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Clinton documentary stalled

In what could be the third instance of a major film on either Bill or Hillary Clinton to be canceled, Martin Scorsese’s long-aborning project for HBO is also now imperiled.

A front-page piece in the New York Times posted over the weekend said that “Mr. Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about Mr. Clinton – which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run – has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said.”

The scrapping of the Clinton documentary is a shock for a number of reasons: Foremost, HBO, along with PBS, is TV’s most prestigious destination for documentary films, while its association with Scorsese has yielded highly memorable ones, including portraits of Bob Dylan and George Harrison.

– Newsday

‘SNL’ marathon to air on VH1

For “Saturday Night Live” fans among us, the TV cup is about to runneth over. Before you get to the surfeit of NBC-related programming (online and on-air) leading up to the Feb. 15 40th anniversary special, you must first navigate this: a VH1 Classic “SNL” marathon beginning Wednesday that will span the program’s full history.

When will it air?

The marathon, starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, will end Feb. 15, a total of 433 hours.

Will all episodes air?

No, and in fact, roughly half of the total. In a phone interview, Ben Zurier, chief of programming strategy for VH1, says, “ ‘SNL’ in all probably has 850 episodes, so we’ve [made] a lot of editorial [decisions]. It would be fun to air every one, but that would also be something like two months of programming. We had to make choices, and hopefully most of them are good [and] will stir debate.”

Are all seasons represented? Yes – excluding the current one.

– Newsday

‘Sniper’ tops at box office

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” turned out another massive audience at North American theaters over the weekend, providing cover for another bomb elsewhere at the multiplex.

With a power base in the Southeast, Midwest and South – and an attention-generating debate over its political message or lack thereof – “American Sniper” (Warner Bros.) took in an estimated $64.4 million, for a two-week total of about $200.1 million, according to Rentrak, which compiles box office data.

In sharp contrast, “Mortdecai,” a $60 million action comedy starring Johnny Depp, flopped badly with ticket sales of $4.1 million – the second time in two weeks that an amply budgeted film has been flatly rejected by the marketplace. (Last weekend it was “Blackhat,” which cost $70 million to make and took in $3.9 million over its first three days.) “Mortdecai,” which extends a losing streak for Depp, was co-financed by Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment. Terrible reviews, a problematic title, viewer fatigue with Depp’s oddball characters and plain disinterest in the goofy art-dealer-caper premise were cited by box-office analysts Sunday as possible explanations.