The Morning Fix: Oscar race fuzzy! Canned laughter back big time.


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After the coffee. Before seeing if anyone found my wallet down at the protest site.

The Skinny: I’m still a little tired from staying up late to watch the action downtown. It was not the finest moment for local news, but that’s no shocker. Wednesday’s headlines include early looks at the Oscar race, the return of canned laughter and the latest from the News of the World phone hacking scandal.


Think of the resale value.
Fans of FX’s “American Horror Story” can now show their devotion to the show by buying the house that the series is set in. Built in 1902, the creepy Westchester Place mansion is known as the “murder house” on “American Horror Story” and has already become something of an attraction to those obsessed with the FX hit. According to the Los Angeles Historical Society, the 20,000-square-foot home has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, quarters for the help and plenty of space to build a pool or tennis court. The rubber man does not come with the house, which has been valued at as much as $25 million.

Out of focus. Awards season is starting up, which means it’s time to start predicting who will get an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, so far the tea leaves are hard to read. One early front-runner appears to be ‘The Artist’ from the Weinstein Co., which isn’t exactly known for its subtle award campaigning. That’s good news for all the papers and websites that count on Oscar advertising as a big revenue stream. An early look at the Oscar race from the Los Angeles Times and Variety and a piece from the Daily Beast about good performances in bad movies.

Toll road. Do you stream a lot of Netflix movies or watch a lot of Hulu online? Then your broadband bill might be going up. One analyst predicts that some cable operators will soon start charging consumers for how much they consume online as well as their transmission speed. “As more video shifts to the web, the cable operators will inevitably align their pricing models,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffett told Bloomberg. “With the right usage-based pricing plan, they can embrace the transition instead of resisting it.”

Show me the money. Melrose 2, a fund that invested in about 30 movies made by Paramount Pictures, including “Mission: Impossible 3,” “Jackass 2” and the “Transformers,” says it was shortchanged on the profits. Wait, funny accounting in the movie business? I’m shocked at that accusation. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Tell us how you really feel. A former News of the World editor called former top editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson the ‘scum of journalism’ in testimony before Parliament’s ethics inquiry of News Corp.’s British tabloids. Paul McMullan said Coulson and Brooks encouraged ‘a culture of illegality of phone hacking’ and are now throwing their staffers under the bus while trying to save themselves. At the same time, McMullan defended the practice of hacking. “Phone hacking is a perfectly acceptable tool, given the sacrifices we make, if all we’re trying to do is get to the truth,’ he said. More on McMullan’s blistering testimony from the Guardian and the New York Times.

No laughing matter. The debut of several new multi-camera sitcoms filmed in a front of a studio audience also means more laugh tracks. Most canned laughter sounds obvious and yet producers will also tell you that they only use laugh tracks to even out the sound, not to inflate the chuckles. Yeah, and the Redskins are going to the Super Bowl this year. New York Magazine looks at the return of the laugh track. Just to show how the more things change the more they stay the same, here’s a story I wrote about the over use of laugh tracks for Entertainment Weekly in 1998.

Time to retire. The Wrap whips out a list of TV shows that are past their prime, including Showtime’s ‘Dexter’ and Fox’s ‘House.’ Of course, you have to click three times to read the whole list and I’m not falling into that trap so I can’t tell you what other shows are over the hill.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at how the Occupy L.A. movement disrupted film production at City Hall. The Grammy nominations concert show has yet to find a beat for CBS.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I’m starting an Occupy Twitter movement.