The Morning Fix: News Corp. split likely, RIP Nora Ephron

After the coffee. Before deciding whether to watch new episodes of “Louie” or “Breaking Bad.”

The Skinny: It appears Oprah Winfrey’s OWN has figured out how to solve its ratings woes. Just interview Kardashians. Not sure what that says about the rest of us. Wednesday’s headlines include analysis of News Corp.'s decision to break itself in two, Microsoft is wooing a former CBS executive to run its Hollywood operations, and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” is taking a lot of heat from newsrooms. Also an appreciation of writer-director Nora Ephron.

Daily Dose: With Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corp. preparing to divide itself in two (see below), speculation is starting on who will take the helm at the respective companies. For the entertainment side, which will include the movie and TV operations, it’s clear that Chase Carey will be the top dog (after Murdoch, of course). On the publishing side, which will include newspapers and books, the horse race appears to be between Wall Street Journal publisher Robert Thomson and Joel Klein, who oversees News Corp. education business, which is still in startup mode.

Separate ways. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is expected to move ahead later this week with plans to split the company in two. Investors embraced the idea, driving the media giant’s stock up almost 10%. The move would put News Corp.'s movie and TV units in one company and its publishing assets in another. Wall Street has always complained that the newspaper and book publishing units have been a drag on News Corp. stock. The move will also allow News Corp. to isolate its scandal-ridden British tabloids and ensure the problems there don’t become a drag on the rest of the company. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.


On the move? Deadline Hollywood reports that Nancy Tellem, a former president of CBS, is in preliminary talks to join Microsoft Corp. to head up the software giant’s still-undefined entertainment efforts. Microsoft has been looking to hire a senior Hollywood executive for almost a year and first approached Tellem about eight months ago. Another name that has been floated includes former NBC executive Jeff Gaspin.

Broken news. CNN posted its lowest second-quarter ratings in more than 20 years. The cable news channel, which has struggled to establish a strong prime-time lineup that can compete with Fox News and MSNBC, averaged less than 500,000 viewers in prime time. More on CNN’s free fall from TV Newser and a scathing analysis of CNN’s woes from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Big game. The decision to scrap the Bowl Championship Series and create a college football playoff season will also mean big TV dollars. According to Bloomberg, the three-game playoff system could be worth $500 million annually in TV rights. The new system goes into effect for the 2014-15 season, which coincidentally is after the current TV deal expires.

Snagging the ladies in his web. Sony isn’t too worried about getting kids and men to see its new “Spider-Man” movie. But to woo women Sony is partnering with Kellogg’s and other brands to promote the action flick to moms. A look at Sony’s efforts to spin “Spider-Man” as a romance flick from Variety.

We have lots of other good jobs. As NBC prepares to jettison Ann Curry as co-host of “Today,” word is the network will find her another big job at the network. Well, considering what they are paying her, what choice do they have? Meanwhile, Savannah Guthrie, who co-hosts the third hour of “Today,” is the likely replacement for Curry. The latest from the soap opera that is the “Today” show from the Hollywood Reporter.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: An appreciation of writer, director and humorist Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at the age of 71. Mary McNamara on the backlash against Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama “The Newsroom.” Patrick Goldstein on why cable TV is attractive to writers and producers.

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