The Morning Fix: Netflix ready to play with big boys! DirecTV dumbs down TV. Hollywood bows to China.
After the coffee. Before figuring out whose brackets I should copy.
The Skinny: Is it just me or is this week dragging? It'll move fast now. Today's headlines: Netflix wants to get into the original-programming game and is apparently willing to take a few risks to do it. Hollywood is afraid of offending China. DirecTV wants to dumb down TV even more.
Hollywood grovels. MGM, worried about offending China, took the extraordinary step of switching the bad guys in its remake of the 1980s movie "Red Dawn" from Chinese to North Korean after the film was already done. Through digital technology, the invading forces are no longer Chinese. Flags were switched. Dialogue altered. "The changes illustrate just how much sway China's government has in the global entertainment industry, even without uttering a word of official protest," reports the Los Angeles Times. Scary.
One born every minute. Industry website Deadline Hollywood reports that Netflix is closing in on a deal for an original drama from Media Rights Capital. Just two months ago, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said the company had no interest in getting into original content. But hey, if a company is selling a show for north of $4 million an episode, doesn't want to make a pilot and will only do a deal if you commit to two seasons, well how can one say no to that? HBO passed on the show, which stars and is produced by Kevin Spacey, because it wouldn't buy it sight unseen. No doubt MRC wants a two-season commitment from Netflix in return for being the home-entertainment company's original-programming lab rat. Additional coverage from the Wall Street Journal.
Not so fast. On Monday, Time Warner Cable said it would offer its subscribers the ability to watch live television via the iPad. Of course, the only place their subscribers can do that is in the home, where most people watch TV on a TV. But if you have to run to the bathroom, don't have a DVR or don't want to hit pause, I guess this could come in handy. Nonetheless, several programmers are questioning whether the cable giant has the right to offer its channels by way of the Apple device. The same thing happened when Comcast announced a similar iPad app. More from AdWeek.
Taking stock of the damage. It seems trivial to think about what the disaster in Japan means for Hollywood or business. Indeed, a CNBC personality already had to issue an apology for insensitive remarks. Entertainment-industry executives are scrambling to figure out how to move forward in the region with sensitivity. The Hollywood Reporter looks at what the devastation there could mean for business.
Seeing what sticks. Take every out-of-work TV executive. Add in two open positions. Shake well. Serve. Variety and Hollywood Reporter are playing guessing games with who might get top positions at E! and the CW. My general rule of thumb on these stories is that if you have more than three candidates in a story about a job opening, then you don't have a story, you have a list of names.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: France wants to make Hollywood an offer it can't refuse. If paying attention to the TV show you're watching is just too demanding, DirecTV is offering plot points on the screen during the legal drama "Damages." Really, has it come to this? Can I look forward to watching a rerun of "The Wire" and seeing type at the bottom of the screen that says "rip and run" means robbing drug dealers?
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. It's all part of the game. Twitter.com/JBFlint