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Morning Fix: Hollywood to the cloud. Universal blinks on VOD plans.

October 13, 2011 |  7:16 am

After the coffee. Before deciding if it is time to drop BlackBerry for an iPhone.

The Skinny: We'll see what Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander is made out of today against the Rangers. Thursday's headlines include Universal Pictures' change-of-heart on its video-on-demand plans for "Tower Heist," Apple wants to put Hollywood in the cloud and News Corp. has a new headache.

Universal blinks. Comcast's Universal Pictures has wimped out on its plan to offer its new Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy action flick "Tower Heist" on video-on-demand for $60 just three weeks after its theatrical premiere. The move was roundly criticized by theater chains, several of which said they would not play the movie at all if Universal put it on VOD so soon after its theatrical release. Not that you asked, but in my opinion the theater owners were right and Universal and the rest of Hollywood needs to be careful about how soon it offers theatrical movies on other platforms. I'm yet to be convinced that shrinking and melding all these different windows together make good business sense. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

To the cloud. Apple has plans to offer movies in its "cloud" service (think of a cloud as storage space in the sky) that would allow consumers to watch films on their Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone without having to store the content on their devices. Apple has been meeting with Hollywood studio brass and hopes to launch the service by early 2012 at the latest. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Who to kiss up to. The Hollywood Reporter has released a top-50 "power showrunners" list. A showrunner is considered the person with day-to-day responsibility for a TV show. Given that some shows have as many as a dozen producers, figuring out who really does something and who has a vanity credit isn't always so easy. Hopefully this list will separate the producers from the pretenders.

Ryan's hope fades. Ryan Seacrest's efforts to get a cable network to call his own has hit the skids, according to the New York Post. Seacrest had been hoping to snag a channel from either Viacom or Comcast, but after some initial discussions there's no movement on that front.

No pay for play. If the networks want to increase product placement revenue, they might have to stop giving away so much free placement, such as Red Bull's very visible presence last week on ABC's "Suburgatory." AdAge looks at the challenges that come with what it calls "free cameos."

Gavin says. Outspoken producer and manager Gavin Polone has started penning a column for New York Magazine's Vulture site and this week dissects what the recent standoff between the cast of "The Simpsons" and the studio that makes the cartoon hit says about the economic state of Hollywood.

Cooking the books? As if News Corp. didn't have enough problems with the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closing of its British tabloid News of the World and intense scrutiny from both British and U.S. lawmakers, now comes word that the European edition of the Wall Street Journal may have been engaged in some dubious activity aimed at artificially boosting its circulation. Andrew Langhoff, the publisher of WSJ Europe has resigned under a cloud after it was discovered that the paper had done favorable stories on a company as part of a relationship said company had with the paper's circulation department. The Guardian went even further and said the paper was actually arranging to have companies buy copies of the paper to increase its circulation numbers, an allegation that has been denied.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Randy Lewis on KCSN, one of my favorite radio stations because it doesn't sound like it was programmed by a computer.

— Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I deliver big numbers in the 18-49 demograpic. Twitter.com/JBFlint

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