The Morning Fix: HBO runs out of 'Luck.' Guber goes after Dodgers.
After the coffee. Before figuring out how to watch March Madness at work with no one knowing.
The Skinny: I'd check the bars for every employee who calls in sick today. They're probably watching basketball. Thursday's headlines include HBO's surprise decision to cancel "Luck" after a third horse died in production; broadcasters are upset with the FCC over posting political advertising information online; and Peter Guber is going after the Dodgers.
Daily Dose: The Hollywood Reporter's decision to co-host a party with Google after next month's White House Correspondents' Assn. annual dinner -- D.C.'s version of the Golden Globes -- has some in Hollywood shaking their head. That's because Google played a key role in defeating the anti-piracy legislation Hollywood studios and networks pushed hard for earlier this year. "It did not go unnoticed in the community that they are getting into bed with someone considered unfriendly," said one senior media executive. A spokesperson for the Hollywood Reporter, which counts on the studios and networks for access to talent and executives as well as advertising dollars, said "Hollywood wholeheartedly has embraced the evening's event and it is already on track to be one of the hottest parties of the weekend."
Luck runs out. HBO pulled the plug on its gambling drama "Luck" after a third horse died during production. The expensive show, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte and was produced by David Milch and Michael Mann, had faced animal-activist accusations of putting horses in danger. Although HBO called the decision heartbreaking, the show was far from a hit. Some industry observers wonder if the issues with the horses also gave the pay cable channel -- which had ordered a second season after only one episode had aired -- an out to cancel a high-profile flop. Coverage and analysis from the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and the Wrap.
So much for transparency. Broadcasters are up in arms over a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission to require local television stations to publish online the amounts they charge for political ads. Technically, broadcasters are already required to make such information available to the public. However, there is a difference in keeping a folder in a desk waiting for someone to schlep in and ask to see it versus throwing it up on the Web. Broadcasters fear that the rate information will undercut business practices and negotiations with advertisers. Legally, stations are required during election season to charge candidates the lowest rate for ads. Cable networks are not required to report such information. Details on the skirmish from the Wall Street Journal.
As if it couldn't get any worse. Add witness intimidation to the growing list of things Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has been accused of doing. The New York Times reports that a former News of the World employee was arrested and charged with witness intimidation and tampering. The person, the newspaper said, is Neville Thurlbeck, who was previously arrested in the hacking scandal and fired by News Corp. last year. The ethics scandal at News Corp. has led to arrests of almost 50 people and the closing of News of the World. Yet Wall Street analysts continue to downplay the mess as not likely to damage the long-term prospects of the media giant.
Streaming suicide? Broadcast and cable networks continue to make deals to sell their content to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon's Prime Instant Video. On the one hand, it is bringing in new revenue. But down the road will such deals come back to bite programmers and take viewers away from their primary distribution platform? That continues to be a subject of hot debate. Variety tries to make the case that there is a downside to the new money.
Big bet. Some Hollywood money men and producers are teaming up to launch Solar Pictures, a production company that hopes to launch about half a dozen movies a year. According to Deadline Hollywood, filmmaker and financier Bobby Paunescu and Jared Underwood, a former Comerica Entertainment executive, will be managing partners and plan to make movies in the $30-million range.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Jonah Hill tries an action comedy with a lighthearted movie version of "21 Jump Street." Movie executive Peter Guber is joining Magic Johnson's chase for the Los Angles Dodgers.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I won't tweet "Mad Men" spoilers. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: Nick Nolte in a scene from "Luck." Credit: HBO