The Morning Fix: Look out, jocks; here comes TMZ! Cable ratings surge in 2009. Oscar campaigning way down.
Look out, Derek Jeter. TMZ, the celebrity website and TV show that makes the National Enquirer seem restrained, is looking to do for sports what it's done for Hollywood. TMZ, which is run by lawyer-turned-muckraker Harvey Levin and Warner Bros., has registered the domain name TMZSports.com, according to another sports blog, SportsbyBrooks.com. Of course, athletes are no stranger to tabloid scrutiny, but TMZ can be, uh, relentless and athletes can be, uh, careless. The New York Times looks at the arena TMZ is entering and what it could mean.
Burke's payday. Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke got a new five-year deal, which spells out his responsibility for making the cable giant's deal with NBC Universal run smooth. If that's not enough, Burke has also been named to the board of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which is a big deal. Details on Burke's pact from the Los Angeles Times.
Oscar's cost cutting. The Hollywood Reporter looks at how campaigning for Oscars is getting more low-key. Gone are huge parties with giant buckets of shrimp and barrels of booze in favor of intimate parties at the home of a star (such as Leonardo DiCaprio's recent bash for Tobey Maguire). Even those big spenders at Weinstein Co. are dialing it down this awards season. Part of the motivation is, of course, the bad economy. But there has also been some pressure on the over-the-top campaigning that goes on from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Also, here's the skinny from THR on who's having post-Golden Globes parties so you know who to bug for your invite.
Cable's cruising. Nine of the top 10 cable networks saw their ratings go up in 2009, reports USA Today. Networks that had the biggest improvements were the Food Network (up 26%), TLC (up 18%) and USA (up 15%). Fox News is up 7%. Not everyone is celebrating, though. CNN is down 30% and Lifetime fell 20%.
Still a grudge? DreamWorks' stormy partnership with Paramount is over, but apparently there may still be tension between the two companies. Could they really be having a tiff over the choice of DreamWorks' logo on the Paramount movie "Up in the Air" (which DreamWorks was involved with in its early inception)? Indiewire.com's Anne Thompson digs in.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Former HBO chief Chris Albrecht will have his work cut out for him in trying to make Starz more creatively competitive with HBO and Showtime. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) weighs in on the Time Warner-News Corp. retransmission consent feud.
-- Joe Flint