The Morning Fix: Sheen implodes! Questionable advice from Fox News chief Ailes. New Emmy rules snub HBO.
After the coffee. Before thanking Charlie Sheen for another day of material.
The Skinny: By bad-mouthing his executive producer Chuck Lorre, "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen basically gave CBS and the show's producer Warner Bros. the green light to pull the plug on the show. Begs the question if the dude wants to be fired. Wonder if he knows that lifestyle he's leading will be a lot tougher on residuals alone. Hope that all the Sheen coverage doesn't overwhelm a juicy story involving Fox News chief Roger Ailes and former publishing big-shot Judith Regan. Enjoy your Oscar Sunday. I'll be stuck doing box office while my colleagues roam red carpets.
Wonder if Matt LeBlanc is available. Last month when production was shut down on the CBS hit "Two and a Half Men" so star Charlie Sheen could rehabilitate himself, the actor's publicist asked for privacy and added that no additional information would be provided. If only Sheen had listened to his own man. On Thursday, after rants to radio host Alex Jones and gossip site TMZ in which he insulted the show's co-creator Chuck Lorre and others, CBS and Warner Bros., which produces the sitcom, pulled the plug on the rest of the season just days before everyone was set to go back to work. The show still has one season left on its current contract, but right now Sheen may be more hassle than he's worth, even though hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. Our creative advice is replace Sheen with a different actor every week or hire Matt LeBlanc full time. Our legal advice is if Sheen sues, get the rest of the cast and crew to counter-sue and tie him up in court for the next 50years. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Variety, and, of course, Radar Online. If you've been under a rock for the last year, the Hollywood Reporter has this nice page to catch up on all of Sheen's antics.
How to annoy HBO. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in a bow to pressure from the broadcast networks, is merging the categories of best TV movie and best TV mini-series, a category usually dominated by HBO. The broadcasters long ago got out of the miniseries business (foolishly, in this reporter's opinion) and rarely make substantial original movies. Since they carry the awards and are concerned about the show's ratings, the networks want fewer awards for programs with smaller ratings. The flip side is that HBO brings a lot of star power to the awards show. The news was broken by the industry website Deadline Hollywood. Further analysis from the Los Angeles Times.
The 21st century lunch counter. On the eve of the Oscars, the Wall Street Journal looks at the length Hollywood is going to in an effort to find new talent. On the one hand, technology has made it easier to search the nation for the next Brad Pitt. The flip side is it creates a lot more work. In the meantime, I guess I'll stop walking in front of buildings housing major talent agencies sipping out of a brown paper bag and dragging on a smoke looking to be discovered as the next middle-aged bad boy.
Ailes questionable advice. Fox News chief Roger Ailes urged former colleague Judith Regan to lie to the government when her ex-flame Bernard Kerik was being vetted for the job of head of Homeland Security, according to legal documents. At the time, Regan was head of publishing giant HarperCollins, a sister company of Fox News. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, didn't get the job and is now doing time for tax fraud. Ailes' advice came out as part of lawsuit filed by Regan's former lawyers, who are trying to get a percentage of a settlement Regan got from her bosses at News Corp. when she was forced out of her job several years ago. A News Corp. spokeswoman did not deny the validity of what's in the legal papers. Details from the New York Times.
What Rupert wants, Rupert gets. The Financial Times reports that News Corp. and its chief Rupert Murdoch are near a deal to acquire all of British Sky Broadcasting. The deal has been facing intense scrutiny from regulators in part because of the phone-tapping scandals involving some of the mogul's tabloid papers. The latest from the Financial Times.
Death blow! Warner Bros. has triumphed in a long-running battle with a producer of the studio's 1995 movie "Mortal Kombat," based on the video game. Lawrence Kasanoff sued for almost $10 million but ended up getting just $14,000, and Warner Bros. was given the green light to recover its costs associated with the case, which I'm guessing were more than $14,000. More from the Hollywood Reporter.
Hey, they have bills to pay! Green Bay is probably still hung over from celebrating its Super Bowl win, but NBC, which has the big game next year, is already trying to sell ads. According to Ad Age, NBC, now a unit of cable giant Comcast Corp., is seeking $3.5 million per 30 second spot. That, of course, would be a record price for a TV commercial. This year's Super Bowl had 111 million viewers. But then, it all may be moot if the NFL and players can't get together on a new labor deal.
Betting advice. If you're still figuring out how to vote in your office Oscar pool, Bloomberg says "The King's Speech" and its star Colin Firth are expected to be big winners Sunday night. My advice is save your $5 for March Madness. It's more fun.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I'm not as exciting as Charlie Sheen, but I try. twitter.com/JBFlint