2007 offers a strange summer

Sports, Comic-Con, Carrey run hot and cold

This has been a very unsettling summer thus far — too wet in many places and too hot and dry in others. Hence, it comes as no surprise that weird behavior would follow upon weird weather.

Let me site a few aberrant behavior patterns:

  • The National Basketball Assn. admits a referee was betting on games and possibly fixing them, a Tour de France favorite from Kazakhstan (no, not Borat) tests positive for doping (other bikers had the smarts to duck the tests), an NFL star runs a dogfighting ring and the world’s most overpaid (and overage) soccer star goes to every party but misses every game. And how do the networks respond? TNT and ESPN shell out a record $7.4 billion to renew their NBA contracts.

  • Though more and more studio executives and agents have been canceling their pricey trips to festivals like Cannes or Venice, every suit in Hollywood this week is donning capes and spandex panties to rush off to Comic-Con. Producers, as usual, will be hustling comicbook-based movies and genre pics, but they’ll be joined this year by TV execs pitching shows like “American Dad” and “Family Guy,” as though the freaks and geeks gathered in San Diego would seem a likely demo. They’ll find Comic-Con has no family hour.

  • Jim Carrey, who found studios last year pulling the plug on his big-budget movies, has switched agents and suddenly is committing to a new movie every week. Prodded by CAA and his managers, Jimmy Miller and Eric Gold, Carrey’s newest announcement concerns a movie called “Yes Man,” in which the actor would play a guy who tries to change his life by saying yes to everything that comes his way. Typecasting?

  • Negotiators for the major entertainment companies know they’ll ultimately need the support of all those unemployed writers and actors whose votes control their various guilds, but last week they pulled back their earlier offers. Their new proposal: A rollback of existing fees and residuals. By waving a red flag over the bargaining table, the majors apparently are saying, “We want to get you angry before we make you an offer.” Is this a cool strategy for hot-weather negotiations?

  • Network toppers at NBC suddenly realized they’re going to have to appease both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien now that 2009 is not that far away and Conan has been promised Jay’s sweet spot. Observers wonder why anyone at NBC would seriously believe that a twitchy, hyperactive comic like Leno would willingly head for the Motion Picture Home at the age of 59 to watch Conan confiscate his gig. For years, Leno has been working charity banquets and stand-up gigs to avoid being bored.

  • The major studios are locked in talks with hedge funds to further embellish their co-funding deals, even as they’re adding up the record box office results of their summer sequels. Now that the studios seem to have figured out their winning summer strategies, why would they want to split revenues with a bunch of Wall Streeters who mainly want to score some dates with starlets?

It must be the weather that suddenly has everybody running hot and cold.

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