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CNN woos Zucker! Angus T. Jones says sorry. Smashing 'Smash!'

November 28, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • "Lincoln" takes a history test.
"Lincoln" takes a history test. (DreamWorks )

After the coffee. Before asking about my end-of-the-year bonus.

The Skinny: Can we at least wait until December before blasting the Christmas music everywhere? Wednesday's headlines include Jeff Zucker closing in on a deal to run CNN and an accuracy test for "Lincoln." Also, the latest prank on celebrities involves SWAT teams and could lead to tragedy.

Daily Dose: The Rev. Jesse Jackson is joining the push by watchdog groups to persuade the Federal Communications Commission not to further relax its media ownership rules. The media industry has argued that the ownership restrictions are out of date in the digital age. Some advocacy organizations fear more consolidation of media among a handful of media companies.

Back in the spotlight. CNN Worldwide is expected to tap former NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker as its new president. Zucker, who currently produces Katie Couric's daytime talk show, would take over a network that has seen its ratings fall sharply in the last decade. While CNN can still get an audience when a big story is breaking and is a cash cow for parent Time Warner, the mix of news and commentary found on Fox News and MSNBC has proven more popular on most nights. For Zucker, fixing CNN could boost his reputation as an executive after he took a beating for how he ran NBCUniversal. A look at what Zucker will face in his new job from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

How honest is Abe? Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is getting high praise from critics and delivering solid box office numbers (for a long historical movie starring Daniel Day Lewis). But does it pass the accuracy test? The Los Angeles Times chats up Civil War expert and Abraham Lincoln biographer James McPherson for his take. I haven't seen "Lincoln" yet because I already know how it ends.

Back to tech. "Smash," the NBC drama about putting on a Broadway show that was my guilty torture last season, will be back on TV soon. But creator Theresa Rebeck left the show and now has some choice words about working on TV. "At one point I said to my husband, the networks would put kiddie porn on if they were allowed," she tells the New York Observer. I just want to know whom to blame for Ellis and Leo, two of the most annoying characters on "Smash." 

Raising money. Two Chinese film companies are looking to go public. According to the Wall Street Journal, government-controlled China Film Co. and Shanghai Film Group Co. are in the process of issuing shares on Shanghai's stock exchange. The WSJ said the move "would help the companies get cash to make big-budget films and to acquire the technology needed for the creation of 3-D and other advanced special effects."

The more things change. There has been a lot of talk this TV season about the networks being more patient with underperforming shows in large part because more viewers are using DVRs and other platforms to watch on their time. That makes judging success harder than it used to be when networks could just look at ratings the next day and see what worked and what tanked. But Variety columnist Brian Lowry isn't ready to declare this a trend just yet. "Like a lot of attempts to chart the next evolutionary phase in TV's model, the premise has a kernel of truth, surrounded by creamy layers of nonsense," Lowry writes. And they call me a curmudgeon! 

Sorry about that. "Two and a Half Men" co-star Angus T. Jones sort of apologized for bashing the raunchy sitcom that has made him a very wealthy teenager. Jones who has found religion said he intended no "disrespect" to his colleagues when he called the show filth. However, he didn't take back what he said in a video he made for the Forerunner Christian Church. Of course, former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen couldn't resist another opportunity to attack the show that he was dropped from over a year ago. More from Reuters

Inside the Los Angeles Times: One more reason to be glad you're not famous is that odds are long people will make fake calls to the police to send a SWAT team to your house. Public TV personality Huell Howser is retiring.

Follow me on Twitter. I won't tweet a bad link. @JBFlint.

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