The Morning Fix: Icahn roars at Lions Gate! Red Box bows to Warner Bros., Spielberg and Chernin together? Charlie Sheen's dark future (as opposed to his dark past)
Knock, knock. Activist investor Carl Icahn (can we come up with a better phrase than that for him? How about the not-so-passive aggressive investor?) apparently likes Lions Gate just the way it is right now. Icahn has made an offer to increase his stake in the indie studio from about 19% to 30% only if the company doesn't go after MGM or Miramax or any other big acquisitions. The rub is that if Icahn's stake goes over 20%, it could alter Lions Gate's loan agreements and potentially put the company in default. Icahn, who has previously made life difficult for Time Warner, Yahoo and Blockbuster, has been critical of Lions Gate management for some time. His recent effort to get some seats on the board was also rebuffed. More from the Los Angeles Times and Business Week.
Red Box cuts deal with Warner Bros. In a victory for Warner Bros., Red Box, the video kiosk operator, will wait for 28 days after a DVD's release for sale until offering it for rental for a dollar. The deal comes a month after it struck a similar pact with Netflix. The Red Box deal clears the way for similar agreements with other studios including 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
Whose history? A miniseries being developed for the History Channel by Joel Surnow, whose credits include "24," is giving headaches to former Kennedy aides who claim the program is full of errors and innuendo. This isn't the first time an effort to make a program about a president has caused headaches. Several years ago CBS caved on a movie about President Reagan that later ended up on Showtime. In this case, the Kennedy series sounds like it might be a better fit for Cinemax. The New York Times looks at the flap.
Progress. While there has been some debate about whether female writers and producers are being shut out of pilot season, minority actors are getting a lot of shots to headline new dramas. An analysis from the Hollywood Reporter.
Back from the future. Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin may team up on a new drama for Fox, reports Variety. The show, which wouldn't be cheap, would follow a family from the future who goes back in time and, well, has some adjustment issues.
Does this mean I don't have to see the movie? "Avatar" director James Cameron tells Speak Easy he's working on a novel based on his hit movie. "There are things you can do in books that you can't do in films," he told the WSJ blog. It'll probably cost a lot less too.
Will Jay even be there? Looks like Jay Leno is leaving a few things behind when he returns to late-night television on NBC next month, according to Variety. John Melendez (he'll always be "Stuttering John" to us Howard Stern fans) is not returning as Leno's announcer, and band leader Kevin Eubanks may only stick around a little while after the show relaunches.
What's in a name? The Wall Street Journal looks at one of the biggest challenges facing musicians today. No, it's not trying to make money from labels or getting tour sponsors. It's coming up with a name for the band. "Think of a great band name and Google it, and you'll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page," laments former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. For what it's worth, my high school band was called "The Slants" and my brother played in a D.C. '80s mod band called "Modest Proposal."
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Stargate Studios can make any place look like anyplace else. Charlie Sheen's latest legal troubles could be a big blow to CBS and Warner Bros. Of course, some might argue that there are bigger issues here than whether a network and studio will see their bottom lines hurt. Walt Disney Co.'s plans to shorten the window between the end of the theatrical run and the DVD release of "Alice in Wonderland" is creating quite a flap in Europe.
-- Joe Flint