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The Morning Fix: Tough times for art houses! ESPN's football fumble.

December 20, 2011 |  7:48 am

After the coffee. Before wondering just how casual my wardrobe can go this week.

The Skinny: When did people go from taking off a day or two before Christmas to pretty much checking out from the middle of December until after New Year's Day? This isn't Europe for crying out loud! If I have to be here, so do you! Tuesday's headlines include Nickelodeon's plans for a new telenovela, ESPN's football ratings tumble and producer Judd Apatow's views on why comedy doesn't get Oscar love.

ESPN, which aired Monday's match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park, has seen its NFL ratings fall this season.
Star stuck. Viacom's Nickelodeon is partnering with Sony Television and Televisa on "Reach for a Star," an American version of the Mexican telenovela “Alcanzar Una Estrella.” The show, which is expected to be unveiled at next month's National Assn. of Television Program Executives convention in Miami, will air on Nick-at-Nite, the evening block of programming aimed at teens and families.

Fade out. The number of art house movie theaters that feature independent movies is dwindling both in Los Angeles and around the country. Part of the reason for that is the bigger, more upscale theater chains are now playing the kinds of movies that one used to find only in independent cinemas. More on the challenges of owning an indie theater from the Los Angeles Times.

Was it worth it? A man who illegally uploaded and distributed 20th Century Fox's movie "X-Men Orgins: Wolverine" was sentenced to a year in the slammer. When he gets out, he will be heavily supervised for a year with restrictions on computer use. Wonder if there are pirated copies of HBO's prison drama "Oz" available in the big house. More from the Associated Press.

Fumble! ESPN, which currently pays more than $1 billion a season to the National Football League, has seen ratings for its "Monday Night Football" tumble by 10% from last season. Does this mean there is a limit to even the NFL's power? No, but it does mean that ESPN has not exactly had the best games this year. And unlike NBC, ESPN does not have an option to swap out less appealing games for more competitive matches. A look at ESPN's NFL numbers from MarketWatch

The plot thickens. Last week, Tom Rutledge abruptly resigned as chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems Corp., the New York-based cable operator. On Monday, he resurfaced as chief executive of St. Louis-based operator Charter, which has some systems in Southern California. The mystery is whether Rutledge left Cablevision for the new job or Charter snatched him up right after he quit. Rutledge is one of the most respected media executives around and Wall Street is punishing Cablevision stock for losing him and not coming clean on what led to his exit. Coverage from the Wall Street Journal.

Laughs take work too. Director-producer Judd Apatow says comedies don't get a fair shake from critics during awards season. "Most people think a really intense devastating sad movie about a tragic subject is more difficult to make than 'Blazing Saddles.' And the truth is, it's just as hard to make Blazing Saddles,' " he told Variety.

A movie company that doesn't make movies. It's been a year since new ownership took over once-famed indie movie house Miramax and the new owners have hundreds of projects in development. And in development is exactly where they will stay. The Wrap looks at how Miramax has become all about exploiting its library of movies on various platforms and not, for now anyway, making films.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Kenneth Turan doesn't love "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." A look at the partnership between Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on the new movie "Tintin."

--Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. No steroids. I'm an all natural tweeter.

Photo: ESPN, which aired Monday's match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park, has seen its NFL ratings fall this season. Credit: Karl Walter / Getty Images