ONLINE MOVIE TICKETER BOUGHT BY COMCAST

Comcast, the nation's largest cable system, announced Wednesday that it had acquired Fandango, which has become one of the leading online sellers of movie tickets. At the same time, Comcast said that it plans to launch a new website, Fancast.com, that, according to the announcement, will "enable consumers to search, discover, manage and enjoy their entertainment experience across many devices and channels, including television, computers, DVDs and wireless services." Fandango, it said, will become "an integral component" of Fancast when it launches sometime this summer. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

L.A. TIMES WEBSITE TO REPORT ON "CELEBRITY JUSTICE"

The Los Angeles Times is planning to enter an Internet field dominated by such players as TheSmokingGun.com and TMZ.com -- "celebrity justice." In a message to the staff of the Times, Russ Tanton, innovation editor, and Meredith Artley, executive editor, wrote that they are looking for a writer to cover crime stories involving local celebs. "It involves writing breaking news off the entertainment beat, scouring court files to develop interesting and offbeat stories related to the entertainment industry and its denizens, and working with [the] Metro [section] in updating ongoing trials and following up on cases," the memo, posted on LAObserved.com, said.

EXHIBITORS COME TO CALIFORNIA TO LURE PRODUCERS AWAY

More than three dozen countries and 30 U.S. states have erected exhibits in Santa Monica, CA aimed at luring movie producers to their areas, the Los Angeles Daily News reported today (Thursday). Association of Film Commissioners International President Robin James told the newspaper that she expects more than 4,000 industry professionals to attend the expo, which opens today. "There is great interest in what film commissions from around the world have to offer in terms of incentives," James said. The Daily News commented that while California will have two-dozen film commissions from cities all over the state present at the Santa Monica expo, the state "is at somewhat of a disadvantage [since] states such as New York, Louisiana and New Mexico offer financial incentives and have growing infrastructures in the form of filmmaking facilities and workers."

THE SIMPSONS: THE RIDE?

NBC Universal's theme parks are planning to replace their Back to the Future attraction with one paying homage to The Simpsons, according to L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke. Finke, citing unnamed sources, said that Universal Studios Florida plans to open "Travel with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie" in the summer of 2008, taking over the Back to the Future area that was shut down on March 30. The attraction remains in operation at Universal Studios Hollywood and Osaka, with no plans yet for the Simpsons ride to replace it "because all the focus is on Florida right now," Finke said.

MGM TO BEGIN SELLING MOVIES ON APPLE'S ITUNES STORE

MGM has become the fourth film studio to make its movies available to the public for downloading from Apple's iTunes Store. Initially, just 25 "classic" films from the MGM library will be provided, the company said. Only Disney, where Apple Chairman Steve Jobs is the largest stockholder, has agreed to provide relatively recent films to the Apple website, where they can be viewed on any computer or on Apple's video iPod. And although the iTunes Store has sold more movie downloads than any other website, its sales have slowed, presumably because consumers have already bought most of the available new movies they're interested in. Daily Variety observed that in the last quarter of 2006, 1.3 million movies were sold by iTunes but that in the first quarter of 2007, only 700,000 were sold.

VETERAN ACTOR ROSCOE LEE BROWNE DEAD AT 81

Roscoe Lee Browne, whose credits include more than 100 films and television shows dating back to 1962 as well as numerous stage appearances, died Wednesday of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 81. His rich voice provided the narration for several movies including the 1995 hit Babe and last year's Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. He won an Emmy in 1986 (Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series) for a role on The Cosby Show.

Brian B.