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'Captain America' still on top. NBC worried about 'Meet the Press.'

April 21, 2014|By Joe Flint
  • "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" stayed on top at the box office.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" stayed on top at the box… (Marvel )

After the coffee. Before catching up on "Mad Men."

The Skinny: I had trouble concentrating on "Mad Men" last night so rather than miss a detail, I turned off the TV. Now I just have to avoid all social media until I finish the episode. We have a pretty eclectic mix of stories today. Not only is there the box-office recap, but also profiles of Comcast insider David Cohen and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. In addition, the Washington Post had a very interesting story on "Meet the Press." And then there was that Fox executive's odd plan to raise money for the girlfriend of someone lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Daily Dose: Time Warner Cable and DirecTV are talking again. Earlier this month, Time Warner Cable said DirecTV had stopped negotiations for a deal to carry for SportsNet LA, the new Dodger-owned channel that Time Warner Cable is distributing. The two are chatting again but still remain far apart on a deal.

Still fighting. "Captain America: The Winter Solider" has plenty of stamina. The Marvel movie finished first at the box office for the third week in a row, with a take of $26.6 million. Finishing second were the birds of "Rio 2," which flew in with $22.5 million. But the big news was that coming in third place was the family film "Heaven is For Real" with a box office of $21.5 million. It's the latest in a string of faith-based hits. Opening to disappointing numbers was Johnny Depp's "Transcendence," which made just over $11 million. Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

A full plate. New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is doing a lot of juggling. He's trying to get more spectrum for wireless operators. He needs to oversee the agency's review of Comcast's proposed deal to buy Time Warner Cable. And he's also rewritten some rules he thought were giving broadcasters unfair advantages. The Los Angeles Times looks at Wheeler's agenda.

Mr. Inside. The man charged with getting Comcast's big deal through lawmakers and regulators is David Cohen. While not as well known as Comcast head Brian Roberts or NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke, Cohen is the consummate insider whose political connections and sharp legal mind have helped shape Comcast's strategy for several years. The New York Times looks at Cohen as he tries to get another giant merger past critics.

Meet the shrink. A decline in ratings for NBC's Sunday morning news show "Meet the Press," anchored by David Gregory has the network suits concerned. How concerned? So concerned that NBC hired a "psychological consultant" to chat with Gregory's wife and friends, according to the Washington Post. NBC is also tinkering with the inside-the-beltway show to try to broaden its appeal. If I may, if you don't like the host, get a new one but don't try to make a specialty show into a meal for everyone.

Climbing down. After last week's avalanche at Mt. Everest, which took 13 lives, the Discovery Channel is pulling the plug on plans to have Joby Ogwyn climb the mountain and then jump off in a wing suit. The show had been scheduled for May 11 and was being produced by NBC's Peacock Productions. Details from USA Today

Plot twist. Director Bryan Singer, who last week was sued for alleged sexual abuse, is mentioned in an upcoming documentary about sex abuse in Hollywood by Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg. Since the accusations, Singer has canceled some high-profile appearances while his lawyer continues to say the lawsuit, based on alleged incidents from 15 years ago, is "absurd and defamatory." More from Variety. In the meantime, Jeff Herman, the lawyer for the accuser, has promised more suits soon against other Hollywood big shots, according to the New York Times.

Outfoxed. A Fox Cable executive's effort to raise money for Sarah Bajc, whose boyfriend Philip Wood was on the lost Malaysian flight, blew up over the weekend after Bajc thought something seemed fishy and contracted Fox. The executive, Darlene Tipton, used her company email in reaching out to Bajc. Tipton and her husband reportedly set up a page for Bajc on Go Fund Me, a website people use to raise money. Yes, this is an unusual tale, and if you want a thorough read on this bizarre story, check out Flying Lessons, which broke the news.

This may hurt the Christmas bonus. Amy Poehler, star of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," is appearing at a fundraiser for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who just happens to be one of the harshest critics of NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. That could make for some awkward moments with NBC and Comcast brass in the hallways. More from the New York Post.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey on director Quentin Tarantino's live reading of his script "The Hateful Eight."

Follow me on Twitter. I'll be here all week. @JBFlint.

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