Company Town

The business behind the show

« Previous Post | Company Town Home | Next Post »

The Morning Fix: More trouble at OWN! Netflix on rebound?

January 26, 2012 |  7:27 am

After the coffee. Before another long day in court.

The Skinny: Hollywood makes being a lawyer seem so glamorous, but watching the Golden Globes trial for a few days will clear that image right up. It's hard work and long hours and lots of standing and no coffee allowed. I don't know how they do it. Thursday's headlines include more trouble at OWN, how electronic voting is coming for the Oscars, and a look at this year's Sundance "It" girl.

Oprah Winfrey's OWN network is struggling

The Daily Dose: One question still not answered in the aftermath of Lion Gate's plans to merge with Summit Entertainment is what happens to the latter's deal to sell its movies to HBO. Lions Gate is a partner in Epix, a smaller pay cable channel that competes with HBO. Summit signed a five-year deal with HBO that starts next year. People familiar with the matter think Summit will not try to break the contract with HBO since it is guaranteed revenue for its movies. Still, down the road it may get tricky to determine what (besides a "Twilight" movie) qualifies as a Summit movie that should go to HBO.

Will the last one leaving OWN turn out the lights? OWN, the cable network started by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, continues to struggle both on air and behind the scenes. On Wednesday, Lisa Erspamer, a top production executive at the network and a longtime member of Winfrey's inner circle, was shown the door, the latest in a string of high-profile departures at the network. Meanwhile, the talk show starring Rosie O'Donnell, which was OWN's big and expensive bet, is generating no heat in the ratings. O'Donnell has gone rogue off air, canning much of the staff of ex-Winfrey workers and abandoning the glitzy and expensive set that was built for her show in favor of a much smaller set that looks to me more like something one would see on a cheesy cable access channel. The details on Erspamer's abrupt departure and OWN's other headaches from Deadline Hollywood.

Some good news for a change. Netflix saw its subscriber and revenue numbers grow in the fourth quarter of 2011, which led investors to push the company's stock price up 13% in after-hours trading. However, profits were still off 13% compared with the fourth quarter of 2010. A look at the numbers from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Going electric. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is moving ahead with plans to launch an electronic voting system and do away with paper Oscar ballots for its members. Fear not, those accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers will continue to be in charge of counting the votes. The Hollywood Reporter says the move could have "far-reaching implications" for awards season.

Katie's comeback. Former "Today" and "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric was down in Miami earlier this week meeting with television executives at an industry convention to promote her new talk show, which debuts this fall. Couric is banking on the vacancy created by Oprah Winfrey's departure from daytime. USA Today chats with Couric on what her show will be like.

Trading Martha for Marie. Hallmark Channel, which is dropping its association with lifestyle diva Martha Stewart, is close to a deal with Marie Osmond that will see the former teen star host a show for the cable channel, says the New York Post.

Inside the Los Angles Times: Gina Rodriguez is this year's Sundance "It" girl. It's a high-profile gig but it doesn't always turn into a long-term career. After threatening to close down, the motion picture nursing home is going to stay open and add new patients.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter: It's where we pretend to know each other.

Photo: Oprah Winfrey. Credit: Prakash Singh/AFP.