This Week’s Entertainment Buzz

OZ Prequel Defies Skeptics

<!-- missing image http://blogs.kcrw.com/whichwayla/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Oz-The-Great-Powerful-300x210.jpeg -->‘Oz The Great And Powerful,’ a hugely expensive 3-D endeavor from Disney, had a full-on blockbuster outing, writes Steven Zeitchik in the LA Times. This past weekend it took in over $80 million in North America and nearly $70 million elsewhere on the globe, the New York Times reports.

But if you followed some of the film’s reviews last week you’d be surprised by the numbers. New York Magazine’s David Edelstein wrote, “‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is a peculiarly joyless occasion;” and in the New York Times, Mahnola Dargis wrote, the movie is “a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals.”

Granted, this Sam Raimi-directed prequel to the landmark ‘Wizard of Oz’ benefited from higher price point 3D ticket sales and a massive marketing campaign. But Zeitchik hypothesizes that fans of James Franco accounted for some of the momentum at the box office and that another percentage of the audience was people seeking a family movie with a PG rating.

But whatever magical formula attracted the audiences, it will need to magically reappear if the studio is going to see a return on its money: The film’s budget reportedly was $325 million. That’s right, $325 million — despite hefty production incentives from the state of Michigan, which went so far as to build a studio to help make the movie.

All Aboard Pilot Season

The broadcast TV networks have had a lackluster year thus far, writes Michael Schneider of TV Guide Magazine. They’re losing people to cable, Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, books, etc. So they’re hoping to make themselves relevant again, or at least a viable option for people in the hunt for screen-based entertainment.

With casting notices and production beginning, this pilot season is full of network offerings that trade on familiar names — both in front of and behind the camera. Robin Williams returns to TV for the first time since “Mork & Mindy” as star of David E. Kelly’s new CBS workplace comedy pilot. Kelly redefined the workplace dramady in the ’90s with Ally McBeal but he has been out of broadcast

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for a while. Greg Kinnear is also returning to broadcast in a pilot for Fox based on a successful Australian show. Michael Schneider told John Horn of KCRW’s The Business that Kinnear reportedly wanted to get the “Kevin Bacon” deal Fox gave Bacon for “The Following” — essentially allowing Bacon to make fewer episodes per season than a traditional TV drama.

Other TV pilots with familiar franchisees attached include a reboot of ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ for CBS, with Eddie Murphy involved, and a Joss Whedon/Marvel Comics pilot called S.H.I.E.L.D for ABC.

For an up-to-the-minute list of all TV pilots, you can visit The Hollywood Reporter.