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The Morning Fix: Tom Cruise rules; Taylor Lautner is target of hoax

After the coffee. Before wondering how to cover the movie business this week when all the studios are closed.

The Skinny: I (Morning Fix backup Ben Fritz) have returned after a week off, during which the best movie I saw was the Imax preview for "The Dark Knight Rises" (that's not a dig at other films; the preview was just that good). Tuesday's headlines include some good box-office news that doesn't make up for a weak year, a look back at an interesting TV season, and a fake People magazine cover featuring a startling revelation about Taylor Lautner.

MissionImpossibleGhostProtocol
Size really doesn't matter
: This fall the TV networks opened their wallets for some big bets, but found viewers were more interested in inexpensive comedies. Among the disappointments have been costly dramas "Terra Nova," "Pan Am," and the already-canceled "The Playboy Club," while comedies like "Two Broke Girls," "Suburgatory" and "Up All Night" have fared better. Analysis by the Los Angeles Times. Also, a look at two new TV trends (one and two) from the New York Times.

Box-office impossible: It was a good launch at the box office for supposedly fading star Tom Cruise, as his "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" was No. 1 over Christmas weekend. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "War Horse" also did decent business, while several other movies including "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" and "The Adventures of Tintin" are doing disappointing if not flat-out weak business. Weekend coverage by the Los Angeles Times. And here's a look back at a not-so-hot year at the box office from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Fuse about to blow: The latest battle between a cable operator and content provider centers on the little-known and little-watched music channel Fuse, reports the Wall Street Journal. Madison Square Garden Co. packages Fuse with its MSG network, which has rights to many Knicks and Rangers games that die-hard sports fans consider must-sees. Time Warner Cable doesn't want to run Fuse anymore, but MSG Co. will only sell the two together.  Regular Morning Fixer Joe Flint wrote about the dispute last week in the Los Angeles Times.

Not out, not proud: Proving once again just how quickly a joke, or a lie, can spread online, people who were surfing the Web on Monday might have been shocked to learn the latest People magazine cover features "Twilight" heartthrob Taylor Lautner announcing he's "out and proud." The cover, of course, was a fake. But as you might have predicted, Twitter and blogs exploded in the time it took to figure that out. Here's a summary from the Hollywood Reporter and a Google News link to the approximately 8 million other outlets that wrote about it.

Tuning in to MGM: Hollywood's historic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has transformed primarily into an international television company in its latest incarnation, reports the Wall Street Journal. In addition to selling its library of pictures, and some new ones, to foreign broadcasters, it's also working on a "Silence of the Lambs" TV show. Here's a similar analysis of the same company two weeks ago from the Los Angeles Times.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: In case you missed it Friday, former NBC top exec Marc Graboff is headed to "American Idol" production company CKX. Angelina Jolie's directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" is faring worse than 9/11 drama "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" in limited release. David Lazarus says Time Warner Cable's latest price hike is outrageous.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Paula Patton and Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol." Credit: Joe Lederer / Paramount Pictures

 
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