The Morning Fix: Discovery goes after middle America. L.A. filming down.
After the coffee. Before practicing up on those four questions.
The Skinny: I'm off the next two days to head home to Washington, D.C., for Passover. I will leave you in the trusty hands of Ben Fritz. Wednesday's headlines include a decline in filming in Los Angeles for the first quarter of 2012, more drama for James Murdoch, a new cable channel aimed at middle America from Discovery, and the latest in the feud between "Community" executive producer Dan Harmon and co-star Chevy Chase.
Daily Dose: Talks have stalled between Tribune Co. and DirecTV. Tribune, parent of the Los Angeles Times, pulled its TV channels off the satellite broadcaster last weekend. Since then, the two companies have traded shots and DirecTV even filed a complaint about Tribune with the Federal Communications Commission. Usually when a fight becomes this nasty, lawmakers start to threaten both sides in an attempt to push them back to the table to cut a deal. Don't be surprised if, in the next few days, local and national politicians start to get involved in the battle.
Where did everybody go? Filming in the Los Angeles area dropped 2% in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the first three months of last year. The cause of the decline was television. While location filming for movies was up 16%, and commercial activity jumped 11%, television was off 19%. The television numbers are not likely to improve either as pilot production in the area was down 11%. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
The son doesn't always rise. James Murdoch's resignation as chairman of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting has added to the already dark shadow over his future at News Corp., the media giant run by his father, Rupert Murdoch. The younger Murdoch has been tarnished by the ethics scandal at the company's British newspapers, including the now-closed News of the World. The move to have him step back from his role at BSkyB is an attempt to shield that company from any blowback against Murdoch by British regulators. While financial analysts really don't care about the fate of News Corp.'s newspapers, BSkyB is considered a critical asset. Analysis from the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.
Staying put. David Letterman has renewed his deal with CBS and will keep doing "The Late Show" through the 2014 season, which would give him the longest run of any late-night host -- beating late-night legend Johnny Carson. CBS also gave Letterman's follow-up act -- Craig Ferguson -- another two years. Ferguson is also getting a new studio in Los Angeles. Currently in a small studio, Ferguson was thought by some to end up moving to New York should Letterman step down. With that not happening for at least two years, looks like CBS decided to throw Ferguson a bone with some new digs here. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times.
So much for going green. Discovery Communications is pulling the plug on Planet Green, its cable channel devoted to shows about the environment. In its place, Discovery is launching "Destination America," a new channel that Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav tells USA Today will be "based on middle America, strong values, behavior and customs." Apparently one custom the channel deems truly Midwestern is fast food. One of the new shows on the channel will be "Fast Food Mania," which is described as a look behind the best fast-food places and what makes them tick. Maybe John Mellencamp can host an episode about Dairy Queen.
I am sorry, sort of. Dan Harmon, the executive producer of NBC's critical darling "Community," has taken a lot of heat for his part in a feud with Chevy Chase, a co-star on the show. Harmon made fun of Chase at the "Community" wrap party and Chase responded with a sharply worded message on Harmon's machine, which the producer later played in public. Of course, the message ended up online. Now, in a blog post, Harmon has apologized to fans of the show for the incident. He does not, in the post, really apologize to Chase. I only wish "Community" was this interesting on the screen.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. Apparently my tweets are now news events. Twitter.com/JBFlint
Photo: NBC's "Community." Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times.