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The Morning Fix: China syndrome! Rupert takes the stand.

April 25, 2012 |  7:25 am

After the coffee. Before finishing 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

The Skinny: It's only Wednesday? Let's move it along people. Our headlines include Rupert Murdoch's turn to take the hot seat in a British inquiry into media ethics, the Securities and Exchange Commission's curiosity about business relationships between Hollywood studios and China, and NBC's "Smash" finding a new executive producer for next season.

Rupert Murdoch takes the hot seat
Daily Dose: Usually networks wait until their new shows are successful before actually  promoting them as hits. But the CW Network doesn't bother with such formalities. Tuesday night, the network premiered its new show "L.A. Complex" and in the end credits a voice came on to tease next week's episode by calling the drama a "new hit series." If you didn't hear it, there was also a graphic on the screen saying the same thing. Can't we at least wait for the ratings to come out before we start exaggerating?

You've got some explaining to do. The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to know how several U.S. studios have gotten so cozy with China. In letters to Hollywood companies including News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks and Walt Disney Co., the SEC asks about what deals the studios may have cut with the Chinese government to boost their businesses there. The SEC wants to see if the studios may have crossed the line of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids payoffs to foreign officials for business interests. That would be bad. More from Reuters, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

What, me worry? News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch downplayed the influence of his newspapers in Britain on Wednesday during a judicial inquiry into media ethics that was launched as part of the probe into phone hacking at the media giant's tabloids. Murdoch said he's never used his newspapers there to advance his commercial interests. If Murdoch is ever asked that question here, I hope someone digs out all the negative stories the New York Post did about Nielsen after a change it made in the way it measures ratings had a negative effect on News Corp.-owned TV stations. Early details on the hearing from the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian.

New director. "Smash," the NBC musical drama about the struggles of putting on a Broadway show about Marilyn Monroe, has found a new show runner for next season. Earlier this spring, NBC announced the show would be coming back but that its creator and executive producer Theresa Rebeck would not be in charge. Now "Gossip Girl" executive producer Josh Safran is expected to take over, according to Entertainment Weekly. "Smash" started out strong but, as anyone who saw this week's Bollywood number can attest, it has lost its way creatively.

Touchdown! NBC is looking to get $1 million for commercials in its Thanksgiving night football game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots, according to Advertising Age. That would likely be a record price for a commercial during a regular season football game.

Two jobs. Not only is Katie Couric launching an afternoon talk show this fall, she's also going to have a presence on Yahoo as part of ABC News' programming venture with the Web portal. According to AdWeek, Couric will host a weekly Web show on Yahoo. Food giant Nestle has signed up to sponsor the program.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: San Francisco is getting quite a workout in HBO's new movie  “Hemingway & Gellhorn" starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman.

-- Joe Flint

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