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The Morning Fix: Spider-Man squashed! MGM going for cheap. 'Idol' exit. Ailes vs. Murdoch.

January 12, 2010 |  8:30 am
After the coffee. Before auditioning to be the next Spider-Man.

Spider-Man caught in a web of trouble. Sony Pictures has parted ways not only with "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi, but also stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, putting the franchise's future in jeopardy. Not since Vincent Chase was dropped from the "Aquaman" sequel has there been such a high-profile shake-up. Seriously, Sony says it will regroup, and, of course, the franchise will live on! Details from the Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood and some analysis from the Wrap's Sharon Waxman.

CTlogosmall Wanna buy MGM? Now may be the time. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the bids that are coming in for the foundering studio are in the $2-billion range. That's not anywhere near the $3.7 billion MGM owes its lenders.  The deadline is at the end of the week, so start looking for loose change under the couch.

"American Idol" now has an X factor. As we reported Monday, "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell will make this season, which premieres on Fox tonight, his last. He's going to bring his British hit "The X Factor" to Fox starting in the fall. Will this mean the end of "American Idol," or is Fox going to have two huge smash hits? Ratings will likely decline without Cowell, but unless they completely bottom out and Cowell's new show is a flop, it's hard to see a way in which Fox wouldn't come out ahead here. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times

Ailes on the outs? Running a hugely successful enterprise is usually cause for a pat on the back, but the Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove is betting that Roger Ailes' days as chief of News Corp.'s Fox News are numbered. He thinks the nice piece on Ailes on Page 1 of the New York Times will irritate his boss, Rupert Murdoch, whose own family is not exactly in love with Ailes. Sounds like a stretch, but it's a fun read nonetheless. In other Fox News news, the network has hired Sarah Palin as a contributor. Though hardly a shocker, her multiyear deal will no doubt give Fox's critics more ammunition. Meanwhile, there's no word that MSNBC is going to hire Levi Johnston in response. More on that from the New York Times

Meanwhile, at Fox TV. Jeez, isn't there news about any other company besides Fox today? Peter Rice, the mild-mannered Brit who now oversees Fox Broadcasting's entertainment operations, will add some cable networks to his workload as well. David Hill, the anything-but-mild-mannered sports chief, will get his hands on Fox's regional sports networks. Whether any of this will mean to other senior Fox executives, including TV networks chief Tony Vinciquerra and cable networks programming boss Rich Battista, remains to be seen, but clearly News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey is shaking things up. Latest from Broadcasting & Cable and the Los Angeles Times.

Semel and Milchan partnering? The Hollywood Reporter says former Warner Bros. and Yahoo big shot Terry Semel and producer Arnon Milchan are considering launching their own movie production fund of about $1 billion. Each would kick in $200 million of their own money. That must be nice.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The latest on Conan O'Brien. "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller is looking for a bigger gig.

-- Joe Flint

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