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Mo’guls, Mo’ Problems

South Park Creators to Launch ‘Important Studios’

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are apparently sick of Hollywood studio oversight–as they ready the inevitable film version of their Broadway hit Book of Mormon. The pair have been saving their syndication money, and let the New York Times know over the weekend that they plan on launching their own $300 million production studio: called “Important Studios.”

“Having worked with several different studios over the years, we came to realize that our favorite people in the world are ourselves,” the pair said in a statement.

Parker and Stone also courted $60 million in backing from Raine Group head Joseph Ravitch.

“Ten years ago, you needed that studio machinery to start cranking its marketing muscle,” Stone told the Times. “Now we could market a movie-size project. We bring a lot of heft.”

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More Funny Business Tied to U-T San Diego Braintrust

Media watchdogs are barking up the U-T San Diego tree once again. Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis obtained some explosive evidence this afternoon, on the heels of an earlier investigative report by KPBS:

U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch threatened to use the newspaper he manages to push to dissolve the Unified Port of San Diego, an email given to Voice of San Diego Thursday by port Commissioner Scott Peters reveals. The threat came as Lynch pressed Peters on his decision to vote for a long-term lease with Dole, which operates at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal…

The threat to disband the port was not in the email KPBS posted because that was an email forwarded to the port by Peters seeking advice. He’d truncated it to edit out the threat so as not to distract port staff.

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San Diego Facebook Page Begs the LA Times to Head South

San Diego may be a relatively conservative town. But it looks like quite a few locals are fed up with just how conservative (i.e. unapologetic Republican propaganda) their local paper formerly known as the Union-Tribune has become under new owner Douglas Manchester.

A new Facebook page has popped up begging the LA Times come to San Diego. The page promises that if the Times were to launch a new San Diego section, San Diego news hounds would subscribe en masse. So far only 74 people have “liked” the page. Not enough to subsidize a new section obviously. But the effort is still relatively new.

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U-T San Diego a Self-Professed ‘One Stop Shop’ for Republican Candidates

Wow. Looks like “Papa” Doug Manchester’s U-T San Diego isn’t even pretending to be an objective news source anymore. San Diego CityBeat’s Kelly Davis got hold of an invite to a U-T gathering for Republican party operatives, describing the paper as a “one-stop shop for candidates.”

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Vegas Journo Adds Casino Context to Reuters-Sands Bulletin

On Monday, Reuters west coast enterprise editor Peter Henderson and author-contributor Joseph Menn made waves with an article about Las Vegas Sands Corp. being investigated by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board in connection with some explosive China accusations leveled by a former employee. Accusations that have been consistently denied by Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson (pictured).

Today, Las Vegas Review-Journal staffer Howard Stutz shares an intriguing op ed about all this. He says it’s par for the exclusive, Shadow Creek course:

In reality, Nevada’s licensed casino companies are always under investigation. So an international media report Monday that Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being probed by the Nevada Gaming Commission and Control Board over bribe payment allegations in mainland China isn’t much of a revelation.

Nor is there much new in reports on the allegations, some of which are a decade old.

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Tribune Company to Finally Emerge From Bankruptcy

After more than three years, U.S. Bankruptcy judge Kevin Carey has officially signed off on a plan for Tribune Company to emerge from bankruptcy. According to the Chicago Tribune, the media company will soon be in the hands of a conglomerate of senior investors, led by the LA-based investment fund Oaktree Capital Management.

Looks like we won’t have old Sam Zell to pick on anymore…Or won’t we? Apparently, the Tribune Co. legal fireworks aren’t over yet.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Junior creditors led by New York investment fund Aurelius Capital Management have said they plan to appeal the decision issued in Delaware by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey. But few experts expect appeals to gain traction because of the careful way Carey fashioned his confirmation opinion.

Instead, junior creditors will likely shift their attention a federal district court in New York where they are suing 35,000 former Tribune Co. shareholders who cashed out in the company’s 2007 leveraged buyout, certain current and former Tribune Co. directors and officers as well as Sam Zell, the deal’s architect. The litigation could keep the controversy surrounding the litigation alive in the courts for years.

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Is Rupert Murdoch Eyeing the LA Times?

The Wall Street Journal seems to think so.

People familiar with the situation say Mr. Murdoch has long eyed titles such as the Los Angeles Times, whose parent company, Tribune Co., is due to emerge from bankruptcy in coming months. In the interview, Mr. Murdoch played down his interest in the paper, saying it would have to be looked at “closely,” citing regulatory restrictions, among other things.

The news came at the same time Murdoch announced his intention to peel off News Corp.’s newspaper assets into a separate corporate entity from its entertainment holdings. Once that move is completed, his new print company plans to go on an “acquisition” spree. Normally we’d be terrified at that prospect. But with Douglas Manchester sizing up newspapers up and down California, we’d actually be somewhat relieved to see Murdoch take over.

Dan Harmon Sounds Off on Being Fired from Community

The Hollywood media was abuzz this weekend over the news that Dan Harmon was being replaced as showrunner of NBC’s Community. Not that the TV execs wanted it that way when they announced the news on Friday evening after most reporters had gone home.

But Harmon’s not the sort of fellow to go quietly. Via Tumblr, he swiftly responded to the network spin with his typical frankness.

On the news he will remain on the show as a consulting producer:

I am technically “signed on,” by default, to be an executive consulting something or other – which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position.  Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and “help out,” like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.

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Arianna Huffington’s Editorial Role at AOL Downsized

When AOL acquired Huffington Post last year, Arianna Huffington was given editorial control of the company’s online properties, including Patch, MovieFone, PopEater, and TechCrunch. Since taking the reigns, Huffington has folded websites and eliminated journalists’ jobs while increasing the practice of utilizing unpaid bloggers leaving her with a critic or two.

Now it’s Huffington’s turn to face a downsizing, in the form of her job duties. She will now be solely in charge of the Huffington Post, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Huffington says the change was her idea. “What I asked for is for us to be more independent, to have technology, marketing and [business development] now into Huffington Post, so that we can accelerate all our growth, and for me to be freed up to just concentrate exclusively on HuffPost,” she stated at a conference Thursday.

The Huffington Post is continuing to grow, with a current focus on international expansion and the launch of a live video streaming network.

Full disclosure: This fishie blogs for the Huffington Post.

Thanks to Homeless Man, OWN Finally Gets Some Good PR

Just when Oprah Winfrey perhaps needed him most, homeless LA resident “Eddie” has come to the public relations rescue of the embattled media mogul and her fellow OWN executives.

This recent encounter at Beverly Hills’ Montage Hotel could have so easily gone the other way. But instead, as reported by the New York Post’s Page Six, it has led to the best bit of feel-good OWN branding since the network’s lofty launch:

Oprah joined four OWN executives on the patio at chef Scott Conant’s Beverly Hills hot spot Scarpetta… Spies say a passerby then approached, pleading, “Oprah can you help a homeless guy get a bowl of soup, please?”

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