The Morning Fix: MGM finally unveils restructuring plan! Former 'ChiPs' star Larry Wilcox pulled over. AEG has cable play plans.
After the coffee. Before one last Nemo's Cake and the flight back to Los Angeles.
The Skinny: It's a tabloid Friday as Lou Dobbs denies illegal-immigrant problems and former "ChiPs" co-star Larry Wilcox is in hot water. Also, MGM is finally ready to file for bankruptcy and to try to restructure itself.
Finally. MGM (that's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. to you) is finally going to file for bankruptcy. The beleaguered studio, home of the James Bond franchise and once a powerhouse in the movie industry, has put the finishing touches on a pre-packaged bankruptcy and new executive structure that, if all goes as the studio hopes, will put Spyglass Entertainment co-chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in charge. The plan has to be approved by nearly 100 creditors (the deadline is Oct. 22) and would see MGM reduced to a small production company releasing about half a dozen pictures annually. Barber and Birnbaum will likely lay off much of MGM's staff, including motion picture group Chairman Mary Parent and other executives. More on the plans from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Horse race at the box office. Walt Disney Co.'s "Secretariat," about the legendary horse, is expected to be in a tight race for the top spot at the box office with the Warner Bros. romantic comedy "Life as We Know it." Both are projected to take in about $15 million, and it might be a photo finish to see which new release will be the winner. Box-office projections from the Los Angeles Times.
Just what we need, another cable channel. AEG, the owner of LA Live and its Nokia Theatre is kicking around the idea of a music channel that could make use of all the events it carries at its various properties, and is hoping to land Ryan Seacrest and his company as a partner. Of course, what the channel will really need to get going is a cable partner, and Seacrest just happens to work for E!, which just happens to be owned by Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator. With Comcast trying to get its merger with NBC Universal through, now is the time to try to hit it up for deals. But this channel's prospects sound better suited to the on-demand world as opposed to a widely distributed commercial cable network. More from Forbes and the Hollywood Reporter.
And around the turn, it's NBC! The Kentucky Derby will remain on NBC as the network has ponied up and signed a new five-year deal to hold on to the race, which earlier this year drew 16.5 million viewers. Don't be surprised if eventually this race becomes a prime-time event, which the purist in me hates but the business guy in me understands. Variety gallops in with the story.
A ChiP is down. Larry Wilcox, a co-star in the 1970s police show "ChiPs," has been charged with securities fraud. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wilcox, 63, "perpetrated interrelated kickback schemes with two other penny-stock company executives." The agency lists Wilcox's company as UC Hub Group Inc. Hope his partner Ponch wasn't an investor. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
Do as I say, not as I do? Lou Dobbs, who when he had a show on CNN used his program to rip companies and people who hired illegal immigrants, may have been guilty of the same thing, according to an expose in The Nation. The magazine says, "Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper." In an interview with the Associated Press, Dobbs denied the allegations.
-- Joe Flint