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'Hobbit' hits top spot! Media try to find the line in Newtown

December 17, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • "The Hobbit" had an up-and-down weekend.
"The Hobbit" had an up-and-down weekend. (Warner Bros. )

After the coffee. Before hopping a flight back to Los Angeles.

The Skinny: I spent the weekend in New York City in an apartment with (gasp) no cable. So I won't know how absurd the season finale of "Homeland" was until later today when I get back home. Monday's stories include a look at how "The Hobbit" did in its opening weekend, some deep digs on the role of the media following the tragedy in Connecticut and a look at Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."

Daily Dose: NBC has pulled some of the gun-themed programming from its NBC Sports Network outlet including the show "Guns & Gears" in the aftermath of the horrible school shooting in Newtown, Conn. In a statement, NBC said, “In light of the tragic events at Newtown, we have indefinitely pulled all gun advertising and programming that is not directly related to hunting. We do not feel it is appropriate during this time of national mourning.”

An unexpected journey indeed. It's rare that a record-setting performance can also be a disappointment at the same time but that was the case for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Even though it took in $84.8 million in its opening weekend, a record for December (factoring in inflation), that was a lot less than what the industry had expected. Last week, there were projections that "The Hobbit" would make more than $120 million. "The Hobbit" did have a big overseas performance so it will probably still be a Merry Christmas for Warner Bros., New Line and MGM, the companies behind the film. Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Deadline Hollywood

Fine line. The media descended on the small town of Newtown, Conn., after Friday's tragic elementary school shooting. This is not an easy assignment because television and print reporters have to find a way to tell stories that will honor the lives of those killed and shed light on what drove Adam Lanza to do what he did without turning it into a circus. There is a fine line between solid and reckless reporting (as witnessed by all the misinformation in the early hours after the massacre). The New York Times looks at the media's challenge while Variety critic Brian Lowry and Daily Beast correspondent Howard Kurtz offer their own assessments. Also a must-read from cartoonist Matt Bors on unintended (and sometimes intended)  consequences of sloppy reporting and the misuse of social media.

Game plan. News Corp.'s Fox Sports, already a big player in sports, wants to launch a national sports cable channel (or perhaps two) in the coming year. The marketplace is already crowded. ESPN has several channels and NBC and CBS have their own as well. However, if there is one company unafraid to bet big, it's News Corp. The Wall Street Journal looks at what's motivating Fox Sports and the hurdles it will face. Of course, I don't need to tell you that more sports channels means slicing the sports pie thinner and charging consumers more for the same content. Merry Christmas!

Making history. "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett has never been one to shy away from big risks. Next up from Burnett is "The Bible," a 10-hour miniseries for the History Channel, which will premiere in March. Burnett's wife, actress Roma Downey ("Touched by an Angel") stars in the epic program. "This is not a TV show to us. It's images and sound and sacred text that people will still watch, way after our grandchildren are old people," Burnett tells USA Today

Inside the Los Angeles Times: It's a cliche to say director Quentin Tarantino likes to push the envelope so we'll just say his latest movie "D'Jango Unchained" takes the cake.

Follow me on Twitter. I tweet from the air. @JBFlint.

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