'The Hobbit': Bilbo, Gandalf primed for big box-office weekend

CREDIT: Warner Bros.

POP-CULTURE ROUNDUP: Leading with “The Hobbit,” followed with many other things, including a prestigious award for Carole King, a snubbed Justin Bieber and the mystery music video.

A FUNNY TAKE: On Hobbits, per the New York Times, “In “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s first Middle-earth fantasy novel, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) sets out with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a posse of dwarfs to battle a fearsome dragon. [Spoiler alert] they do not kill the dragon, although [spoiler alert] they eventually will, within the next 18 months or so, because [spoiler alert] this “Hobbit,” which is [migraine alert] 170 minutes, is the first installment in [film critic suicide-watch alert] a trilogy.”

MEANWHILE: So how will it do at the box office?, per Entertainment Weekly, “Predictions vary wildly. Some are predicting a $140 million weekend. Others put it on pace for about $86 million. Me? I’m saying around $110 million. I’m tempted to ratchet that number up higher, but December isn’t a time of year when rushing to the theater is necessary, since so many families will have so much time to go to the cinema during the next few weeks.”

IT’S A DEAL, MICK: So says Cox, per The Wrap, “The Walt Disney Company has reached a multi-year, comprehensive distribution agreement with Cox Communications that will bring WatchESPN -- which delivers live ESPN content to computers, mobile phones and tablets -- and other Disney services to Cox customers, the companies said Thursday.”

BOWING OUT: Cue the crocodile tears, per Access Hollywood, “L.A. Reid is leaving “The X Factor,” Access Hollywood can reveal. “I have decided that I will not return to ‘The X Factor’ next year,” he told Access’ Shaun Robinson in an exclusive interview. “I have to go back and I have a company to run that I’ve kind of neglected and it saddens me a little bit, but only a little bit.” L.A. said he needs to get back to business as the chairman and CEO of Epic Records.”

SHE FEELS THE EARTH MOVE: Under her feet, per Rolling Stone, “Carole King will receive the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which honors the "lifetime achievement of artists whose work exemplifies the standard of excellence associated with towering songwriters George and Ira Gershwin."

SHOW SOME RESPECT: Of policing one’s self, per The Hollywood Reporter, “U.K. public broadcaster the BBC should be bolder and more creative with its depiction of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are still sidelined and stereotyped on television, says a new report commissioned by the BBC itself.”

POOR GUY: Rather, stop with the pouting, per Entertainment Tonight, “Despite being one of the biggest musical acts of 2012, Justin Bieber got no love from the Grammy Awards and like his Beliebers, the Baby singer is none too thrilled. When asked if the snub was a "big bummer," the platinum-selling artist told Ellen DeGeneres, "I was looking forward to [possible Grammy noms], but I know it will happen one day."

POWER COUPLE: Taking odds now on how long it will last, per toofab, “The two singers have been keeping their romantic relationship pretty under wraps since July – but "KatJo" (eh, too soon for nicknames?) made their very first red carpet appearance together! Katy Perry, 28, and John Mayer, 35, got in the Christmas spirit as they attended a Broadway showing of "A Christmas Story: The Musical" in New York on Wednesday.”

SNAP!: One and done, per Vulture, “Adele's Skyfall theme song — the one that made Daniel Craig weep — didn't take much to put together, really. "Within ten minutes, she put down most of the vocals," says Paul Epworth, the Grammy-winning producer behind Adele's 21.”

AND FINALLY: Today’s mystery music video.

--Skip Wood (Follow me on Twitter @DaybreakSkip)