The Morning Fix: DirecTV-Tribune peace; Yahoo layoffs; Sony’s plan for a plan
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After the coffee. Before taking a turn on Draw Something.
The Skinny: No seriously, I don’t play Draw Something. I’m more of a serious gamer, though I still can’t resist Words With Friends. Joe Flint is taking off a few days for Passover, leaving me (Ben Fritz) in charge, which I predict he will end up regretting. Today we have a resolution in the DirecTV-Tribune spat, layoffs at Yahoo, and a plan for a plan to turn around Sony.
Daily Dose: Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment has had great luck in the movies it invests in, taking a piece of such blockbuster hits as ‘The Dark Knight,’ ‘300' and ‘The Hangover.’ Now it has raised $275 million in equity and debt, slightly more than the $250 million that this very paper (and this very reporter) said it was close to raising just last week. That gives it even more leeway as Tull invests more in his own slate of movies and tries to expand into TV and comics. The ultimate goal? Probably an initial public offering sometime in the next few years.
Peace in our time: 23 Tribune stations including L.A.'s KTLA are back on DirecTV after the two sides resolved their dispute — the latest in a series of spats over carriage fees between cable or satellite companies and channel owners. As the L.A. Times’ Joe Flint points out, it may not be a coincidence that the matter was settled on opening day of baseball season — which fans in some Tribune-DirecTV markets might have missed. Ticked off fans of ‘Supernatural’ (the cult favorite CW show that airs on many Tribune-owned affiliates) are one thing, but baseball fans are quite another.
Time to replace the ! with a :( symbol: Yahoo laid off 2,000 workers Wednesday in the latest effort to finally get the Web portal back on solid footing in the age of search and social media. However, new CEO Scott Thompson has yet to discuss just what his recovery plan actually is. Coverage from AllThingsD, which has been very on top of this story, and the L.A. Times. Meanwhile, at another Web portal that used to be a big deal in the ‘90s, Arianna Huffington is consolidating power at AOL, reports the New York Times.
We have a plan for a plan: Speaking of companies trying to turn things around, new Sony CEO Kaz Hirai will outline his new business plan on April 12, reports Reuters. Unfortunately for him, though, a key element of his plan was already leaked in the trades, reporting that Taylor Lautner will appear in Sony Pictures’ ‘Grown Ups 2.’
HBO Go a go for Comcast: Microsoft’s announcement last week that HBO Go is coming to the Xbox 360 game console lost some sizzle when it turned out customers of the two biggest cable companies, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, couldn’t access it. Now the New York Times reports that Comcast is on the verge of closing a deal to resolve that. No word on Time Warner Cable, though, the largest cable provider in Southern California. I should note that as a Dish Network customer, I’ve already got HBO Go on my Xbox and it’s pretty sweet.
The odds are in his favor: There are few better positions in Hollywood than to be a key piece of talent on a blockbuster film without a contract for the sequel. That’s where ‘Hunger Games’ director Gary Ross is right now, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Still, the trade publication says Ross, who was paid $3 million to write and direct the movie, will likely strike a deal to come back for follow-up ‘Catching Fire,’ rather than be replaced.That’s what happened to the original ‘Twilight’ helmer, Catherine Hardwicke.
Still the victor: Speaking of ‘The Hunger Games,’ it didn’t lose 13-days-and-running No. 1 box office spot yesterday. ‘Titanic 3D’ opened to a solid $4.5 million (give or take) reports Deadline, putting it behind Katniss and her pals from Panem.
Also in the Los Angeles Times: Don Ohlmeyer and Jeff Zucker don’t exactly get an image makeover in an upcoming book from former NBC executive Warren Littlefield. The ‘Total Recall’ trailer, which annoyed some people with its teaser for the trailer, has been a hit. Jason Biggs and Sean William Scott talk sex, kids and, of course, pie with Amy Kaufman.
— Ben Fritz
Follow me on Twitter. I’m slightly less of a curmudgeon than Joe Flint.