The Morning Fix: Lions Gate and Icahn roaring at MGM! Weinsteins get some money to play with. TV struggles to make the numbers pay.
After the coffee. Before deciding if Brett Favre should just quit now.
The Skinny: The Jets beat the Vikings. Oh wait, you're not here for that. Universal has a dilemma on its hands and it's apparently no laughing matter. Lions Gate makes a final run at MGM. Blockbuster is on the hunt for a new CEO and the Weinstein Co. has some new money to play with.
Lions Gate wants to play spoiler. Lions Gate is making a last-ditch run at merging with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after that ailing studio already unveiled its plan for Spyglass Entertainment principals Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber to run the company. That still needs approval by MGM's lenders, and votes are due Oct. 22. The move by Lions Gate is seen as defensive and an effort to keep Carl Icahn, the activist investor who is waging a hostile takeover effort for the production company. But Icahn has been accumulating debt in MGM and has indicated he would support such a merger. More on the never-ending saga from the Los Angeles Times.
Help wanted. Blockbuster Inc., the video store chain that was once the dominant player in the home entertainment business, will look to hire a new chief executive when it emerges from bankruptcy, which the company filed for a few weeks ago. The Wall Street Journal reports that Blockbuster has hired an executive search firm to find a replacement for Jim Keyes, who may be gone before the end of the year.
Cash infusion. The Weinstein Co., the production company headed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, got a much-needed investment from billionaire Len Blavatnik. The plan calls for Blavatnik to plunk money into a three-year film fund for a slate of movies with budgets of between $5 million and $20 million. He could end up investing as much as $100 million with the Weinsteins. Per the agreement, the Weinstein Co. will release the films here and in Canada and also control rights in Australia, Germany and France. Blavatnik's U.K.-based production, distribution and foreign sales company, Icon Entertainment, will oversee all other international markets. Details from Deadline Hollywood and the Los Angeles Times.
They can open their own e-mails. The Daily Beast looks at who the most "tech savvy" chief executive is in the media business. As usual, a line said first by Sirius XM chief Mel Karmazin is credited to outgoing NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker about trading analog dollars for digital dimes. Among the findings: Disney boss Bob Iger is savvy and Viacom's Philippe Dauman is not so savvy. No word on how savvy Brett Favre is.
Add them up. With more ways to watch shows whenever and wherever we want, the good news is it is really hard to miss an episode of a program unless you just don't want to see it. The downside is the networks are still primarily getting paid for those people who watch a show on television when it airs in its time period. "There’s a widening gap between ratings and the actual number of people watching," writes Joe Adalian in New York magazine. The TV industry and Nielsen, which measures ratings, need to do a better job of tracking all the viewing that is going on. Just as important, while devices such as the digital video recorder make it easier for consumers watch their favorite shows when they want to, advertisers and networks are wary of ad-skipping. CBS research guru David Poltrack and the rest of the networks are already working on a way to have their cake and eat it too, as the Los Angeles Times notes.
Late to the game? The controversy over a joke from the upcoming Universal Pictures/Ron Howard comedy "The Dilemma," in which Vince Vaughn's character says electric cars are gay (before then explaining he doesn't mean gay in the homosexual sense) is not fading away even after the scene was cut from the trailer and may be yanked from the movie. The Hollywood Reporter says a side story may be whether the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) was a little slow on responding to the issue.
Is your boss on this list? Glass Lewis & Co., a financial advisory firm, has come up with its list of the most overpaid chief executives. On top is Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz, whose 2009 package was valued at almost $40 million. Glass Lewis looks at stock price, operating cash flow and growth in per-share earnings to figure out who it thinks is ripping off shareholders. More on the list from Bloomberg and the New York Post.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on the controversy surrounding "The Dilemma." Starz Media is selling Film Roman, the animation company whose credits include "The Simpsons" to a group investors that includes Scott Greenberg, a former head of the studio. Iosono Inc. wants to change the way we hear movies.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter before it's too late. Twitter.com/JBFlint