The Morning Fix: NBC profits down. 20th Century Fox in creative funk? Cable's playbook.
After the coffee. Before deciding not to punish myself for having nothing funny to say today.
The Skinny: A relatively light Friday in the headlines. NBC's profits are off. In another statement on our culture, "Jackass 3D" could be No. 1 at the box office. The Fox-Cablevision fight could leave New Yorkers in the lurch this weekend.
Cable's rulebook. The Wall Street Journal has discovered the growth of original programming on cable that has been going on for a decade now and looks at how shows are made there as opposed to broadcast. In a word, they are done cheaper and writers are given more freedom. Cable dramas and comedies shoot in fewer days, spend less on effects, pay less to cast and pretty much let producers do whatever they want. The bar is lower for ratings because cable networks have a steady stream of revenue from subscriber fees that doesn't fluctuate much regardless of performance of their shows. Cable networks also do far fewer original shows and episodes than broadcast, so comparisons between the two are not really fair. Furthermore, since just about every cable network is owned by big media company that also owns the broadcast networks, it's not really competition if you're a monopoly.
Down is the new up. General Electric Co. released its third-quarter earnings Friday morning and profit at NBC Universal was off 15% to $625 million. In a memo to staff, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker -- who will leave the company if Comcast closes on its deal to take control of the company -- said the drop in profit was due to the impact of one-time, non-operating events and transactions and that on an operating basis, the company's profit was up 32%. These are excellent results driven by superior execution throughout our operations, Zucker wrote. More from the Los Angeles Times.
Battle at the box office. This weekend, Summit Entertainment's "Red" will square off against Paramount's "Jackass 3D." I guess I'll try finishing that book. Actually, "Red" looks like it could be good and I'm sure my nephews will go racing off to see people do stupid things, so perhaps we should salute Hollywood for having something for everyone. You can't see me so you don't know that I did not just say that with a straight face. Anyway, box office predictions from Variety and the Los Angeles Times.
Rerun central? The Wrap says News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox is in a creative funk. "With seven of the Fox’s next 15 films through 2011 either sequels or adaptations ... the studio has established itself in the creative community as among the most risk-averse of the majors," writes Dan Frankel. Guess that means we won't get a movie version of "Lone Star" any time soon.
The race is on. Legendary car executive John DeLorean is the subject of several movies, but how many will make it to the finish line? The Hollywood Reporter examines the various efforts in the works and who is the odds-on favorite to get to the multiplex first.
Playing their song. Sony Corp. Chief Executive Howard Stringer needs to decide who will run the company's music unit, and his decision may affect what he gets for Christmas. That's because Stringer's brother, Rob, who oversees RCA, is one of the candidates to succeed Rolf Schmidt-Holtz as boss of Sony Music along with Barry Weiss, another senior music executive. The New York Post looks at Stringer's choice.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The fight between Fox and Cablevision shows no signs of slowing down, but don't look for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to get involved. Some MGM creditors want to evaluate the offer from Lions Gate before deciding on the current plan to turn management of the studio over to the chiefs of Spyglass Entertainment.
-- Joe Flint
You know the drill. twitter.com/JBFlint