The Morning Fix: DC Comics super online ambitions! Sad final days of Brittany Murphy. Miramax assembles new team. Clock ticks on 'Parker/Spitzer.'
After the coffee. Before heading to press tour to be wowed by the new judges on 'American Idol.'
The Skinny: Do you think when I'm retired I'll look back with fond memories at all these blog posts? Don't answer that! We've got a mixed bag of content for you today. Cable companies are offering lower packages but also looking to raise prices. Also, an in-depth look at the sad life of Brittany Murphy and a report on the ambitious online strategy of DC Comics.
A reduced cable bill? Not so fast. Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, has joined Time Warner Cable in creating a new low-cost package for consumers who may be feeling a financial pinch in these difficult economic times. The drawback is that the new "digital-economy" package, with a cost of about $30, does not include ESPN. That's because it wouldn't be an economic package if that channel, which costs well over $4 per-subscriber, per-month, was thrown in the mix. More on the offering from the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, while there may be some good will from cable operators in offering cheaper packages, prices overall are on the rise again, per the Street.
New faces. The revamping of Miramax under its new owners continues with a trio of big hires with experience in finance, distribution and operations. The first goal for Miramax is to find new ways to exploit its library and bring in much-needed revenue. From there it can start to acquire new content. Details on the hires from Variety.
Bad sign. CNN has taken down the giant billboard by its New York headquarters promoting its prime-time talk show "Parker/Spitzer." Given the show's poor ratings and reviews, many are taking it as further proof that the show is on the way out the door. The gossip is that Kathleen Parker may be history. There is also talk that as a last-ditch effort to generate attention, the show might be done live instead of taped. The New York Post has the latest.
It had to happen sooner or later. The adult entertainment industry is usually the first to jump on new technological trends. It saw the potential in home video long before Hollywood. It initially embraced the Internet until piracy sort of overwhelmed the industry, and now Penthouse is planning what may be the first 3-D adult channel. I could spend all day making jokes about that but then I'd never get to work, so I'll just link to TechCrunch. To be honest, I'm not sure why TechCrunch tried to create a mock conversation between Jules and Vincent from the movie "Pulp Fiction" to explain the announcement. It didn't work.
Brittany Murphy's last act. The Hollywood Reporter's Alex Ben Block, a veteran entertainment journalist, has written an investigative piece looking at the life and death of actress Brittany Murphy. A family friend, Ben Block reports that Murphy's husband, who died soon after she did, was not exactly a positive influence and that the actress, who had great success in her youth but struggled as she grew older, felt tremendous pressure from her husband and her own mother to be the breadwinner.
No blackboard material. Disney TV co-chief Anne Sweeney, who oversees ABC as well as several cable networks including Disney Channel and ABC Family, gave a lengthy interview to Broadcasting & Cable. Like any good head coach though, she didn't say something that might annoy a rival or reveal anything about herself or her company's strategy. Instead, she stayed on message. Call it the Bill Belichick approach to interviews. Even the most routine of questions, such as whether ratings for Fox's "American Idol" will fall without Simon Cowell (they will) was met with a benign response. One things for sure, don't play poker with her.
-- Joe Flint
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