The Morning Fix: A transforming quarter for Viacom. V-Day at ABC! Late night's new look. Muhammad the movie?
After the coffee. Before figuring out how to reset the clock in your car.
Transforming performance. Thanks to a strong summer slate that included "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra," Viacom's third-quarter profits jumped 15%. That helps offset the usual pain all media companies are feeling from the decline of the DVD business. Viacom posted a profit of $463 million, and its Paramount studio swung to a profit of $19 million for the quarter. Early details from the Associated Press and Dow Jones.
V-Day for ABC. Tonight marks the premiere of ABC's remake of "V," about aliens who come to Earth seeking water in return for technology, but, guess what, their motives are not so pure. The expensive miniseries will run for four episodes this month, then the aliens will disappear until spring. USA Today looks at the series and the behind-the-scenes creative drama between the network and producers.
Downloading Best Buy. Consumer electronics chain Best Buy is teaming up with CinemaNow, an online-video provider, to create a movie downloading service that would be integrated into devices the retailer sells that can be connected to the Internet. News from the Los Angeles Times. In a related story (wow, that sounded so local news), the Wall Street Journal looks at how backers of the Blu-ray format are hedging their bets with Internet video.
Muhammad the movie? Alnoor Fund, a Middle Eastern media company, is raising money and has signed a "Lords of the Rings" producer to make a movie about the life of the prophet Muhammad, according to the Wall Street Journal. Of course, depicting Muhammad during his lifetime doesn't always play well, as Salman Rushdie and a Dutch cartoonist can attest.
Media ownership debate. The Federal Communications Commission has begun its examination of the current media ownership regulations by holding some open hearings/meetings. Nothing may change, but the agency is required to look at the rules every few years to decide if they're still relevant. Here's what's happened and what's going to happen. Monday, the academics spoke and tried to lay out the landscape. Today, the activists will speak and argue why tougher, not looser, regulations are needed. And later in the week, the industry will suggest that the media are already too regulated and can't compete in today's changing landscape. There, I just saved you a lot of time. If you want more, check out Broadcasting & Cable's coverage. You also can watch this online at the FCC's website, FCC.gov.
Holding out for a hero. Adrian Pasdar is leaving the NBC show "Heroes." The question is whether this is all part of the show's plot. Alas, I'm not a "Heroes" watcher, so I can't tell you. Instead, we'll let you read the post from Deadline about Pasdar's exit and the post from our own Showtracker, which explains that, as sad as this may be for the show's few fans, it is part of the plot and should've been apparent to those who watch.
The new faces of late night. As Conan struggles in his new home, Jay Leno slips in prime time and David Letterman ... never mind. ... The Wrap looks at the upcoming premieres of George Lopez on TBS and Wanda Sykes on Fox to see if the face and feel of late-night TV is headed for its biggest shift since Arsenio Hall first broke through some two decades ago.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: News Corp. is cutting its travel budget and apparently won't go after the Travel Channel after all. The towel needs to be thrown in on the battle of broadcast versus cable. A look at one of the key men behind "This Is It." Mary McNamara on "V."
-- Joe Flint