cityfile · 02/04/10 04:09PM

• Lawmakers on Capitol Hill grilled Brian Roberts and Jeff Zucker today about Comcast's proposed takeover of NBC Universal. Meantime, Zucker's chances of keeping his job as NBC's CEO? Dimmer by the day. [Reuters, WSJ, LAT]
Observer owner Jared Kushner is expanding: He's decided to partner with another company to launch a free newspaper in Vegas for some reason. [NYT]
• More on the deep job cuts at CBS News this week. [NYT, LAT]
Howard Stern's contract with Sirius XM expires this year. Whether he ends up staying put—or finds a new home on radio or TV—is up in the air. [THR]
• EMI announced a massive annual loss and now needs more cash. [BBC]
• Another installment of Fast and Furious is on the way. Finally! [Variety]
• Does the National Enquirer deserve a Pulitzer Prize? Probably! [Gawker]

cityfile · 02/03/10 04:15PM

• CBS News laid off more than 150 staffers this week. Will Katie Couric be forced to take a pay cut when her contract expires next year? Some say yes; CBS News chief Sean McManus is denying the report. [NYP, Politico]
Avatar has dominated the box office for seven straight weeks now (and has officially bested Titanic), but that may change this weekend or next. [LAT]
• Janice Kaplan is out as editor-in-chief of Parade magazine. [NYT]
• Nikki Finke says it will take "minutes" for Comcast to dump NBC CEO Jeff Zucker after its acquisition of NBC is approved by regulators. (Meantime, maybe he could explain why the Today show is propping up Scientology?)
• An estimated 12 million people tuned in to Lost last night. [Forbes]
• Time Warner reported fourth-quarter revenues and profits were up. [AP]
• Fox and ESPN will challenge NBC for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics. [BN]
• Does Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter hate non-white women? [DF]

cityfile · 01/28/10 05:20PM

• It's the end of the line for Miramax. The studio that Harvey and Bob Weinstein founded in 1979, sold to Disney in 1993, and departed in 2005, was officially shuttered today, and 80 people were let go. [Wrap, NYT, Guardian]
• Jay Leno went on Oprah today to try and redeem himself. He acted like a cry-baby and flat-out lied (and may have gotten away with it anyway). In related news, Conan's final week on the air turned out to be his biggest, not surprisingly. And there are some signs the late-night debacle may have Comcast's bosses thinking about showing NBC chief Jeff Zucker the door.
• 48 million people tuned in to the State of the Union address last night. [NYT]
• Only 35 people have signed up for a subscription to since the paper set up a pay wall a few months back. But it's all going according to plan and Newsday management couldn't be happier, the paper claims. [Crain's]
• This is a bit awkward: The Wall Street Journal is rolling out a local edition this spring that it hopes will compete with the New York Times. But it may actually need the Times' help printing the papers to make it happen. [NYT]
• A growing number of Time Inc. staffers are defecting to Bloomberg. [NYP]
• Samantha Harris is bidding goodbye to Dancing with the Stars. [People]
• Is Fox News reporter Major Garrett a fan of hookers? Maybe! [Gawker]

cityfile · 01/27/10 05:00PM

• The iPad may be cool and all. But don't expect it to revolutionize newspapers. Or magazines. Or even book publishing. [AdAge, NYT, Reuters, NYT]
• The WSJ is getting ready to take on the Times. Three dozen staffers (and $15 mil.) will go into creating its new NYC edition, which debuts in April. [NYO]
• NBC and Conan O'Brien are back in business (sort of): The network is picking up a pilot from Conaco, O'Brien's production company. In less surprising news, Jay Leno says he hasn't spoken to Conan since the late-night drama unfolded; and Comcast's chief says he's behind NBC CEO Jeff Zucker (officially-speaking).
• ABC has decided to bring Ugly Betty to an end after this season. [LAT]
• MSNBC wasn't planning to air last Friday's Haiti telethon. But then Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow got involved and things changed. [NYO]
Harvey and Bob Weinstein are looking to buy back the Miramax name. [DH]
• Louis Auchincloss, chronicler of WASP culture, is dead at 92. [NYT]

cityfile · 01/22/10 04:27PM

• NBC Universal's profits tumbled 30 percent in the fourth quarter and dropped 28 percent in 2009. And that was before The Tonight Show mess and the money-losing Olympics were factored in. Good work, Zucker. [THR, LAT]
• More on Conan's departure (and his big ratings this week); Jay Leno's attempt at damage control; his sure-to-be-awkward appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner; and the "explosion of incivility" on late-night TV.
• More on Air America's meltdown and the aftermath. [NYT, AdAge, Politico]
• How the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon came together (Clooney made a call) and who will be taking part (140 celebs around the world). [LAT, AP, People]
• The 2010 Sundance Film Festival is in full swing. [LAT, Wrap, MTV]
• Roman Polanski has to return to the U.S. for sentencing, per a judge. [AP]
Jon Stewart slams Keith Olbermann; Olbermann snipes back. [HP]
• The SAG Awards go down in LA tomorrow night, in case you care. [AP, NYM]
• Jim Cameron is the most important man in the world! Allegedly! [BN]

Fear Not, Jeff Zucker: Career Help Has Arrived!

cityfile · 01/22/10 01:45PM

This is Conan O'Brien's last day at NBC, as you've probably heard. Unfortunately, the person who should be packing up his giant office today isn't: Jeff Zucker, NBC's ruinous president and CEO, who has pretty much destroyed everything he's touched over the past decade, from comedy (remember when Thursday night was "Must See TV"?) to drama (remember when ER and The West Wing were big hits?) to late-night (no explanation necessary). What happens to Zucker in the end is anybody's guess and ultimately up to his new bosses at Comcast, who gave him a new contract recently that will keep him in place through 2013. But given the events of the past couple of weeks—and the sense of panic that probably pervades Comcast HQ right now—it wouldn't be a bad idea for Zucker to polish up the ol' résumé. With that in mind—and because Zucker is a busy man and fully consumed with damage control right now—we took the liberty of getting things started. Why not, right? He's going to need some help, though. After all, he's spent his entire career at NBC (he joined the company as a lowly researcher way back in '86), so it's unlikely he's given his résumé any thought in two decades. But we're here to help. Below, Jeff's starter-kit résumé—along with a few instructions and suggestions—so he can get to work as soon as this weekend.

cityfile · 01/19/10 04:19PM

• Negotiations between Conan O'Brien and NBC didn't wrap up today, as expected. Conan is holding out for more severance for the employees who will lose their jobs. Or "posturing" as part of a "PR ploy," to use NBC's words. [NYT]
• Related: Conan has a big lineup planned for the rest of the week, which will be his last. And NBC's Jeff Zucker played defense with Charlie Rose last night.
• Larry King's celebrity telethon for Haiti last night raised $9 million. [Us]
• Speaking of Haiti, do there really need to be hundreds upon hundreds of reporters on the ground covering the disaster from every angle and also gobbling up very precious resources in the process? Good question. [TNR]
• Rumor has it the Times is going to begin charging for online content soon. The plan comes with some pros and cons, as you might expect. [AdAge, PC]
• Apple will probably unveil its tablet computer on Jan. 27. [WP, ZDNet]
• Related: HarperCollins is in talks to put its books on the tablet. [WSJ]
• It's been a full year since Glenn Beck started spewing on Fox News. [HP]
• Obits: Mystery writer Robert Parker died yesterday. Kate McGarrigle, the Canadian folk singer and mother of Rufus Wainwright, has died, too.

Late Night Wars Get Even More Animated

cityfile · 01/19/10 01:52PM

If you're looking to get caught up on the late-night chaos at NBC and you're fluent in Chinese, the Taiwanese production company that produced that very amusing Tiger Woods animation a few weeks ago has a new masterpiece. Conan and Jay morph into superheros about halfway through, which is sort of weird. And Jeff Zucker's animated likeness is about forty pounds lighter. But that's probably because the video shows the NBC CEO personally dragging Conan's set off The Tonight Show stage and replacing it with Jay Leno's set-up. The video is below.

NBC Finds Its Attack Dog in Its War with Conan: Dick Ebersol

John Cook · 01/15/10 11:19AM

NBC has drawn the long knives and dispatched NBC Sports titan and former late-night guru Dick Ebersol—who produced Saturday Night Live during the Joe Piscipo years—to strike back at Conan O'Brien in a New York Times interview.

cityfile · 01/14/10 04:33PM

• Is NBC close to resolving the mammoth mess it has on its hands? TMZ reports the network has reached a deal with Conan O'Brien (in which he'll leave NBC with some amount of money, and Leno, in turn, will take over The Tonight Show). Others, however, say the negotiations continue and NBC chief Jeff Zucker's been playing hardball with O'Brien. So who knows. Fortunately, Conan has lots of exciting options to consider when he finally walks out the door.
• Related: NBC announced its new, post-Leno primetime lineup today. [NYT]
• George Clooney will host a live telethon on Jan. 22 to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti. ABC, NBC, MTV, HBO and CNN will all broadcast it. [EW]
• Why isn't Fox News covering the tragedy in Haiti? Because rehashing faux controversies involving President Obama always comes first, duh. [MM]
Avatar could top Titanic and become the top-grossing movie in history this weekend. In related news, it seems the Avatar backlash is in full swing.
• Robert Pattinson won't be Tobey Maguire's replacement in Spider-Man. [E!]
American Idol creator Simon Fuller is starting up a new company. [LAT]
Editor & Publisher is back in business under new ownership. [E&P]
• Is the ratings dry spell at MTV almost over? MTV execs hope so! [LAT]
• The cleanest and dirtiest cafeterias in the media industry. [DF]