After the coffee. Before breaking this heat wave.
The Skinny: It’s Friday and I have to wear a suit today to tape a TV interview about the Dodgers TV mess. If that’s not bad enough, the interview is in Universal City, where it will be even hotter. Yes, you are hearing me gripe about being on TV. I’m too jaded. Today’s roundup includes the weekend-box-office preview and a big deal by 21st Century Fox involving its European satellite assets, which will give it more cash to go after Time Warner.
Daily Dose: The SEC Network, ESPN’s new college-sports channel that will cover the Southeastern Conference, is closing in on full distribution with three weeks to go before launch. On Thursday, it signed a deal with Time Warner Cable, and last week it nailed down Comcast. It currently has 60 million homes locked up. The big holdout is satellite broadcaster DirecTV, which has over 20 million subscribers. With Time Warner Cable, Comcast and satellite service Dish Network all carrying the channel, pressure will grow on DirecTV to get a deal done.
“Lucy” in the sky: Box office for “Lucy,” the science-fiction thriller starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, is expected to be sky-high. Industry analysts and insiders think “Lucy” will take in $45 million this weekend. That should be enough to beat “Hercules” starring Dwayne Johnson, which is expected to make between $30 million and $35 million. Also opening is the Rob Reiner-directed comedy “And So It Goes,” starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. I must not be that old yet, because whatever networks this movie is being promoted on, I’m not watching. The prediction for “And So It Goes” is $10 million. Weekend-box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter.
Satellite of cash: 21st Century Fox announced early Friday a complex deal that transfers ownership of its German and Italian satellite services to BSkyB, the British satellite broadcaster that Fox has a 39% stake in. The deal will put $7.2 billion in Fox’s pocket (after taxes), and most analysts expect the company will use the cash to help sweeten its offer for Time Warner. More on the deal from the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.
Will HBO go public (see what I did there?): Time Warner is figuring out how best to fend off 21st Century Fox, which wants to acquire the media giant. It already changed its bylaws to make it harder for dissident shareholders to call meetings or try to bounce board members. Now the New York Post says it is considering a partial spinoff of HBO. One aim of the reported move is showing shareholders the value of the pay-TV channel, part of a broader attempt to try to make the case that the Fox offer (currently $85 a share) is too low.
This is a job for the Expendables: A version of the new action movie “Expendables 3" leaked online and has already been downloaded almost 200,000 times, according to Variety. The is set to movie debut in three weeks, so imagine how many people will have seen it by then. Given that the movie is aimed at young men (even though it stars old men), odds are the piracy will hurt the box office.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Kenneth Turan on “Lucy.”
Follow me on Twitter. I’m a cool breeze on a hot day. @JBFlint