The Morning Fix: DirecTV and studios may stick it to theaters! News Corp. to get approval on BSkyB offer. ‘American Idol’ beats odds.


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After the coffee. Before figuing out if anyone in their right mind would pay $30 to watch a movie on their TV.

The Skinny: As if I don’t get up early enough, the cat who’s crashing at my place starts yapping at 5:11 every morning without fail. We don’t have a Charlie Sheen story for you today, but Jon Cryer did a funny bit on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. In real news, Hollywood wants to annoy theater owners further, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is getting bigger. In other words, same stuff, different day.


Hollywood to theater owners: Drop dead. In yet another move aimed at giving people more reasons not to go to movie theaters, several major studio owners -- including 20th Century Fox and Disney -- are in advanced talks with satellite broadcaster DirecTV to offer movies by way of video-on-demand just 60 days after their theatrical debut. The price tag would be $30. Though that may seem prohibitive, if there is any consumer interest, the studios no doubt will lower the price to encourage more consumers. It’s all part of Hollywood’s plan to lower interest in what is its most expensive and popular movie window -- theaters -- for gravy from ancillary streams. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Green light for News Corp. Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for culture, olympics, media and sport in the U.K., said approval for News Corp.’s proposed deal to take control of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is likely. As part of the deal, Sky News, the news operations of the satellite service, would be spun off into a separate publicly traded company in which News Corp. would have a 39% stake. Bloomberg reports that News Corp. may have to raise its bid to get BSkyB.

Starr falling. Ken Starr, an accountant who counted many Hollywood players among his clients, including Uma Thurman, Martin Scorsese and Sylvester Stallone, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years for running a Ponzi scheme. Wonder if his trophy wife will wait for him. Details from the New York Daily News.

Looking for trends. Every pilot season, poor reporters are stuck trying to find trends in the various pilots that are being ordered. Variety says this season is seeing lots of TV stars returning to their roots. Well, if they are TV stars, did they ever leave their roots? And can we really call Jenna Elfman a TV star? She had one small success and some flops since then. Also, it is misleading to cite only ‘Miami Vice’ as a TV credit for Don Johnson since he was star of ‘Nash Bridges’ not too long ago. In other words, it’s not like it is 20 years since his unshaven mug has graced the small screen. Sorry, guess I’m grumpy this morning.

Sitting out. Fox News has suspended Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum until they decide whether they are running for president. Details from the New York Times.

Everyone wants to be a player. Having just acquired the Huffington Post, AOL is eying Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter looks at what the company’s Tinseltown plans are. All I can tell you is their strategy somehow includes Heidi Klum.


I remember having to get up to a change a channel. Back in the day, some of us had to get up to change the channel. Of course, there were only three channels to choose from, so it wasn’t that big a deal. Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg reviews the remote-control application from Peel that can make your iPhone or iTouch into a remote control. Too much work for me.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: It’s fourth and long for the NFL and its players as the current contract expires at midnight and a lockout looms. This was supposed to be the year ‘American Idol’ crumbled, but new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are keeping the show strong. Topher Grace had to wait years to get ‘Take Me Home Tonight,’ his homage to the 1980s, on screen. I won’t be seeing it. Been there, done that.

[For the record, 7:51 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the price tag for video-on-demand movies offered soon after their theatrical debut would be $60.]

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I’m trying to catch up to Charlie Sheen.