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HLN to make cuts, change lineup. CNN has rough week.

November 05, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • HLN, home of Nancy Grace, is making some changes. Above, Grace in 2005.
HLN, home of Nancy Grace, is making some changes. Above, Grace in 2005. (Jennifer S. Altman / For…)

After the coffee. Before coming up with my own stat of the day.

The Skinny: Caught most of an amazing documentary on KCET last night on World War II hero James "Maggie" Megellas. Incredible story. Go watch it. Tuesday's roundup includes more analysis of what Netflix's purchase of the documentary "The Square" means for the movie industry. Also, the cable channel HLN is going through an overhaul and CNN had a really bad week.

Daily Dose: Fans of the old Howard Stern radio show remember well the king of all media's legendary birthday parties, which would draw a bizarre group of stars, politicians and, of course, freaks. When Stern joined satellite radio broadcaster Sirius, the parties stopped. Well, with Stern turning 60 next year, he'll do it again and has tapped Jimmy Kimmel to host the festivities.

A big step? Netflix's acquisition of the critically acclaimed documentary "The Square" about protests in Egypt has the industry talking about whether the streaming service will soon be crashing the Oscars the way it invaded the Emmys this year with "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development." On the business side, the acquisition will allow Netflix to experiment with releasing a movie on its service the same day it debuts in theaters. Like Oprah Winfrey, anything Netflix does gets tons of coverage so here are some stories about "The Square" deal from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

How about refunds? Paramount Pictures is going to offer so-called "supertickets" to people who want to pay a lot to see "Anchorman 2" a few days before its nationwide release, according to the Wall Street Journal. Besides an early jump on the movie, supertickets also can include a digital download when the movie is done with its theatrical run. Having seen the trailer for "Anchorman 2," I will be a very hard sell to pay the regular price, much less an inflated one just so I can suffer a few days before my friends.

Making headlines. HLN, the cable network formerly known as Headline News that has been through more personality changes in recent years than Sybil, is tweaking its lineup and making cuts under new chief Albie Hecht. HLN gets big ratings when there is a juicy trial to cover, but when there isn't, the network struggles. Much of the time HLN looks like a combination of E! and CNN. Its biggest personalities are Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew Pinsky. More on the changes from Variety and Mediaite.

Tough week. CNN ratings fell last week to a new low under Jeff Zucker, who took over running the network in January. CNN has had some success with Zucker's moves including programming documentaries but it is still struggling with trying to find a formula to take viewers away from Fox News and MSNBC and avoid constant ridicule from Jon Stewart. The Hollywood Reporter and TV Newser on the numbers.

Keep your friend close and your enemies closer. New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler seems to have a borrowed a page from the Michael Corleone school of management by tapping Gigi Sohn for a senior role on his staff. Sohn founded Public Knowledge, a media watchdog group that has often been critical of the FCC's regulation of the media and Internet. With Sohn on board, Wheeler will have an in-house critic and perhaps has sent an olive branch to consumer advocates who fear the agency favors big media over the little guy. The Los Angeles Times on the hire.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Vince Vaughn is hoping to break out of a box-office slump with "Delivery Man." A sneak-peak look at "American Hustle."

Follow me on Twitter. I don't bite. @JBFlint.


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