The Morning Fix: Conan’s back! What did we think? Icahn and Lions Gate set throwdown date. Small cable operators say boo to Comcast-NBC Universal deal.


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After the coffee. Before getting my resume to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Skinny: Conan O’Brien returns and, big shocker, he’s still mad at NBC and still has the beard. The Comcast-NBC Universal merger could raise cable bills, says one lobbying group. Well, Comcast isn’t buying NBC Universal to make less money. Warner Bros. buys a lot in England. Carl Icahn and Lions Gate set the date for their next rumble.


Do we at least get free Showtime with that? The American Cable Assn., a lobbying firm that represents small and midsized cable operators, says that Comcast’s proposed takeover of General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal will end up costing consumers S2.4 billion over nine years. No, we’re not being asked to pick up the tab on redoing the executive suites. ACA says that the combination of Comcast -- the nation’s largest cable operator with almost 25 million subscribers, with NBC Universal, parent of several big cable channels and the broadcast network NBC, would give one company tremendous clout to raise prices for content. Among the solutions ACA suggests: Don’t let Comcast be able to bundle channels together when selling to distributors. Good luck with that one. Comcast blasted the report as flawed analysis and just another attempt to get the government to drag its feet in approving the deal. Coverage from the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and, appropriately, Light Reading Cable.

Cheerio, mate. Warner Bros. may be releasing the final ‘Harry Potter’ movie soon, but it won’t be saying goodbye to Britain, where it makes all those films. Instead, it is shelling out $161.4 million to buy Leavesden Studios. While that’s good news for the Brits, back here the idea that Warner Bros. is buying Leavesden has many wondering if the studio is going to leave us, as it is the latest example of the industry going outside of Southern California to make movies. Details from the Los Angeles Times.

Conan’s back. Did you tune in Monday night to see Conan O’Brien’s return to late night on TBS? Or were you like me and went on Twitter, found video of the opening bit and monologue and then went to bed? The opening bit was amusing, but once again it was O’Brien milking his losing out to Jay Leno for laughs. Hopefully Tuesday night there will be no jokes about NBC or the ‘Tonight Show’ or moving to basic cable. The early reviews were mixed, which makes one wonder what exactly the critics were expecting. They got the Conan they always preferred to Leno and seemed disappointed it wasn’t different enough from what he used to do. Here are some takes from the Los Angeles Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times and Washington Post. Of course, the real results will come later Tuesday from Nielsen. For some thoughts on how TBS should measure success, here’s Deadline Hollywood and the Los Angeles Times.

Cable news isn’t the only one with conflicts. With all the attention around MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann’s political donations and whether he should have been suspended (although ultimately it was more like a long weekend), the Wall Street Journal smartly looks at talk radio, where lots of hosts have paid endorsement deals to groups with political affiliations.

Finding a voice. Just a few weeks ago, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was described as being too timid in its critiques of how Hollywood portrays homosexuality. Now the coalition has come out swinging against perceived offenses both major and minor. The Wrap wonders if the group hasn’t swung too far in the other direction and needs to tone it down.

A new day. Variety looks at all the hirings and acquisitions going on at the Weinstein Co., which has been given a new lease on life now that its bad financial situation has been restructured. Now the challenge will be for the company to show restraint and not try to grow too fast, which is partly what got them into such hot water last time.


He’s back! Former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin (remember him) has signed on as an advisor and eventual chairman of the board to Oasis TV, a small pay-TV company, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The video game Call of Duty: Black Ops has an amazing (and somewhat disturbing) ad campaign but will it be enough to sell 20 million, which is what industry observers see as the benchmark for the franchise. Carl Icahn and Lions Gate will square off at the movie and TV production company’s annual meeting in Los Angeles on Dec. 14. Gwyneth Paltrow visits Fox’s ‘Glee.’

-- Joe Flint

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