"Ride Along," starring Kevin Hart, left, and Ice Cube, is expected… (Universal Pictures )
After the coffee. Before beating this slightly sore throat into submission.
The Skinny: My colleague is on injured reserve with a bad cold and now my throat is bothering me. So I'm guzzling down meds because I'm not spending this weekend at home coughing and blowing my nose. Wish me luck. Friday's headlines include the weekend box-office preview, more Oscar analysis and a profile of Ellen DeGeneres. Have a good weekend!
Daily Dose: While there seems to be no shortage of potential suitors for a new Thursday NFL package (see below), don't count CBS Sports Network among them. Although having NFL games would certainly boost awareness for the channel, the network doesn't have the appetite for writing what would likely be a big check, according to a senior CBS executive.
Run over. The Kevin Hart-Ice Cube buddy comedy "Ride Along" is expected to plow over everything else at the box office this weekend with a projected take of close to $40 million. As usual, the studio behind the movie expected to finish first is lowering expectations. Universal said it thinks "Ride Along" will make around $30 million. Either should be enough to top "Lone Survivor," which took first place last weekend. Also opening is "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," which is Paramount's effort to restart the spy franchise made famous by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. Weekend box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.
PHOTOS: Box office top 10 of 2013
Let the campaigning begin. Now that the Oscar nominations are out, get ready for weeks of debate over who will win and who should win and why. Sometime soon we'll hear about why some historical movie doesn't deserve all the attention it is getting and there will be complaints about how a producer is attempting to buy an Academy Award. In other words, it will be business as usual. In today's news cycle, the Oscar nominations already seem like something that happened a month ago instead of yesterday. But since it is actually still fresh news, here are more stories and analysis of Thursday's Oscar nominations from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Getting ready. Ellen DeGeneres, who is hosting her second Academy Awards next month, tells the New York Times that the gig is like being a chef in terms of preparation. “It’s like a soup. You put it all in, and you let it sit on the stove until it reduces to a delicious, flavorful broth,” she said. Of course, critics always seem to find something foul about everything served to them, which can make the job less fun. "If you do great, the reaction is that you were good. Not great — good. If you don’t do well, they just tear you apart, and they never let you forget it.” Still, it seems unlikely that DeGeneres will get beat up the way Seth MacFarlane did last year.
Who doesn't want football? The NFL's decision to accept offers for a new Thursday night football package has a lot of networks kicking the tires including, according to Sports Business Journal, ABC, which got out of the football business eight years ago. ABC's sister cable network ESPN is already home to "Monday Night Football," which ABC unloaded because it was too expensive. The price of football has only gone up since then, but ABC's ratings have also gone way down.
PHOTOS: Behind the scenes of movies and TV
We should all be struggling so much. Fox's "American Idol" returned Wednesday night and only 15 million people tuned in to see the latest panel of judges. While that is a 16% drop from last season, it also a huge number for a show that has been on TV for more than a decade. We TV writers sometimes forget that when we rush to write about ratings and look for clouds in the silver linings. Numbers from Bloomberg.
Less quacking. A&E's reality show "Duck Dynasty" returned with new episodes for the first time since controversial remarks by cast member Phil Robertson about blacks and gays led to a huge controversy. Ratings were down compared with last season's premiere but up from last season's finale. Details on the numbers from USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.