The Morning Fix: MGM's roar goes to a meow. Lowe's backlash grows.
After the coffee. Before the office holiday party.
The Skinny: Tuesday's headlines include a look at the new MGM, the backlash over Lowe's efforts to avoid a backlash over advertising on the TLC show "All-American Muslim" and fears by a government official that mass media have become too consolidated.
No grudges here. Former NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield, whose new book “Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV,” has found that time heals all wounds. Littlefield wanted a photo of “Frasier" for the book. However, rights to “Frasier” are now owned by CBS Corp., which is headed by Littlefield’s old rival Leslie Moonves. Although the two used to love to take shots at each other through the press and at industry luncheons, it’s all water under the bridge now and approval was granted. “Our kids know each other socially, it’s very friendly,” Littlefield said of his current relationship with Moonves. The rivalry, he said, was a “heavyweight bout” that “brought out the best in us.” As for the book, it is due out in May and includes interviews with Jerry Seinfeld and Jack Welch, the retired head of General Electric Co., which owned NBC during Littlefield's stint.
From a roar to a meow. Legendary movie studio MGM, which once boasted of having the biggest roster of stars in town, has become essentially a clearinghouse of old movies and TV shows that it sells to international broadcasters. The studio still puts its name on movies -- including the upcoming "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" -- but other studios such as Sony invest at least half of the money to make, market and distribute the product. It's not glamorous, but it is helping to bring some stability to the financially challenged studio. A look at the new MGM from the Los Angeles Times.
American backlash. Home improvement chain Lowe's decision to bow to pressure from a small religious group and pull its ads from the TLC reality show "All-American Muslim" has led to an even bigger backlash against the home improvement chain. The show, about a group of Muslims living in Dearborn, Mich., "hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values," the Florida Family Assn. charged, which led Lowe's to pull its spots. The Lowe's move has led to an outcry from lawmakers and media advocates who have accused it of supporting hate groups. More from Advertising Age and the Los Angeles Times.
Sleazy, but not that sleazy? There is still no question that operatives for the now-closed News Corp. tabloid News of the World listened to voice mails from the phone of Milly Dowler, a missing girl who was later found murdered. But now it appears that while the paper did hack into Dowler's cellphone to hear messages, it did not delete messages, a move that had given the family false hope that Milly was still alive. The latest plot twists from The New York Times.
CBS adds some muscle. CBS Corp. bought WLNY-TV, a second TV station in the New York City area, to complement its powerful flagship WCBS-TV. WLNY is a small independent station that has primarily served Long Island. CBS said it will beef up the station's local news efforts. Of course, that's what anyone who needs to get a deal through the Federal Communications Commission says when trying to increase their turf in a consolidated media marketplace. Still, with NBC and Fox owning two stations in the nation's biggest market, it is unlikely the FCC won't give a thumbs up to this one. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
How serious? Very serious! Telecommunications giant Verizon is "very serious" about making a run at Netflix, media analyst Porter Bibb told Bloomberg TV. Since Netflix's stock is not what it once was, it is understandable why it might be attractive, but why would Netflix want to sell on the cheap? More from Bloomberg.
One more bowl of shrimp to eat. Upfront week, that four-day period in mid-May when the broadcast networks tout their new fall lineups, just got a little more crowded. Now USA Network wants to play with the big boys. Most cable networks unveil their fall offerings in March and April, but now USA is joining TNT and ESPN in going the same week as the broadcasters. Variety on USA's move.
What an original idea! Actor Tom Sizemore, who is one of the few actors who could make Charlie Sheen look like a lightweight, is writing a memoir about his struggles with addiction, according to Deadline Hollywood. Sizemore says he is now sober over two years. My unsolicited advice: Stay sober and put the pen down.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps is worried about the state of the media industry. The ratings for Fox's "Glee" are nothing to sing about.
-- Joe Flint
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Photo: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures.