"House of Cards"
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright star in "House of Cards," which helped Netflix grow subscribers. (Netflix)




R.I.P. Dennis Farina: How a Chicago cop became a character actor.

Dennis Farina, who died Monday morning at the age of 69 of a blood clot in his lung, had two distinct careers. He was a veteran Chicago police officer until a chance meeting with director Michael Mann, who was in the Windy City to make his first feature film, 1981's "Thief," changed his career path.
In a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Farina joked that he "blamed" Mann for turning him into an actor. The two had a mutual friend, a retired cop, who was a writer on "Thief."
"Michael is a Chicago guy anyway," Farina said. "He says he wants to talk to some real-life characters. I talked to him, and he asked me to do a part in the movie. I said, yes, sure."

But he still didn't give up his day job as a cop. Mann gave him a guest-starring role on his landmark NBC series "Miami Vice" and then cast him as FBI agent Jack Crawford in his 1986 thriller, "Manhunter."
It wasn't until he landed the starring role in Mann's atmospheric NBC detective series "Crime Story" in 1986, as Chicago Det. Mike Torrello, that Farina finally turned in his badge and retired from the police force.
Though his acting career saw him mostly in tough-guy roles — notably as mobster Jimmy Serrano in the Robert De Niro-Charles Grodin film "Midnight Run" — Farina proved to be a versatile character actor, playing Jennifer Lopez's concerned dad in Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight," Bette Midler's ex-husband in the 1997 comedy "That Old Feeling" and an Army officer in Steven Spielberg's World War II epic, "Saving Private Ryan."
Farina said that he went out of his way to avoid typecasting. "I think it would be kind of boring to do the same things," he said. "I think the idea of acting is to spread your wings a little bit. I was so grateful for 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Snatch' and things like that."
And he loved being a character actor. "I think it's a nice compliment. I accept it with all humility."
Farina admitted that he never had acting aspirations until he got that call from Mann.
"I was always a movie fan. As a kid, we would go to the neighborhood theater and watch Bogart movies and Cagney movies and stuff like that. I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing."
Here are five quintessential Farina performances to check out:
"Crime Story": Life imitated art for Farina in this stylish 1986-88 NBC series set in early 1960s Chicago with Farina at his combustible best as Lt. Mike Torello who is bent on destroying mobster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison).
"Midnight Run": Farina played gangsters to perfection, and he's a scene-stealer in this 1988 buddy comedy hit as Chicago mob boss Serrano, who's after Grodin's accountant character for embezzling some $15 million from him. (Dealing with his underlings: "Is this moron No. 1? Put moron No. 2 on the phone.")
"Get Shorty": In this 1995 crime-comedy hit, John Travolta plays Miami loan shark Chili Palmer, who finds himself working for Farina's overheated mobster Ray "Bones" Barboni.
"Empire Falls": Farina gives one of his best performances in this 2005 HBO miniseries as the arrogant and loud-mouthed Walt, Helen Hunt's fiance who owns a fitness club in town but is not quite as virile as he believes.
"Law & Order": Farina was back on the beat from 2004 to 2006 on the long-running NBC drama series as Joe Fontana, a nattily dressed, high-living homicide detective at the 27th Detective Squad of the NYPD.


Leslie Moonves
CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, in a memo to employees obtained by The Times, said, "There is a very real threat that Time Warner Cable is going to drop our stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas." (Nicholas Roberts/AFP Getty Images / July 23, 2013)


CBS boss Leslie Moonves warns of possible Time Warner Cable blackout.

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves is warning employees that the network's TV stations may be dropped by Time Warner Cable if a new deal isn't reached by Thursday morning.
"There is a very real threat that Time Warner Cable is going to drop our stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas," Moonves wrote in a memo to CBS staffers obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
At issue are fees CBS is seeking from Time Warner Cable to carry its TV stations. The debate only involves TV stations owned by CBS and not all CBS affiliates. Still, that could translate to several million viewers in three key markets and could harm CBS' ratings.
"As you can imagine, we don’t take this situation lightly," Moonves said.
In the memo, Moonves argues that many cable networks that have smaller ratings than CBS are getting more in monthly subscription fees from Time Warner Cable and that the pay-TV distributor is being cheap.
"Cable is a very, very profitable business, and Time Warner Cable can certainly afford to pay CBS a fair rate for our programming without passing any added cost on to its customers," the memo said. "According to its own billing statements, it is already charging its subscribers more than $20 a month for broadcast programming."
In the memo, Moonves also tries to use Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt's words against him. Britt recently remarked that Time Warner Cable would start considering dropping cable networks that do not deliver high ratings.
"We obviously agree with Mr. Britt, because at CBS we carry our own weight," he said.
Neither Time Warner Cable nor CBS has disclosed the specifics of the contract dispute. People familiar with the matter indicate that CBS is seeking a significant increase. The network is currently said to get around 50 cents per subscriber, per month from Time Warner Cable. A new deal would likely start at around $1 per subscriber and increase over the length of the deal. That is similar to what cable networks such as TNT and Fox News get and far less than what ESPN receives.
"CBS is not even in the top 10 recipients of the programming fees paid out by Time Warner Cable," Moonves said.
A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman said the company was willing to pay for CBS and had "offered them significant fees." However, she added, "their current demands don’t represent a good value for our customers."
Fee disputes such as these are common in the industry and rarely result in a signal being removed. Both sides, however, have launched ad campaigns critical of the other.
It remains to be seen if the pay channel Showtime, which is owned by CBS, will also be affected by the dispute. Both sides have declined to comment on that subject.


Al Jazeera America names a president
Kate O’Brian, a 30-year veteran of ABC News and its senior vice president of news gathering, has been named president of Al Jazeera America. (Donna Svennevik / Associated PressMarch 24, 2008)

A-Team in place. After spending the last few months hiring on-air talent, Al Jazeera America finally named who would be calling the shots off camera. Veteran ABC News executive Kate O'Brian has been tapped as the inaugural president of Al Jazeera America, a U.S.-centric news network from the Qatar government-backed media giant Al Jazeera set to launch next month. The network also named former top CNN and CBS executives for key management roles. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Guardian.


ABC News anchors DIANE SAWYER, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
A Pew Hispanic Center study found that more Latinos are getting their news from English-language sources. Above, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos during election night Nov. 7, 2012, from ABC News' Times Square Studios in New York. (Donna Svennevik / Associated Press / November 7, 2012)


Latinos get their news in English.

More than three-quarters of all Latino adults get their news in English, according to a comprehensive study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
The Pew Hispanic Center's 2012 National Survey of Latinos found that 82% of Latino adults said they obtained at least some of their news in English — up from 78% in a 2006 survey.
The increase was propelled by a growing number of Latinos who said they seek their news exclusively from English language sources. Nearly a third of Latino adults surveyed said they get all of their news in English, up from 22% in 2006.
Conversely, the percentage of Latinos who get at least some of their news in Spanish has declined.
Pew Hispanic Center's findings were not surprising.  Immigration has slowed in recent years, and now just over half (51%) of all Latino adults are immigrants.  Most of the growth in the Latino population has come from U.S. births. Each year, an estimated 800,000 young U.S. born Latinos enter adulthood.
In addition, 59% of Latinos in the U.S. speak English well, up from 54% in 2006.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a record 31 million Latinos 5 and older are proficient in English, up from 19 million in 2000.
The survey was conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center in September and early October through telephone interviews with 1,765 Latinos living in the U.S.
Margin of error for the sample was plus or minus 3.2%.
The results depict an increasingly acculturated population. Fifty-nine percent of U.S.-born Latinos said they turn exclusively to English-language news sources while 39% said they seek information in English and Spanish. Only 2% of U.S.-born Latinos said they turned to Spanish-language media exclusively for news.
Age and education were key indicators with younger Latinos increasingly gravitating to English formats. Forty-one percent of Latinos ages 18 to 29 said they consumed news only in English.
In contrast, among those 65 and older, 43% said they received their news exclusively in Spanish.
Pew Hispanic's findings underscore the rationale behind a high-profile joint venture by ABC News and Spanish-language television giant Univision Communications. The media companies are planning to launch a 24-hour cable news channel called Fusion that will be programmed in English. 
Fusion is expected to be the first major foray into English-language programming by Univision. The network is expected to target young Latinos.
Top news outlets include television, the Internet, print and radio. TV remains the primary source for news, but the Internet has been gaining shares.
An estimated 86% of Latino adults said they get their news from television on a typical weekday.  More than half (56%) said that on a typical weekday they learned news on the Internet.



"Teen Beach Movie"
A publicity photo from Disney Channel's "Teen Beach Movie," which premiered Friday. (Francisco Roman / Disney ChannelMarch 15, 2012)


It looks like "Teen Beach Movie" is making waves for Disney Channel. The made-for-TV flick drew 8.4 million viewers on Friday night, making it the channel's most-watched original film in four years.
Targeted at tweens, "Teen Beach Movie" was Disney Channel's third-highest-ever-rated original among kids aged 2-11 and kids aged 9-14.
The premiere of the movie musical, in which a pair of teenagers are transported into a 60s-style beach movie called "Wet Side Story," is now the fifth-most-watched original for the channel, beating the debut of the original "High School Musical," which attracted 7.7 million. 
"High School Musical 2" delivered 17.2 million viewers in its 2007 debut, a cable record.
"Teen Beach Movie" received mixed reviews from critics, with the New York Times' Mike Hale calling it "a perilously high-concept but intermittently pleasurable concoction that goes back to the future in several ways."
The soundtrack, featuring songs such as "Cruisin' for a Bruisin'" and "Like Me," is currently the No. 1 album on iTunes.   



Paramount Television
Paramount Television will probably scour its movie vault for potential TV content. (Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times / July23, 2013)

Viacom revives Paramount Television studio, eyeing multiple platforms.

Media giant Viacom Inc. is reviving the Paramount Television studio, a storied production company that once made such television jewels as "Star Trek," "Cheers," "Frasier" and "Family Ties."
Paramount's return to television production after seven years signals the increasing importance of producing content for broadcast and cable channels and newer digital platforms as technology blurs the definition of television.
With streaming services such as Netflix and Amazonproducing big-budget series alongside broadcast giants ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, Paramount questioned the wisdom of remaining on the sidelines of an increasingly vibrant business.
"The definition of television has changed," said Amy Powell, who was promoted Monday to president of Paramount Television, from head of digital entertainment.
"We want to build something that is going to create television for all of these different screens: premium pay channels, traditional broadcast, cable channels and all of these other new platforms," she said.
Viacom surrendered its Paramount TV production capabilities as part of a corporate split that created separate publicly traded companies, Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp.
Viacom held on to the Paramount Pictures movie studio and its stable of lucrative cable channels, including Nickelodeon and MTV, and CBS claimed the valuable Paramount Television library and production arm, which makes not only prime-time fare but also syndicated shows such as "Entertainment Tonight."
CBS rebranded the studio CBS Television Studios.
Paramount will have to build its TV production studio from scratch, an endeavor the company estimated could take as long as five years. Powell said Paramount would be selective in its projects.
The company probably will scour its movie vault for potential TV content.
Earlier this year, Paramount formed a high-profile partnership with Sony Pictures Television to develop a TV show based on the blockbuster Paramount movie "Beverly Hills Cop," which starredEddie Murphy. CBS did not pick up the series, but the episode illustrated how some of Paramount's assets could be adapted for TV.
Unlike the recent venture with Sony, Paramount plans to control the financing and production of its projects, Powell said. Although Paramount lacks a TV distribution network, it intends to develop projects for some of Viacom's cable channels, including MTV, Powell said.
Powell, who began her career at CNN and joined Paramount in 2004, has for two years led the studio's digital arm that develops original content for the Web and other media platforms. That unit has released Ben Stiller's "Burning Love," which premiered on Yahoo and will make the leap to NBCUniversal's cable channel E!.
Powell also will continue to serve as head of Paramount's small-budget film division, Insurge Pictures.





Netflix reported second-quarter earnings with stronger profit and revenue Monday, but its shares fell more than 6% in after-hours trading as subscriber gains failed to meet some Wall Street analysts’ expectations. MarketWatch's Rex Crum reports. (Photo: Getty Images)

Numbers up, stock down. A few days after receiving 14 Emmy nominations for its original shows including "House of Cards," Netflix reported subscriber, profit and revenue growth for its second quarter that ended June 30. But despite the acceptance from the creative community for its programming efforts and increased subscribers, Netflix stock has taken a hit since the numbers were released. Subscriber growth fell short of what analysts anticipated. More from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.


On Location
JCL Barricade Co. in Los Angeles makes as much as 80% of the yellow signs by film and TV production companies in the L.A. area. Above, a sign for a movie shoot at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times / July 2, 2013)

Signs specialize in misdirection.

Many people in Los Angeles know that those bright yellow rectangular signs that pop up periodically in their neighborhoods mean a TV show or movie is being filmed nearby.
What they may not know is that the production information on those signs is often misleading — a usually successful attempt to prevent rabid fans or ardent paparazzi from discovering that the nearby production is a big feature film or popular TV show.
"The names are completely different to throw people off," said Lori Balton, a location manager and president of the Location Managers Guild of America. "It's just easier to fly under the radar."
The name that appears in big block letters on those yellow signs might be the same as the production company used to get its filming permit.
But on recent Los Angeles shoots, "Magnus Rex" was actually the "Batman" reboot "The Dark Knight Rises," starringChristian Bale, while "Rasputin" was the big-budget sequel"Iron Man 2," starring Robert Downey Jr.
The sequel to "Captain America: The First Avenger" that filmed in L.A. this year did so under the code name "Freezer Burn," a reference to a scene in the movie in which the title character, played by Chris Evans, was frozen.
The original production title for the 2009 movie "Star Trek"was "Corporate Headquarters," said location scout Kathy McCurdy, who also worked on the 2007 film "Transformers." When fans blew the film's alias, "Star Trek" became known as "Walter Lace," the name of McCurdy's late grandfather.
McCurdy said it's hard to keep a big film's title a secret.
"It's in the course of doing business," she said. "There's always somebody who leaks it."


Robert Caplin for The New York Times
Fox News is showing some younger faces, including Megyn Kelly, considered a rising star.

The over-the-hill gang. In TV, the logic is that the older your audience, the less value they are to advertisers. But Fox News has a median age of 65 and still manages to make plenty of money selling commercials. Still, the network is seeing its share of the 25-54 audience slip and is starting to tweak its schedule and talent, perhaps with an eye on widening its audience. The New York Times on how Fox News makes gray pay and whether it can keep it up. 



Nate Silver Oscar Statuette Inset - P 2013

Harder than it looks. ESPN's hiring of political forecaster extraordinaire Nate Silver to write sports analysis and possibly weigh in on Oscar races and other pop culture topics, has Hollywood's own awards show experts feeling antsy. The Hollywood Reporter with a memo to Silver. 











Inside the Los Angeles Times: An appreciation of character actor Dennis Farina, who died Monday at the age of 69.  Paramount Pictures has named a president of its new TV unit. Richard Verrier on how the video game industry is boosting visual effects firms.



Follow me on Twitter and I'll go easy on you. @JBFlint.