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The Morning Fix: Betting on the movies! Conan sets tour. Pilot orders up.

March 11, 2010 |  8:15 am

After the coffee. Before seeing whether John Wells sticks it to NBC in his testimony on Capitol Hill today.

Wonder what movie Bernie Madoff would invest in. Think that little indie film you caught at Sundance has potential to explode? Well soon you might be able to make that bet. The Los Angeles Times reports that a couple of trading firms are launching a box-office futures exchange that "would allow Hollywood studios and others to hedge against the box-office performance of movies, similar to the way farmers swap corn or wheat futures to protect themselves from crop failures." The Cantor Exchange, formed by New York firm Cantor Fitzgerald, demonstrated its system to Hollywood last week. It created a trading-floor atmosphere with participants making guesses and bets on how "Alice in Wonderland" would do at the box office. Looks like I'm going to have to watch "Trading Places" again so I can relearn about derivatives.

CTlogosmall Blown out of proportion? At the Walt Disney Co. shareholder meeting, Chief Executive Bob Iger was asked whether Disney would consider spinning off or getting rid of its ABC broadcast network. Iger said he was comfortable with the company's current mix of assets but added that Disney is always reviewing its operations to see what's working and what's not. Bingo! That's all it took for a half-cocked press to rush out stories that an ABC spinoff or sale is a possibility. Could it happen? Sure, anything can happen. That said, ABC's stations, as witnessed by its new deal with Cablevision, are suddenly becoming more valuable, and just who would buy the network? Must have been a slow day. Here's a take from Reuters.

Funny is back. USA Today weighs in with its authoritative take on pilot season and says the major broadcast networks ordered 86 pilots for the 2010-2011 season, an almost 15% jump from last season. Orders for sitcoms are on the rise, no doubt in part because of CBS and now ABC's success in the genre. Among the big names looking to create new hits are Chuck Lorre and John Wells for CBS, J.J. Abrams and David E. Kelley for NBC and Shonda Rhimes for ABC.

State of the industry. The Motion Picture Assn. of America issued its annual analysis of the movie business. Box office was up even though the number of movies released were down. Details of the report from Variety while the Los Angeles Times notes what the MPAA does not report on, including several key statistics that would give a better overall picture of the biz. 

Conan hits the road again. Conan O'Brien has officially unveiled his comedy tour plans, reports the Wrap. The tour, dubbed "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television," starts April 12 in Eugene, Ore., and will hit much of the United States and Canada over two months including the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Yes, Andy Richter will be there. Meanwhile, talks with Fox about a late-night show continue to plod along.

Cutting the cord. Every few months we get a feature story on people who are cutting the cord to their cable TV and still watching all the TV they want. The New York Times looks at how one such individual does it. Frankly it sounds like too much of a hassle for me, since sports and pay cable is hard to find, and frankly soon enough so will a lot of other content. But now I'll get 50 comments on how easy it is, so I'll keep my scissors near the cable wire.

Inside the Los Angeles Times. Ryan Gosling fans may have to wait a little longer for "All Good Things," the movie that's been sitting on the shelf at Weinstein Co. Director Andrew Jarecki has bought the U.S. rights back to the movie and is looking for a new distributor. A look at South by Southwest's film festival. Kim Fowley, former manager for the Runaways, on the film based on the 1970s girl band that featured Joan Jett.

-- Joe Flint

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