The Morning Fix: ‘Expendables’ rolls! Cord cutting not as easy as it looks. Status update: Your Facebook movie stinks!


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After the coffee. Before gearing up for the Emmys.

Don’t call the AARP yet. ‘The Expendables,’ the action flick with a cast that could use a few rocking chairs, continued to rock out at the box office. The Lionsgate movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis finished in first place for the weekend with $16.5 million in ticket sales. Finishing a surprising second was 20th Century Fox’s comedy ‘Vampires Suck.’ Coming in third was ‘Eat Pray Love,’ which took a 48% tumble from its first weekend. That is cause for concern for Sony. Opening to less-than-stellar results was ‘Piranha 3D’ from the Weinstein Co., which took in about $10 million, and Miramax’s ‘The Switch,’ which earned $8.1 million. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter and Hot Blog.


Cord cutters might want to put the scissors down. The New York Times weighs in with another piece on people who want to cut the cord to their pay-TV service in the hopes of finding all their television needs on the Internet. This time, instead of focusing on people who manage to live life just fine without a pay-television subscription, the article looks at how it’s not as easy as it sounds. Those tricky content owners and distributors apparently actually want viewers to have to pay to watch shows or at least sit through lots of advertisements. The nerve! Meanwhile, NYT columnist David Carr chats with Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes, who has high hopes for TV Everywhere, the initiative pushed by the entertainment industry that would require consumers to prove they subscribe to a pay-TV service before being able to watch content online. Finally, the NYT also checks in with a piece on Crackle, the online-content site from Sony, which unlike Hulu and others is eschewing a pay model.

What’s in it for me? The last round of comments regarding cable company Comcast’s proposed purchase of NBC Universal hit the Federal Communications Commission at the end of last week. In a nutshell, most media watchdogs are still calling for the deal to be rejected by regulators outright. Then you have the rival companies, who hope to use Comcast’s need to get approval of the deal as leverage to put conditions on how a post-Comcast and NBC entity would conduct business. Finally, there are all the various splinter groups that pop up looking to squeeze the companies. One hopes that somewhere in all this will be a serious analysis of what the implications of the nation’s biggest cable and broadband provider owning a large content company will mean for consumers and the industry. The key for the reviews by the FCC and the Justice Department is the potential for anti-competitive behavior by Comcast and NBC Universal and the protections that can be put into place to ease those concerns that, at the same time, won’t needlessly stifle the companies. More on the review process from the Wall Street Journal.

Status update: Your movie stinks! Facebook brass and people close to the social-networking giant are not too thrilled with Sony Corp. film ‘The Social Network,’ which attempts to tell the story of Facebook’s rise from a college dorm room to the biggest networking site in the universe. The movie probably does take a few liberties, but Jesse Eisenberg really does look like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg so stop your griping. Details on the spat from the New York Times.

Eisner’s take. Five years after leaving as chief executive of Walt Disney Co., Michael Eisner has a new book out -- ‘Working Together’ -- about what makes for a successful partnership. In an interview with Variety, Eisner also offers his views on many of the key issues facing the media industry today including the long-term potential of 3-D and the financial future of digital. For all the talk about new media, Eisner also discloses that he is buying debt of Los Angeles Times parent Tribune Co. and that he believes an online pay model for print will ‘evolve into something significant.’

Money makes the world go round. In the wake of last week’s news of News Corp.’s $1-million contribution to the Republican Governors Assn., Politico looks at the political spending habits of major media conglomerates. Shocker. They spend lots of money, and those with news organizations claim there is a brick wall between the actions of their corporate headquarters and their newsrooms.

Cable only costs more; it doesn’t pay more. The writers for Conan O’Brien apparently are not too thrilled with the paychecks they will be getting from cable network TBS when the show premieres there in November. See, writers on cable shows don’t typically get paid as well as those on broadcast shows. On the other hand, you can swear about it on TV and not get in trouble with the FCC. Details on the rants of the writers from the New York Post.


Inside the Los Angeles Times: Jackie Chan has become an endorsement king, but be wary of buying everything with his seal of approval. Spike Lee takes another look at post-Katrina New Orleans.

-- Joe Flint

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