• Hollywood grossed $10 billion at the box office in '09; it's a new record. [AP]
• Kim Peek, the savant who inspired Rain Man, has died at age 58. [NPR]
♦ Things are going from bad to worse for Damon Dash and Rachel Roy: Three months after a bank foreclosed on their two Tribeca condos, Dash's Chevy Tahoe was seized this week after he failed to make the monthly lease payments. Does this mean he's already lost his Maybach? [NYDN]
♦ Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson were supposedly getting engaged yesterday. Today the relationship is supposedly "heading for choppy waters," because Lindsay wants to "explore her heterosexuality." [The Sun]
♦ How is Lindsay's publicist explaining her client's description of Barack Obama earlier this week as the country's first "colored President"? She says no one knows what LiLo really said, since it was "unintelligible." [MSNBC]
♦ Katie Holmes is supposedly refusing to move back to LA after she's finished on Broadway. Why? Because she doesn't get dragged to as many Scientology events when she's in NYC. [NYDN]
· George Clooney gets back to what he does best—terrorism, law firms, and car explosions—by buying the rights to The Challenge, a book about the trial of Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver. [Variety] · Tom Cruise is close to signing on for the lead in The Tourist, a Spyglass remake of 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer, about an American abroad made the patsy to flush out a master criminal. Cruise would play the patsy. [Variety] · Las Vegas parking lot nuisance and prematurely ejected HBO head Chris Albrecht has left his job at IMG sports and entertainment management after just one year of a three-year contract. A "terse" statement blamed an inability to "raise substantial funds." [Variety] · Chick-flick-plundering network ABC follows up their pilot-order of a The Witches of Eastwick series with another for a show inspired by Maid In Manhattan. [THR] · Lionsgate has purchased scripts from screenwriting duo Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain for Conan and Amazon, with Scarlett Johansson attached to star in the latter. Open casting call for 3-foot-tall mainland extras to follow. [THR]
While DreamWorks, Lionsgate and even Cash-Machine Manoj all have Indian capital to thank for their varying degrees of independence, Terry Semel is apparently courting a few billion dollars from Dubai as he nears a deal to acquire the management giant (and burgeoning media player) IMG. The ex-Warner Bros./Yahoo! kingpin has had his eye on Teddy Forstmann's hobby since at least June, when it was rumored Semel was knocking on a few gilded doors around the Middle East, hat in hand.
Hey, former HBO CEO Chris Albrecht is going to make an honest woman out of the ladyfriend he choked in public earlier this year! That is great. We bet her mother is so proud. So, seriously? When a man kicks your ass in public, you do not MARRY HIM. Is this somehow unclear? Aww, he had a little drinking problem and you forgive him? Get a grip, chick! You're the REAL MESS. [Rush & Molloy via Radar]
Time Warner President Jeffrey Bewkes, heir apparent to CEO Richard Parsons, should be having a great week. The company's annual stockholders meeting happens today in sunny Burbank, and Bewkes is expected to be formally announced as the guy who gets the gig. But that pesky Chris Albrecht thing—the former HBO honcho whose fists did some allegedly excessive hugging on his girlfriend's neck outside a casino in Vegas—keeps coming up in the press. And for good reason! It wasn't the first time!
Good news about former HBO head Chris Albrecht and his recent alleged chokee: Seems like they're going to make it work! Page Six reports that the throat-grabber "and gal pal Karla Jensen, 37, went out on the town last night, grabbing a bite at the Waverly Inn in TriBeCa." (TriBeCa! It's at Bank and Waverly! Like Page Six has never been?) Anyway, we're so happy that the two have been able to put this whole thing behind them. Eyewitnesses say the pair enjoyed the restaurant's famed $55 "smack and cheese." Yes, it's where the elite meet to beat! Oh we could go on!
So HBO head Chris Albrecht allegedly beat his girlfriend and beat the rap - she's not pressing charges - but couldn't beat the heat: Time Warner has forced him to resign. Albrecht, who conveniently played the "but I'm a drunk" card the last time he allegedly knocked a ladyfriend around, issued a statement saying that "I take this step for the benefit of my Home Box Office colleagues, recognizing that I cannot allow my personal circumstances to distract them from the business." Your best bit of color comes from Page Six, where a source admits that covering up the earlier alleged paramour-battering was a bad idea. But, you know, "There wasn't as much sensitivity then to the issue of violence against women." Yeah, how we pine for the early nineties, when one could batter a lippy broad with impunity. Those were the days. Allegedly.
According to a memo just sent around HBO by Chris Albrecht, he started drinking again a few years back and then everything went wrong and then he was in jail this weekend in Las Vegas for allegedly harming his girlfriend and now he has to take a leave of absence from HBO which is all so totally crazy that we can't wait to watch it on HBO. Holy smokes. The memo follows.