The Morning Fix: Warner Bros. cables into China! Oscar changes rules ... again. Will JLo play hardball with ‘American Idol’?


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After the coffee. Before finding a new girl for Hugh Hefner.

The Skinny: Man, if Hugh Hefner can’t find love, what are the odds for the rest of us? Oh well, he has more fun trying then we ever will. In real news, Warner Bros. has found a new way into China. The Oscar Awards selection process just got more complex. The cable cabal is gathering in Chicago and Jennifer Lopez may play hardball on a second season of ‘American Idol.’


Breaking down walls. On late Tuesday, Warner Bros. said it would start offering its movies -- both new and old -- in China via video-on-demand and pay-per-view. The studio reached an agreement with You On Demand Media, that will distribute the content to cable operators and other multichannel video distributors. ‘Through You On Demand’s platform, millions of potential consumers will be able to view our films,’ said Jim Wuthrich, president of International Home Video and Digital distribution for Warner Bros. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Reuters.

Let’s make this more complicated. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is still tinkering with the Oscar format. After going from five best picture nominees to 10, the academy is now taking a more vague approach. There could be as many as 10 nominees next time around, but there does not have to be. The academy said it is creating a merit-based system that, without getting too bogged down in details, would mean that it would not be automatic that 10 movies would get best picture nominations. ‘A best picture nomination should be an indication of extraordinary merit,’ said outgoing executive director Bruce Davis. ‘If there are only eight pictures that truly earn that honor in a given year, we shouldn’t feel an obligation to round out the number.’ News and analysis from Los Angeles Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.

Would JLo go? Jennifer Lopez is being coy about whether she will return to her judging duties on Fox’s ‘American Idol.’ Of course, ultimately this is about money. Lopez signed a one-season deal and can renegotiate to come back. On the one hand, she and Steven Tyler helped revitalize ‘American Idol’ when many in the media (including me) thought the departure of Simon Cowell would mean the end of the road for the franchise. So she should get a little green. On the other hand, that she and Tyler were a success shows that no one is irreplaceable. I’ve always thought Pink would make a great judge. The Hollywood Reporter looks at the situation between her and the hit show.

Cable takes Chicago. The cable industry has gathered in Chicago this week to figure out how to raise our bills. Just kidding, I hope. Actually, the industry is holding its annual convention where they debate the future and how to get richer. Shoot, did I say that? This time around, there is a bit of a dark cloud over the industry as the struggling economy and the emergence of digital platforms have some consumers thinking about cutting their cable cord. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, SNL Kagan and CNET.

Frequency fight. Satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corp. is in a bidding war for a chunk of spectrum set aside for wireless networks. Dish wants TerreStar Networks, which filed for bankruptcy last year. But he has to beat out its bondholders. Dish has been gobbling up wireless spectrum lately as part of a change in business strategy. More from the Wall Street Journal.

Change of heart. On Tuesday, the New York Times wrote a piece that was somewhat critical of the opening numbers that CBS’s Scott Pelley pulled in during his first week succeeding Katie Couric as anchor of the network’s nightly newscast. On Wednesday, the paper of record did a mea culpa and acknowledged that the basis of its comparisons was not exactly fair. As for us, we’ll stick to our previous assessment that even if Pelley gets the same ratings as Couric, he’s doing it for a lot less money and probably a lot less drama behind-the-scenes.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Fran Drescher’s new sitcom ‘Happily Divorced’ about a husband coming out of the closet is a case of art imitating life for the actress. TV production is booming in New York.

-- Joe Flint

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