The Morning Fix: ESPN opens its wallet. Mel Gibson’s Jewish hero.

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After the coffee. Before noting the irony of regular Fixer Joe Flint missing the Mel Gibson news to attend a bar mitzvah.

Sorry for not getting this done as early as the man I’m filling in for today usually does, but I actually don’t drink coffee (despite the above quip). Today we look at ESPN’s 72% fee increase to keep running ‘Monday Night Football,’ Mel Gibson’s surprising return with a movie about a Jewish hero, Yahoo’s fired CEO’s dirty mouth, and the first positive box office preview in a while.


Goallllll!!!! Wait, wrong sport... In a weak economy and rapidly changing media landscape, apparently the one product immune to all pressure is sports. ESPN agreed to pay 72% more, or $1.9 billion per year, to broadcast ‘Monday Night Football’ games through 2021. In exchange it got the same content, along with more digital rights and possibly a playoff game. The winner is obviously the NFL, and the losers are people like me who have to pay for ESPN even though I never watch it. Analysis from the L.A. Times and New York Times, along with a timely guide from AllThingsD to watching football games online legally, in some cases for free. Speaking of timely, just on Thursday the L.A. Times ran a story titled ‘How high can fees for sports rights go?’

Apparently people want to see a disaster movie on 9/11. After a few weeks of late-summer movie doldrums, Hollywood may have its first hit since ‘The Help’: Warner Bros.’ virus thriller ‘Contagion.’ Lionsgate’s inspiring mixed martial arts drama ‘Warrior,’ meanwhile, is likely to finish its first weekend in ‘we hope word-of-mouth will save it’ mode. Box office previews from the L.A. Times and Variety.

Oy. Mel Gibson and ‘Basic Instinct’ screenwriter Joe Ezsterhas are teaming to develop a movie about Judah Maccabee, the warrior whose ancient victory is celebrated by Hanukkah. And really, what more can I say that you’re not already thinking except I wonder if Warner Bros. really wants the tsuris (first time I’ve ever had to spell that word) that will come with releasing this. Coverage from the L.A. Times and Deadline Hollywood, along with some reactions from Jewish leaders in the Hollywood Reporter.

Hollywood heads north. The kickoff of the Toronto Film Festival, one of the industry’s big three along with Sundance and Cannes, means plenty of previews, reviews, and coverage of early deals. Here are overviews from the L.A. Times and Variety. Here’s a good-but-not-great review of perhaps the festival’s highest-profile film, ‘Moneyball,’ from the Hollywood Reporter, and a look at its difficult history from the L.A. Times. And for announcements at the festival, look at basically every other post going up on Deadline Hollywood.

[Expletive] that non-disparagement clause. A day after being fired as CEO of Yahoo, Carol Bartz used some very unkind words about the company’s board in an interview with Fortune. Soon after, an activist investor bought 5% of Yahoo’s stock and called on chairman Roy Bostock to resign and for ‘sweeping changes’ at the company, as the L.A. Times reports. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s Martin Peers called on company co-founder Jerry Yang to resign from the board with the winning headline of the day, ‘Yahoo needs less Yang for its buck.’

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Reviews of ‘Contagion’ and ‘Warrior.’ A bad month for video game sales. Buddy Holly gets a star on the walk of fame.


-- Ben Fritz