The Morning Fix: Sheen sues! Hulu's board shrinking. Keller and Huffington trade blows.
After the coffee. Before making my happy birthday call to Rupert Murdoch.
The Skinny: Well, so much for a long reprieve from Charlie Sheen. He's back with a vengeance with a suit against Warner Bros., the studio that makes "Two and a Half Men" and Chuck Lorre, the show's co-creator and executive producer. In other news, Hulu's board gets smaller and musicians learn that not doing a Google on the people who hire them for private parties can sometimes blow back on them.
Winning! Just days after being fired from his starring role on the CBS hit "Two and a Half Men," Charlie Sheen and his legal team fired back with a lawsuit against the show's producers. Sheen, who was fired by Warner Bros., which makes the show, had told Sheen's lawyer Martin Singer that the actor, whose private life is filled with turmoil, was being fired because he was no longer able to perform at the level needed and he had become a distraction on the set. Sheen's team countered that Sheen was canned because Chuck Lorre, the show's co-creator, has it out for him. Whether this ever sees the inside of a courtroom remains in doubt. Warner Bros. wants to arbitrate the dispute. More than you'll ever want to read on this from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
HBO threatened by Netflix, which may be threatened by Facebook. HBO, Time Warner's pay-TV channel, has seen its subscription numbers drop over the last few years. The channel is making more profits than ever but there is concern that a big shark called Netflix is in the water. Certainly a case can be made that Netflix could take away some of HBO's thunder, but Netflix will need a lot more than just movies to compete with HBO, which makes tons off of original programming. Meanwhile, Netflix may have to look over its shoulder at Facebook, which recently struck a deal with Time Warner to offer movies via the social networking site. Dow Jones on HBO versus Netflix and Bloomberg on Facebook versus Netflix.
Hulu's board is bored. Hulu, the online video site co-owned by News Corp., Disney, NBC Universal and Providence Equity, is shrinking its board. According to the Wall Street Journal, News Corp. President Chase Carey and Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger may be exiting. The issue for Hulu is it has owners with different agendas. The two media executives who were key in launching Hulu, Jeff Zucker and Peter Chernin, are no longer at NBC and News Corp., respectively. Hulu chief Jason Kilar has also recently clashed with his bosses over strategy.
Another weekend at home. This weekend's box office battles includes "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Mars Needs Moms." Saw a trailer for "Battle: Los Angeles" and I think I'll pass. But hey, I'm not in the demo. Of course, I hated "Independence Day" and I was in the demo when that came out so maybe I just hate bloated action movies. Box office previews from Variety and Los Angeles Times.
He said, she said. New York Times editor Bill Keller versus Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington are trading blows. Keller, in his first column for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, bemoaned the state of journalism these days (and made some good points in my opinion) and laid some of the blame on aggregators in general and Huffington Post in particular. That didn't sit well with Huffington, who then ripped into Keller and the New York Times. All I know is I didn't pay to read either of them and there lies the problem.
Genachowski staying put. On Thursday, we linked to a story in The Hill saying Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski may be the new Secretary of the Commerce Department. Now Broadcasting & Cable says Genachowski is not going anywhere. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and ex-Pfizer Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler are candidates for the Commerce Secretary job, which is open because current secretary Gary Locke has been nominated to be ambassador to China.
Toldja! The other day we linked to a story from Vulture that said top WME agent John Fogelman was exiting to open his own shop and a story from the Wrap questioning the Vulture story. Of course, the Vulture story was right and now the Wrap does its analysis of what the departure of the agent for JJ Abrams and Michael Bay means for WME. I believe I also said something about another industry website likely sitting back and then when it is confirmed, saying it had been expected. Welcome to journalism in the 21st century. One place breaks a story, another one shoots it down and a third ignores it saying, well, we knew that was going to happen anyway.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: If you're going to play a private party for someone named Moammar Kadafi, you might want to check into who he is before deciding if the pay check is worth it. Before there was Charlie Sheen, there was Gary Busey.
-- Joe Flint
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