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The Morning Fix: Tough life for effects artists. DirecTV lowers NFL prices.

April 20, 2012 |  7:19 am

After the coffee. Before figuring out which one of my cats is misbehaving.

The Skinny: I could use a long weekend. Is it Memorial Day yet? Friday's headlines include a look at the tough lives of visual effects artists, a preview of the weekend box office, and whether "Think Like a Man" can top "The Hunger Games." Also a review of HBO's "Veep."

Think Like a Man
Daily Dose: Satellite broadcaster Dish Network  is in a spat with regional sports network Fox Sports West. At issue are 25 Angels games that Fox has moved from its broadcast station KCOP-TV to Fox Sports West. Dish doesn't want to pay any more money to carry the games so Fox isn't making the additional games available to the service. At least one subscriber was able to get a rebate ($10 per month for six months) from the satellite broadcaster but a Dish spokesman said there is no blanket policy on rebates. "All our customer service representatives are empowered to make decisions they feel appropriate," the spokesman said.

Electronic sweatshops. There's no shortage of work for visual effects artists these days but there's no glamour in it. As Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Verrier notes, many complain that they are "employed in electronic sweatshops, work inhuman schedules and without health insurance or pensions." Now some are trying to change that by unionizing. A look at the grueling lives of visual effects artists.

Will the streak end? For the last four weeks, "The Hunger Games" has been No. 1 at the box office. But industry observers expect a new champion when Sunday rolls around. They're just not sure whether it will be either Zac Efron's tear-jerker "The Lucky One" or the comedy "Think Like a Man" starring Kevin Hart that grabs first place. Box office projections from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

No end in sight. More than 40 new cases seeking damages from phone hacking by News Corp.-owned tabloids were filed in Britain this week. According to the Guardian, among those with claims is  Sir John Major's former daughter-in-law Emma Noble.

Might be time to subscribe. Satellite broadcaster DirecTV is slashing the price of its Sunday Ticket package which gives subscribers access to every NFL game. Typically costing about $325 per season, now it is being offered for $200 in the hopes of bringing in new subscribers. Until the Redskins show me they are competitive, I'll keep my money in my pocket. Details from Bloomberg.

Stream can muddy waters. The CW's aggressive approach of putting its shows online right after they're broadcast,  including "The Vampire Diaries," is starting to cause concern among the network's affiliates. That's because they fear people will stop watching TV and perhaps even stop paying for it, if they can watch the shows for free on the CW's website. More on the CW's juggling act of trying to please viewers while not alienating its customers or hurting its own business model from the Wall Street Journal.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: "Water for Elephants" director Francis Lawrence is closing in on a deal to direct "Catching Fire," the sequel to "The Hunger Games." Robert Lloyd on HBO's "Veep."

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I bring May flowers. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: "Think Like a Man." Credit: Alan Markfield/Sony.

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