Janet Maslin gives the thumbs up in Friday's New York Times to Open Wide: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession, the new book by Variety editors Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing. They even get their mugs in the paper (Hayes is on the left) [but not the correct title...the NYT juxtaposed the first words; it's now corrected here]. I belong to the culture niche that can't imagine why anyone who doesn't get a direct cut would care how many tickets a movie sells. The obligatory box office roundup is the phoniest story in my Monday newspapers. So I like her lede:
All across this land, 9-year-old children can identify the film that racked up the highest gross revenues last weekend. How do they know? More importantly, why do they care? In a level-headed new book about movie marketing, two knowledgeable Variety editors take on those questions.
This Sunday is the debut of the revamped New York Times Book Review. Steven Zeitchik gives it a first read at Publishers Weekly and calls it cleaner, funnier and more magazine-like. Speaking of books, T. Jefferson Parker will discuss his latest novel California Girl in the 11 o'clock hour of Friday's "AirTalk" with Larry Mantle on KPCC. The book is set in 1960's Orange County.
* Friday update: The revamped NYTBR on Sunday also has an essay on book blogs and websites, and opens with a long front-page review of Philip Roth's new novel. Here's the NYT press release.