The Morning Fix: Sony scales back. Rupert talks crackdown in China! 'Southland' sacked. Another shake-up at OWN.
Sony slowdown. Now it's Sony Pictures' turn to pump the brakes. The studio has sent the word out that it is not going to be aggressively looking for new scripts or projects at least until April, says the Los Angeles Times. Sony is the second studio in recent weeks to make such a move. Universal Pictures, which just went through a management shake-up, has also indicated it will be reducing its spending until next year.
No Shine for Sony. Movies aren't the only things Sony is rethinking. The Financial Times reports that Sony is also looking to unload its 21% stake in Elisabeth Murdoch's production company Shine. JPMorgan has been tapped to find a buyer.
A price must be paid! News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is again beating the drum for paid content -- the concept, not the website. In one of his toughest speeches yet, Murdoch said, "The Philistine phase of the digital age is almost over. The aggregators [wait, does he mean me?] and the plagiarists will soon have to pay a price for co-opting our content." The speech was given at the World Media Summit in Beijing. Well, if you are going to push for a crackdown, I guess China's the place to do it. Details from the Associated Press. And, lastly, right behind you on this one, Rupe!
Bruckheimer, brought to you by Barclays. Mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is closing in on a $20-million development fund via Barclays Bank, reports Variety. The deal comes a day after DreamWorks producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald announced a $10-million fund from Imagenation Abu Dhabi.
Hey, Comcast, look over here! If the cable giant's push to take control of NBC Universal doesn't work, the New York Post is offering up other options. There's Scripps (Food Network, Home & Garden, not sexy but successful), Viacom (MTV, VH1, great brands even if the ratings are off), Discovery (don't you want to have to deal with Jon and Kate Gosselin?) or even Time Warner (TBS, TNT, CNN). Of course, lots of hurdles to all these and no free tickets to "Saturday Night Live." Speaking of Scripps, it's rebranding its Fine Living cable network as the Cooking Channel, although its executives tell the Business Courier of Cincinnati that it won't compete with Food Network (it better not, because Tribune, my bosses, also own part of Food Network and probably wouldn't be too happy about that).
10-13! 'Southland' down! In a highly unusual move, NBC has canceled its gritty John Wells cop drama "Southland" before its second season even started. The network apparently thought the show was too dark. Of course, it raises the question of why NBC ordered a second season in the first place. The network will have to pay for the six episodes that were already in the can, and will put on the cheaper "Dateline" in its place. Hmm, couldn't be a money thing, could it? Details from the Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times.
OWN brings in new brass. The Oprah Winfrey Network, that smooth-sailing joint-venture cable channel between the talk show queen and Discovery, has tapped Debbie Myers as interim general manager. Myers, who is currently vice president of emerging networks and Discovery's Science channel, will spend lots of time in L.A. working on OWN, which has as much drama behind the camera as a typical Winfrey show does in front of it. The scoop from the Wrap.
Super sellout! CBS is around the 80% mark in selling ads for its Super Coverage next year, according to Advertising Age. The battle won't just be on the field: Both Pepsi and Coke are in the game.
-- Joe Flint