Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon Talk of CinemaCon Day 1

If there was anything to distract from Sony’s Day 1 presentation, the Vegas odds were that Disney was fired or Jeff Shell was ousted.

With all due respect to the debate over movie theater windows, CinemaCon 2023 in Las Vegas kicked off with a conversation not about movie theaters, but about much smaller screens. Everyone at Caesar’s Palace is talking about cable news.

The dominoes fell early and fast on Monday: first Tucker Carlson was fired from Fox News, then Don Lemon was let go at CNN.

Carlson, who “agreed to part ways” with Fox News on Monday, and Lemon, who said in a Twitter post that his agent had informed him that CNN had “terminated” him, were getting a lot of oxygen early on. all of Day 1’s CinemaCon festivities.

If we were betting on men, we’d be spending more time at the craps table — or we’d have guessed that Monday’s hot topic in Vegas would be the sudden departure of NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell, who was fired Sunday amid the investigation. sexual harassment complaint. Or maybe Disney’s planned thousands of layoffs this week. Shell and Disney may be breathing a little easier as many people are distracted by what’s next for two of the biggest names in cable news.

“Holy shit,” an exhibitor source told IndieWire. “It’s a beautiful day,” another told us. “Holy cow… what’s going on here,” said a PR executive and veteran of the CinemaCon scene via email. Another communications professional at the scene told IndieWire that the carefully planned corporate announcement for Monday morning was “completely overshadowed” by today’s drama.

We might talk more about Shell on Wednesday when NBCU and Focus Features share a CinemaCon presentation. Monday was slated to be Sony’s big day at Caesar’s Palace Coliseum and will continue to be from 6:15pm PT to 8:15pm PT. But it’s going to take one hell of a showing from “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” to get that day back on track.

Spider-Man (Shamiek Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's SPIDER-MAN: FINDING THE SPIDER-VERSE.

“Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse”

Sony Pictures Animation

Carlson was a force at Fox News Channel. Last month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was the most-watched program among all cable news stations, averaging 3.3 million viewers nightly, according to Nielsen data. Carlson’s show was the No. 1 cable news program in the key demo in the first quarter of 2023 (443,000 viewers 25-54).

Carlson has also been pulling feathers at Fox lately, according to a fourth person who spoke to IndieWire for this story. According to this source, who was also shocked by the ouster, Carlson liked to push things to see how much he could get away with.

This drama has become more popular recently last week when Fox News producer Abby Grossberg fired her, she stepped up her lawsuit against the network. Grossberg, an executive producer on Carlson and Maria Bartiromo, was fired in March after he filed a lawsuit alleging he was asked to give misleading testimony and made a scapegoat in the now-closed Dominion case.

According to Grossberg’s latest statement, he has new evidence, namely a cell phone containing Dominion information, which Fox never sought during court-ordered discovery despite reminding them of it. She also accused Carlson of “operating a work environment that subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes.” Also not great.

Carlson the man may be very replaceable, but Carlson the personality is a trickier task. Rising Fox News star Jesse Watters is the heir apparent, a person familiar with the inner workings said. (For now, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” will officially be replaced by “Fox News Tonight,” which will feature rotating hosts.)

If not Watters, maybe Pete Hegseth from “Fox and Friends.” Carlson’s potential landing spots include Newsmax TV and the right-wing news network The First, though both would struggle to pay like Fox. Carlson co-founded The Daily Caller, but sold his stake in the company years ago.

Lemon didn’t have the right qualifications. With Lemon at the center, “CNN This Morning” actually dropped 9 percent in both total viewers and the primetime show it replaced, “New Day.” The new morning show, part of Chris Licht’s master plan to save CNN, is being creamed by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and completely destroyed by “Fox and Friends.”

It didn’t help that she came under fire for sexist remarks she made on air, saying presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime” because “a woman is considered to be in her 20s and 30s. and maybe in the 40s.” Species also ran a story alleging that Lemon had respected women at CNN for years, though Lemon denied those claims in a statement.

For its part, CNN said that not telling Lemon directly was foolish.

“Holy shit” is right.

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