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The Morning Fix: Virgin takes movie-making to new heights. Disney profits jump.

May 9, 2012 |  7:17 am

After the coffee. Before seeing if there's a reporter role in the next 'Avengers' movie.

The Skinny: A great season finale for Fox's "New Girl" Tuesday night. Now the network needs to spend the summer figuring out how to get this show, which started out strong and then slipped in the ratings, back in the hearts and minds of viewers. Wednesday's headlines include a look at how Virgin shot an entire movie up in the air, how Disney survived "John Carter" and posted strong earnings, and a preview of upfront week. 

Daily Dose: NBC is boosting its alternative programming unit by signing new development deals with several top reality producers including Jason Ehrlich (“The Bachelor"), David A. Hurwitz (“Fear Factor”), Alex Katz (“The Biggest Loser”) and Lee Metzger (“The Voice”). Probably a smart move since NBC's track record with sitcoms and dramas has been nothing to write home about lately.

Disney survived John Carter flop
No walking off the set. In what appears to be a first, Virgin Group shot a film completely up in the air on its flights. The half-hour romance, starring Janeane Garofalo, Ben Feldman and Luis Guzman, was shot over nine days on flights from Los Angeles to London, Dallas, Fort Worth and Sydney, Australia. It will be screened on Virgin flights and is part of a marketing campaign for the airline. Wonder if there will be complimentary popcorn. Details on the 35,000-foot production from the Los Angeles Times.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Remember when Ellen DeGeneres coming out on her old ABC sitcom was a big deal? Nowadays gay characters populate much of prime time and rarely get a second glance either internally or from advertisers. Still, if you're in a mafia drama and your character is going to come out, you might want to start looking for new work. More on the declining controversy over portrayals of gays on television from the New York Times.

John who? Despite a $200-million write-down of the flop film "John Carter," Walt Disney Co. reported a jump in profit of 21% to $1.14 billion. As usual, the theme parks and the cable networks —  particularly sports empire ESPN — led the way. The company also said there would be an "Avengers" sequel. There's a shocker. More on the earnings from the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Unhappy prince. News Corp.'s second-biggest shareholder, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has expressed concern about the ongoing ethics scandal and government probe that has followed at the media giant's British newspapers. The Guardian quotes the prince as saying it is not "helping the name of the company."

Garth's new gig. Former veteran network executive Garth Ancier, whose résumé includes stints at Fox, NBC and the WB, is advising tech company Intel Corp. which is hoping to lead the way on creating a broadband programming service that would distribute channels over the Internet much the same way cable distributes through a wire. More on Ancier's role from Variety.

Start packing. Next week, the broadcast networks unveil their fall schedules to advertisers in advance of selling commercial inventory for the next television season.  The Hollywood Reporter looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the networks as well as what new programs are in the pipeline.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: James Rainey on the financial health of Eyetronics Media & Studios, the company that was supposed to be a production partner for non-commercial station KCET-TV.

— Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter and you won't need to go to the upfronts.

Photo: "John Carter." Credit: Walt Disney Co.