Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'Tower Heist' not coming to a home theater near you; star Eddie Murphy coming to SNL?

HELP HAITI Benefiting The Ben Stiller Foundation And The J/P Haitian Relief Organization - Inside

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Ben Stiller

FILE: Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller attend the HELP HAITI benefiting The Ben Stiller Foundation and The J/P Haitian Relief Organization at the Urban Zen Center At Stephan Weiss Studio on February 11, 2011 in New York City.

Universal Pictures dropped plans Wednesday to offer the new Eddie Murphy/Ben Stiller movie "Tower Heist" for home viewing just three weeks after opening in theaters on Nov. 4. Several theater chains had threatened to not carry the film if Universal went ahead with their plans, expressing concern about the early release leading viewers to decide they should just wait and not go see the film in theaters.

Universal was looking to try out the idea of charging more ($60 in this case) for a chance to view a movie at home far earlier than normal. Get a few friends together and it could start looking like an attractive possibility, much like pay-per-view fight nights. The plan had only called for the film to get an early home release in two cities, but apparently even that was too much for theater owners. There have already been some similar experiments to this with smaller films, but "Tower Heist" would have been the biggest example to date.

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3 sports without strikes or lockouts

UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

UFC fighter Antonio Nogueira (L) battles UFC fighter Randy Couture (R) during their Heavyweight bout at UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira at the Rose Garden Arena on August 29, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.

The first two weeks of the NBA's season have been canceled after failed negotiations between owners and players. What's a fan of the Lakers — or any of the NBA's other teams — to do? Here's a look at a few other sports that haven't faced lockouts or strikes.

Soccer

While there have been soccer strikes in other nations, soccer is such an international sport that it's less dependent on any nation's labor laws, so you're likely to be able to watch world class soccer at almost any point. Here in the United States, there is a Major League Soccer players union, but they have yet to strike. Major League Soccer was founded in 1993, with the union founded in 2003, so they haven't been around long. In 2010, contentious negotiations did raise the possibility of a strike, but eventually a 5-year agreement was reached.

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Netflix: No Qwikster, and the SNL sketch that almost was

Netflix announced Monday that they're canceling their plans to split into two brands, Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs by mail, though there will still be an internal separation.

"Saturday Night Live" had a Netflix sketch planned that got cut for time, but they put it up online. It takes a shot at Netflix's public apologies, particularly this video. While the show elevates the situation for comedic effect, the setup isn't too far off from reality. SNL's Jason Sudeikis, playing Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, summarized what most see as Netflix's problems. "We raised our rates from $10 a month to $16 a month, but that's not all. We knew you loved Netflix because it was an easy to use website for all your movie needs. To make it better, we split it into two separate, slightly more confusing sites."

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Improv Lab aims to shake up traditional comedy world

Courtesy Jamie Flam

Improv Lab manager Jamie Flam

The Improv Lab is a 50-seat theater attached to the Hollywood Improv and marks an attempt by one of Los Angeles's traditional comedy clubs to try something different from the standard club formula. In an online editorial, Comedy Store marketing and development VP Alf LaMont wrote that "The Improv Lab is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak landscape."

Improv Lab manager Jamie Flam agrees with LaMont that one of the keys is developing talent. "It really is as simple as talking to people about their shows" and providing resources, Flam says. "Just talking about the show and helping give notes and feedback." Flam says that, as someone who knows other comedians and has produced hundreds of shows, he can recommend other comedians who should be on a show and give feedback on how to promote the show and what would take a show to the next level.

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On the road with singer-songwriter David Bazan

Kevin Lloyd/KPCC

David Bazan in an Aliso Viejo park.

Indie singer-songwriter David Bazan played a house show in Aliso Viejo Tuesday night. It's an example of the intimate connection he makes with fans both as a person and through his music, exploring topics like religion and political disillusionment in a deeply personal way.

Part of the way he connects with fans is by doing small house shows on his Living Room tours. He tours by himself, without a band, playing acoustic shows hosted by fans in their living rooms. The shows almost always sell out relatively quickly, as they're kept small due to the intimate venues. The sales are all done through Paypal. "I feel like the people that are at the shows have a good experience, and it builds trust."

Bazan says that doing these shows lets him come back to the same area more frequently than if he were to perform with his band at a rock club. He says he can do his solo tour in his van for under $100 a day, and gets a much higher percentage of tickets per person. "A lot of the things [I] do are geared so the pressure of money isn't the first thing on my mind."

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