The Morning Fix: Comcast wants to keep Ron Meyer. ABC needs new stars to dance with in prime time. From comedian to creator.
After the coffee. Before another cold and wet day in New York.
The Skinny: Early morning thunderstorms in New York for all you upfronters. So far, it's been a soggy week in the big city. On Monday, Fox and NBC unveiled their schedules, and now its ABC's turn. Elsewhere, Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer can stick around if he wants. Roger Ebert hates sequels, and Keith Olbermann was a handful even in the early days of ESPN.
Dancing with new stars. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC will unveil its new fall schedule to advertisers this rainy Tuesday afternoon in New York. Although NBC gets all the attention for having low ratings, ABC too has struggled for the last few seasons. This will be the first time that Paul Lee, who became the network's entertainment president last summer, will speak before the Don Drapers of the world. A look at ABC's challenges from the Los Angeles Times and some thoughts on what shows will be in the new lineup from USA Today and Deadline Hollywod, which notes that ABC is buying so many new shows that not all may get the standard 13-episode order.
Sticking around. Ron Meyer, the head of Universal Studios who has more lives than Sylvester the Cat, has been offered a contract extension by his new bosses at Comcast, the cable giant that took over the studio along with the rest of NBC earlier this year. Over his more-than-15-year tenure at the studio, Meyer has outlasted so many bosses, it is tough to keep track. Meyer was in New York on Monday, attending NBC's fall schedule announcement along with Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke. That's one way to survive: Be where your bosses are at big events even if they're not necessarily related to your own business. More on Meyer's possible extension from the Los Angeles Times.
I hate sequels too, except for "Godfather II." Roger Ebert rants to the Daily Beast about the number of sequels Hollywood has in the works for the months ahead. I have not kept count (not enough fingers or toes), but Ebert says there are 27 coming. He wrote: "This is more evidence, not really needed, that a majority of modern big-studio releases are marketing decisions yoked however reluctantly to creative ideas somewhere farther down the food chain. The majors in general make good films either (1) for Oscar season or (2) purely by accident. Weekend releases between May and September might better be covered by marketing specialists than film critics."
What I really want to do is create. Usually when you see an actor's name listed as an executive producer of a TV show, it is a sign of a little extra cash given to someone who is a big star who otherwise might have left the show. It's sort of similar to how Rebecca kept Woody from leaving "Cheers." She gave him a fancy title. Now though, many of the new shows are being picked up with "created by" credits for the stars. Most, as one might expect, are from comedians whose shows will represent a fleshed-out version of their stand-up act (although the Whitney Cummings clips I saw at NBC looked like she had been toned down). Variety takes a look at the trend.
Time for an encore. Fox announced its fall schedule to advertisers Monday and is betting big that Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, TV's oddest odd couple, can bring the numbers they had on "American Idol" to "The X Factor." The network's other big bet is "Terra Nova," a science-fiction and family drama about time travel and dinosaurs. Oh wait, that was also last season's big bet. Well, Fox insists this time around the show will be on the schedule. Also, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane is planning a "Flintstones" remake. Can't wait until the Parents TV Council hears about that one. More on Fox's lineup from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.
New dish in the sink. Dish Network, the large satellite broadcaster, has a new president and chief executive in Joe Clayton. Charlie Ergen, who built Dish and is known as tough negotiator and fiery leader, will remain as chairman but is stepping back from day-to-day management. Dish has been doing what it does best lately -- deals and lawsuits. It recently bought Blockbuster, settled a long-running dispute with TiVo and just got sued by Disney and the pay-TV channel Starz. Clayton, who used to run Sirius Satellite Radio and was also involved in the early days of DirecTV, is not seen as being as confrontational as Ergen. More on the changes from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.
Must read. The heavily anticipated oral history of ESPN, "Those Guys Have All the Fun," is excerpted in the new issue of GQ. The excerpt looks at the rise of Keith Olbermann and the challenges he presented for everyone around him. Separately, ESPN parent Disney may be trying to help out the cable channel in its efforts to land the Olympics by dangling its marketing power. More on that from Sports Business Journal.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on how Deadline Hollywood chief Nikki Finke has traded in being a rogue for being corporate.
-- Joe Flint
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