Morning Fix: ‘Walking Dead’ walks tall. Lasseter defends ‘Cars 2’


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After the coffee. Before trying to get through that George Harrison documentary on HBO.

The Skinny: Tuesday’s roundup includes a look at Warner Bros.’ video game strategy, another controversy at the Screen Actors Guild, Pixar’s John Lasseter defending ‘Cars 2’ and an analysis of the performance of Fox’s ‘The X Factor.’


Not playing around. While other studios have backed away from the video game business, Warner Bros. is getting more aggressive. Tuesday marks the launch of Arkham City, a follow-up to its 2009 smash Arkham Asylum. Both games are inspired by the studio’s Batman franchise. ‘What we have in common with our movie counterparts is that we’re following a tent-pole strategy,’ Warner Interactive President Martin Tremblay told the Los Angeles Times. ‘We’re making the serious investments it takes to build franchises, and we don’t just want to release good games, we want to be sure that we make a statement.’

Lasseter pumps the gas. Pixar Animation creative chief John Lasseter is fighting back against the bashing ‘Cars 2’ took from critics. In a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times, he said the film was great and not a cynical attempt by Pixar parent to pump money out of the animation house with subpar product. “This is not an executive-led studio,” Lasseter said, adding, “we are honest with each other and we push each other. No amount of great animation is going to save a bad story. That’s why we go so far to make it right.”

Glass houses. A former Screen Actors Guild staff member who blew the whistle on his boss for funnelling business to family members was guilty of the same thing, union records show. The revelation is the latest embarrassment for SAG, already under the microscope from the Department of Labor for allegations of kickbacks. Details from the Los Angeles Times.

Get in the ring. Viacom and Google will resume their legal battle over whether Google-owned YouTube violated copyright law by failing to vigilantly police the site for Viacom content posted by users and remove it. Google won round one and now Viacom’s appeal is starting. A preview from the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital.

Walking tall. AMC’s zombie drama ‘The Walking Dead’ returned strong for its second season, attracting 7.3 million viewers and a record 4.8 million among adults 18-49. More on the numbers from Variety. Meanwhile, Fox is developing a drama based on the horror-comedy hit movie ‘Zombieland,’ according to Vulture.

Who says broadcast news is dead? The Associated Press reports that for the 2010-11 television season, ratings for the three evening news programs actually went up for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The story didn’t bother to actually include any ratings or what the percentage increases were for the past season, so it is hard to say if this is something worth noting or a fluke.


No more crying Wolff. Writer Michael Wolff, who tried to turn AdWeek from a trade magazine about who lost what account to what agency into the in-house magazine for Michael’s, the midtown New York restaurant favored by media bigwigs, was bounced as editor of the publication. His switch to a more consumer-oriented approach to the media business failed to attract new readers and alienated old ones. Wolff, who wrote a Rupert Murdoch biography, also used Adweek as a platform to pontificate on the News Corp. scandal. New editor Jim Cooper is a trade veteran. Coverage from the New York Times and New York Post.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The Hollywood connection to Kabbalah. Fox’s ‘X Factor’ hasn’t lived up to ratings expectations.

— Joe Flint

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