The Morning Fix: Optimistic NFL releases 2011 schedule. NBC and NHL in power play. Mark Cuban may sell.
After the coffee. Before shaking off jet lag.
The Skinny: I watched four episodes of HBO's "Game of Thrones" on a flight Tuesday. Although period pieces are not my cup of tea, each episode ends with a punch in the gut that makes you want to see the next one. In real news, NBC and the NHL struck a new 10-year deal. The NFL released its fall schedule. Now we just have to hope we will have labor peace.
Power play. The National Hockey League, once an afterthought to football, basketball and baseball, has secured a 10-year deal valued at about $2 billion with Comcast's NBCUniversal. The deal includes games on NBC as well as on Versus, the Comcast-owned sports channel that will soon get a new name because, well, Versus kind of blows as a name for a network. Hockey ratings have been on the rise for the last few years. Now attention will turn to the Olympics and whether NBC will be in bidding for the Games or will be conservative under new owner Comcast. Analysis of the NHL deal from the New York Times. For some, this deal is seen as Comcast's push to take on ESPN. The reality is that both Versus and NBC already carried hockey. Let's not make a renewal of a deal into something bigger just for a sexy headline.
Wonder if there is a discount for having two hearings at once. It was a busy Tuesday for Charlie Sheen. In one courtroom, his lawyers were battling Warner Bros. about whether the recently fired star of the sitcom "Two and a Half Men" would have his day in court or in an arbitrator's office. In another, he was fighting for custody of his kids with his third wife. We only care about the first case. Sheen's lawyer tried to argue that his client needed a court case to level the playing field against the studio, which makes the hit show for CBS. The studio noted that Sheen has exercised plenty of power in previous contract negotiations and even cited an example in which the actor weakened the morals clause in his contract. No decision yet from the judge, but legal observers expect Team Sheen to lose this round. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.
NFL crosses fingers and releases schedule. Although the players and the league still don't have a deal, the National Football League released its 2011-12 schedule with lots of big games early in the season, including a match between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. (I always write Sept. 11 as opposed to 9/11. After all, we didn't call Dec. 7 12/7 after the Pearl Harbor attacks.) A look at the schedule highlights from the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.
Something I said? Media and sports mogul Mark Cuban is considering unloading Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theatres. "We won't sell unless the offer is very, very compelling," Cuban told Bloomberg, which also reported that the investment bank Moelis & Co. is handling the possible sale.
Theater owners won't just go with it. DirecTV will offer Adam Sandler's romantic comedy "Just Go With It" on so-called premium video-on-demand for about $30. The movie, which came out only 70 days ago, will be available for two days. If you don't know why this is such a big deal, you are clearly not regular readers of this column. Details from the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter.
Pilot prognostications. Deadline Hollywood has come out with an early look at what pilots have buzz at the networks. Of course, the buzz is often from agents, and rarely do they tout projects that are not their own. Lots of unattributed quotes and vague descriptions with no indication of anyone having actual first-hand knowledge. Welcome to pilot season.
-- Joe Flint
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