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Friday, July 22, 2011

Who's Really Writing States' Legislation? And Why?

Dollar Bill across American Flag
Republican legislators picked up 680 seats in state House and Senate chambers in the 2010 elections.
"They now hold more state legislative seats than at any time since 1928, the year that Herbert Hoover came to the presidency," says reporter John Nichols. "They control 25 states [with] both houses of the legislature. There are also 21 states where Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governorship. And in the backroom of politics, that's what people really want. If you've got governor, state House and state Senate, you can pretty much roll through whatever legislation you want."

Yahoo and Hulu makes Aphu? Murky Murdocks. Amazon takes on Netflix. Cowboys and Indians.

From the LA Times Company Town, PRI's Marketplace, KCRW's The Business and other sources...

3D is fizzling in the US. Internationally 3-D films are booming, but in the US film educated audiences are being picky about what films they support, and most film goers have passed on paying for glasses and deadline with potential headaches. Big box office tent polls where millions are spent on promotion seem to do well in both 3-D and what is now being called 2-D.

Potter vs. Captain America. This weekend, the latest "Harry Potter" movie will have to beat back a challenge from "Captain America" to stay in first place. Something tells me this won't be too difficult. Also opening is "Friends With Benefits." This might be the weekend I finally see "Bad Teacher." Box-office projections from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Can Super Hero's Save the Day. Sandwiched between super tent-poll flicks like Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean, is Captain America and at least two other superhero films using second tier hero's. The hope of studios is not that they will burst out and win the day, but that they will do well enough to launch a new chain of super hero flicks, each of which will make money and sell products.

Friends, sounds failure. 
This weekend, Sony's "Friends With Benefits" opens. The movie (about two pals who decide ... never mind, if you can't figure out what the movie's about from the title alone, just move on) is very similar to "No Strings Attached," which opened earlier this year. Varietylooks at how "Friends With Benefits" hopes to overcome those similarities and show that sometimes being second doesn't mean coming in second.
"Friends With Benefits," a sexy romp about two buddies who decide to sleep together, is the latest sex-filled comedy to be released this summer -- a genre that has resonated with audiences in recent months.

Amazon taking on Netflix headon. Consumers may soon have to subscribe to multiple entertainment streaming channels or lose out on their favorites. is busy stocking its shelves with more programming and will soon offer streams of older CBS-owned television shows, including "Frasier," "Cheers" and "Star Trek," to its online customers. The move, announced Wednesday, represents the online retail giant's most significant licensing agreement since launching its Amazon Prime subscription service in February to compete with Netflix. Seattle-based Amazon is eager to become a bigger player in the online programming space, and is seen as a possible buyer of the popular video site Hulu, which is on the block and rumored going to Yahoo!.

Did they get to the bottom of Jeremy Piven's hair? The Hollywood Reporter offers up another one of its "secrets behind the success of fill-in-the-blank" cover stories. This time around, THR has an oral history (man, I'm tired of oral histories, just write a story for crying out loud) of HBO's "Entourage," which kicks off its final season Sunday.
Want to work at ESPN? Deadspin has a copy of the standards-and-practices manual for the sports empire. Let me know which page covers the rules regarding how little coverage the Washington Redskins are to be given versus other NFL teams.  

Simon vs. Simon. "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller wants credit for "The X Factor" as well. Fuller has filed a lawsuit against Fox Broadcasting and producer Fremantle North America Inc., claiming he is entitled to an executive-producing credit on "The X Factor," another musical talent show that premieres on the network this fall and stars former "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. The suit is the latest in the love/hate relationship between Fuller and Cowell. Fuller, who tapped Cowell as a judge for "American Idol's" British predecessor, "Pop Idol," later sued Cowell over there after the latter created "X Factor." Fuller claimed copyright infringement. The suit was settled, and Fuller said part of that settlement included a producing credit on "X Factor" in any U.S. version. Fox and Fremantle said the case has no merit. Coverage from the Los Angeles TimesWall Street Journal andWashington Post.

Setting son? Two former News of the World executives have accused James Murdoch of lying to Parliament with regard to just how much phone hacking was going on at the News Corp.-owned tabloid. Murdoch, son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and a top executive at the company, has said he stands by his testimony. Meanwhile, the Economist asks if the era of the mogul is over and whether it is time for Rupert Murdoch to step down. Coverage from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which reports that the Justice Department is getting involved in the probe into whether the News of the World hacked into voice mails of 9/11 victims and families, a charge that the company has said has no supporting evidence behind it. Murdock's mom told here son not to buy "News of the World" and get into the tabloid jungle. She had higher journalistic hopes. The Murdock family has long been one of the wealthiest families in Australia, but Rupert did manage to amplify that wealth and certainly power on a world wide basis.
Don't buy the beer yet. The National Football League's owners have agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement, which led to a lot of stories that the lockout was over and football will resume. Alas, the players (remember them) have not signed off on a new deal yet. The latest from Sports Ilustrated.
How about Aphu? First it was Yahoo looking at Hulu, now Bloomberg reports that Apple is interested in it. I don't cover tech companies, but it seems to me that Apple's culture has always been about building, not buying. I'm not quite sure what Hulu would bring Apple that it doesn't already have or could make better itself. Do you really see Steve Jobs getting up on a stage in front of thousands to say, hey we just bought Hulu? Snoozers! I always notice in these stories that the sourcing is "two people with knowledge." My guess is one or both of the two work for either the banks trying to sell Hulu or the company itself.
Hole in the box. Redbox President Mitch Lowe said he is resigning from the video-kiosk concern, a move that comes as the company's parent, Coinstar, reported preliminary second-quarter results that were below what Wall Street was anticipating. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Reuters.
Like chocolate and peanut butter. The Wall Street Journal, in anticipating of the upcoming sci-fi western "Cowboys and Aliens," looks at the shared history of westerns and outer space. Hey, they even talked to Leonard Nimoy, so it must be a serious piece.
Did she run out of things to say? Sharon Osbourne is leaving CBS' daytime chat show "The Talk," the latest change at the show that goes through people the way the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner used to go through managers. The story was broken by Daytime Confidential. Osbourne later confirmed it to AOL TV, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband but that she could return later. Wanna bet?
How Kristin Scott Thomas went from movie star to actress. Steven Zeitchik with the back story on the new science fiction movie "Another Earth." TLC's next big bet is a reality show about Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Reviews of "Captain America" and "Friends With Benefits." 
-- Joe Flint wrote most of this for the LA Times Company Town.