Week in Review: Many plotted returns
EmptyOne ring to bind them: Peter Jackson and New Line co-chief Bob Shaye buried the hatchet this week -- and not in each other's heads. After months of public acrimony, the lure of hobbit's gold proved more powerful than their ongoing battle, prompting the "Lord of the Rings" helmer and New Line to settle their profit-sharing dispute and move forward on a new J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation. Jackson won't be at the helm of the two-film "The Hobbit," but will executive produce and be intimately involved with the creative process from the beginning.
In other Jackson news, Andy Serkis, who worked with the helmer on the "Rings" films as well as "King Kong," has joined the cast of "Tintin," the planned trilogy from Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Serkis is expected to play temperamental sea captain Captain Haddock in the adaptation of the hugely popular European comic strip.
Without a net: Two weeks after Carson Daly resumed taping on his show, Conan, Jay and Jimmy are following suit. "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" all will be back on the air sans writers come early January. How the formats of the shows will be changed to accommodate the lack of writers -- no monologues? -- is all still up in the air. As "Late Night" exec producer Jeff Ross puts it, "We're going to have to fill time with things that we haven't before." ... David Letterman, meanwhile, appears to be heading back with his writing staff in tow. The late-night host's Worldwide Pants, which owns both "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," was working to seal a WGA interim agreement that would put their staffs back on the job, a luxury their network-owned rivals don't have.
Envelope, please: While it's an open question as to how much anyone would miss the sometimes painful banter between presenters, the fact that both Oscar and the Golden Globes struck out in their requests for WGA waivers could mean major problems for the shows' producers. In addition to the lack of guild member-scripted material available during the telecasts, the prospect of a picket line has thrown the attendance of nominees very much in doubt.
Court's adjourned: In what insiders are describing as a blow to the company, popular Twentieth Television programming president Paul Buccieri, the man credited with building up the News Corp. syndie division's slate of court shows, has departed to take the reins at ITV's Granada America. As CEO of the Brit powerhouse's U.S. unit, he'll oversee the development of new reality and scripted series and formats as well as the exploitation of existing ITV formats.
No mystery: Do fans of USA Network's "Monk" and "Psych" like the shows enough to watch them twice a week? NBC hopes so. With no end in sight to the writers strike, the Peacock is repurposing the two mystery shows from its sibling cable net and running them in a Sunday-night block this winter. "It's a win-win situation," NBC Entertainment co-chair Marc Graboff said.
Don't hate the player: In the biggest move from traditional Hollywood to gaming since Spielberg inked with Electronic Arts in 2005, Jerry Bruckheimer has inked an exclusive deal with MTV Games that will see them team to build a game-incubation studio in Santa Monica. "If you look at our movies ... from 'Pearl Harbor' to 'Armageddon' to 'Top Gun' ... and you look at the angles, the shots and concepts, you see a lot of similarities (to games)," Bruckheimer said.
Rules of the game: FCC chairman Kevin Martin pushed through a 3-2 party-line vote this week, changing the rules governing the owning of newspapers and TV stations in the same market. Martin says the rules change, which will allow companies to own one of each in the nation's 20 largest markets, will help traditional media compete in the age of the Internet. Democratic counterpart Michael Copps called it the "same old same old," insisting it will only allow big media companies to increase their dominance of the marketplace.
Ready to 'Rumble': "Boondocks" mastermind Aaron McGruder is getting live. The creator of the comic strip-turned-Adult Swim series has inked a deal with Turner-owned Internet comedy hub Super Deluxe to create and write 20 mini-episodes of "The Super Rumble Mixshow," which will combine sketch comedy with a variety of other formats.