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The Morning Fix: Hulu's next move. AMC's tight purse strings.

August 4, 2011 |  7:20 am

After the coffee. Before another tough day at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The Skinny: There are worse lots in life than days at a classy Beverly Hills hotel listening to TV executives dodge questions and actors explain that it was the script, and not their dim career prospects, that made them jump on board that lame sitcom. Still it gets draining. In the headlines: AMC's recent budget cuts on hit shows has Hollywood grumbling, as does Oprah Winfrey's honorary Oscar. Also, not everyone uses close access to Playboy for womanizing. 

Raid the petty cash. Hollywood is starting to wonder if Don Draper and the rest of the "Mad Men" gang at Sterling Cooper blow through AMC's expense account. The cable network has been trying to cut costs on two of its other hit shows -- "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead." The network also passed on ordering new shows this past spring. Those moves are being tied in part to a lucrative new deal for "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner. AMC parent AMC Networks is also public now and may be feeling more scrutiny of its programming budget. The network's boss says none of this is the case and it's business as usual. A look at the newfound austerity at AMC from the Los Angeles Times.

Send in the lawyers. The only winners in the phone-hacking scandal that has torn through News Corp. will be the lawyers. According to the media conglomerate's Wall Street Journal, about 35 lawsuits have been filed against the company charging invasion of privacy. News Corp. has about $30 million or so set aside for litigation, the WSJ said. Litigation or settlements?

Is he left-handed or a righty? On Wednesday, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler dribbled out a few details about the character Asthon Kutcher will play when he joins the network's hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" next month. That the media gobbled all this up as if she was revealing the name of the Navy SEALs member who took down Osama bin Laden will one day be fodder for discussion at an Ivy League school. What I want to know is whether the character of Rose, played by Melanie Lynskey, will be back or if, like Charlie Sheen, she's a goner too. Details on this big news from the New York Times and the Associated Press.

Going its own way. With its parent companies questioning its long-term value, Hulu is making its first piece of original programming. The move comes as media companies start selling content to lots of streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon. Hulu's new series is a six-episode show featuring documentary producer Morgan Spurlock, who will spend 24 hours following prominent personalities. More on the move from the Los Angeles Times and Advertising Age.

Speaking his mind. Fresh from being elected to a third one-year term as president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Tom Sherak talks to Variety about his plans for the next 12 months and what issues the academy is facing.

Guess he wasn't just looking at the pictures. William Marovitz, husband of Christie Hefner, former head of Playboy and daughter of founder Hugh Hefner, has settled charges that he traded on the company's stock with the benefit of inside information, according to Chicago Business.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on the decision to give Oprah Winfrey an honorary Oscar.

-- Joe Flint

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