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Thursday, July 28, 2011

George M

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Disclaimer: No offense intended, as my wife is a clinical social worker and I am a social scientist (of sorts).

The changing face of Rural America

Only 16% of Americans live in rural areas. That's the lowest percentage in US History. And of those over three quarters work in recreation, service industries, or are telecommuters. Farming did grow, but by less than one percent, the lowest in history and far slower than the growth of the overall population.

Recreation and retirement migration is fueling growth in the rural portions of America, not farming or ranching. Mining and oil, while growing rapidly, are largely automated and require fewer and fewer workers.

Even rural areas now have the trappings formerly thought of as urban, such as fast food chains, big box stores, Internet and even "urban style" housing.

Panda Problems, Fox in Trouble, Playboy past its prime, Streaming Sundance

Gaming News. THQ Inc.'s shares plummeted after the Agoura Hills game publisher reported disappointing first-quarter financial results due in part to poor sales of Red Faction: Armageddon, a science fiction shooter on which the company had pinned high hopes.
Shares in THQ, which closed unchanged at $3.20 during the regular session, fell 60 cents, or 19%, to $2.60 in after-hours trading. It had not traded that low since early 2009, when the stock fell as low as $2.24 in February 2009.  

The Skinny: So it looks like anyone who got nailed by one of those traffic cameras may be off the hook if they didn't pay. But if they did, then that's another story. I smell class-action suit! In our little world, the headlines include Fox's plan to require viewers to verify they are cable or satellite TV subscribers before being allowed to watch the network's shows online. Also, a big day for James Murdoch on Thursday.
Streaming Sundance. Directors who blew big wads of cash trying to get into Sundance and only ended up with a T-shirt and no deal can now have their movies streamed by the festival on various platforms including Hulu and Netflix. Filmmakers will get a piece of any ad revenue or rental fees. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
Quid Pro Quo? The New York Times makes the observation that MSNBC's newest television personality -- rabble-rouser the Rev. Al Sharpton -- also lent his name to new MSNBC owner Comcast Corp.'s lobbying effort to get government approval of its merger with NBCUniversal. Sharpton, who is filling in as a guest host in the 6 p.m. hour, has been on MSNBC lots of times over the years. Both MSNBC and Comcast say there is no connection between his lobbying and his new prominence on the channel. In fairness to MSNBC, Sharpton has lent himself out to corporate media before. Fox recruited him when it was waging a nasty war against Nielsen over new meters the ratings company was introducing.
Trust but verify. In a move no doubt to appease cable and satellite operators, Fox said it would start requiring viewers to verify that they are subscribers to a pay-TV distributor before they can watch any of the network's shows online after they've aired on the network. Fox, which is squeezing pay TV distributors for big bucks in return for carrying its TV stations, recognizes it can't have its cake and eat it too. Distributors aren't going to pay if the stuff goes online free right after it's on the network. Fear not, consumers, if you can wait eight whole days you will be able to watch shows online without having to prove you are a cable subscribers. Details from the Los Angeles TimesAssociated Press and theWall Street Journal.
The man who knows all. The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., has turned up its coverage of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal after initially only going through the motions of reporting on the debacle. In Thursday's WSJ, a profile of Tom Crone, the former legal eagle of News of the World, who knows where all the bodies are buried and has offered up information that contradicts what Murdoch's son James, who heads the company's European operations, has told Parliament.
Nothing a little makeover can't fix. The Hollywood Reporter chats up CBS News bosses Jeff Fager and David Rhodes about their plans to revitalize the struggling organization, post-Katie Couric, and their thoughts about checkbook journalism.

D-Day for James. On Thursday, the board of British Sky Broadcasting, whose chairman is James Murdoch, will have its first board meeting since the News of the World phone hacking-scandal that led News Corp., the media giant that owns 39% of the powerful broadcaster, to drop plans to acquire the rest. There is speculation that the board may ask Murdoch, who is also deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and is being probed about what he did and didn't know about the hacking, to step back. Of course, there are plenty of News Corp. execs and cronies on the board so he won't go without a fight. Coverage from the New York Times and the Guardian
But we already put in the new carpeting! Although Comcast Corp. is already running NBCUniversal, a federal judge has issues with the consent decree the Justice Department issued in its approval of the merger last January. Approval is ususally a slam dunk but the judge apparently is troubled by arbitration methods Comcast has agreed to for resolving disputes over online distribution. It would be highly unlikely for the judge not to ultimately approve the consent decree, but never say never. More from the Wall Street Journal.
Put a sweater on that! The Parents Television Council is lobbying NBC affiliates to refuse to air the network's new drama "The Playboy Club," which will premiere next month. The PTC said the show, set in 1960s Chicago, is putting the "veneer of sophistication" on the porn industry, according to a copy of a letter it sent to NBC stations obtained by Broadcasting & Cable. In an unrelated note, I missed a chance to go to the Playboy Mansion last night, but a friend of mine who has been there said the fantasy is better than the reality. The event was for the television critics tour. I'm guessing those were some sad-looking bunnies when they found out who was coming over to party.
Help wanted. Frank Darabont, the executive producer/showrunner of AMC's hit "The Walking Dead," has given his walking papers. There have been mumblings that such a move was possible for several months, but it still is something of a shock given the success of the zombie drama. Details fromDeadline Hollywood.
Sunset for Spielberg's Dreamworks SKG? 
"A terrible, terrible calamity," is how Katenzberg described the domestic performance of "Kung Fu Panda 2."
The comments from the Glendale studio's chief executive came on a conference call with analysts Tuesday after the release of financial results that pleased Wall Street. DreamWorks' revenue of $218.3 million in the quarter ended June 30 was well above most analysts' estimates, sending the company's stock up 4%.
However, those looking for information regarding several looming questions about the company's future were left disappointed. This month, Viacom's Paramount Pictures announced it will produce its own animated movies beginning in 2014 and confirmed it will only continue to release DreamWorks Animation pictures at that point for a higher cut of revenue.
Shares in THQ, which closed unchanged at $3.20 during the regular session, fell 60 cents, or 19%, to $2.60 in after-hours trading. It had not traded that low since early 2009, when the stock fell as low as $2.24 in February 2009.  
Got your tickets? The Toronto Film Festival unveiled its lineup, which includes Madonna's "W.E." Brad Pitt's "Moneyball" and George Clooney's "The Ides of March." Details on the prestigious festival from Entertainment Weekly.
Enjoy the moment. Emma Stone is this summer's It Girl. Her breakout role in the upcoming "Crazy, Stupid, Love" has put her on magazine covers everywhere. It's a long way away from VH1's attempt to remake "The Partridge Family," which was one of her early gigs. A profile from USA Today.
Does anyone go for the movies? The Venice Film Festival announced its lineup. I'm happy to see that Whit Stillman ("Metropolitan," "Barcelona") finally has a new movie -- "Damsels in Distress" -- which will close the festival. I know I don't seem like the type who would appreciate Stillman's witty and urbane preppy upper-crust characters, but there is something sweet, sincere and real about his movies. More on the festival from Variety.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: 
Electric Daisy Goes to Hollywood and other LA Times News. mini-riot broke out at the Hollywood premiere of "Electric Daisy Carnival Experience." Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling make for an odd couple in "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Myspace gets ready for yet another makeover. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has a lot to say about "Kung Fu Panda 2" but not much on his company's future. Inside an ugly fight between two local broadcasters.

From the LA Times Company Town (click here)