Showbiz Sandbox 23: Letterman and Polanski Go To The Dogs

We had a bunch of dogs as our guests this week, also known as Famous Men Doing Bad Things.

First we take a look a the North American box office. “Zombieland” won the top spot this week, beating out “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “Toy Story/Toy Story 2,” “The Invention of Lying” (which could perhaps be the title of this podcast) and “Surrogates” rounding out the top five.

Now, on to our dogs. David Letterman played the victim when revealing an extortion attempt against him. Allegedly a producer from the television news show “48 Hours” attempted to blackmail him with proof that Letterman had carried on several affairs with female staffers over the years. Karen Woodward and Michael Giltz debate whether Letterman is guilty of sexual harassment or was just being stupid.

Roman Polanski is our next dog. Should he serve more time in prison for committing statutory rape in 1977? For fleeing the country? Or does he get a free pass because he’s a talented filmmaker? 

At least Polanski’s arrest has people watching the news again, because Jay Leno certainly isn’t. Data from Nielsen’s top five markets – New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas – show that NBC stations all saw their 11 p.m. newscasts drop by double digits during the first week of the 2009-10 season. Do networks have an obligation to keep their affiliates happy? And if so, will they have to yank Leno off the air?

In movie news, Universal Pictures has tapped its head of marketing, Adam Fogelson as its new chairman and Donna Langley has been promoted to co-chairman of the studio, effective immediately. This means former co-chairmen Marc Shmuger and David Linde are out. In Disney news, the Mouse House is revamping film operations, including slashing Miramax Films’ staff to 20, and reducing releases to three a year. In other words, Disney is killing Miramax. Can Bob and Harvey buy it back?

Speaking of buying, how much would you pay for a digital book? An avid reader, Michael explains some of the latest technologies coming out of the book market, and makes some suggestions of his own. (Pass the Vook!)

We’re introducing a new segment this week: Big Deal or Big Whoop, which is really an excuse for us to touch on all the entertainment news stories of the week. If we think the story is important, it’s a Big Deal, if we don’t care, it’s a Big Whoop. This week we talk about Jon and “Kate plus 8,” introduce Sperling to Lady Gaga, ponder MTV’s decision to air DJ AM’s final reality show, and wish we were on Mark Burnett’s new reality series “Fantasy Island.” (Can’t he do “Love Boat” too?)

Finally, we end with some Inside Baseball, our time to chat about insider-y entertainment topics that perhaps no one else cares about. This week we discuss Comcast, the nation’s leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services, which is in talks to buy the entertainment giant NBC Universal from General Electric. Is this a big deal? Could it be? Does this mean Hulu will start charging to watch television shows online? Tune in and find out.

Letterman Reveals Extortion Attempt

David Letterman Comes Clean Without Telling All,0,2491746.story

Jay At 10, Bad News At 11

Defense Strategies Could Keep Polanski Out of Prison,0,1100452.story?track=rss

Former Prosecuter says He Lied About Polanki Case>1=28101

Polanski Redux: Who Lied?

Polanski Backlash

Polanski’s Defenders Lose Sight of Real Victim,0,4549479.column

In Roman Polanski Case, Is It Hollywood vs. Middle America?,0,1755914.story

Minus Jon, It’s “Kate Plus 8”

Lady Gaga to Tour Solo In Wake Of Kanye West Cancellations

Lady Gaga On Saturday Night Live

MTV To Air DJ AM Reality Series

Sony, Mark Burnett To Visit “Fantasty Island”

The Simon and Schuster Vook

Will Books be Napsterized?

My Kindle Ate My Homework: Amazon Pays for Deleting Student’s eBook

Fogelson, Langley To Top Universal

Disney Revamps Film Operations

Disney To Slash Miramax Films Staff to 20, Reduce Releases To 3 A Year,0,3989657.story

Comcast Would Own 51% of NBC Universal

Comcast Wants Content and NBC Universal Has It

Will Hulu Make You Pay To Watch,0,980649.story