Week in Review: Led Zep, strike, kudos


Can anyone remember a concert that has created as much of a worldwide stir as Led Zeppelin's return on Monday? For 130 minutes, original members Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant and drummer Jason Bonham (taking the place of his father, the late John Bonham) thrilled the lucky 20,000 at London's O2 Arena. As reunions go, this one was even better than the Spice Girls! "I couldn't believe I landed a ticket," fan Carole Smith told the BBC. Read our concert review

Strike force:
Forget what we said last week about the writers and studios making nice at the negotiating table. Talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers disintegrated amid much vitriol after the Dec. 7 session, and now it appears that Hollywood's focus will shift to DGA headquarters on Sunset Boulevard. The DGA is expected to gain quicker traction on new media in its talks, in part because it has accumulated detailed third-party research on the economic underpinnings of new-media enterprises. The DGA said Thursday that it wouldn't formally begin talks until the new year.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is looking for a way to ensure that a struck Golden Globes doesn't turn into a ghost-town Golden Globes. If the WGA doesn't grant the awards show a strike waiver, the group is considering pitching the show to talent as a platform to stand in solidarity with writers -- a move that could turn the podium and red carpet at the Beverly Hilton into a de facto picket line. The HFPA, of course, is hoping for a full waiver that would allow the Globes to go on as it normally would. SAG said this week that it has obtained a waiver for the SAG Awards, allowing its Jan. 27 telecast to go forward unencumbered by the current writing ban in force since the guild scribes went on strike.

Another strikeout:
The winter Television Critics Assn. press tour. TCA president Dave Walker pulled the plug this week after PBS changed its mind and opted not to take part in the tour and several cable networks, including the MTV nets, also reconsidered their previous decisions to participate. NBC was the first to say it would not attend.

Donkey gong: The "Jackass" gang is about to attempt its most audacious stunt yet: online movie distribution. In a radical departure from the traditional movie business model, Paramount Digital Entertainment and MTV New Media are co-producing "Jackass 2.5," a sequel to its two-time boxoffice hit that will skip multiplexes. Instead, "2.5" will be offered online for free for two weeks beginning Dec. 19 courtesy of Blockbuster. From there, the film will move on in ensuing weeks to pay-per-view platforms including iTunes and DVD as part of a light-speed reinvention of the customary distribution-window chain.

Pinched peacock: This one is not strike related. NBC has quietly begun reimbursing advertisers for fourth-quarter primetime ratings shortfalls, averaging about $500,000 per advertiser, according to media buyers, marking the first time in years a network has taken such a step to compensate marketers for ratings deficiencies. Buyers said NBC is offering cash back to advertisers looking to get ads on the air before Christmas. Marketers can't get make-goods because the network has none to give. All the nets have blamed ratings softness on the conversion of the upfront sales metric this season from live program ratings to commercial ratings plus three-day DVR viewing (C3). But media agencies contend broadcast primetime ratings are down significantly even when DVR viewing is added in.

Day-Lewis week:
Kudos, kudos for Daniel Day-Lewis. The London-born actor picked up best actor awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. on Sunday and the New York Film Critics Circle on Monday for his turn in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood," an epic tale of the oil business in early 20th century California. Day-Lewis also scored a nom in the Golden Globes on Thursday and the London Film Critics' Circle awards Friday. And "Blood" has quickly emerged as a leading Oscar candidate.

Trophy case:
Like the 1909 S-VDB Lincoln cent, that broadband Emmy Award handed out in June by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is really going to be a rarity. They have become NATAS' first and last such award after the New York TV academy lost its legal fight with its Los Angeles-based version over the creation of Emmy Awards for digital content. A three-member arbitration panel has sided with ATAS and barred NATAS from "awarding any new Emmys that infringe on the genres reserved to ATAS: drama, comedy, variety shows, music, 'long form,' reality shows, children's animation, made for television movies and nonfiction filmmaking."

End credits:
Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose and James Earl Jones will star in director Debbie Allen's Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." The latest version of the Southern Gothic drama marks the first production led by an all-black cast to be authorized by Williams' estate. ... Viola Davis is set to play Mrs. Muller in Miramax's screen adaptation of "Doubt," John Patrick Shanley's Tony-winning play. ... Paul Rudd is set to star in the comedy "I Love You, Man," directed and written by John Hamburg for DreamWorks. ... Newcomer Isabelle Fuhrman will play the daughter of Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga's characters in the Warner Bros. horror film "Orphan."