The Morning Fix: Warner Bros.’ big bet on ‘Inception.’ Stars are falling! Hugh Hefner wants some privacy. RIP George Steinbrenner, who changed TV and sports

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After the coffee. Before figuring out how to sneak out for the All-Star game.
No sequels? No toys? What are they thinking? Remember when Hollywood movie making was about gambles and creativity. You don’t? Oh, well it once was and is again Friday when Warner Bros. releases ‘Inception.’ The Leonardo DiCaprio cerebral thriller, which cost $160 million, is seen as a big bet for the studio. If it pays off, Chris Nolan (‘The Dark Knight’) will enter a new league of superstar directors. The Los Angeles Times looks at the bet being made on ‘Inception’

RIP George Steinbrenner. The controversial New York Yankees owner died Tuesday morning at the age of 80. Steinbrenner not only was famous for is willingness to spend whatever it took to make the Yankees winners, but he also changed the business of sports and media. Steinbrenner and the Yankees created the YES Network, a cable channel that carried the team’s games and dramatically increased the value of the franchise. Furthermore, Steinbrenner was one of the first owners to become a legitimate television personality. He became famous for his hilarious Miller Lite ads with Billy Martin and later was lampooned by the NBC comedy ‘Seinfeld.’ An obituary from the New York Times.


Now he wants to be private? Hugh Hefner wants a little privacy. The mogul who revolutionized magazine publishing is looking to take Playboy Enterprises, parent of Playboy, private. The company, which has struggled for years to adjust to a world where there is no shortage of adult entertainment and there are no longer enough people reading the magazine for the articles, has previously looked for buyers with no luck. Rival Penthouse, which has its own problems, is apparently interested in making a run at the bunny. More on Hefner’s thinking from the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.

Finding common ground. New and old media leaders found one thing to agree on at last week’s Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley -- a dislike for the politics of the Obama administration. Peter Lauria of the Daily Beast weighs in with the gossip coming out of Idaho.

Stars in trouble. John Stamos may want to send Mel Gibson a thank-you card. The former ‘Full House’ and ‘ER’ star is in a legal battle against two girls who are accused of trying to extort him by threatening to release photos of Stamos living and playing hard. The trial, which is going on in Michigan, hasn’t gotten a ton of media attention because of Mel Gibson’s most recent flameout. Here’s what’s up with Stamos from the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the debates over whether Gibson has crossed the point of no return are going full force in USA Today, Daily Beast and Los Angeles Times.

Remember what I said the other day? Never mind. On Monday, the Hollywood Reporter interviewed construction magnate Ron Tutor, who is leading a group trying to buy Miramax from Walt Disney Co. and quoted him saying not-so-great things about investor and producer David Bergstein. On Tuesday, the Wrap came back with its own piece and said Tutor backtracked on Bergstein, what role he might play at Miramax, and is threatening the Hollywood Reporter with legal action. Here’s an idea: How about letting the deal close before talking about how you’ll run the company.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: What made the Swiss decide to free Roman Polanski. Patrick Goldstein on Mel Gibson. Comcast promises it won’t ignore indie producers after it acquires NBC Universal. The World Cup scores record ratings.

-- Joe Flint

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