After the coffee. Before sneaking out for Wild Card Friday.
The Skinny: I have no World Series prediction for you, but I'm rooting for a Beltway series between the Nationals and Orioles. I think we could get halfway there. Friday's headlines include a potential big deal involving Peter Chernin, Endemol and Core Media; a preview of the weekend box office and reviews of "Frankenweenie" and "Taken 2."
Daily Dose: For all you wonky types, it was 20 years ago today that Congress passed the Cable Act, which basically overhauled the media industry, led to the growth of satellite TV and gave broadcasters the right to get paid by pay-TV distributors for their signals. I'm old so I remember covering this. Interestingly, today the FCC will get rid of the program access regulation, which was one of the key components of the Cable Act. Program access prohibited a cable operator that also owned programming from refusing to sell that content to a rival distributor.
A new reality? A complex three-way deal could merge reality producers Endemol and Core Media Group with former News Corp. President Peter Chernin's boutique entertainment company. The talks are still in a preliminary stage and could fall apart but if a deal is consummated it would give Chernin some new toys to oversee. A deal could also happen without Chernin. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management owns Core and is also the largest debt holder in Endemol and may seek to merge the two even if the Chernin component doesn't come to fruition. More from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Taking the box office. This weekend, Liam Neeson's "Taken 2" is expected to take the lion's share of the box office. In what is becoming the norm in the industry, the box office projectors are predicting it will make between $45 million and $50 million, while distributor 20th Century Fox is lowering expectations and saying it'd be happy with $35 million. That way, if the movie under delivers, Fox can say it did just fine. Tim Burton's animated "Frankenweenie" is expected to make $20 million. Weekend box office previews from the Los Angeles Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.
Something fishy? The American Humane Assn., which oversees the welfare of animals used in films and TV, paid more than $200,000 to a business partner of its chairman Eric Bruner. The disclosure has raised eyebrows especially since it has come at a time when the AHA has been going through some financial challenges. The AHA said everything was done on the up and up and there was no impropriety. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
So much for that idea. When satellite broadcaster Dish Network bought the video rental chain Blockbuster, one of its plans was to start a streaming service that could rival Netflix. Now Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen is pulling the plug on the idea. Ergen told Bloomberg a still-pending review of Dish's application to use its satellite spectrum for streaming was a culprit. Still, the company expects to make money off of Blockbuster.
Here we go again. Once again a programmer and distributor are at odds over a new deal. This time, it's satellite broadcaster Dish and TV station owner Gannett. Dish says Gannett wants outrageous price increases and is also threatening to not do a deal if Dish does not get rid of its ad-skipping digital video recorder known as the AutoHop. Gannett says Dish is being tightfisted. Coverage from Reuters.
Follow me on Twitter. It makes for a better weekend. @JBFlint.