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The Morning Fix: Hulu invades Japan. NASA not on board 'Apollo 18'

September 1, 2011 |  7:30 am

After the coffee. Before figuring out your fantasy football team.

The Skinny: The Morning Fix tries to avoid politics, but President Obama would have been better off annoying Republicans by speaking before Congress next Wednesday, when they're holding a presidential debate, then annoying football fans by speaking on the same night the NFL opens its new season. In the headlines, NASA backs away from "Apollo 18," Hulu is launching in Japan and a preview of the Toronto Film Festival.

To boldly go where no man has gone before. Normally, the folks at NASA are more than happy to help out Hollywood on its movies that involve outer space. But even NASA has a line, and apparently it is working with Harvey and Bob Weinstein's movie company, The Weinstein Co., whose new film, "Apollo 18," opens this weekend. "Apollo 18" is about a fictional moon mission gone awry. The marketing makes the movie seem like a documentary a la "Blair Witch." NASA had initially said the movie was one of the ones it had consulted on, but now the space agency is backing away. "We never even saw a rough cut," said Bert Ulrich, NASA's liaison for multimedia, film and television collaborations. I've seen the ads, and to be honest, I don't think anyone will confuse "Apollo 18" with a real documentary. But one can also understand why NASA doesn't want to give its seal of approval to a movie that is about a government conspiracy. The Los Angeles Times looks at this latest theatrical moon mission and NASA's thoughts on assisting Hollywood.

Him and me. Gore Verbinski is a deal-breaker for Johnny Depp. Verbinski was set to direct and Jerry Bruckheimer set to produce Walt Disney Co.'s "The Lone Ranger," which would star Depp as Tonto. However, the plug was pulled because Disney got cold feet about the budget. Now a new budget is being submitted, but if Disney wants a change in director, then Depp is walking, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Hulu learns Japanese. Hulu, the popular online video site owned by News Corp., Comcast Corp. and Walt Disney Co., is launching a subscription service in Japan. Also on board in Japan with Hulu is CBS, which until now has steered clear of the company. The deal is Hulu's first international expansion and comes as the company has been actively shopping itself for new owners. Details from Paid Content and the Los Angeles Times.

See ya! Bob Harper and Hutch Parker, the co-chairmen of New Regency, a boutique film and TV production company based at News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, are leaving. The move caught Hollywood off guard and comes only a few weeks after the company said it was going to try to reestablish its television brand. More from Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

Better call Saul. AMC, the cable network behind critical darlings "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead" is going through growing pains. Not only is the competition gunning for it, relations with some of its own producers have been full of tension lately. It doesn't help when you're not a deep-pocketed media giant. Vulture looks at how AMC is trying to weather some recent storms.

Why aren't I on this list? Vanity Fair has released its 2011 New Establishment List. Like most lists purporting to be about who is on the cutting edge and the most powerful in media and technology, there are head scratchers. Just remember, these lists are just done to be talked about and don't really mean anything. That's what I always tell myself.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: John Horn with a preview of the Toronto Film Festival. Without Carl Icahn in hot pursuit, Lions Gate stock drops 7%.

-- Joe Flint

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