The Morning Fix: Murdoch grilled. Murphy bails. Gervais back?

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After the coffee. Before yelling at Time Warner Cable about my WiFi connection.

The Skinny: Sorry, we’re posting a little later than usual this morning. Technical difficulties and a long night watching James Murdoch’s appearance before Parliament are to blame. I’m actually writing this from a Kinkos on Wilshire. Thursday’s headlines include recaps of young Murdoch’s second visit to Parliament, more Oscar drama as Eddie Murphy bails as host and Nickelodeon’s curious case of the missing children.

Encore performance. News Corp. Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch made his second appearance before Parliament on Thursday morning to answer questions regarding the phone hacking scandal at the now-closed News of the World tabloid. Early coverage from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

Job opening. Think you can host the Oscars? Well, now is your chance. Eddie Murphy followed his pal Brett Ratner out the door and won’t host next year’s Academy Awards. Murphy quit in reaction to Ratner’s being forced out as producer of the show after making a joke that included an anti-gay slur and a raunch-filled appearance on Howard Stern’s radio program. Renowned movie producer Brian Grazer (‘A Beautiful Mind,’ ‘Apollo 13') has stepped in to produce the next Oscar show. How long until Billy Crystal or Steve Martin gets a phone call? The latest analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.


Where did the kids go? Viacom Inc. released its fourth quarter results Thursday morning and had good numbers, thanks to Paramount’s ‘Transformers’ and a strong performance from many of its cable networks. However, on a call with analysts the company griped about a double-digit ratings decline at its kids channel Nickelodeon that it doesn’t think is accurate. Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said the company is working with Nielsen to find out if there was a glitch in the measuring of the Nickelodeon audience that could explain the unusual drop. More on the earnings from Bloomberg and more on the Nickelodeon situation from the Hollywood Reporter.

They like him, they really like him. Despite all his wisecracks about movie stars, NBC is interested in having Ricky Gervais back as host of the Golden Globes, according to Deadline Hollywood. Whether the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the subject of many jabs from Gervais, agrees remains to be seen. My advice: Do it. The publicity can only help the show and if Johnny Depp can take being made sport of, so should you!

Anderson not flying the coop. Although his ratings have not set the world on fire, Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show will live to see year two, reports Broadcasting & Cable. In New York, the show is moving from Tribune’s WPIX to Fox’s WNYW. ‘The show is off to a good start and has the opportunity to grow organically into something unique,’ said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Time Warner’s Telepictures Productions, which makes the show.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The back story on Peter Liguori’s exit from Discovery Communications. John Horn on how ‘The First Grader’ plans to get some Oscar love.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. Who else gets up in the middle of the night to cover James Murdoch’s appearance before Parliament?