The Morning Fix: DeGeneres out at `Idol.!’ Is Lopez in? Disney finally announces deal to sell Miramax. McPherson retains legal eagle. More Sumner shenanigans .


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After the coffee. Before ... wait a minute ....Jennifer Lopez? Really?

No Idling for ‘American Idol.’ Lots of drama at Fox’s ‘American Idol’ Thursday. First, Ellen DeGeneres announced she was quitting as a judge on the show after just one season. DeGeneres, echoing the thoughts of many fans and critics, said she was not sure it was a good fit for her and acknowledged being uncomfortable being a judge. Not long after that shake-up there was another quake when word surfaced that Jennifer Lopez would replace DeGeneres and odds are another new judge or two might be added. That would mean that both Randy Jackson, an original judge, and Lara DioGuardi could also be history. Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler’s name also has popped up as a judge. ‘American Idol’ has seen its ratings decline over the last few years and with lead judge Simon Cowell off to make his own music talent show, Fox and the producers appear to be opting for a start from scratch approach rather than just throwing a band-aid on the program. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Deadline Hollywood.


Miramax sold ... Finally. Walt Disney Co. said it has struck a deal to sell Miramax Films to a group led by construction magnate Ron Tutor and private equity firm Colony Capital for over $600 million. The deal was unveiled after Tutor & Co. made a $40 million down payment. The buyers got a late boost with the addition of Jerome Swartz, a retired engineer who is expected to cough up as much as $50 million to the effort. Left wondering how they got so close only to see it slip away are Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who had their own exclusive window to make a deal happen and couldn’t pull it off. Details from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and the Wrap.

McPherson hire big dog to bark at press. Former ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson, who resigned abruptly Monday, has hired Hollywood hotshot lawyer Marty Singer to battle some press reports that have suggested McPherson left in the midst of a probe into his conduct at the company. In a statement released late Thursday by McPherson’s spokesman Stan Rosenfield said, ‘Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false and defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC.’ Deadline Hollywood, then reported that Singer had sent a letter to the Hollywood Reporter, whose coverage of McPherson’s exit has been the most hard-hitting in investigating alleged bad behavior. Hollywood Reporter comes back at the story today with a piece saying McPherson got into a confrontation with Disney his bosses on Monday and that his email account was being scrutinized. While this is turning into quite the battle, as amusing is Deadline Hollywood calling Hollywood Reporter a TMZ scandal sheet under new boss Janice Min. Pot, I’ve got kettle calling on line two.

Kerrey exit leaves MPAA in lurch. After months of negotiations, former Senator Bob Kerrey and the Motion Picture Association of America could not reach a deal for Kerrey to become chief executive of the Hollywood’s chief D.C. lobbying arm. Kerrey, currently president of New York’s New School, apparently got cold feet about having to move to D.C. (I’ve lived there, it’s very nice albeit a little muggy in the summer) and the heavy workload the job requires. The MPAA, which has struggled to find a strong leader since Jack Valenti retired in 2004, is now back to the drawing board in its search for a CEO. One of the challenges is finding someone who can unite the media conglomerates that own the studios to speak with one voice on key issues facing the industry. No small task there. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Railing against Redstone. Viacom and CBS Chairman Sumner Redstone, already in the spot light for his gift giving to young females who he has put to work or tried to get TV shows for at his various media holdings, now may face some heat from a senior executive at one of his companies. Here is the latest from the Daily Beast, which has been out in front on much of this story. The New York Post, which is running a close second, has its own take on the latest headache for Redstone.

Outsourced. NBC Universal is considering opening a theme park in India in a partnership with Reliance ADA Group, the massive Indian company that has holdings in both energy and media. According to the Wall Street Journal, the cost to build the park would be in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion and would likely be in either New Delhi or Mumbai.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Christine Amanpour gets ready to take the reigns of ABC’s Sunday morning news magazine ‘This Week.’


-- Joe Flint

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