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The Morning Fix: Murdoch takes a Shine! Writers say Comcast no fan of union label. 'Unknown' knows box office.

February 22, 2011 |  7:21 am

After the coffee. Before wondering whether it's too late for Rupert Murdoch to adopt me and buy the Morning Fix.

The Skinny: Hope not everyone got stuck working Monday. News Corp. and Blockbuster did what they could to make sure there would be no enjoying a federal holiday for media reporters. I believe I said last week I was most intrigued about the movie "Unknown." Seems I wasn't the only one as the Liam Neeson thriller went to No. 1 in its opening weekend.

All in the family. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is buying Shine, the production company majority owned by his daughter Elisabeth for almost $700 million. The deal will raise eyebrows for lots of reasons. First, it brings Elisabeth back to News Corp., where she'll have a board seat and once again be in the running with her baby brother James to be a successor to her father. Second, the acquisition and its price tag will no doubt have some wondering whether News Corp. is paying a fair price for the company whose biggest assets include reality shows "The Biggest Loser" and "Master Chef." News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey will oversee Shine. In another interesting note, Shine's top U.S. executive -- Emiliano Calemzuk -- who had left News Corp. less than six months ago to work for Elisabeth Murdoch, will now likely be back at the company. As Michael Corleone would say, "Every time I think I'm out...they keep pulling me back in!" Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and the U.K.'s Guardian. For more on James Murdoch, here's Sunday's lengthy New York Times profile.

No longer an unknown. Liam Neeson's action movie "Unknown" caught the so-called experts who predict box office off guard when the Warner Bros. release topped the teen sci-fi drama "I Am Number Four" from DreamWorks at the box office over the holiday weekend. "Unknown" took in $25.6 million, compared with $22.6 million for "I Am a Number Four." The audience for "Unknown" skewed old, which in TV is bad but in movies doesn't matter as much because their money is just as green as some teens and probably wasn't stolen from their old man's wallet. Box office reports from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News and a look at Neeson's appeal from the Hollywood Reporter

Is Comcast anti-union. The Writers Guild of America West charges that Comcast, the cable giant that now controls NBC Universal is out to "destroy" the guild. The WGAW has been clashing with Comcast long before it bought NBC Universal. At issue is Comcast's unwillingness to recognize the WGA and its members on their cable shows, which include E!'s "Chelsea Lately" and "The Soup." More on the skirmishes from Variety.

Blockbuster deal. Struggling video store chain Blockbuster has received a bid of almost $300 million from its debt holders. The offer is seen as more of a starting off point for potential suitors than it is a done deal. The bid comes from Cobalt Video Holdco, whose partners include private-equity and hedge funds that hold notes on the onetime video giant. Details from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Taking to the tweets. As the NFL and its players union nears a deadline on a new deal, the players are venting about the NFL and team owners on Twitter. At issue in the talks are a new split on the revenue pie and a longer season, which is of great concern to players and not even something many fans are clamoring for, but it will mean more TV money for the league. The New York Times on how players are trying to make their case in 140 characters or fewer.

Leadership qualities. The quick departure of Jack Griffin from head of Time Inc. led the Wall Street Journal to do an analysis of Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes' handling of executive changes at the company. We agree with most of the grades but are confused as to why WSJ gave Bewkes an "A" for his handling of Chris Albrecht's departure from HBO after being arrested in 2007 in Las Vegas for fighting with his girlfriend. The piece overlooks that Bewkes, while head of HBO, kept Albrecht on for years after the company settled a nasty complaint against Albrecht from a female underling and buried the incident. It was only after the Los Angeles Times broke that story a few days after the Vegas bust that Bewkes and his then Time Warner boss Dick Parsons moved against Albrecht.

Is Matt Damon done? Of course not. But according to the Wrap, buzz on his latest movie "The Adjustment Bureau" is weak and that could spell trouble for the star. Interestingly, the Wrap has a chart of Damon's recent movies and only one made less in box office than what it cost. But hey, a big headline about a popular movie star's career being on the wane will be sure to generate hits no matter how on the money the story is, and alas that's the name of the game in today's journalism. My father was fond of saying shoot first, aim later. These days, it's click first, report later.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: David Ellison, son of software giant Larry Ellison, wants to make his own mark as a producer.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I'm undervalued. twitter.com/JBFlint

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