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Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Why merge. Dragon Tatoos. Is Bruce Willis over the hill? Best Legal Fights of 2011, Who needs Regis?



Dragontattoostory
 
From the LA Times Company Town Blog and other sources, click here for the latest news.

 Making its mark. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" got high marks from viewers who flocked to its opening earlier this week. The David Fincher-directed movie, which opened on 2,700 screens, took in a decent $1.6 million at the box office. The performance is giving Sony hopes that it may be more competitive with Warner Bros.' latest "Sherlock Holmes" movie than had been anticipated. However, the big winner this holiday weekend is expected to be Tom Cruise's latest "Mission: Impossible." Box office has been down between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Time to see if it rebounds Christmas weekend to New Years Day. Lots of new releases. More from the Los Angeles Times.

Comic Relief? At a screening I hit a few days ago of the new "Mission: Impossible" movie, a trailer for next summer's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" was met with oohs and ahs from the audience in response to some of the amazing stunt work. However, that awe turned to amusement when the face of Bruce Willis popped up and guffaws started to ring out in the theater. Who knows, maybe Paramount's sitting on a sleeper comedy instead of a tent-pole action flick.


The plot thickens. The Wall Street Journal reports that the police in London arrested one of their own Wednesday as part of their probe into whether law enforcement officials accepted bribes from News of the World operatives in return for scoops. Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks previously told Parliament that the paper had paid the police for information. Here's a clip of that for your viewing pleasure.

CNN's Piers Morgan Contradicted in British court. If CNN host Piers Morgan wants to have a lively talk show, he should book former Daily Mirror business columnist James Hipwell as a guest.

On Wednesday, Hipwell appeared as a witness in Britain's ongoing probe into journalistic ethics and contradicted much of Morgan's testimony from the previous day. Morgan, a former editor of The Daily Mirror and News Corp.'s now-defunct News of the World, told the government's inquiry that phone hacking was not something he engaged in while he worked at the tabloids.

Hipwell said hacking was a "standard journalistic tool” during Morgan's time at the paper.

“I would go as far as to say it happened every day," Hipwell said to the panel. "It became apparent that a great number of stories ... would come from that source.” He added that he even witnessed a colleague hacking into Morgan’s own mobile “in front me" in 2000.

For more on Hipwell's testimony please see our story.

Regis who? Kelly Ripa and an assortment of guest co-hosts are having no problem keeping ratings up for "Live with Kelly" in the weeks following Regis Philbin's departure from the morning chat show. According to the New York Times, compared with a year ago, "Live" is up 12% among all viewers and up 14% among women 25 to 54 years old.

New rules coming. Broadcasting & Cable says the Federal Communications Commission is expected to announce it has voted on new media ownership rules. Among the expected changes is a relaxation of the rule prohibiting a company from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same market. This proves that big corporations are being allowed to monopolize news and advertising dollars. It also shows that efforts are being made to save the dieing newspaper industry. Click on image to enlarge.


Reason for merger? The same image and story above may explain why AFTRA and SAG are rushing into a planned merger, despite at least two failed attempts (some say 18 over their history).

What's ahead in 2012. Variety looks at some of the big legal fights that may reach a conclusion in 2012. Among the battles which could reach a conclusion is Viacom vs. YouTube and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions over who has TV rights to the Golden Globe Awards.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Lions Gate and Saban Capital are teaming up with Celestial Partners on a new venture to create pay-TV channels in Asia. A look at the top-rated cable networks of the year.

-- Joe Flint and other sources

Follow me on Twitter. I just passed the 10,000-tweet mark and at least 9,000 of them were funny. Twitter.com/JBFlint

The Morning Fix will take Friday and Monday off but will return Tuesday. Happy holidays.
Photo: Rooney Mara, left, and Daniel Craig in a scene from "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Columbia Pictures.


Top Ten "achievements" of the Republican party in 2011

2011 is almost over, and that means everyone’s making Top 10 lists. I decided to get in on the action too. Here’s my compilation of the 10 Worst Republican Actions of 2011.

Which do you think is the worst?

Bring Back “Pre-Existing Conditions”: Health care reform is one of President Obama’s signature achievements. No longer can children born with health conditions be denied insurance. No longer can insurance companies deny care for “pre-existing conditions.” About 2.5 million young adults who lacked health insurance now are covered by their families’ plans. So what did Republicans do? Try to repeal “Obamacare” and put control back in the hands of insurance companies.

Kick Grandma Off Medicare and Give Her a Coupon: Republicans all lined up in favor of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s extreme budget plan earlier this year that would kill Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program. Thank goodness the Democratic Senate was there to stop them and keep our promise to seniors.

Hand Over Cash to Corporations and the Wealthy: Another part of Paul Ryan’s plan: Give huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. While the middle class struggles to get ahead, Republicans tried to make things worse by reducing taxes on the wealthiest – and sticking everyone else with the bill.

Rip Away Workers’ Rights: When Republicans won the governorships in Wisconsin and Ohio, among other states, one of the first things they did was go after public workers, including taking away the rights of teachers and prison guards to bargain for better pay and benefits. Bad move. They clearly overstepped their bounds, and voters will remember at the ballot box in 2012.

Prevent You From Voting: Republicans this year decided that when it comes to elections, if you can’t beat, then cheat. From Florida to Wisconsin to Ohio, Republicans passed laws that will have the effect of suppressing Democratic turnout in these crucial swing states. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that more than 5 million voters will be affected by these laws – a number higher than the margin of victory in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Senate Democrats are holding hearings on the Florida laws in January.

Declare War on Women: It was bad enough that Republicans tried to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning programs. Then they tried to change federal law to redefine rape and to allow hospitals to deny lifesaving care for pregnant women. So much for the Republican promise to have a “laser focus” on jobs. The Republican War on Women is alive and well.

Shove Gay Soldiers Back Into the Closet: It was a huge victory for civil rights and basic human dignity when President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law. Finally, all Americans could serve openly in the military. Or not. This year, Republicans tried to bring back the policy, and some Republican presidential candidates have said reinstituting discrimination is one of their top policy priorities.

Launch Assaults on Sesame Street and Lake Wobegon: I don’t know what Republicans have against Big Bird and Garrison Keillor, but they will do almost anything to shut off their microphones. In fact, earlier this year, Republicans vowed to shut down the federal government if NPR and PBS weren’t defunded. Luckily, Senate Democrats were there to stop the nonsense, and “Sesame Street” and “A Prairie Home Companion” were given a reprieve – for now.

Let Consumers Fend For Themselves: One of the most important reforms passed by Democrats in decades was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to prevent big banks from ripping off their customers with dangerous financial products – some of the same products that contributed to the Great Recession. But Republicans hate anything that puts customers ahead of corporations. So they’ve fought the bureau – and people chosen to lead it – tooth and nail.

Increase Taxes for Middle Class Families. And last but certainly not least, this week House Republicans refused to support tax relief for the middle class, even as they demand it for billionaires and huge corporations. If your taxes go up next year, you’ll have nobody but Republicans to blame.

These policies and positions are simply awful -- so awful, in fact, that I couldn't choose the worst. That's your job. The Democratic Senate has been the firewall stopping most of these measures dead in their tracks. With only a four seat majority, it’s never been more important to protect the Senate.

From all of us here at the DSCC, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a great – and blue! – 2012.

Guy Cecil
Executive Director, DSCC
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." 
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Santa Sessions