The Morning Fix: Comcast gets ready to take control of NBC Universal! Hulu’s growing pains. Sundance finds and loses religion at same time.


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After the coffee. Before wondering where 2011 went.

The Skinny: What is the Skinny, you wonder. Well, it can be anything it wants. Sometimes it’s a quick review of what we’re linking to (today we have stories about Comcast, Sundance and Hulu) and other times it is a stream of consciousness (I’m not missing New York this winter). Think of it as one of those things that defies a label.


Meet the new bosses. Comcast brass including chief executive Brian Roberts and chief operating officer Steve Burke will be meeting with NBC Universal employees in New York and California this week in town hall-style meetings. Attendees will get a book about the marriage of Comcast and NBC Universal and there’s even a new logo! Oh, the excitement. The New York Times and USA Today check in with what will be the first of several stories over the next few days about the closing of the deal and what Burke, who will be over NBC Universal, has in store for the media giant.

Light bulb clicks on! Some of the bosses at Hulu, the popular online video site co-owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and now NBC Universal parent Comcast, seem to have had an epiphany that just maybe putting content online for free isn’t such a hot idea after all. The Wall Street Journal examines the fate of Hulu and its future prospects and reports that Disney and News Corp. are considering making less of their content available for free on Hulu. The site has already launched a pay version, but one intriguing scenario has the owners trying to convert Hulu into an online version of a cable system. Caught in the middle is Jason Kilar, the chief executive of Hulu who has lots of bosses with different agendas. I can relate.

Losing my religion. A number of films screening at Sundance deal with faith and religion, always lightning-rod topics for the country. As expected, most of the films deal with people either questioning their faith or abusing it for their own ends. Festival director John Cooper told the Los Angeles Times that he feels the submissions are a reflection of filmmakers weighing issues bigger than themselves. ‘It’s America looking at itself,’ Cooper said. A cynic might note that the filmmakers recognize there’s nothing Hollywood likes better than stories that challenge faith and religion and nothing they hate worse than stories about folks having faith that don’t necessarily fit preconceived stereotypes.

Sundance wraps up. As the annual Sundance Film Festival winds down, it is time to assess. Oscar nominations for ‘The Kids are All Right’ and ‘Winter’s Bone,’ two properties sold at last year’s Sundance, no doubt got studios and producers dreaming of finding the next hidden nugget. According to the Wrap, there were 24 films sold at the festival. Variety notes that while there was a lot of wheeling and dealing, few titles had folks buzzing or excited.

Will ‘Tiger Mother’ roar on screen? Hollywood is starting to jockey for position around Amy Chua’s controversial book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ (here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal). The book, about tough love or not asking your kids how they feel about something every five seconds, has caused quite the stir across the country. More from the Hollywood Reporter.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara on MTV’s Skins. Netflix, which had a monster fourth quarter, has surpassed the 20-million-subscriber mark to become the country’s No. 2 subscription entertainment provider behind cable giant Comcast.


-- Joe Flint

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