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The Morning Fix: ABC soaps go down drain! 'Rio' expected to stomp 'Hop.' FCC asks Comcast wrong questions.

April 15, 2011 |  7:20 am

After the coffee. Before the flight to D.C. for Passover.

The Skinny: It was a rough Thursday for soap fans as ABC pulled the plug on two institutions in favor of cheaper chat shows. TNT is betting that the new version of "Hawaii Five-O" has staying power. Charlie Sheen says his camp is talking to Warner Bros. about coming back to "Two and a Half Men." Warner Bros. says that is bull. What is most interesting to me is how quiet CBS is in all this. Yes, Warner Bros. produces the show for CBS and hence Sheen is its employee, but one would think the network might say something in support of the studio in its fight with Sheen. Have a good weekend.

Real tear-jerker. ABC canceled "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," two of its three remaining soap operas. ABC executives cited low ratings, and although it's true that soaps don't generate the numbers they did back in their heyday, the network has also been under pressure from the brass to get cheaper shows on the air even if those shows won't perform as well as the soaps they are replacing. The two soaps are being replaced with chat and lifestyle shows about food and health called "The Chew" and "The Revolution." If nothing else, if the new shows live up to their titles, ABC will have provided lots of new material for "Saturday Night Live." But I don't want to know what the spinoff for "The Chew" will be about. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

"Hop" may be stopped. After two weeks at the top of the box office, "Hop" will likely be knocked off this weekend by "Rio," another animated film. "Rio" is expected to take in north of $35 million. However, it could face heat from the latest "Scream" movie," which insiders say could make more than $25 million. Box-office projections from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Take the money, please. News Corp. has set up a fund of more than $30 million to settle claims and potential claims stemming from the company's British newspaper News of the World acknowledging hacking phones to get gossip on celebrities and the royal family. Details from Bloomberg.

Define talking. Charlie Sheen says there have been talks about him returning to the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men," which he was fired from last month. On Thursday, Warner Bros. sent a letter to Sheen's lawyer saying there have not been talks and there will not be talks. Sheen's lawyer, Marty Singer, tells the Hollywood Reporter that there have been talks and that Warner Bros. is just upset because he asked them about Sheen's take of rerun money. There are lots of ways to define talks. The question is whether anyone is listening.

TNT snags "Hawaii Five-0" reruns. Normally, a rerun sale is not big news, but that TNT is springing more than $2 million to buy repeats of CBS' remake of "Hawaii Five-O," which is only in its first season, seems noteworthy. It seems like a big gamble to buy the repeats so early in the show's life, but cable networks worry that there are not enough solid dramas coming into the marketplace over the next few years. Reruns are still the backbone of most cable channels because they can be used to promote and market newer shows that don't have a fan base. These are a gamble, though. TNT took a write-down last year when its deal for the CBS drama "Without a Trace" did not pan out. Lifetime also recently took a bath with "Medium." The scoop from Broadcasting and Cable.

Does that come out in the wash? CBS has been accused of "greenwashing" by some environmental groups. At issue, according to the New York Times, is the company's "EcoAd" marketing program. In a nutshell, the program contributes money to environmental causes generated from advertisers buying spots on CBS-owned billboards and other media platforms. The groups, including the Center for Environmental Health and Friends of the Earth, think that this is misleading because the ads themselves may not necessarily be touting something good for the environment. All I know is, you don't want environmentalists mad at you. Those people write letters and call people and are harder to buy off.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The FCC wants to know how Comcast is running NBCUniversal, but the agency is asking the wrong questions. MGM will continue its distribution relationship with Fox.

-- Joe Flint

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