The Morning Fix: Irene more sound than fury. ‘Help’ on top. Sony’s big shows.


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After the coffee. Before getting myself one of those bright red CNN windbreakers!

The Skinny: I have made a giant technological leap forward with the purchase of a TV with Wi-Fi. Yes, I have a 40-inch HDTV with Google built-in to scream at while watching ‘Reliable Sources.’ If I can master this at my advanced age, I can retire. While I do that, here are your headlines. Hurricane Irene battered the box office and reminded us that the only thing we have to fear is fear-spreading TV news anchors. Also, Sony TV is making its mark and the hacking scandal at News Corp. has cost it some business.


Goodnight, Irene. Hurricane Irene came and went without doing nearly the amount of damage that had been predicted. Although the storm was lethal, the paranoia and hype that the media -- particularly cable television -- stirred up was extreme. No one is saying Irene wasn’t a story; it’s the wall-to-wall fear-driven coverage that is an issue. Cable anchors seemed at times almost disappointed that the storm was not New York City’s version of Katrina. Analysis from the Associated Press and Daily Beast. Also praise from Capital New York for how New York 1, the Big Apple’s local cable channel (which Los Angeles needs a version of) handled the story and the New York Times gets all lovey-dovey with the Weather Channel.

Rained out. Hurricane Irene kept people on the East Coast inside and in front of the TV, which means they weren’t going out and spending money on movies. ‘The Help’ stayed at the top of the box office, but new releases ‘Our Idiot Brother,’ ‘Colombiana,’ and ‘Afraid of the Dark’ stumbled. Ticket sales were down almost 25% compared with the same weekend last year as a few chains including AMC and Clearview shut their doors as the storm clouds gathered. Box office analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Variety and Movie City News.

Breaking into prime time. Sony’s television unit is an independent studio, meaning that its parent company doesn’t own a broadcast network or lots of cable channels. That should make getting new shows on the air a challenge, but somehow the studio has high-profile programs coming on this fall including ABC’s ‘Pan Am’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ The New York Times looks at how Sony has made a mark for itself.

You’ve got to know when to fold them. Paramount is planning to remake the James Caan classic ‘The Gambler’ with Leo DiCaprio starring and Martin Scorsese directing. That was news to the film’s original writer James Toback who shares with Deadline Hollywood his outrage at not even being given a courtesy call and recounts how the original came together.

Class dismissed. News Corp. has been trying to make a big push into the education business, even hiring former New York City schools chief Joel Klein to oversee the effort. But the company suffered a big blow when New York rejected an almost $30-million contract with a News Corp. unit. The decision to kill the deal was directly tied to News Corp.’s ethics scandal in Britain that led to the closure of its News of the World tabloid. The New York Daily News has the details.

Friends of Obama. The folks at Comcast have been very generous to President Obama’s reelection fund. Employees of the nation’s largest cable company and NBCUniversal’s parent have given more to the Obama Victory Fund than any other organization’s workers. Also on the list: Sony, News Corp., Disney and Time Warner as well as talent agency CAA. More from Open Secrets.


Inside the Los Angeles Times: Randy Lewis on the MTV Awards. Mary McNamara offers some advice to Oprah Winfrey on programming her network.

-- Joe Flint

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