The Morning Fix: It’s all on Rupert! Box office blues. New life for Riley at ABC Family. Where will Emmys go next?


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After the coffee. Before wondering what the deal is with those screaming crows outside my bedroom.

What’s Rupert thinking? News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will play a key role in whether Apple’s desire to offer television shows for rent on iTunes at the low, low price of 99 cents per episode gains momentum. The Los Angeles Times looks at Murdoch’s obsession for Apple’s iPad -- he thinks it can save print media -- and how that is influencing his thinking when it comes to renting video content. While Disney, on whose board Apple chief Steve Jobs sits, is also likely to cut some sort of deal with Apple, other broadcasters and cable programmers are not yet sold and fear Apple’s plans will benefit Jobs a lot more than Hollywood. Even within News Corp., not everyone is on the same page as Murdoch. By the way, the reason Apple is pushing so much for the 99-cent rental business is because it isn’t having much luck selling digital downloads of TV shows.


Good news and bad news at the box office. On the one hand, Hollywood can boast of record revenue at the box office this summer. On the other hand, the number of people actually going to movies was off dramatically. Of course, the reason for this was 3-D, as ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Shrek Forever After’ helped lift the totals and probably gave the industry an artificial sense of success. More on the summer movie season from Bloomberg.

Lions Gate is on a roll, but Icahn still looming. Although production company Lions Gate can smile about the success of ‘The Expendables’ and ‘The Last Exorcism,’ its future remains in limbo as the cloud of investor Carl Icahn hangs over it. The Wrap looks at the studio’s summer and the latest on Icahn’s takeover plans.

What’s the next home for the Emmys? Sunday night’s awards show saw a slight growth in viewers and a dip in adults 18-49. The decision to air the show live coast to coast doesn’t appear to have hurt viewership at all, and although the numbers might have been bigger if the show had aired in September, the competition would have been heavier. Now the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences needs to strike a new TV deal. Under the current pact, the license fee is about $7.5 million a year and that does not include production costs. Matching that figure will be a challenge. There is debate about whether the Emmys would benefit from a permanent home or should continue to rotate from network to network or even be expanded to cable. More on the numbers and the contract from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Wanna play? The New York Times takes a look at GSN, otherwise known as the Game Show Network, and its challenge of making TV game shows in a video game era. The cable channel, which is co-owned by Sony Corp. and DirecTV, started as a home for reruns of old shows like ‘Password’ and ‘Concentration’ but now is making a big push into original shows that include remakes of classics (‘The Newlywed Game’) as well as new games. So far, big success has eluded the channel, and industry analyst Derek Baine told the NYT that GSN ‘really needs to reinvent itself and find out how to boost the ratings.’

Radio war. The radio industry’s fight against paying for the music played on stations may be nearing an end as a compromise is in sight, reports Variety. The deal, per Variety, would establish tiered rates under which stations would pay 1% or less of their net revenue to the musicians. The National Assn. of Broadcasters, which has been vocal in its opposition to paying, is taking the pulse of its membership as this deal would be less onerous than previous proposals.

Life of Riley. Disney has filled Paul Lee’s post as president of ABC Family with Michael Riley, a Canadian native who most recently was running Disney’s radio operation. The post opened up earlier this month when Lee took over as head of ABC’s prime-time entertainment in the wake of Steve McPherson’s abrupt exit. Riley has TV experience, but most of it was overseas with Turner Broadcasting, and his specialty was corporate development and marketing, not programming so there might be a learning curve. At least he inherits a channel that has been on a creative roll as of late. More on Riley’s new life from Broadcasting & Cable.


Inside the Los Angeles Times: Jimmy Fallon had a magic night hosting the Emmys; here’s how he did it. The Los Angeles Forum is rapidly becoming a fading memory, and that’s not good news to its owners. Another bunch of faux celebrities have signed up for ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ but hey, at least Jennifer Grey is giving it a whirl.

-- Joe Flint

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