» That’s a lot of Sheen: In what might be one of the most unusual contracts signed in television history, FX has agreed to air a new episode of Charlie Sheen’s post-“Two and a Half Men” comeback show 45 out of the 52 weeks of each of the next two years, which means that the show is going to be ready for syndication by September 2014. Why so many episodes in such a short time? A locked-in cost. Even if the show, which has had strong but inconsistent ratings, is a major hit, it won’t cost FX any more to air the show, which reportedly costs less than $1 million per episode to produce. And as Sheen owns roughly 40 percent of the show, there’s likely strong encouragement to want to send to syndication quickly. But even so, that’s aggressive scheduling for network that generally airs shows in 10-episode blocks. FX planned it this way, though, setting a ratings threshold that automatically kicked in a 90-episode renewal if ratings were high enough.
» Significant, if “limited”: This result came after a set of talks last week that initially did not seem to go well, but later proved be palatable for the North Koreans. The two countries previously were close to some sort of deal before Kim Jong-il’s death, but the latest development seems to have gone over. “The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, ”but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these.”
I thought that I would find myself in this situation many more years. If they wanted to secure my freedom, they had to pay a price for this.Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit • Discussing his situation on Egyptian television this morning after getting freed from captivity in the Gaza Strip. Freedom for Shalit, who was there for five years, did cost Israel immensely — they had to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to allow for his freedom. Nearly 500 were freed today. In Palestine, those prisoners were welcomed with cheers by Hamas — while Shalit’s own return was much more subdued, with Israeli officials concerned that freeing so many prisoners at once could cause security issues. source (via • follow)
» The fight goes to court: While Shalit’s parents fight for his freedom, families of the victims of militants in Israel aren’t exactly quite happy with this situation, and are trying to fight it in court. It’s unlikely the court is willing to fix this, but Israeli leaders are trying to soft-pedal this nonetheless. “I understand the difficulty in accepting that the vile people who committed the heinous crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price they deserve,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a letter to families affected by the exchange.
Microsoft really wanted this. Microsoft right now is trying to do things to keep up with other faster-growing technology companies.Bahl & Gaynor Inc. money manager Matt McCormick • Explaining why Microsoft went after Skype — offering a reported $8.5 billion for the company. They offered that much because they had to. Skype reportedly rebuffed any offers that were less than $7 billion. Steve Ballmer, during the announcement of the deal, suggested that the technology would be used for, among other things, its Xbox console, Office technology, Windows Mobile phones (where they could gain a real advantage, by the way) and corporate phone software. Skype is so widely-used that Microsoft could be sitting on the next generation of phone technology — something they need to stay in the game. (Also, a side note: Google was the only other serious bidder, but they didn’t get close to $7 billion.) source (via • follow)
» The deal is close: Reports suggest a deal could be reached by Tuesday, which of course would be big. See, Skype has a huge userbase — around 663 million users — and they make billions of minutes worth of VOIP calls each year. Clearly Microsoft would be a better choice to own this company than eBay, but then again, anyone would’ve been a better choice than eBay.