The Morning Fix: Diller’s bold step! Hollywood still hearts Obama.


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After the coffee. Before figuring out how to beat Obama gridlock.

The Skinny: I caught up with ‘The Walking Dead’ last night and I was enjoying the episode until the last 15 minutes. Now I’m a little worried about shark jumping but I will wait a few more episodes before passing judgment. Wednesday’s headlines include Comcast’s fourth-quarter results, mogul Barry Diller’s backing of a company his old broadcasting pals will hate, Reese Witherspoon trying to get sexy and a look at how ‘The Vow’ got a boost from social networking.


The Daily Dose: On Monday, the day before Barry Diller announced his support for Aereo, a new distribution company that will get under the skin of the television industry (see item below), he was at the Flatirons Conference in Boulder, Colo., bashing Hollywood. In an interview with University of Colorado at Boulder Law School Dean Phil Weiser, a former top telecommunications aide to President Obama, Diller ‘tore into his old buddies,’ according to one attendee. Diller, this observer said, charged that the entertainment industry was too consolidated and got greedy and stupid on the piracy issue. Diller’s message was that he has evolved, but the the guys he came up with have not. Here’s video of the event.

Et tu, Barry? Former Fox Broadcasting chief Barry Diller is now backing a venture sure to be an irritation to his former colleagues in the television industry. Diller, who is now chairman of InterActiveCorp/IAC, is backing Aereo, a company that is launching a new service that will offer consumers broadcast TV programming via their iPads, smartphones and Internet-enabled TVs for $12 a month. Broadcasters won’t like this, as they get a lot more than that for their signals from cable and satellite operators. Look for CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox to go after Aereo in court as they have with other companies that have tried to stream their signals. Coverage and analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

What cord cutting? Cable giant Comcast Corp. released its fourth-quarter financial results early Wednesday morning and said profit was $1.29 billion. The company said it lost 17,000 cable customers in the quarter, a big improvement from the same period in 2010 when 135,000 subscribers cut the cord. An early look at the numbers from Bloomberg. Comcast also announced a $6.5-billion stock buyback.

Get your passports ready. DreamWorks Animation is moving forward with plans to build a studio facility in Shanghai, and a partnership with China could be announced within the next few days. Variety and the Financial Times say DreamWorks will team with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group on the venture.

Move along, nothing to see here. Anyone looking to get a sneak peek at this month’s Oscar telecast may have to engage in sneaky behavior because producers Don Mischer and Brain Grazer are trying to keep the lid tight on what they have in store for the show. Good luck with that, as it seems every year half the jokes and bits are leaked before the telecast. The New York Times looks at the veil of secrecy the two have erected around this year’s telecast.

From flats to stilletos. Reese Witherspoon appears to be looking to shift her movie screen image from sweetheart to sultry in ‘This Means War.’ ‘She’s super-foxy, and she always plays that down,’ the movie’s director McG tells USA Today. But will America like seeing her go from adorable to femme fatale? If not, she’s got her defense ready. ‘It’s all McG’s fault,’ she cracked.


Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at the role social media may have played in making ‘The Vow’ a massive hit. He may have turned his back on Hollywood when it came to piracy, but the industry isn’t ready to stop loving Obama yet.

-- Joe Flint

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