Morning Fix: Universal goes big! 'Desperate Housewives' trial begins.
After the coffee. Before figuring out why I didn't make the cut for the next season of "Dancing with the Stars."
The Skinny: I saw a BMW on Monday with a media placard that allows it to park anywhere without worry. Where can I get one of those? Tuesday's headlines include: a look at Universal Pictures, Wal-Mart may be working with Hollywood on UltraViolet, and previews of the legal battle between a former star of "Desperate Housewives" and the show's creator, Marc Cherry.
Daily Dose: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is taking a lot of heat for Sunday's lackluster show. However, critics seems to have missed the point of behind all those vignettes of stars reminiscing about when they fell in love with the big screen, and all those tributes to classic films. Those weren't there because Hollywood people can't help but talk about themselves. They were there as a bone to theater owners and were aimed at encouraging people to actually go to movies rather than wait for the DVDs or steal the films. Guess the plot wasn't clear enough.
Swinging for the fences. Universal Pictures is taking the big-bet approach to movies. In May, it will release "Battleship," which cost over $200 million. That will be followed by a pair of $175-million movies -- "Snow White and the Huntsman," starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, and November's "47 Ronin," with Keanu Reeves. Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson said the new strategy comes in part from new owner Comcast's willingness to put money into the unit. The Los Angeles Times looks at the studio's strategy.
Better than any soap opera. The trial pitting Nicollette Sheridan, former co-star of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," against the network and the show's creator, Marc Cherry, is starting. Sheridan has charged that she was fired from the hit for daring to take on Cherry and accuse him of hitting her. Lots of big-name executives are on the witness list, including former ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson. Several "Desperate Housewives" co-stars are also likely to appear. Previews from the Daily Beast and Deadline Hollywood. Sounds like it will be more entertaining than the legal fight between the Golden Globes and Dick Clark Productions that I was stuck covering for three weeks.
Wal-Mart to the rescue? Wal-Mart may be lending a hand to UltraViolet, Hollywood's struggling service that allows consumers to store movies in an online library. According to the Wall Street Journal, the retail chain will set up account centers to encourage people to embrace the service. I've always learned it is best never to pretend to know more than you do, so I won't even attempt to explain how this works or why UltraViolet is so important to Hollywood -- other than by possibly slowing piracy and being another way to track consumers' spending.
It's just our nature. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch acknowledged a "culture of illegal payments" at the media giant's Sun newspaper. Several Sun staffers have been accused of bribing law enforcement officials for news tips. There are also probes into whether the British paper tried to buy information from politicians and government officials as well. The Mirror quotes Murdoch as saying, "We have vowed to do everything we can to get to the bottom of prior wrongdoings in order to set us on the right path for the future." I'm guessing that means there's going to be more money in the petty-cash envelope. Additional coverage of the black spots on Murdoch's Sun from the New York Times.
I don't think I qualify. Time Warner Cable, which has flirted with trying to find a way to charge people for how much Internet they use (versus a flat fee), is unveiling a low-budget broadband plan in a part of Texas. According to Multichannel News, the Essentials Broadband plan would cap users at 5 gigabytes per month. I have no idea how much I use, but I'm pretty sure I blow through 5 GB every day.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara on the PBS documentary "The Amish."
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. Like Meryl Streep, I always deliver. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: Nicollette Sheridan in a scene from "Desperate Housewives." Credit: Danny Feld / ABC.