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The Morning Fix: Viacom profits up! Will 'Apes' rise?

August 5, 2011 |  7:48 am

After the coffee. Before seeing if I have any money left.

The Skinny: Lots of great stories Friday, even a few I wish I'd written, including one from the Wall Street Journal about adult entertainment revenue being down at many cable and satellite operators. Also, some scandalous accusations are made about a United Talent agent and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" hopes to make people go, well, ape.

Gym, tan, profits. Viacom Inc., parent of MTV and Paramount Pictures, released its third-quarter results Friday morning and reported a 37% jump in profits. The engine, as usual, was the company's cable networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Paramount Pictures didn't do so bad either, thanks to "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Every time I type that title I want to add the word "side." More on Viacom's numbers from Bloomberg.

Another casualty of the Internet. Guys no longer have to hide the cable bill from their wives and girlfriends. The Wall Street Journal reports that revenue from adult entertainment, one of the more dependable sources of money for cable and satellite operators, has been trending down. No surprise there. Why would someone spend north of $10 for a movie they likely won't watch all of when they can find material free on the Web.

Different direction. Brett Ratner, the director of action flicks "Rush Hour" and producer of this summer's comedy success "Horrible Bosses," will produce next year's Oscar broadcast with Don Mischer. "This went beyond my wildest dreams," Ratner told the Los Angeles Times. More on the unusual choice from Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.

How far will 'Apes' rise? This weekend's big movie opening is "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the first film produced by former News Corp. President Peter Chernin. Its competition is the raunchy comedy "The Change-Up." A big question this weekend will be how "Cowboys & Aliens" holds up in week two. Box office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Taking more than his 10%. United Talent and one of its top agents, Michael Camacho, are targets of an ugly lawsuit from producer Scott Einziger. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Einziger has sued UTA alleging that Camacho steered him away from good deals and into ones that would favor another client -- Ellen Rakieten -- because of a personal relationship he had with her.

Maybe his audience will be bigger. CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who used to be an editor at a couple of British tabloids, is under pressure to appear before Parliament to talk about phone hacking. Britain and the world have been rocked over the last month at the extent of phone hacking done by the tabloids there, particularly News Corp.'s News of the World. The latest from the New York Times. Separately, even cute Beatle Paul McCartney told TV critics Friday that he's been told he's been hacked. More on that from the Los Angeles Times.

Read the fine print. Cable giant Comcast Corp. is taking issue with the newest marketing campaign from rival distributor DirecTV. The satellite broadcaster's new sales pitch promising people who sign up with the service free access to the NFL is misleading, Comcast claimed in a lawsuit it filed Thursday. Legal spats between distributors are nothing new, but DirecTV and Comcast seem to always be fighting over something. Of course, in this case the NFL could make it easier by ending its exclusive deal with DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket package that allows viewers to see any game they want. More on the suit from Reuters.

Epix exit. The head of original programming at pay-TV channel Epix, Lavernne McKinnon, has left the channel after just a couple of years in the job. After making lots of noise about making original shows, Epix has gone quiet on that front. More on the departure from Deadline Hollywood.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Warner Bros. wants to organize your online library of content with its new Flixster Collections application. Kenneth Turan goes bananas for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

-- Joe Flint

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