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The Morning Fix: Oprah scores! Martha Stewart getting the hook?

January 4, 2012 |  8:01 am

After the coffee. Before figuring out if Rupert Murdoch's tweeting is a diversion tactic.

The Skinny: I think I was the only media journalist not watching Iowa caucus coverage Tuesday night. Instead I watched NBC's TV version of the legal thriller "The Firm." I'd like to appeal that decision. Tuesday's headlines include a look at how Los Angeles did in 2011 with movie and TV production, a moderately successful debut for Oprah Winfrey's new talk show, and a review of which cable networks did well in the ratings last year.

Strange bedfellows. Football fans are getting a crash course in Broadway musicals. NBC has been hyping its new musical drama "Smash" during the network's football coverage. While the idea of promoting a show about the making of a Broadway play that is expected to skew toward women during a football game might seem like an odd mix, NBC's Sunday night NFL broadcast finished third for female viewers under the age of 50 this season. Of course, given how poorly the rest of NBC's lineup is doing, football is about the only place the network can reach a big audience with promotions.

Oprah Winfrey is back

No drama. It was a tough year for Los Angeles when it came to shooting television dramas. According to FilmL.A., which tracks production trends in the City of Angels, television production here fell 3% in 2012, primarily because fewer dramas are shot in Los Angeles. In the fourth quarter alone, there was a 30% drop in drama production in Los Angeles, compared with the same period in 2010. On the plus side, movie production here grew 6%. More on the production trends from the Los Angeles Times

She's back. Oprah Winfrey's new weekly interview show "Oprah's Next Chapter" drew more than 1 million viewers in its Sunday night premiere on OWN, the cable network she and Discovery Communications launched last year. While the audience was much smaller than what Winfrey averaged in her daytime days, it was a bit of good news for OWN, which has struggled in the ratings and gone through lots of turmoil both on and off camera. Still, it was one night and one show and OWN has a long way to go before Discovery can even start to dream about making back the hundreds of millions it has pumped into the channel. More on the numbers from the Wall Street Journal.

Waiting for the man. Relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are still waiting to hear from the Justice Dept. regarding its probe into whether News Corp.-owned tabloids orchestrated hacking into their phones. That accusation came from a rival British tabloid last summer in the midst of revelations of widespread phone hacking by News Corp.'s News of the World. The New York Times talked to several relatives who have suspicions and one who says News Corp.'s Sun paper had published words from a voicemail a victim had left on an answering machine. Unfortunately no more details -- including the name of the family or exactly what the Sun wrote -- are provided.

Getting smaller. Weinstein Co. is merging its production and acquisition departments into one unit. The move will result in two senior executives leaving the art house production company. The Wrap with more on who moves up and who moves out.

Stay out of the car. Director Alexander Payne, whose film "The Descendants" is expected to clean up at the Oscars, says the biggest pain-in-the-neck scenes to shoot are in a car or around a dinner table. "There are no new angles. They've all been done a thousand times, plus the mechanics of doing it are hideous," he told Variety.

Making history. FX and History Network were two of the hottest cable networks in 2011. Both saw their prime-time audiences climb by almost 20%. Among the cable news channels, Fox News is still No. 1, but its prime-time audience dropped 5% in 2010. MSNBC, which lost Keith Olbermann, and CNN both saw slight gains in prime time. Details from USA Today.

Not a good thing. The New York Post says Hallmark Channel is pulling the plug on lifestyle diva Martha Stewart's daily TV show because of low ratings and an expensive production budget.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Netflix unveils its strategy for launching the drama "Lilyhammer."

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: Oprah Winfrey with Steven Tyler. Credit: George Burns.

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