The Morning Fix: Icahn making threats! Ohlmeyer slams ESPN. Julie Chen’s new gig. Sumner loving!

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After the coffee. Before seeing if I can score a high-paying job in the city of Bell.
He who has the most lawyers wins. Investor Carl Icahn is threatening legal action against Lions Gate, the television and movie studio that he’s trying to take over. Icahn is angry at Lions Gate over the company’s decision to issue new shares to its second-largest shareholder, Mark Rachesky, which diluted the stake of Icahn, who still remains the largest shareholder. Icahn thinks this violates an agreement he had with Lions Gate brass. More on the latest between Icahn and Lions Gate from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal. One of Icahn’s big complaints is that Lions Gate is reckless in its spending habits, so lets see how closely he monitors the company’s talks with cable network AMC on a new deal for the critically acclaimed drama ‘Mad Men,’ which, according to Variety, are starting to heat up.

What were the odds of this happening? CBS has decided to fill the hour of its daytime schedule that is opening up when the soap ‘As the World Turns’ exits this fall with an hourlong chat show featuring Julie Chen, who happens to be the wife of CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. The program will also feature Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini, Sharon Osbourne and Holly Robinson Peete, and the main topic of discussion will be motherhood. I’ll resist making a joke about pitching a chat show to Bravo about Hollywood nannies to get a more accurate picture of the subject. Shows that Chen’s gabfest beat out included a remake of the game show ‘Pyramid’ from Sony Pictures Television and Emeril Lagasse. The news of the show was broken by Deadline Hollywood and then Vulture noted that as a result of Chen’s new gig, she’ll quit her job on CBS’ ‘Early Show.’
DirecTV’s undercover boss. When Mike White took over as chief executive of DirecTV, he decided to learn the company from the bottom up and spent three weeks roaming every floor of the satellite broadcaster’s El Segundo headquarters, even working in the call center and installing a few satellite dishes. In one of his first interviews since replacing Chase Carey, White says he’s not worried too much about the Comcast NBC merger and doesn’t feel DirecTV needs to merge with an AT&T or Verizon to compete. He has gone a little Hollywood, though. He has a picture of himself with Jennifer Lopez on his desk. A chat with White in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times.


Ohlmeyer slams ESPN. Don Ohlmeyer, the legendary sports producer and network executive who now serves as ESPN’s ombudsman, slammed the cable network’s controversial special ‘The Decision,’ on which basketball star LeBron James announced his move from Cleveland to Miami. The special, which featured an interview with James, ran on ESPN only after the cable network made a few editorial and commercial concessions to the star. In his column, Ohlmeyer said, ‘No matter how convoluted the intellectual gymnastics, ESPN `paid’ for exclusive access to a news story.’

Polanski? No problem. Gibson? That’s another story. Mel Gibson’s phone rants to his ex-love interest Oksana Grigorieva is hurting his international appeal. Already something of a pariah in the United States, Gibson’s latest controversy will make him an even harder sell overseas, where sometimes bad-boy antics and bad behavior are not necessarily seen as strikes. The New York Times on the latest hit to Gibson’s wallet.

Sumner loving. Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone’s phone message to Daily Beast reporter Peter Lauria demanding to know who told him a less-than-flattering story about all the attention the 87-year-old Redstone was showering on the Barbarellas, an all-girl band that he wants Viacom’s MTV to give a show, to continues to reverberate. Thursday’s New York Post reports that ‘Barbarella songstress Heather Naylor, apparently was showered with insider stock options when she was a lowly MTV assistant.’ The Post goes on to say that Naylor sold almost 5,000 shares of Viacom stock for $157,000 earlier this year.

Rebooting ‘Tron.’ Walt Disney Co. is making a big push to jump-start ‘Tron,’ with ‘Tron: Legacy.’ But trying to hype a movie inspired by an almost 30 year-old movie that wasn’t huge in the first place is no small task. Variety looks at Disney’s effort to create another franchise.

It must be slow out there. New York magazine has a story that says last spring CBS News executives discussed ending what the piece calls the Katie Couric ‘experiment.’ Uh, she’s been anchoring the network’s evening news for several years now, so is it really an experiment? Not to be jaded, but people have been writing that Couric won’t finish out her contract (which runs through the middle of 2011) practically since her second night on the job. Cry wolf long enough and sooner or later a wolf will show up. Inside the Los Angeles Times: Angelina Jolie had to climb quite a few walls literally and physically for the movie ‘Salt,’ which opens this weekend. John Horn on Comic-Con.

-- Joe Flint

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