Entertainment Industry

Category: Morning Fix

Morning Fix: Parliament blasts Rupert Murdoch. A Golden Globes ruling

After the coffee. Before plowing through Parliament's report on News Corp.

The Skinny: I have far too many workplace-anxiety dreams. Tuesday's headlines include a blistering report from the British Parliament on News Corp.'s handling of the ethics scandal at its UK newspapers; Dick Clark Productions' victory in the legal fight over TV rights to the Golden Globes; and Charlie Sheen not wanting to be immortalized by a New York City strip club.

A much-anticipated report from a British parliamentary committee probing the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s UK newspapers said the media giant's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, "exhibited willful blindness" and was unfit to lead a company such as the media giant
Daily Dose: Dick Clark Productions Chief Executive Mark Shapiro got a colorful critique from U.S. District Judge Howard Matz in his ruling in favor the company in its legal battle with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. over control of the TV rights to the Golden Globes Awards show (see below). Noting in his ruling that former NBC executive Marc Graboff called Shapiro a liar during negotiations for the Globes, Matz said, "Shapiro's negotiation tactics may boost his 'street cred' as a shrewd executive in the gabled world of Hollywood deal-making." When Shapiro testified in the trial, he acknowledged misleading NBC as part of a negotiating strategy.

Tell us how you really feel. A much-anticipated report from a British parliamentary committee probing the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s UK newspapers said the media giant's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, "exhibited willful blindness" and was unfit to lead a company such as the media giant. Murdoch's son, James, who oversaw the unit that housed the British tabloids News of the World and the Sun, was also chastised for showing poor leadership. Other News Corp. executives were accused of misleading Parliament. Now the question is if the report will lead U.S. officials to look closer at whether News Corp.'s actions in Britain ran afoul of U.S. laws. Early analysis on the report from the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Guardian.

Golden Globes ruling. A U.S. District Court sided with Dick Clark Productions in its legal battle with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. over who controls the television rights to the Golden Globes Awards show. The HFPA, which owns the Golden Globes, had sued Dick Clark Productions in 2010, claiming that the company did not have the right to sign a long-term renewal with NBC for the show. Dick Clark Productions claimed it did. In the ruling, Judge Howard Matz criticized the HFPA for its "absence of sound, businesslike practices." Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

Chasing the dollars. If there is a shortage of shrimp and champagne at the broadcast network programming presentations to advertisers in New York in two weeks, put the blame on new media. Over the last few weeks, Yahoo, AOL and other digital companies held their first big presentations to woo more advertising money to the Web. "The Internet industry could have only dreamed of a week like this a few short years ago," Yahoo executive vice president Ross Levinsohn said. More on new media's Madison Avenue sales pitch from the Los Angeles Times.

The people speak. Every year, USA Today surveys its readers on what low-rated TV shows should be saved from cancellation. This time around, NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and "Parenthood" led the voting. More interesting was the response to USA Today's question about what hit shows have overstayed their welcome. The winners were CBS' "Two and a Half Men" and Fox's "Glee."

How about the Carlos Estevez room? You've heard of the champagne room in strip clubs? Well, one New York club opened a Charlie Sheen room. Cheetahs named a room after the actor that allows its patrons to, uh, eat sushi off of some of the entertainers. Though Sheen can occasionally laugh at his own high jinks, no one else can. According to the New York Post, Sheen's legal team is trying to shut down the room. What if they give Sheen a lifetime VIP pass? Would that work as a peace offering?

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Steven Zeitchik on the Tribeca Film Festival.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter for my critiques on NBC's "Smash." Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: James Murdoch, left, and Rupert Murdoch. Credit: Sang Tan / Associated Press

The Morning Fix: Disappointing 'Engagement.' No app for TV.

After the coffee. Before starting a backlash against the backlash against HBO's "Girls."

The Skinny: I promise I'll never turn off another playoff game, no matter how much of a blowout it looks like. I was safe with the Knicks game but missed a classic comeback by the Clippers. Lesson learned. Monday's headlines include the surprise success of "Think Like a Man" at the box office, the struggle to bring apps to television and a look at why this summer's movie season will feel like a rerun.

"Think Like a Man" once again surprised the box-office experts by staying in first place and beating back four new movies
Daily Dose: This time of year, TV actors and producers are walking on egg shells waiting to hear if their shows will get renewed for the fall schedules, which are announced in a few weeks. Some casts have to be good sports about the whole thing too. NBC had its prime-time programs take part in filming a bit the network will show at its presentation to advertisers next month. Some of those participating, including the cast of the drama "Parenthood," still don't know if they'll be back next season. If the show gets cut from the schedule, their faces will get cut from the video. Ouch.

Return that ring. "Think Like a Man" once again surprised the box-office experts by staying in first place and beating back four new movies. The romantic comedy took in $18 million and is clearly appealing beyond its African American base. The big disappointment of the weekend was the romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement," which was supposed to open at No. 1 with $18 million but finished fourth with $11.2 million. I do recall saying in this space last Friday that the movie's marketing left much to be desired, so I'm honestly not surprised that viewers stayed away. It was pitched like a straight-to-DVD release and tried too hard to tie itself to "Bridesmaids." Box-office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Why isn't there an app for that? Although new platforms have changed the way people get their content, cable and satellite companies have steered clear of so-called apps. Though it may seem like only a matter of time until one turns on the TV screen and downloads apps for the cable channels they want, programmers have little incentive to tear up the current business model. Time Warner doesn't want to sell you a TNT app. They want you to have to buy TNT, TBS, TruTV, CNN and their other channels. The New York Times looks at the challenges of introducing the app approach to the pay-TV world.

Bygones. Although much of Hollywood cooled on its love affair with President Obama after the administration expressed concern about anti-piracy legislation that was subsequently defeated, now the wallets are opening up again. George Clooney is hosting an all-star fundraiser expected to bring in at least $10 million. The Wall Street Journal looks at how Obama is wooing back Hollywood.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Kids love watching cartoon on Netflix. Disney and Nickelodeon make nice money selling their content to the streaming service. But in some cases, Netflix viewing may be taking eyeballs away from the cable channels. Media analyst Todd Juenger wonders if kids programmers should rethink how they sell to Netflix. More from Barrons.

Maybe the lockout was a good idea. A shortened basketball season gave a sense of urgency to the season, and ratings were up at ABC and TNT and flat on ESPN. The playoffs are already off to a strong start as well. Still, I don't recommend the labor dispute strategy again. Details from Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: If this summer feels like a rerun, that's because there are lots of sequels at the box office. Ben Fritz looks at what is coming this summer.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter because, well, I'm the man. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: A scene from "Think Like a Man." Credit: Alan Markfield / Associated Press

Morning Fix: Hulu sale! Box-office preview. World's oldest pirate.

After the coffee. Before making my second-round draft picks.

The Skinny: I've decided soy sauce is to vegetables what ketchup is to meat. Friday's headlines include a weekend box-office preview, a partner in Hulu wanting to cash out, and a look at a most unusual movie pirate. Also, a big break-up at Warner Bros. and a review of "The Five-Year Engagement."

Five-Year Engagement

Daily Dose: Later this morning the FCC will vote on whether to require broadcasters to put detailed financial information about politicians' advertising on the Web. The broadcasters have been lobbying hard to keep the actual costs of their commercials out of view. It appears they will lose that fight. However, the FCC will throw broadcasters a bone and agree to review, a little way down the road, whether putting specific unit rates for commercials on the Web had negative ramifications for their bottom line.

Start throwing rice. The road to the altar should be paved with box-office gold for the Jason Segel comedy "The Five-Year Engagement." The movie is expected to take the top spot this weekend with between $18 million and $20 million in sales. Also opening this weekend are the horror movie "The Raven," the action flick "Safe" and the 3-D family film "The Pirates! Band of Misfits." I can't explain it, but there's something about the marketing for "A Five-Year Engagement" that makes it seem like it has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Box office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Time to sell. Private investing firm Providence Equity Partners is looking to cash out of Hulu, the online video platform co-owned by News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp. Providence had invested $100 million in Hulu and is taking away about twice that, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this week Providence invested $200 million in former News Corp. President Peter Chernin's media company Chernin Group. That seems to be more than a coincidence. Additional coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

The break-up. Warner Bros. and mega-producer Joel Silver are parting ways after a quarter-century together, according to Deadline Hollywood. Silver's deal will not be renewed by the studio when it expires later this year. Clashes between Silver, who's known for his temper, and Warner Bros. apparently finally reached the point of no return.

The face of piracy. Meet Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old World War II vet who spends much of his time making bootlegs of Hollywood hits and sending them to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The New York Times profiles Strachman, who by his estimate has sent hundreds of thousands of pirated DVDs to the troops for free. Although what he is doing is illegal, Hollywood has not come down on Strachman yet. My public relations advice to the movie industry is to tell him to stop, and then start doing his work for him.

Superhero summer. "The Avengers," "Batman" and "Spider-Man" are just some of the big-budget superhero blockbusters coming out this summer. USA Today looks at Hollywood's big bets for the months ahead. I just want to know who came up with "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Disney has its hands full figuring out how it will fill Rich Ross's position as head of its movie studio. Betsy Sharkey on "The Five-Year Engagement."

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I'm a No. 1 pick. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: "The Five-Year Engagement." Credit: Glen Wilson / Universal Pictures

The Morning Fix: Hide those satellites! Political debate at FCC.

After the coffee. Before deciding where to watch the NFL draft.

The Skinny: Thursday's headlines include a fight between broadcasters and the FCC over disclosing political advertising information on the Web, a push by some cities to hide satellite dishes, a look at what TV shows may be on the way out, and analysis of whether Walt Disney needs to replace Rich Ross as chairman of its movie studio.

Are satellite dishes ugly
Daily Dose: News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's claims during testimony Wednesday in Britain that he doesn't talk much business when he's out and about with high-powered politicians may sound dubious to many, but to some company insiders it rings true. Inside News Corp., Murdoch often frustrates his lobbyists by spending too much time gossiping instead of pursuing the company's business agenda in meetings with top lawmakers, even after being given specific talking points. That's not to say the Murdoch message doesn't get through anyway. Once, after a meeting with a powerful congressman had turned into small talk, a lobbyist expressed annoyance at the blown opportunity. "That's what I have you for," Murdoch responded.

Not my fault. During his second day on the stand as part of an inquiry into media ethics, Rupert Murdoch said with regard to the phone hacking scandal at his British newspapers that he was the victim of a cover-up. According to the Associated Press, Murdoch said he and his son James, who oversaw the tabloids, were kept out of the loop about the extent of the hacking. All I'll say is remember it's usually the cover-up that ends up taking you down more than the crime itself.

Political debate. Broadcasters are fighting with the Federal Communications Commission over a proposal from the regulatory agency to put financial details about political advertising online. While information such as what a candidate spent buying commercials is already available to anyone who visits a TV station, broadcasters are reluctant to put that same material on the Internet. A look at why they are resisting the FCC's effort from the Los Angeles Times.

Irreplaceable or no replacement necessary? Normally, when a top executive at a studio or network is pushed out, the successor is waiting in the wings. Yet Walt Disney Co. does not yet seem to have a plan on how it will replace Rich Ross at the top of its movie studio, which has some wondering if the job in fact actually needs to be filled. Analysis from the New York Times.

Popping the bubble. Not only are the networks busy assessing their pilots to decide what new shows they'll order for the fall, it's also time to decide what current programs they will bring back. TV Guide looks at the shows that are on the fence.

Those unsightly satellites. As satellite TV grows in popularity, some cities are griping that the dishes make neighborhoods look ugly, notes the Wall Street Journal. There are even efforts to require dishes to be placed somewhere other than the front of houses or apartment buildings. The satellite industry is fighting back, arguing this would discriminate against their business. Maybe the satellite industry can have a contest to come up with a prettier dish. Personally, I find dishes look kind of cool. It makes me think I live in England, where there are dishes all over the place.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Believe it or not, there is actually a debate about whether people should be allowed to text during movies. Hey, why stop there? Why not be able to watch videos on your iPad while looking at the movie?

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. It will be enlightening. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: A DirecTV dish. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press

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

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

Follow me on Twitter. You can't be everywhere at once but you'll feel like you are. Twitter.com/JBFlint

The Morning Fix: James Murdoch on hot seat! Ryan Seacrest's new deal.

After the coffee. Before hiring Ryan Seacrest's agent for my next negotiation.

The Skinny: I'm trying to eat healthier. It's not fun, but it is cheaper. Tuesday's headlines include a tough start to the week for Netflix, a new executive team at CBS News, and James Murdoch back in the hot seat. Also, Ryan Seacrest signed a deal to stay with Fox's "American Idol."

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, are this week appearing before a judicial inquiry into the ethics and behavior of the British media

Daily Dose: On Monday in this space, I wrote an item about how NBC's "Meet the Press" was engaging in a little bit of corporate promotion during Sunday's show -- on what's supposed to be a serious news magazine. On Monday night when I went online, Facebook was suggesting I subscribe to the feed of "Meet the Press" executive producer Betsy Fisher. A coincidence? No, just another example of how the gang at Facebook is watching everything you do online. Scary.

Netflix doubters. Netflix had its first net loss since 2005, and investors punished the company's stock. For the first quarter of 2012, the video subscription giant lost $5 million, which was attributed to efforts to grow its business abroad. Then information Netflix gave analysts during a conference call made investors nervous that the company will not meet its goal of adding an additional 7 million subscribers here. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

On the hot seat. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, are this week appearing before a judicial inquiry into the ethics and behavior of the British media to answer questions regarding the phone-hacking scandal at the company's newspapers the News of the World and the Sun. James Murdoch is being grilled today, and his father is scheduled to be questioned Wednesday. Early reports on James Murdoch's appearance from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian, which has a live stream of the event.

New team. CBS Films is the tiny movie production company that CBS launched in 2010. It has struggled to find its way, but now has a new executive team. Terry Press, a former Disney and DreamWorks executive who has been consulting for CBS Films, and the movie company's chief operating officer, Wolfgang Hammer, have been named co-presidents. More from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Seacrest sticking around. "American Idol's" ratings may be on the decline, but the show's host, Ryan Seacrest, is getting a raise. Seacrest signed a new two-year deal that will take his annual salary from $10 million a year to $15 million. Details from the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter

There's an idea. After NBC's morning news program "Today" goofed and put up an edited transcript of George Zimmerman's phone call to police regarding Trayvon Martin, it fired the producer and acknowledged the mistake to the media. The only people the show forgot to tell were its actual viewers. New York Times columnist David Carr on how NBC missed doing the obvious in its efforts to clean up after itself.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Want to see a movie that's not playing your town? A new start-up called Tugg lets consumers set up a screening if enough people show interest.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter and watch me keep other reporters in line. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: James Murdoch. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Fix: 'Think Like a Man' on top. Chernin's new friends.

After the coffee. Before trying to remember life when "The Hunger Games" wasn't the No. 1 movie.

The Skinny: My dentist sent me a survey after my last visit. I don't know why, but it seems tacky. It's not a gym or a restaurant. If I have a problem with the service, you'll know it. Monday's headlines include a new box-office champ, a big shakeup at Walt Disney Co. and Peter Chernin getting some new money.

"Think Like a Man" takes No. 1 number-one at the box office
Daily Dose: One expects morning shows to be shills for their parent companies. Seldom does a day go by when NBC's "Today" isn't promoting some NBC program or Universal movie. But aren't the Sunday news magazines supposed to be more sacred? Maybe not. On Sunday, NBC's "Meet the Press" not only had "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, but it devoted a segment aimed at hyping the network's coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Thinking like a winner. After four weekends on top, "The Hunger Games" was knocked out of first place by the romantic comedy "Think Like a Man," which took in $33 million in its debut weekend. "Man's" performance was much stronger than industry analysts predicted. Coming in second was "The Lucky One," a tear-jerker staring Zac Efron, which made almost $23 million. "The Hunger Games" fell to third, with $14.5 million. Box-office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter.

Chernin's new partner. Providence Equity Partners is investing $200 million for a large stake in the Chernin Group, the production company founded by former News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. The cash infusion is to be used for acquisitions of media companies here and abroad. Providence Equity will also get seats on the board of the Chernin Group, while Chernin will become a senior advisor to the private equity firm. Details from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Ross out as boss. Last Friday (which is usually when companies release bad news), Walt Disney Co. said Rich Ross was out as head of its movie studio. Ross, who took the job in 2009 after a successful stint running Disney Channel, struggled with some big flops ("John Carter," "Prom") and had put executives in place who failed to win the confidence of Hollywood producers. Analysis of what went wrong for Ross from the Los Angeles TimesDeadline Hollywood and Variety. No replacement has been made, but I am available. I promise no $200 million write-downs like the one Disney said it'd take on "John Carter."

The spreading scandal. British regulators are now investigating satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting, which is 39% owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. BSkyB has admitted to hacking into emails for stories but is trying to make the case that it was serving the public interest by using the hacking to expose wrongdoing. News Corp.'s British tabloids are already mired in an ethics scandal for phone hacking. More from Reuters.

Hot summer ahead. We're still a few weeks away from the official start of the summer movie season, but speculation has already started that it could be one of the biggest ever, thanks to "The Avengers" as well as new "Batman" and "Men in Black" movies. The Wrap with a summer preview.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A preview of CinemaCon, the conference at which theater owners and Hollywood big shots get together to break bread.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. If not for me, then for yourself. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: A scene from "Think Like a Man." Credit: Alan Markfield / Associated Press

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

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.

The Morning Fix: RIP Dick Clark, Cannes lineup announced

After the coffee. Before being tortured by the dentist.

The Skinny: I think we can all remember the first time our parents let us stay up to watch Dick Clark count down the New Year and the first girl we kissed after he said "Happy New Year." It was a rite of passage. Rest in peace. Thursday's headlines include appreciations of Clark and a look at the Cannes Film Festival lineup.

Dick Clark
Daily Dose: The NFL is doing all it can to boost the stature of its NFL Network cable channel, which is still struggling to get national distribution. Not only will the NFL Network carry 13 games this season on Thursday night, which is up from eight last year, but it's presenting matches of higher profile. The majority of its games feature teams that made the playoffs in 2011. The NFL Network is still trying to get carriage from Time Warner Cable, the nation's second largest cable operator. The question is whether other TV rights holders will start to grumble that the NFL is playing favorites with its own channel.

RIP. Dick Clark, who rose from a radio disc jockey to host of his own groundbreaking television music show and later built an entertainment empire, died Wednesday at 82. Known for his perpetually youthful looks and familiarly known as "America's oldest teenager," Clark also celebrated New Year's Eve with America for almost four decades as host of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." As friendly and cheerful as Clark was on-camera, off-camera he could be a very demanding boss. He also was tainted in the late 1950s radio payola scandals. Obituaries and appreciations of Clark from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Rolling Stone and the Associated Press.

May Day. A much-anticipated report on the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s British tabloids from Parliament is expected to be released on May 1, according to Reuters. The report, which comes after several hearings and an investigation into phone hacking and illegal payoffs by staffers of News Corp.'s News of the World and Sun newspapers, is expected to be critical of James Murdoch, son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and the executive who had oversight over the papers.

Starting lineup. The Cannes Film Festival unveiled its lineup and the United States has a very visible presence. Variety said among U.S. titles that made the cut are Brad Pitt's "Killing Them Softly," DreamWorks Animation's  "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" and Nicole Kidman's "The Paperboy."

Where'd everybody go? Tuesday night saw many top TV shows, including CBS's "NCIS," reach season lows. TV ratings always drop a little in the spring as days get longer and the weather gets warmer. I know it takes me awhile to adjust to the longer days. I'll be at work, look outside and see daylight, and not realize its already 7 p.m. In Michigan, it can stay light out until 10 p.m. in the summer. More on the numbers from the New York Times.

The case that won't go away. The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to overrule a lower court ruling that had thrown out the Federal Communications Commission $550,000 fine of CBS for the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" that took place during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl. By now, the legal fees of the government and CBS have easily topped the fine, but there is a principle at stake here, I suppose. Details from Multichannel News.

Ouch. As if Oprah Winfrey hasn't had a tough enough run lately given the struggles of OWN, the cable network she started with Discovery Communications, now Time magazine doesn't consider her one of the most influential people in the country anymore. The magazine's latest list leaves Winfrey off for the first time since it launched in 1999, according to the New York Post.

Inside the Los Angeles TImes: James Rainey on public TV station KCET as it enters its second year without a PBS affiliation. Lionsgatge isn't showing much love for Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I can't do it alone. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: Dick Clark. Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press.

Morning Fix: News Corp. runs afoul of FCC. Watching child actors.

After the coffee. Before pointing to Jamie Moyer when people say I'm getting old.

The Skinny: The NFL schedule was announced last night, so for one brief moment I can look and fantasize that the Redskins will have a winning season. Wednesday's headlines include a push for tough background checks for those who work with child actors, News Corp. finding itself in violation of FCC ownership rules, and Universal planning a movie version of "The Rockford Files."

Former child stars Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges are pushing for legislation to provide more oversight of child actors
Daily Dose: Ratings for NBC News' TV magazine "Rock Center" are pretty bad, but anchor Brian Williams can still hold his head high at home, at least for now. Last week's "Rock Center" did manage to get better ratings than HBO's heavily hyped "Girls," whose cast includes Williams' daughter Allison. Even though "Rock Center" is on NBC and available in over 100 million homes, while HBO is only in 30 million homes, it was a close race. In fact, among female viewers age 18-34, "Rock Center" had 141,000 viewers while "Girls" averaged 114,000. Odds are "Girls" will get a second season from HBO. It seems unlikely NBC will offer that to "Rock Center."

Fighting back. Former child stars Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges are pushing for more oversight of child actors. The two are speaking publicly about their personal experiences of being molested while working in the entertainment industry, trying to help push the California Legislature to pass a bill that would require background checks for talent managers, photographers and others who work unsupervised with child actors. In 2006, a similar bill failed to get enough support to pass through the state Senate. "Without these types of precautions, Hollywood will continue to attract pedophiles with an unmonitored playing field to commit their inhumane acts," Bridges told the Los Angeles Times.

Oops. Media giant News Corp. said it is suspending the voting rights of some of its foreign shareholders because the company discovered that the level of foreign ownership of News Corp. stock had risen to 36%. That put the company in violation of Federal Communications Commission rules, which allow a company that owns TV stations here to have foreign ownership of no more than 25%. News Corp. said the suspension will continue until the foreign-ownership percentage is in compliance with FCC rules. More from the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal.

Gold watch time? Gordie Crawford, senior vice president of Capital Research and Management Co. and a prominent media investor, may be retiring. Crawford, considered to be a sharp observer of the media industry and tight with many top executives, will step back at the end of the year, Reuters said. 

Who will play Angel? Normally, the Morning Fix doesn't link to stories about movie projects. But Universal is making a movie version of one of my favorite shows -- "The Rockford Files." According to Deadline Hollywood, the studio is going to remake the 70's classic with Vince Vaughn reprising the role made famous by James Garner. This is distressing to me, but I will reserve judgment until I see the final project. One suggestion: Either Seth Rogen or John C. Reilly for the part of Angel.

Score settling. Former NBC Entertainment chief Warren Littlefield's oral history about the network's glory days in the 1990s is coming out, and Brian Lowry of Variety has a review. Lowry notes -- as the Los Angeles Times did as well -- that the book takes a lot of shots at Littlefield's former boss, Don Ohlmeyer. Also missing is anything about late night, even though Littlefield had a major role in the drama that led to Jay Leno replacing Johnny Carson and David Letterman heading to CBS.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on whether the folks who rate movies are going soft on weed. Tom Petty's stolen guitars were recovered. Having seen Petty, I can tell you the dude changes guitars after every song. Frankly, it's very annoying.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. It won't feel like work at all. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: Todd Bridges. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 

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