The Morning Fix: Forget Mel Gibson, there’s a Sumner Redstone tape! DirecTV gives stay of execution to ‘Damages.’ Time for Nic Cage to learn how to say no?


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After the coffee. Before getting swallowed up in ‘Mad Men’ hype. Forget the Mel Gibson tapes. Check out the Sumner Redstone tape! Several weeks ago, Daily Beast reporter Peter Lauria wrote a piece suggesting that Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone had developed a keen interest in a young female singer and was pressuring Viacom’s MTV to put a show on about her band. Now Redstone is trying to find out from Lauria who told him that story. He left a message on Lauria’s voice mail seeking the name of the leaker, which Lauria then wrote about for the Daily Beast. ‘We’re not going to hurt this guy,’ Redstone said on the call about the leaker. Though Redstone’s message does not even begin to approach the level of anger that Mel Gibson can hit without even trying, it still makes for good listening. Lauria promises he won’t give up the name of his source. While Redstone said he won’t hurt whoever babbled, Lauria might want to get a food taster after posting Redstone’s message.

Stay of execution.‘Damages,’ the ratings-challenged legal drama that critics loved is moving from the FX cable network to satellite broadcaster DirecTV’s 101 Network. For DirecTV, landing ‘Damages’ is something of a vanity play. It is trying to differentiate itself from other pay TV distributors with original content. For Sony Pictures Television, the show’s producer, getting another 20 new episodes ordered will help it make money back on the expensive show, which stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. New episodes of ‘Damages’ won’t appear on the 101 Network until late next year at the earliest. Still, although fans of the show are rejoicing, accountants might be shaking their heads. FX struggled to make ends meet with ‘Damages’ and its channel is available to about 90 million cable and satellite subscribers. The 101 Network is only available to about 18.6 million DirecTV subscribers. Analysis of the deal from the Los Angeles Times.


Keep away from my windows. In an opinion piece in the Hollywood Reporter, Gregory Marcus, president of Marcus Theatres Corp., tries to make the case for Hollywood to quit shortening the so-called windows between a movie’s theatrical run and its availability on DVD and on pay TV. Writes Marcus: ‘I just saw Johnny Depp at the grocery store. Dressed as the Mad Hatter, he was in the Redbox machine available for $1. All I could think was what a shame it was that this wonderful movie was being so terribly devalued.’ Marcus compares the shortening of windows to a frog being cooked. A frog, he reminds us, can’t sense subtle changes of temperature and fries before realizing its time to jump. ‘Studio execs, be careful before you cook us all, yourselves included,’ Marcus warns.

Career advice: IndieWire’s Anne Thompson takes a look at the roller coaster that is Nicholas Cage’s career and suggests less exposure. Cage used to bounce effortlessly between family friendly adventure, hardcore action and the occasional adult drama to hone his acting chops. Now, with the disappointing results for Jerry Bruckheimer’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ Cage may need to reassess his career strategy of saying yes to every role that comes along. Alas, if reports of Cage’s personal spending habits are accurate, he probably has to say yes to everything. Maybe he should say yes to shopaholics anonymous. Meanwhile, Hot Blog isn’t buying all the stories suggesting Bruckheimer may be past his prime.

Oh Canada. The broadcast networks are reaching out to our neighbors to the north for programming this summer. New shows on CBS, ABC and the CW are all Canadian imports. This is not a new trend, it actually started a few years ago. Be nice if one of the networks picked up old episodes of ‘Durham County,’ a great crime drama that the little-watched ION acquired last year. More on the trend from the New York Times.

Writing’s on the wall. Variety studies the current state of writers in television and notes that deal-making is on the rise, but nowhere near the 1990s boom when anyone who may have brought a cup of coffee to a producer on ‘Seinfeld’ got a seven figure deal. Also, many of today’s writing deals are not just for development. Studios are actually putting writers they pay money for to work on current shows they did not develop. Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice as I type this? Perhaps this quote from ICM agent Chris von Goetz will make it clearer: ‘The good news is deals are getting done, but it’s not quite the old days, where people could make a deal and sit around and get paid.’ Yeah, those were the good old days. Money for nothing and the chicks for free.

Speaking of big writing deals.There are still some big paydays for writers, as evidenced by 20th Century Fox Television’s new deal it is working on with with ‘Glee’ co-creator Ryan Murphy. According to Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva, it is a four-year, $24-million pact with lots of other perks and incentives as well. Of course, ‘Glee’ has turned into a hit for Fox and the studio, which recently sold reruns of the show to Oxygen.

Who gets custody of Sofia Vergara? Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, the writing and producing partnership behind ABC’s ‘Modern Family’ are splitting up, according to Vulture. The report says it is an amicable split, but then again doesn’t everyone who gets divorced say that? They both will remain involved in the show, which should make for some interesting drama.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on how Warner Bros. nurtures relationships. Claudia Eller on how Universal found success with ‘Despicable Me.’

-- Joe Flint

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