The Morning Fix: ‘Tower Heist’ to steal box office. Google thinking TV.


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After the coffee. Before searching for a moment of Zen.

The Skinny: Friday’s headlines include box office previews, a big departure at News Corp. and Google toying with entering the television distribution business. Oh, and still no Kim Kardashian divorce stories.


Box office heist. Universal’s ‘Tower Heist’ starring Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller is expected to steal the top spot at the box office this weekend. Industry estimates have the robbery comedy taking in more than $25 million. The other big opening this weekend is the latest installment of New Line’s ‘Harold & Kumar’ series. This one -- ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’ -- is expected to take in $16 million. Personally, I think I would have waited a few more weeks to release this one. Despite what retailers and studio executives think, Nov. 4 is a little early to start the Christmas hype. Box office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Google TV. Search-engine giant Google is once again toying with being a distributor of content through its own broadband system, according to the Wall Street Journal. Of course, Google would first have to build said delivery system and would still have to shell out the same prices that cable and satellite distributors pay for content. It is hard to imagine that Walt Disney Co., for example, would sell ESPN on the cheap for a Google broadband service. The play for Google is that it would give it an in to the television advertising market and the subscription TV business. Will it mean lower costs for consumers? Don’t hold your breath.

Don’t let the door hit you. Beryl Cook, the head of human resources for Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corp., is resigning from her position. Normally, the departure of a human resources executive, albeit one for a global media giant, doesn’t rise up to the level of the Morning Fix. However, Cook is more than just an HR exec. She was a close confidant of James Murdoch, who is currently at the center of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the demise of News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid. She was seen as a key team member of what’s been described as a shadow government the younger Murdoch was setting up in anticipation of his rise to the top of the company. More from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. Separately, News Corp. is also setting up a settlement program for phone-hacking victims. Details from Bloomberg.

Wild West. Once upon a time, the western was a staple of the television business. There was ‘Gunsmoke,’ ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Rawhide.’ More recently though, the western has proven a hard sell to TV audiences. AMC will take its shot this weekend with its new drama ‘Hell on Wheels.’ A look from USA Today.

Do as I say, not as I do. Producer and manager Gavin Polone has a few choice words about Michael Moore in the new edition of the Hollywood Reporter. Moore, Polone writes, is a ‘phony’ like many others in Hollywood who ‘claim to be liberal, caring, green and unaffected by their wealth and fame but in reality are just as self-centered and addicted to their huge, over-air-conditioned living spaces and private planes as those at whom they point their fingers.’ Don’t hold back, Gavin.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey on ‘Tower Heist’. Laemmle Theaters is shutting down the Sunset Five, but fear not, Sundance Cinemas is going to take over and renovate. Still, it is a blow for indie cinema.

-- Joe Flint

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