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Lynch Coaching


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Friendship and listening skills

Cece DuBois 


`Terra Nova' demise shows US ratings are more important than money


Fox cancelled Terra Nova

Photo: "Terra Nova." Credit: Brook Rushton / Fox.

For all the talk about how new revenue streams, distribution platforms and the international marketplace are reinventing the television business, a show's success or failure still depends on how well it does on its home turf.

Case in point is Fox's "Terra Nova," the big-budget drama about a family that travels from 2149 to prehistoric times to try to save Earth only to run into some angry dinosaurs. Although the show was expensive — the per-episode production cost was about $4 million — it was not a money loser.
Because the show sold well overseas, 20th Century Fox Television, the production company behind "Terra Nova," was already making money on it, people familiar with the matter say. Fox Broadcasting, which was paying just over $2 million per episode in license fees for "Terra Nova," was also on solid financial ground with the show, the network's entertainment chief Kevin Reilly said in January.

So why pull the plug? Ultimately the network didn't believe the creative elements of the show were working or that the ratings would justify its big investment if the series kept going. Fox's Reilly made no secret of his concerns about the show's struggles to balance itself between being a family drama and a science fiction piece. The show, he said in January, was "hunting" for an identity.

While "Terra Nova" averaged about 10 million viewers and respectable 3.6 rating among adults 18-49 in its 13-episode run last fall, Fox needed bigger numbers. The production time on the special effects-filled series is much longer than a typical drama, meaning Fox could order only 13 episodes per season instead of the typical 22 or 24.

That being the case, it was crucial that "Terra Nova" have a huge audience that would stick with the show through its longer than usual hiatus. Even if the show was profitable for Fox in Season 1, any falloff in the ratings might have pushed "Terra Nova" out of the black and into the red in Season 2.
There will likely be debate about whether networks should still swing for the fences or play it safe. NBC is no doubt wondering the same thing with its musical drama "Smash." The problem with "Terra Nova" wasn't just that it cost too much. It was that all the special effects couldn't overcome that ultimately the story itself wasn't enough to pull in a big audience.

`Terra Nova' is latest bump for Steven Spielberg in TV
Fox cancels `Terra Nova'
Terra Nova fights against extinction

— Joe Flint

Wal-Mart set to join UltraViolet digital movie group

Retail giant Wal-Mart will announce its support for Hollywood's UltraViolet digital movie technology at a media event to be held in Los Angeles next Tuesday, according to several people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

As the nation's biggest seller of DVDs — responsible for up to 40% of all DVD sales in the U.S. — Wal-Mart's support could provide a critical boost to UltraViolet, which had a troubled launch last fall. The technology, which is backed by five of Hollywood's six major studios and dozens of electronics manufacturers, lets consumers store copies of movies they buy in the online cloud, which they can then access on any compatible digital device.

Wal-Mart will sell Ultraviolet-enabled copies of movies through Vudu, the online video service that it acquired in 2010. In addition, consumers will be able to bring copies of DVDs they own into stores. For a small but not yet determined fee, Wal-Mart employees will give those customers a copy of the movie in their UltraViolet account.

That option, which Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group President Kevin Tsujihara called "disc-to-digital" at an investor event last week, will be critical to boosting use of UltraViolet. Thus far, the only compatible movies have been certain ones that have been launched on DVD since October.

Technological glitches and a cumbersome registration process generated negative consumer reactions when Ultraviolet debuted. Tsujihara said last week, "The launch wasn't perfect, I'll be the first one to admit it," adding that it was important to get the years-in-the-works technology rolled out sooner, rather than waiting to perfect it.

Tsujihara and other Hollywood executives have said it is critical for Ultraviolet to succeed in order to turn around ongoing declines in home entertainment revenue. While online movie rentals are increasingly popular, online movie sales are not. Studios make a much larger profit from sales than rentals.

Once Wal-Mart begins supporting UltraViolet aggressively, it's likely that other retailers such as Best Buy will follow., the largest online DVD retailer, in January announced a deal giving it the rights to sell Ultraviolet digital copies, but it has yet to start offering the service.

All of Hollywood's top movie studios save for Walt Disney Studios are behind UltraViolet, but the dominant seller of digital movies, Apple's iTunes, is not involved. The iPhone and iPad maker is developing its own service to store movies in the virtual cloud, people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly have said.

News of Wal-Mart's plans to convert DVDs into Ultraviolet copies was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Hollywood stumbles on next big step in home video
Billions of DVDs headed to digital cloud, Warner executive says
Time Warner CEO Bewkes defends UltraViolet launch, pumps digital

— Ben Fritz and Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Carts at a Wal-Mart store. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg.

Money and today's Super Tuesday Primaries

The Romney Campaign has spent over 12 million dollars in Ohio, twelve to one more than his tight competitor Rick Santorum. Add PAC funds and Romney supporters spent over 17 million on Ohio alone, compared to less than 2 million by Santorum and his supporters.

So how important is money?

Will it impact the General Election?

Historically when one party has a strong primary fight polls show that party winning or doing very well in the General Election, but in only two historic cases has the challenger won and in both cased other current news factors played into the final general election count.

Voters are voting from Alaska to North Dakota to Virginia in today's Super Tuesday Republican Presidential primaries. Romney is expect to come out on top in electoral count, but cannot become the nominee with today's election result.

In the general Romney will have to counter his own words with his ten thousand dollars side bet, two cadalacs per home for three homes, about women and the poor. Santorum has religion and far right conservative as a potential general election obstacle. The wild card, although unlikely to gain enough delegates to be the Republican nominee, is Ron Paul, who invested in non-traditional media and grass roots rather then TV and radio attack ads and colorful mailers.

Google Play unifies books, music, movies, games

Jamie Rosenberg Google

With Google Play, the technology giant wants entertainment consumers to come play in its digital sandbox.

Seeking to create a single destination for digital media and entertainment, the Mountain View, Calif., company on Tuesday said it is pulling together its disparate books, music, movie and game efforts under one umbrella dubbed Google Play.

The initiative involves Google Music, Google Books and Android Market in such a way that visitors to those sites will be redirected to a single page, on tablets and cellphones that run Google's Android operating system as well as on Web browsers.

With tabs for music, books, movies and applications, Google Play mirrors similar efforts by Apple Inc., and Microsoft Corp. to become an entertainment and media hub. For a full report, see the story on our Technology blog written by Jessica Guynn.

"What we’re seeing is that consumers are identifying with ecosystems, which includes devices and a broad offering of services," said Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of digital content. "So we're creating this notion that the consumer has a single relationship with Google as the ecosystem for their content."

Google Play Web
Rosenberg said unifying Google's various media initiatives also would benefit its content partners. A movie release with tie-ins to books, games and soundtracks could, for example, take advantage of Google Play's unified approach.

"It’s also a foundation for many things that we’d like to do in the future," he said. "Integrated merchandising is just one example that is enabled by this experience."

Android application developers said they welcome Google's changes, believing that the improvements in the user experience will help people find and use more of their products.

"The improved look and flow will make it easier for people to find games," said Adam Flanders, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Glu Mobile Inc., a San Francisco developer of more than 30 Android games such as Stardom and Contract Killer Zombies. "That’s great for us."

With more than 450,000 applications in Google's Android app market, triple the number from a year ago, developers are grateful for anything that can help boost their visibility.

By combining Google audience for all media, Flanders said his company can get in front of more potential customers.

"If they’ve got more eyeballs in the store looking for all kinds of content, there’s a higher probability of people finding one of our games," Flanders said.

Google working on home entertainment device
Google launches ad campaign to ease privacy concerns
Google Music debuts as battle with Apple, Amazon begins

— Alex Pham
Top photo: Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of digital content, at the Google Music launch event last year in Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times. Bottom screenshot of Google Play courtesy of Google.

Mega Donors Help Lift Republican SuperPACs

Super PACS Create Fairness?

Super PACS have contributed millions of dollars to shape the 2012 presidential election. The "Citizens United" Supreme Court case paved the way for them. David Bossie, president of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, speaks with host Michel Martin about how Super PACS could even the playing field.

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, these days money is tight but some people aren't just looking for bargains. They want to spend their money in a way that reflects their values. Later in the program we are going to meet a woman who tried to shop for her family exclusively at black-owned businesses for a year. We'll find out why she wanted to do that and how her experiment turned out.

That's later in the program. But first to an issue that is shaping our politics today, especially this year's presidential race. Now, you've probably heard of Super Political Action Committees or superPACs. The landmark Supreme Court case Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission was one of the reasons why. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot limit the amount of money corporations and unions spend on political issues. Now, this is the first presidential election where these groups can raise unlimited amounts of money as long as they don't coordinate messages with a campaign.

Critics complain that superPACs are tainting America's elections by allowing wealthy individuals or well-funded groups to steer millions of dollars to favored candidates. President Obama was among those critics in his 2011 State of the Union address and here's a short clip of what he had to say.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.

MARTIN: But earlier this month, the president's reelection team opened the door to the pro-Obama group known as Priorities USA Action. The president and his surrogates argue that in the current environment a refusal to do so would put the president at too great a disadvantage. We wanted to talk more about superPACs and their effect on elections right now so, we decided to call on one of the key players that led to the creation of them. He is David Bossie. He is the president and chair of the advocacy group Citizens United, and as we said, that's one of the groups behind one of the court cases that wiped out previous restrictions on campaign funding.

Mr. Bossie, thank you so much for joining us.

DAVID BOSSIE: Oh, thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So is this what you envisioned?

BOSSIE: No, actually, not at all. I went to the Supreme Court, which most people don't realize it was - took me several years to get there, and I went because the federal government threatened me with jail time if I produced a documentary film and advertised it on television, and so we looked into the law and we realized that people like NPR, people like the Washington Post, and television, newspapers, radio had something called the media exemption and therefore they could do whatever they want.
They could put an editorial on the front page or on the back page. They could endorse a candidate and talk about candidates, but people, small organizations like Citizens United - which is a, you know, an organization with 25 employees, we have an under-$30-million-a-year annual budget, and we work very hard and we wanted to make a film, a documentary film about Hillary Clinton and educate people about the movie's existence, and we were told that if we did that, it was punishable by a prison term.
And so I said we're not going to be looking over our shoulder. We're going to sue them, and that's why we were on the offense, not on the defense in that case.

MARTIN: And I do have to clarify that NPR does not endorse candidates, but I know you knew that. I know you knew that.

BOSSIE: I was saying - of course the media exemption.

MARTIN: I gotcha. So as you know, superPACs have been bringing in a lot of money for candidates. For example, the superPAC Restore Our Future, which is backing Mitt Romney, raised more than $36 million by the end of last month. It has eight donors of a million dollars each, 13 more who gave a half a million dollars each, and that superPAC has actually been out-raising Mr. Romney's actual campaign. So I'm interested in your perspective on those who say that this is just unfair, it's just allowing a few people to dominate the process. What do you say to that?

BOSSIE: Well, look - I think that the American people are incredibly smart. And look, you know, I'm not a Mitt Romney fan, so if it wasn't for his superPAC, he'd have dwindled even farther than he already has, and I think next week's going to be a huge comeuppance to him in Michigan. But regardless to that fact is that people can participate in the political process and that is a good thing. Whether people are envious of folks who can write large checks or jealous, that's one thing, and I am.
I wish I could afford to be able to do that and I wish I could get people just to write checks, those checks, to me. But you know what? Mitt Romney has rich friends. Those rich friends want to help that superPAC.

 Barack Obama is going to outspend, just like he did John McCain in 2008 - Barack Obama, his campaign, his superPAC, the DNC and others, they're going to outspend the Republican nominee two, or two and a half, to one, and I think that the Republicans who have these superPACs are simply attempting to level the playing field with the unions in the left, the George Soroses of the world that have been supporting the left for years.

MARTIN: I'm talking with David Bossie. He's the president and chair of the conservative group Citizens United. Citizens United was one of the groups that the Supreme Court case lead to the creation of superPACs, and we're talking about the effect that they're having on the campaign now and his perspective on that. But as you mentioned, you're not wealthy. You're not personally wealthy, and your superPAC, it's - what, had about $1.4 million in cash by the end of last year? Do I have that right?

BOSSIE: Our PAC, we - that is Citizens United Political Victory Fund, that's our affiliated PAC. We raise money only from our membership.

MARTIN: But...

BOSSIE: So we have - and we have a $15 average gift. It's really a remarkable thing and we're really proud of it.

MARTIN: And I wanted to ask you about that, because what do you say to people who are not wealthy, who are maybe social workers or elementary school teachers or firefighters - I know you're a volunteer firefighter - or infantrymen...


MARTIN: ...who say that their line of work is valuable but that it is not highly compensated and they feel that their influence is being dwarfed by people who happen to have chosen a more remunerative line of work. What do you say to that?

BOSSIE: Sure, and each person is, you know, lives their life and has to deal with those realities that they have. And as I just pointed out, Citizens United, which is one of the most effective conservative organizations in the country, and we take great pride in being, you know, very - a very effective organization and - but we take our donors' money and their donations very seriously and we're very good stewards...

MARTIN: And I understand that, Mr. Bossie. I'm asking you about what if it is true that wealthy people are having a disproportionate impact on the race? I'm asking you, is that okay with you or do you just not think that that's the case?

BOSSIE: Well, look - money is speech and people who can spend more get more speech. I mean that is just - that is the system that we have and that's been the system. Look, when Barack Obama and John McCain ran in 2008, Barack Obama outspent John McCain over two to one, and therefore Barack Obama had more speech because he had more money...

MARTIN: But wasn't that Mr. McCain's choice? It was Mr. McCain's choice or the choice of his campaign not to adhere to particular restrictions on fundraising...

BOSSIE: But that's - my point is...

MARTIN: Couldn't he have...

BOSSIE: ...Barack Obama was playing with - I'm not saying it's anybody's fault. I'm saying that Barack Obama played within the rules. John McCain actually made the rules. It was kind of funny from my vantage point to watch him lose a race because he decided to follow the McCain-Feingold law. And so my point is Barack Obama shouldn't be negatively affected by the rules, and therefore he should go out this year and raise money for his superPAC.

Look, I - do I think it's hypocritical? Do I think he attacked Citizens United and he demeaned the United States Supreme Court, he demeaned the presidency by attacking the Supreme Court...

MARTIN: Actually, Mr. Bossie, I was asking you what you think. I'm asking you about your perception of the system and I'm also asking you whether you - what do you say to the argument that it has created the perception of an unfair advantage and that perception is itself meaningful? I just want to point out, I'm sure you know this, in the past few days Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer wrote that it's hard to believe that the spending by corporations does not, quote, "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."

So I'm asking you - even if it's just the perception of an unfair advantage, is that okay?

BOSSIE: Who's unfair advantage?

MARTIN: Of wealthy individuals and well-funded entities like corporations or unions, the argument that these individuals have an outsized say that diminishes the fundamental concept of one man-one voter, one person-one vote.

BOSSIE: Oh, no, no, no, no. Look, hey, look. I think, if you are, you know, an American and you want to participate, you participate at the level in which you can and that's all we - each of us can do and I believe in that. I think that that's fine. I donate $50 or $100 to a candidate and somebody else can donate $2,500, which is the personal maximum, to a candidate. Those things haven't changed under Citizens United.

What's changed is the superPACs and the superPACs are able to take unlimited individual contributions and corporate money and the unions are able to participate at the same level.

So those unions, which are made up of - just like the PAC - is made up of their members and are supposed to be representing their members - they get to the electricians and plumbers and the people that, in essence, are saying that they don't have the wherewithal like a rich Donald Trump, Shelly Adelson, George Soros type. Those people are all spoken for through their organizations if they so choose.

So I have no problem with people being able to do whatever they can afford or doing nothing. A lot of people choose to do nothing.

MARTIN: Now, the final question I have for you - we have about a minute and a half left - is you know that this has created a very strong reaction among some people, mainly on the left, who feel that this has kind of tilted the scales. But I wanted to ask if you have any argument for them, for people who really do feel that this has sort of put the finger on the scale of participation in a way that's unfair. Do you have an argument that you think might be persuasive to them?

BOSSIE: Well, I do have an opinion on that. I believe that - yes - we have put the finger on the scale to get it back to level, meaning, for years, the George Soros type of left wing donor, the unions across the United States have been dominating the political process by their donations and by their money and by their manpower. And now, through these superPACs, you know, some of these conservative candidates are able to offset that and I think that that's, to me, the upside of it.

Now, the left is able to do it. The unions are able to use this rule. Barack Obama can use this rule. It treats everybody equally. If you can go out and raise the money, you can participate.

MARTIN: David Bossie is president and chair of the conservative advocacy group, Citizens United. He was kind enough to join us on the phone from his office in Washington, D.C. Mr. Bossie, thank you so much for speaking with us. Hope you'll speak again.

BOSSIE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: Coming up, today is Mardi Gras. That means shiny beads, rich feasts and for the so-called Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans, regalia to die for.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It'll be a big crown, weighs about 65 pounds and it's kind of hard to put it on your head to go to certain places, but the feeling that you have in your heart lets you go that way.

MARTIN: We'll find out more about this New Orleans tradition and why the New Orleans police seem to look askance at grown men wearing feathers. That's ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

Well over 12 million dollars has been spent or "invested" by PACS on today's (Mach 6, 2012) Super Tuesday Primaries, over half of that by PACS in support of Mitt Romney.

For more on Super PACS and this years record spending click on "read more" below.

Ralph McQuarrie dies at 82; created the look of 'Star Wars'

George Lucas hired Ralph McQuarrie to design the characters for the space fantasy. He came up with the look of Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, the Stormtroopers and many other characters. His artwork helped persuade 20th Century Fox to green-light the film.

Ralph McQuarrie's production painting of Darth Vader
Ralph McQuarrie's production painting of Darth Vader in a laser sword duel (1975). (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

When director George Lucas hired illustrator Ralph McQuarrie in 1974 to do a series of paintings visualizing scenes from his script for an intergalactic war movie he was trying to sell, McQuarrie liked the concept for the space fantasy. He just didn't think it would ever get made.

"My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated," he recalled in a 1999 interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But George knew a lot of things that I didn't know."

McQuarrie, 82, whose dynamic artwork helped persuade 20th Century Fox to green-light what became the 1977 blockbuster "Star Wars," died Saturday at his home in Berkeley, said John Scoleri, coauthor of a book on McQuarrie's art. He had Parkinson's disease and recently had been in declining health.

"Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision 'Star Wars,'" Lucas said in a statement. "His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original 'Star Wars' trilogy.

"When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this.' "

McQuarrie, a onetime technical artist for Boeing, created the look of Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, the Stormtroopers and many other "Star Wars" characters.

His production paintings also were used as models for the design of many of the film's locales such as the desert planet of Tatooine and the Death Star.

In a 2011 interview with the Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph, McQuarrie said his work on "Star Wars" was "a special opportunity to start from the ground up. Being able to create new characters, vehicles and different worlds…and since when I started it wasn't even clear that the film would be made, I didn't have to limit myself."

He and Lucas would meet every few weeks, McQuarrie recalled, and "he would explain what he was looking for and leave me to my work. Next visit, we would go over my drawings and discuss any changes. We had a very good working relationship."

As for the iconic look of Darth Vader, McQuarrie said, "George had described Vader as having flowing black robes. In the script, Vader had to jump from one ship to another and, in order to survive the vacuum of space, I felt he needed some sort of breathing mask.

"George said, 'OK,' suggested adding a samurai helmet, and Darth Vader was born. Simple as that."

One of the characters McQuarrie was most fond of was R2-D2.

"He has a lot of personality for a small metal robot," he said. "The film version isn't quite as squat as my original concept, but for the most part it reflects my design."

McQuarrie went on to work as a conceptual designer and a matte painter on "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983).

He also did spaceship design work on Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) and "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) and shared an Academy Award for best visual effects for "Cocoon" (1985).

Among his other credits are the "Battlestar Galactica" TV series and the 1986 film "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."

"One thing that stands out about Ralph's art work is a sense of scale — he would often juxtapose a tiny figure in a painting to demonstrate the grand scale of the environment the character was in," said Scoleri, who collaborated with McQuarrie and Stan Stice on the 2007 book "The Art of Ralph McQuarrie."

"The other thing about Ralph's work is when he did the paintings for 'Star Wars,' he never imagined that those would be seen beyond the people making the movie," Scoleri said. "And yet 35 years later, those paintings are used as posters and lunchboxes and toys and have a life that he never would have dreamed that those paintings would have had."

McQuarrie, who was born in Gary, Ind., on June 13, 1929, developed an early interest in art. After serving in the Army during the Korean War — and surviving a bullet that pierced his helmet — he entered what is now the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

As a technical artist, McQuarrie worked for Boeing and other companies. He also worked for a company that provided animation for CBS News coverage of the Apollo space program and created artwork for movie posters.

His painting of the original cover art for the first edition of the "Star Wars" movie novelization, which was published before the movie came out, led to his painting dozens of other science fiction paperback covers.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Joan; his sister, Joan Wolfe; and two stepsons, Vaughn and Leonard Griffin.

Will John Carter Pay Off? Spielberg's Terra Nova Cancelled. Cable Keeps TV treis to plug into your Phone and Ipad.

From the LA Times Company Town blog (click here for the latest industry news)

The Skinny: Tuesday's headlines include a look at Disney's new movie "John Carter," the FCC's review of media ownership rules and the growing backlash from advertisers and media watchdogs against radio host Rush Limbaugh. Also, how Julianne Moore got into character for HBO's "Game Change" and plans by Warner Bros. to make a "Gossip Girls"-like drama for China.
Disney's `John Carter' needs to deliver big
No life on Mars? Walt Disney's science fiction epic "John Carter," which takes place on Mars, is not expected to blast off the way the studio had hoped when it pumped $250 million into making the movie. Industry tracking has "John Carter" taking in $25 million in its opening this weekend, which certainly won't be a strong-enough start for the movie to have a chance to stay out of the red. The Los Angeles Times looks at "John Carter" and Disney's changing stance on the movie business.

Daily Dose: Fox's decision late Monday to pull the plug on "Terra Nova," its epic science fiction drama about a family that travels back in time to the dinosaur era to try to save humanity, wasn't much of a surprise. The average audience for the expensive series was usually less than 10 million viewers. Although the ratings were far from a disaster, given the economics it was tough for Fox to rationalize a second season. However, that won't stop the studio behind the series -- 20th Century Fox Television -- from trying to shop it to another network. The show was a big seller overseas. But it seems unlikely that any broadcast network would buy it, which means trying to find a cable network. I have a feeling FX President John Landgraf's phone will be ringing today with a pitch about how well "Terra Nova" would fit with the channel's biker drama "Sons of Anarchy."

Let's change the rules. Every few years, the Federal Communications Commission reviews its rules regarding what kinds of media one company can own, and how much. As is often the case, a lot of the industry's big companies argue that there are too many rules, while media watchdogs counter that the FCC needs to crack down on consolidation. Coverage on some of the issues from Bloomberg, Forbes and Broadcasting & Cable.

TV Nowhere. The cable industry -- led by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. -- has been pushing an initiative called TV Everywhere, which lets consumers who subscribe to cable watch content online after registering. However, the process is somewhat tedious, and many distributors have been slow to embrace the system. All I know is I've had Time Warner Cable (a different company from the entertainment giant Time Warner Inc.) for almost three years and I don't recall seeing one email or commercial promoting the service. The Wall Street Journal looks at what is taking the service so long to get off the ground.

Casandra goes Viral! The hottest new film in Hollywood isn't "The Lorax" or "John Carter."
It's a promotional video made by the Italian version of Vogue magazine featuring Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey's wife, Cassandra. The two wed last year in a lavish ceremony, attended by stars including Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez.

Titled "The Princess of Bel Air," the video features Cassandra Grey at her home, walking her dogs, and in a car on the way to her Melrose Avenue fashion studio, discussing life and her thoughts on style.

Some of those thoughts are surprising. "Other than Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and Natalie Massenet [founder of the online luxury fashion shop], fashion designers are my heroes," Grey tells the camera. "Because they dress us in their dreams and enrich our moments with decorations."

Though it was originally posted in December, the video appears to have recently been discovered on the Chinese video sites and The version was popping up in email in-boxes throughout Hollywood on Monday.

"I’m taking my role as a wife and a lover and a stepmother very seriously, meaning I want to be really, really good at it," she says early in the video, while wearing a flapper-esque head wrap and holding a cigarette.

At another point, she holds up an old copy of "Vogue's Book of Etiquette" and says she has been studying the text. "A lot of it is sort of outdated but a lot of it's relevant today," she says. "And I think they should teach this book in school."

Asked to comment on the video, the good-humored Grey said in an email that she wasn't altogether pleased with the results. "I was trying for a caricature of myself, thinking it may read funny and make for a more entertaining interview," she wrote. "But it seems the joke's on me. I do love fashion, and I am proud of the work that I do behind the scenes, which is where I belong. It's safe to say I won't be starring in 'The Fresh Princess of Bel Air.'"

Video saved the radio star. Current TV, the cable network looking to challenge MSNBC for audiences whose politics curve to the left, has tapped two liberal talk-radio hosts, Bill Press and Stephanie Miller, for its new morning lineup. No, Press and Miller aren't giving up their radio shows. Current is going to simulcast the shows and run them in the 6 a.m.-to-noon block. The move gives Current more live programming without breaking its budget. Details from the New York Times.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: The backlash against Rush Limbaugh isn't slowing down. An appreciation of Ralph McQuarrie, the man behind the look of "Star Wars." James Rainey chats with Julianne Moore about her portrayal of Sarah Palin in HBO's "Game Change." China is getting its own version of "Gossip Girl."

-- Joe Flint

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Photo: A scene from "John Carter." Credit: Frank Conner / Disney / MCT