The Morning Fix: Snow bowl! Focus is sharp. Time for some new rules. 'American Idol' idling
Focus on Focus. Although not much has been going right at Universal Pictures lately, one of its success stories is Focus Features, the little specialty engine that could. "Babies" has been a surprise success, and "The Kids Are All Right," about a brother and sister, their two mothers and their sperm donor looks poised to be a critical darling. Although several other studios including Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. have done away with their specialty shops, Universal says it has no plans to do that to Focus. Earlier this spring, Universal had an offer for Focus, but held on. The Los Angeles Times' Claudia Eller looks at Focus and its future.
Time for some new rules. A lot has happened in media and telecommunications since 1996, which was the last time Congress approved updates to the Communications Act. Now two top Democrats -- Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) -- want to take another whack at updating the act for the Internet age. More on what will no doubt lead to intense lobbying from phone companies, cable companies, Google and public interest groups from the New York Times.
It's over. The Wall Street Journal says Walt Disney Co. has "formally" ended its talks to sell Miramax to supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein. I think we all knew this already. The focus is now shifting to the Gores brothers, who are also kicking the tires of Liberty Media's production company, Overture.
Closing windows. Movie studios are debating the latest push by cable to get movies to video-on-demand faster. Time Warner Cable wants to get movies on VOD in as little as one month after theatrical release (for as much as $20 a pop to consumers). Variety says that may be too radical a shift for Hollywood. I know I'm in the minority here, but shortening the windows, like flooding the DVD market, feels more like a short-term fix that will ultimately do more harm than good to the movie business.
More Viacom-YouTube dirt. Soon after buying YouTube, Google made an offer of almost $600 million to Viacom for its content, according to the latest legal documents released by a court. CNET went through the latest papers and found Google's offer and Viacom's response that it wanted more. Oh, and they called each other bad names.
The youth movement is getting older. Advertising Age's preview of the upfront advertising market (where commercials are sold for the fall season), notes that the median age of a prime-time broadcast TV viewer is 51 but that that may not be such a bad thing yet. Ad Age's Brian Steinberg also looks at the "Lost" finale. Not to tell us whether it made sense, but whether it qualified as a TV "event."
A snow bowl? The NFL will vote Tuesday on whether to hold the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey, home of the Giants and Jets. It would be the first intentional scheduling of a game in a cold weather/outdoor stadium location. Frankly, I'm all for it. More from the Wall Street Journal.
Watch those status updates! Vulture tells the tale of a studio executive whose status updates on Facebook have the town buzzing that he's about to get whacked. Unfortunately, because Vulture wimped out and didn't reveal who said executive is, we can't judge for ourselves.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The fate of foundering MGM lies in the hands of its debt holders, who have little experience with the movie business. Whether that will make much of a difference from when it was run by the people who were supposed to know the business remains to be seen. Fox's "American Idol" is ending one of its more disappointing seasons ratings-wise and now is losing Simon Cowell. Mary McNamara loved the finale of "24." I had a slightly different take.
-- Joe Flint
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