Stories for February 1999

Monday, February 22

E Toys

Another of the L.A. area's promising young e-commerce companies, Etoys, has decided to go public.

BizTAx

As the L.A. City Council debated over three different proposals to cut business taxes last week, a tangential issue with a potentially even bigger financial impact was all but ignored.

Oped

One of the more enduring memories of my youth is gasoline lines. I remember vividly getting out of bed at the crack of dawn on frigid Chicago February mornings in 1973 and being rushed out of the house (sometimes with my pajamas still on) by my parents so

Golf

Westlake Village-based Pacific Sports Holdings has landed an exclusive licensing agreement with venerable European ski maker Head to take a shot at the crowded golf equipment market. Under the agreement, Pacific Sports will design and produce clubs that u

Vets

Dr. Rodney D. Ayl spends about an hour on initial consultations with cancer patients and their loved ones.

S P Story

There's a storefront on Seventh Street in downtown San Pedro where the T-shirts on display are emblazoned with "Longies Only" and "ILWU," monikers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

WSW

With the recent news that W.R. Hambrecht (founder of San Francisco-based Hambrecht & Quist) and Walter Cruttenden (founder of Newport Beach-based brokerage Cruttenden Roth) have jumped ship at their respective firms and launched e-commerce investment bank

News Summary

OVERVIEW A battle is brewing on the docks between the nation's most powerful union and the giant international shipping companies. 1

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Small Biz

Don't bother calling Nature Encounters Ltd. if your idea of a dream vacation is shopping along the Champs Elysees in Paris or basking on the shores of Waikiki.

LA

In the annals of urban studies, probably no city not even such disaster areas as Detroit or East St. Louis has been so villified, downgraded and warned against than Los Angeles. Even before local academics and media types discovered the joys of an all

Valplaza

Deborah La Franchi isn't just the highest-ranking twentysomething in Mayor Richard Riordan's youth-oriented administration, she's also sitting in one of the administration's most pressure-packed positions.

At Home

The number of people working from home increased for the fourth year in a row, according to the research company IDC. In 1998, the number of people working full time at a home-based business grew by 1.1 million, to 14.3 million. The 1999 figure is expecte

Property Management firms

A year ago, property managers seemed to be in trouble. Real estate investment trusts were taking a huge bite out of their business as they bought up prime properties and brought in their own in-house management teams.

MarketColumn

It's been said that TV programming is nothing more than the filler between commercials, but that's becoming less and less accurate. In the future, the program will be the commercial.

Correx

In the Feb. 15 story on television awards, the date that CBS will broadcast the 33rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards was misstated. The correct air date is May 5.

San Pedro

*The first European to set eyes on San Pedro harbor was Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Barillo in 1542.

Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has long boasted that neither rain nor sleet nor dead of night will deter the mail. Neither will slow modems or bandwidth problems, if a Santa Monica start-up has anything to say about it.

Computer Column

The march of personal computer technology continues apace, with new and cheaper systems arriving all the time, sporting ever-faster processors and increasingly massive hard disks. But there is one area where the technology seems to be stuck, with no clear

Spinosa

James Spinosa has seen quite a bit during his nearly three decades as a union man on L.A.'s waterfront. But nothing prepared the vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for what he saw on a recent "technology trip" to seaports in

Market

After spending years trying to keep Hollywood out of the country, China is sending a delegation to the annual American Film Market this week to woo U.S. filmmakers and bankers.

Ent Note

Despite the current slowdown in trade between the U.S. and Asia, the amount of cargo moving through the L.A. and Long Beach seaports is expected to more than double during the next two decades a pressing reality that's causing billions of dollars to be

TWA

The neighborhood once had designs of becoming a skyscraper-lined extension of downtown. But that seems like a long time ago, and the decision by Trans World Airlines to leave L.A.'s Central City West area is just another sign of the area's ongoing struggl

LA Newsmakers

D. Michael Steuert has joined Litton Industries as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He is responsible for strategic financial planning, tax and treasury matters, real estate, pensions and investments, risk management, information special

Persfi

You don't need much or any down-payment cash. And you may not need the sort of credit history, complete with bank account balances and credit cards, that traditional homebuyers typically have to show to get a mortgage.

MP3

It's only one song just a couple of minutes worth of music. But that solitary tune is also a quiet battle cry from DreamWorks Records.

Overview

In Elia Kazan's 1954 classic film "On the Waterfront," one of the dockworkers says to the sympathetic priest portrayed by Karl Malden: "It's different here on the waterfront, father. It's not like the rest of America."

Weekly Brief

A changing media environment, with more-expensive TV time coupled with smaller audiences, means corporations are cutting down on their ad budgets, and ad agencies are in turn slashing production costs often by hiring inexperienced commercial directors w

Miniace

When Joseph N. Miniace became head of the Pacific Maritime Association two and a half years ago, one of his main goals was to shake up what he saw as decades of complacency on the waterfront.

History

35 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: Rapid growth continued in the West Basin area of Los Angeles Harbor with the opening of a $4 million, 70-acre terminal capable of handling 35,000 tons of cargo Posh Japanese retailer Seibu closed its department store at Wilshire B

Newsmaker

Venture capitalists usually just supply companies with financing, but they supplied El Segundo-based Classroom Connect with a new CEO.

Margin

Any discussion of the L.A. economy invariably includes the importance of international trade and with it, the importance of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. And yet, the waterfront is among the least reported areas of Southern California.

Council

The L.A. City Council has just two weeks to analyze, comprehend and approve not just one but two hugely complex policy issues that will help shape the city for decades to come.

Digest

A National Football League expansion committee was said to have spent most of its private meeting last week trying to formalize a recommendation favoring Los Angeles over Houston for a new NFL team.

Applegate

When a major client filed for bankruptcy in July 1998, Michael Baird, president of Unicare, a Cleveland-based medical billing services company, felt like he was blindsided by a potentially lethal blow.

Interview

Education: B.A., Chadron State College; graduate work at University of Colorado, Denver, in public administration

Forum

With L.A.'s population growing larger with each passing day, local roadways are becoming virtual parking lots. Even one car stalling out can quickly lead to a miles-long backup. Tempers flare, drivers scream. It can get ugly out there, so the Business Jou

CorpFocus

Last year came in with a bang and ended with a whimper for giant real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis Inc.

TechTAlk

After years of being notoriously ambivalent about the Internet market, News Corp. finally was galvanized into action last week thanks primarily to Rupert Murdoch's youngest son, James.

CBS

CBS, the perennial also-ran network that for years has been running dead last among the Big Three, suddenly finds itself the top-rated network in the country in terms of viewers.

Puck

Picture a seaport where burly longshoremen are replaced by eerily unflagging machines. Imagine vehicles maneuvering around terminals without drivers, and computers that don't need human hands to enter data.

LA Stories

The Internet blazed last week with rumors that Walt Disney Co. was in talks to acquire Pixar Animation Studios and possibly even Apple Computer in a massive, multibillion-dollar stock swap.

Recol

The developer of the new Staples Center arena downtown is moving forward with its plan to build a major entertainment district on 25 acres surrounding the arena.

Monday, February 15

Showbiz

Once the hype and ballyhoo subsides over George Clooney's departure from NBC's "ER," how will prime time's No. 1 drama be affected by the loss of TV's leading leading man?

Congress

The newly enacted Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) radically shifts the balance of power between copyright holders and World Wide Web site owners. For companies with easily copied intellectual property, the Act offers a low-cost way to protect that

Weekly Briefing

Cynthia Vincent was not yet in her 30s when she began making clothes for retailer Fred Segal. Several years later, she had her own company, St. Vincent Inc., and a growing reputation as a creator of "whatever I feel is current," clothes that are "slightly

Real Estate

It's almost getting to be a weekly phenomenon: Another property is in escrow in the hot Hollywood market.

WSW

Maybe it's appropriate that one of the most volatile stocks in Southern California is Beverly Hills-based JB Oxford Holdings Inc., itself a discount stock brokerage. Two weeks ago, Oxford stock shot deep into space, in market fever that the small brokerag

Correx

In a profile in the Feb. 8 issue, Jerry West was incorrectly identified as holding two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. His correct title is executive vice president of basketball operations.

Digest

The Air Force shot down major contracts with TRW Inc. and Boeing Co. to design a new early warning system to track ballistic missiles.

Workforce

Thank you very much for Sara Fisher's article on Workforce L.A. and the New Media Academies on Jan. 25 ("New-Media Academies Aim to Train Future Workforce"). It correctly reflected both the spirit and the depth of partnership that has created this innovat

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Ticketmaster

What's it like to have a tiger by the tail? Just ask the shareholders of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc.

Awards

On Feb. 26, NBC broadcasts the 15th annual Soap Opera Digest Awards. On April 22, CBS airs the 33rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards. This summer, Fox rolls out "The Teen Awards."

Oped

When L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan unveiled his plan for business tax reform late last year, he brushed off the prospect of any resistance from the City Council.

History

25 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: Ford Motor Co. announced it would lay off 2,100 workers at its Pico Rivera plant as the car maker continued its move away from the large models and toward smaller cars Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in Burbank reported net income of $16.

Applegate

Heaps of laundry piled up in the dorm room they shared during their freshman year inspired Heath Abramsohn and Stefan Miller to start C & G; Laundry, a successful small business on the campus of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. The two young men are now

Glendale

Glendale, for years one of the most ardent pro-growth local cities, is poised for a dramatic shift toward slow growth.

Salvadoran

Salvadoran supermarket chain La Tapachulteca is finding a ready market of immigrants willing to pay a premium price for brands and products native to their homeland.

Persfi

Have you been leasing new cars instead of buying them because leases are so cheap, cheap, cheap? So is nearly one-third of everyone else on wheels.

Newsmaker

When Don Lumpkin first joined executive recruiting firm HRCS, it was supposed to be a 30-day assignment. An independent consultant at the time, Lumpkin had been hired to help make the company more profitable and retool its operations.

IP Tech

Asset-based commercial loans are loans supported by the pledge of a borrower's accounts receivable, inventory, equipment, leases, or a combination of these and other assets. When a loan is structured so that advance rates are implemented to compute a bor

National

NU understood that in order to be the forerunner in adult learning, programs must be innovative, current, and offered at multiple locations for the greatest flexibility. National

Interview

Education: B.A. in cinema, USC, 1953; M.A. in school administration and supervision, Cal State Los Angeles, 1973

Chandler

The announcement barely attracted any notice. On a day when federal regulators raised objections to the merger of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott first asked that President Clinton provide a full account of the

Margin

We first wanted to profile the Chandler family last November, as part of our special report on family businesses. But getting information about the Chandlers at one time L.A.'s most prominent and powerful family is not exactly easy. Getting any of the

Web Design

When you've got an idea of what you want for a web page for you business, it's time to start shopping. Since prices and services vary widely, it's recommended that you call three to five firms to discuss your site. Some of those will be Internet Service P

Jazz

At the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood last week, legendary harmonica player Toots Thielemans was playing a sweet rendition of "When Somebody Needs You" with jazz pianist Kenny Werner.

Advertising

Internet advertising continues to be a hot topic of discussion, capturing the attention of traditional and new direct marketers, and for

Computer Column

The recent column in this space about our troubles with Broderbund's "Calendar Creator" program has brought in a tsunami of mail. Mostly, we heard from readers who sympathized because they have had similar woes. We also got one response that showed no sym

Letter

Recently, when a neighborhood shopping center went up for sale in Northridge, more than 20 bidders came to the table.

Ent note

The words are on the lips of everyone these days sexual harassment. Employers now more than ever are asking, "How do we know if sexual harassment has occurred, and if it has, how do we make it go away without being sued?"

Corp Focus

It may not be as flashy or high-tech as some of L.A.'s more well-known public companies, but Torrance-based Edelbrock Corp. is a survivor.

Ask lorraine

Question: Last week's LABJ cover story featured hot lawyers. As an entrepreneur, while I appreciate anyone who is respected in their field, it would be beneficial to me NOT to have a lawyer get involved with a dispute. In my experience, it costs more than

Idb

Jeffrey Sudikoff had what it takes insatiable drive, an ability to see business possibilities where others saw none, and smarts to spare.

Fax Bills

1. Schedule to send during off-peak time for lower long distance rates. If the long distance plan you are using has lower night rates, it's amazing what you can save by giving a little forethought as to just what has to be faxed right now and what can a

Voice Mail

THE BENEFITS OF VOICE MAIL

Biz radio

Starting this month, Angelenos are getting a double dose of business hours from L.A.'s all-news radio stations: KNX-AM 1070 and KFWB-AM 980. The two stations are owned by CBS-Infinity Radio.

LA Stories

When Eric Tarloff wrote "Face Time," a tale about a philandering president of the United States and a young female staffer, readers wanted to know if it was an inside look at Bill Clinton.

Edit

In sizing up last week's labor dispute between American Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association, cynics would rightfully conclude that both sides were just looking at their respective bottom lines. As for passengers and the considerable inconvenience

Long beach

Long Beach's newfound success as a tourism and retail hotspot is starting to bear fruit.

Grammy's

Hoping to enhance its bid to host the 2000 Grammy Awards, Staples Center officials have shelled out $100,000 to be title sponsor of the 1999 L.A. Grammy Host Committee.

La Newsmakers

Paul McBlaine has joined Arthur Andersen LLP as a senior manager in the business consulting practice for health care clients. Prior to joining, McBlaine was a practice director of benefits realization for Cerner Corp.

Venture

For the first time in at least five years, Los Angeles County has emerged as the venture capital champion of Southern California, far outstripping Orange and San Diego counties.

Business

There are two types of Web sites around today: off shoots of already established businesses and those created specifically for the Web. Each has its place. Just about every large corporation now has its own Web site or is rapidly creating one. You can j

Shopping

L.A. merchants said those are just a handful of the popular items that drove what is becoming a recurring retail phenomenon January sales mania.

Wednesday, February 10

Letter Wong

Douglas Young's story fails to grasp the larger trade picture here in the Los Angeles region.

Monday, February 8

Grossman2

If there's a nasty, high-profile employment dispute involving a major company, odds are good that Paul Grossman won't be far from the action.

Costume

Even as she rigidly stood on stage at the Metropolitan Opera School of Ballet, Judianna Makovsky knew she was on the wrong side of the proscenium arch.

Greenberg

As a federal prosecutor in L.A., Gordon Greenberg won the conviction in 1988 of Barry Minkow in the ZZZZ Best carpet-cleaning scam, one of the largest fraud cases ever tried on the West Coast.

Pole

Debra E. Pole is right in the middle of the ongoing legal battle concerning silicone breast implants.

Valley

Critics say that's the message behind a projected shortfall in the number of signatures collected to force an economic study of the split the first step in a protracted and politically charged process that could extend into 2002.

DNC

L.A. is moving closer to locking up the 2000 Democratic convention, as the major concerns expressed by Democratic National Committee negotiators appear to have been resolved.

Bird

Ask people in the legal profession to speak about Terry Bird and you will get the same response, again and again. He is one of the best, period.

Ent Note

When an obscure novelist decided to sue Steven Spielberg, claiming that his film "Amistad" was based on one of her books, Spielberg turned to Bert Fields. When Jeffrey Katzenberg decided to sue his old boss, Michael Eisner and Walt Disney Co., for his sha

Trope

Fifty years in practice have helped Sorrell Trope build a booming celebrity divorce business that has attracted clients like Roseanne Barr, Rod Steiger and Kelly LeBrock.

Lambert

Thomas Lambert prides himself on litigating a wide variety of cases, from securities fraud to probate. More often than not, he wins.

Reeves

When Barbara Reeves' grandfather emigrated from Germany to the United States at the start of this century, he learned everything he could about the American constitution. "He was so impressed by it all," recalls Reeves.

Krischer

Gordon Krischer figures that all of society's problems get played out in the workplace. "Chemical exposure, sexual harassment, contingent workers I have been fortunate to work on some very significant cases," he said.

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Thomas

Geoffrey Thomas seldom works on more than one case a year usually because the media trials he handles are usually so complex that they require a huge investment of time and preparation.

At Home

The bad news is that if you want to do something really hip for New Year's Eve as we enter the year 2000, it is way too late. Most of the good hotels are booked, there is probably not enough room on the Concord for your whole entourage, and most of the bi

Digest Add

El Segundo-based Computer Sciences Corp. said it has agreed to acquire 51 percent of CSA Holdings Ltd., one of the largest information technology service companies in Asia.

Meyers

The L.A. area's jobs-housing balance, while still out of whack, is expected to improve dramatically this year, according to a new report.

ShowBiz

When Dustin Hoffman successfully sued Los Angeles magazine for slipping his computer-generated likeness into an evening gown and high heels, the story made headlines around the world.

Hafif

At the end of the 1970s, Herbert Hafif (pronounced like "half") had won 13 percent of all of the multimillion-dollar jury awards in U.S. history. At the end of the 1980s, Forbes estimated that he was the second-wealthiest lawyer in America, with a $40 mil

Tecktalk

In the hours immediately following GeoCities' Jan. 28 announcement that it would be acquired by Yahoo!, L.A.'s tech community vibrated with speculation about what would happen next.

Breen

Commercial property owners scored a huge victory a couple of years ago, thanks to attorney Patrick Breen. Because of his lawyering, tenants cannot get out of their leases just because a building goes into foreclosure.

Style

There are lawyers, and then there are trial lawyers. Pete Williams is definitely one of the latter.

Mayorkas

If the U.S. Senate follows a recommendation made by President Clinton in December, Alejandro Mayorkas will be the new U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, making him the top prosecutor for the largest federal judicial district in the nation.

Kaufman

When actor Michael Douglas and media mogul Rupert Murdoch needed a divorce lawyer, they turned to Robert S. Kaufman, whose opponents call him one of the most relentless, creative trial attorneys in L.A.

Brian

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Brad Brian was a tough competitor on the baseball diamond. He was a member of the U.S. college all-star baseball team, played in the World Amateur Games, and was awarded a post-graduate scholarship to help finance his e

Signs

Next month, business owners in Santa Monica are going to get letters from the city that many of them aren't expecting and that they won't like one bit.

Lack

When Los Angeles native Walter Lack first saw Spencer Tracy and Gregory Peck portraying impressive trial lawyers on the silver screen, he knew he wanted to be an attorney.

Shernoff

Ralph Nader calls William Shernoff "the man who has rattled more non-paying insurance companies than anyone else in the country." Shernoff is, in fact, a pioneer in the field of bad-faith insurance litigation.

Olson

When California Law Business polled 200 attorneys last fall to determine the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in California," Ronald Olson's name topped the list. In addition to being one of the country's leading commercial litigators, Olson is one of the st

Sager

In general, journalists don't like to get calls from lawyers, especially those who are libel specialists.

Valentine

Better think again. That romantic missive might be retrieved by your boss and seen as a strike against your productivity. Or even worse, it could become part of a court case in which you are accused of e-harassment.

Computer Column

From people buying books on the Web to an estimated quarter-million people trying to make a living trading stocks online, we are told that the Internet has brought us a new way of doing things a change on a par with Johann Gutenberg's invention of movab

Davis

Daniel Davis does not practice law in order to settle cases out of court. The 52 year-old Texas native wants to go to trial and, of course, win.

Teplin

Photographer Gary Leonard likes to show people his 1969 class picture as an example of what can happen when you break the rules.

Glaser

In Disney's view, it was a Mickey Mouse deal that did not deserve serious attention. The entertainment giant had agreed to turn the cartoon character Marsupilami, already a hit in Europe, into a full-fledged international star.

Re

Donald M. Re represents a steady stream of L.A.'s most notorious defendants and he does it without the trappings of a large practice. In fact, Re works by himself.

Asperger

Morgan Chu is one of the nation's foremost litigators in intellectual property cases, but he hardly started off on the career track. In fact, Chu dropped out of high school at 15 to hitchhike around the country. He almost didn't go to college.

Sagar

In the past three years, she has had numerous convictions, including a number of lawyers, in insurance fraud cases involving staged car accidents and faked injuries.

SmallBiz

The biggest drawback to being ahead of one's time is having to wait for the rest of the world to catch up as Mark Waldrep and his DVD production company AIX Media Group can attest.

City Tax reform

If Johnnie Cochran didn't exist, Hollywood would have invented him. Flamboyant, nattily attired and silky in his delivery, Cochran knows how to play a jury like a master violinist whether it's the so-called Trial of the Century for O.J. Simpson or other

Coyne

For Joseph Coyne, litigation is war and it's a kick. "I enjoy the give and take. There's a saying that it's the closest thing you can get to warfare in a modern society," he said.

Kotkin

Harbhajan Singh is a relative newcomer to Los Angeles, but he is involved in one of the city's oldest industries, the business of food. Working out of a sprawling warehouse at the Produce Center on East Seventh Street, he has built his Samra Enterprises i

WeeklyBrief

Larry Davis' Le Hot Tub Club in Westwood was, in the late '70s, a somewhat notorious rent-by-the-hour emporium of soaking and well, whatever else customers wanted to do. The onset of AIDS prompted Davis to re-market, so he opened the Splash Relaxation S

Hotels

Reflecting everything from an increase in tourism to the ease of financing, the total volume of disclosed hotel sales in Los Angeles County skyrocketed to $639.3 million last year, from $285.6 million in 1997, according to Atlas Hospitality Group of Costa

Blecher

Maxwell Blecher never thought he would become one of the country's top antitrust attorneys when he attended USC Law School in the mid-1950s. Back then, he just wanted to take an early-morning class and have enough time to get to his part-time job by noon.

Snippets

It's not movie-star money, but it ain't chicken feed, either. The numbers vary widely, but to be a top litigator in a Los Angeles law firm is to make about twice as much money in a single year as the cost of an average L.A. home, or well over $400,000. A

Getto

He may not be popular with the little guy, but defense attorney Ernest Getto has developed quite a following with corporate America. For the past 30 years, his client roster has included the likes of IBM, Xerox and Occidental Petroleum, provoking the ire

Bonner

Robert Bonner defending Heidi Fleiss for income-tax evasion and money laundering? In an earlier incarnation, he would never have been caught defending the infamous Hollywood Madam. Bonner was known for prosecuting criminal wrongdoers not being on their

Girardi

Girardi has made a name for himself as a successful "toxic litigator" usually involving class-action lawsuits. Two years ago, he waged a toxic tort case against Pacific Gas & Electric that eventually resulted in a settlement of $333 million for the 40 p

Persfi

You hear it over and over again, a steady drumbeat on the brain. Social Security gives you a puny return on your money. Your return would be miles higher, if you could invest your payroll taxes in stocks.

Hennigan

Brian Hennigan recognizes the trauma of being under investigation for a white-collar crime. "It is a big turning point in the lives of these people, and it is very important to see that their cases get resolved," he said.

ReColumn

West Hollywood placed its bet last week on the city's long-blighted east side. It bet upscale.

Reproters

L.A. courtroom battles unfailingly capture the public's curiosity, whether it's a "trial of the century" as in the O.J. Simpson case, or a simple traffic violation involving Zsa Zsa Gabor and a Beverly Hills cop.

Rothman

Frank Rothman represents two of the nation's three most prominent professional sports leagues against two of their most notorious figures.

Hum

Most of the 60 murder cases that Deputy District Attorney Craig W. Hum has handled as a prosecutor have targeted gang members. Last year, he convicted the three killers of Dr. Haing Ngor, the Cambodian freedom fighter and Academy Award-winning actor from

Hoffman

Former ACLU legal director Paul Hoffman is working on what he considers the most significant human rights case now taking place a class-action suit filed by refugees claiming torture and forced labor on an oil pipeline in Burma.

Mattel

As Mattel Inc. released disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, much of the talk was about the toy maker's problems at the retail level. But part of the trouble may be more basic:

Grossman

Clients of Marshall B. Grossman can be assured of one thing: tenacity. Mayor Richard Riordan once called him the toughest litigator in Los Angeles, and he has been described as a "legal golem," a reference to a mythological figure known for the relentless

Colman

While her own marriage has lasted for 35 years, Arlene Colman-Schwimmer has made a name for herself representing high-profile Hollywood clients in divorce cases.

Piuze

Named Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1996 by the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association, Michael Piuze won a $12.5 million judgment last year against Ford Motor Co. after arguing that the roof of a pickup truck collapsed too easily during a rollover and left

Quake

Some big names from L.A.'s business past, the collapse of a local publicly held company, and plot twists worthy of a Tom Wolfe novel that in a nutshell is what's going on in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston.

Women

For the past few weeks, McCann-Erickson World Group has been negotiating with legendary celebrity publicist Pat Kingsley to buy her Miracle Mile-based agency PMK. McCann spokeswoman Susan Irwin acknowledges that the talks continue, but won't provide any d

Margin

L.A. has had its share of great trials over the years and along with them, great trial lawyers. In fact, some of them have become bona fide celebrities, like Johnnie Cochran, Leslie Abramson, Daniel Petrocelli and Bert Fields.

Letter

I am appalled and offended by Joel Kotkin's "Brain Drain" commentary of Jan. 25. His ignorance, xenophobia and blatant racism are apparent. As a third-generation Jewish resident of Los Angeles, and as a first-hand beneficiary of the cultural diversity of

Feldman

You know a lawyer is well regarded when other lawyers pick him to defend them in court.

Kiesel

Though just 38 years old, Paul Kiesel is widely considered to be one of the top personal injury attorneys in California. Last September, California Business Law named him as one of the state's "100 Most Influential Attorneys."

Wasser

When a celebrity marriage fails, there's a good chance that Dennis Wasser's telephone will ring. Wasser has been practicing family law since 1970, when California passed the no-fault law that made divorce litigation another form of civil law. Within just

Newsmaker

Probably best known for heading the team of lawyers that won the O.J. Simpson wrongful death civil lawsuit, Petrocelli represents a large variety of clients and has tried a diverse group of cases.

Digest

The council voted last week to create a task force to review a possible takeover of the debt-plagued agency, which faces a $40 million shortfall over five years due to uncollectable loans and loss of revenue because of declining real estate values.

Airport

For the first time in 13 years, the Los Angeles International Airport's largest concession contract to run LAX's 12 duty-free shops has been put up for bid.

West

For more than a decade, Verdia Daniels has emptied bedpans, washed clothes and offered companionship to homebound disabled and elderly patients all at minimum wage and with no benefits.

LA Stories

Local Internet executives may be making millions of dollars overnight, but for the rest of L.A.'s population, making and saving money is tough.

Pixis

Savvy entrepreneurs deal with tax planning and strategy year-round, not just during March and April.

LA Newsmakers

Perkowitz + Ruth Architects Inc. has named five employees to executive positions at the firm. Peter Paszterko, design manager, becomes a senior associate. Those named associates are Don Grainger Yong Heng, Keith Mericle, and Vasilis Papadatos.

Forum

After a prolonged strike, the NBA season finally got underway last week. Network officials have decided to highlight games played by the Lakers, which should give the home team extra exposure. But many fans have been turned off by the perceived selfishnes

Edison

Edison International has essentially abandoned the newly deregulated power market, choosing instead to focus on selling ancillary services like security systems and appliance warranties.

Whitefly

A tenacious bug about the size of a kernel of rice has launched what farmers fear may be the start of a major offensive that threatens Ventura County's $143 million-a-year strawberry crop.

Frackman

When someone tries to rip off the Rolling Stones' trademark lips, Russell J. Frackman gets a call from the record label.

Wednesday, February 3

County

Los Angeles County officials are considering a plan to lease beds and services from two private hospitals as a way to ease demand on whatever facility eventually replaces the aging L.A. County-USC Medical Center east of downtown.

Monday, February 1

Micra

What is the maximum amount that patients should be compensated to cover pain and suffering as a result of medical malpractice?

SmallBiz

Avi Cohen didn't hesitate when a friend suggested they start a bed linens business.

Attitude

The numbers say crime is down, way down, throughout L.A. In some areas, violent crime and theft have plunged to levels not seen in decades.

Ask Lorraine

Question: I read recently that one of the online trading companies was starting up an online finance division. Do you think that this might be a viable way for small, growing businesses to go public?

Magic

To make it in show business, the saying goes, you need two things: a gimmick and a little hocus-pocus.

persfi

That's what President Clinton proposed in his State of the Union address. He wants government-sponsored Universal Savings Accounts, also known as USA, to foster more personal savings. Whether that would happen in practice, however, is hard to say. In rece

Snyder

J.H. Snyder Co. has filed a breach of contract suit against its financial partners in a deal to develop an office complex in Burbank, a move that could place the giant development in jeopardy.

Digest Add

The L.A. hotel industry had a strong year in 1998, with the average cost of a room increasing 10 percent even though occupancy rates held steady.

Interview

Hobbies: Collecting silver, gold boxes and micro-mosaics; tennis and table tennis, charity

Market Col

If radio audiences aren't growing, how come advertisers keep pouring money into radio?

Neighborhood

With a cup of coffee, she usually sits on her porch for more than an hour beginning at 6:30 a.m., sipping and waving at children walking by on their way to Weemes Elementary School, near USC.

Showbiz

Twentieth Century Fox and "X-Files" producer Chris Carter are developing another big-screen chiller based on their hit TV series.

Plastic

Plastic surgeons in California may soon be getting a little nip and tuck of their own from the state Legislature.

Forum

The number of violent and non-violent crimes reported in the city of L.A. in 1998 was down 22.1 percent from 1996. Statistics are one thing, of course, but attitudes are another, so the Business Journal asks:

Music

The music business is the only business Amy Welch has ever known. Fresh out of college, she took an internship at PolyGram Records and spent the next decade bouncing around four other labels, hobnobbing with such artists as Ben Folds Five and the Chemical

Store

Every time a customer walks through the door of Royale Liquor after night falls, store owner Jim Suh scans for three things: a bulky jacket that could hide a weapon, a pair of sneakers with good traction, and a car parked across the street for a quick get

History

30 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK: McDonnell Douglas Corp. reported that fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled to $34.6 million from the like period a year earlier, when Douglas Aircraft Co. merged with McDonnell Co Japan agreed to let foreign investors make so

Co Index

A

Oped1

Imagine you are an employee of a major company and arrive at the job fully expecting to start your normal workday. With no prior warning, you find the doors of the company locked and no one is around to explain why. This is pretty much what happened to

Margin

Here we were preparing this week's special report on the city's steadily declining crime rate when police helicopters woke me up in the middle of the night, their powerful lights beaming down into my neighborhood. It was enough to make me wonder: Are we s

Re Column

In just six months, brokers from Julien J. Studley Inc. represented the buyer in the purchase of a Burbank office building, signed up a tenant for the entire building, and then negotiated its sale for a quick $4 million profit.

Homicide

NBC's gritty cop show "Homicide: Life on the Street" is going into cyberspace this week, possibly a harbinger of where prime-time programming is headed.

CompCol

As loyal readers will remember, we are big fans of a software program called "Calendar Creator" (Broderbund, www.broderbund.com), which does just what its name says. It prints out personalized calendars in an endless variety of formats and sizes, includin

Digest

Officials at Arco, a cornerstone of the downtown corporate community since 1972, said the move from Arco Plaza is part of a $500 million cost-cutting effort forced by declining oil prices. A total of 325 employees will be relocated beginning in March to a

Ent Note

Workplace violence now costs businesses $4.3 billion annually, according to the National Safe Workplace Institute. To reduce the risk of violence, theft, and other personnel problems, many companies are turning to background investigation firms for pre-em

Wsw

Fed chief Alan Greenspan is dead set against investing Social Security funds in the stock market and cites the potential political hanky panky as one reason. But in California and Los Angeles, investing huge pots of the public's money in the stock marke

Charter

Now that it appears likely a single charter reform measure will end up on the June ballot, proponents face the daunting task of selling the measure to voters.

letter

Frank Wilson, new president of the architectural and engineering firm Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall, says it is possible for L.A. to have a workable public transit system.

GeoCitites

GeoCities Chief Executive Tom Evans was one of the headliners last month at an industry networking event, where he described Los Angeles as "a good launching pad" for technology companies.

Corp Focus

Mercury General Corp. went through some tough times in 1998 and this year could get even stormier, though analysts generally remain bullish about the company's prospects.

Toledano

Washington Mutual Inc., suddenly L.A.'s largest financial institution with its recent string of acquisitions, is already breaking local tradition.

Doughnut

Oh, the gooey glaze. Oh, the creamy chocolate coating. Oh, those yummy sprinkles.

Market Column

If radio audiences aren't growing, how come advertisers keep pouring money into radio?

Security

Crime may be down, but that fact seems to have escaped the notice of the public at large, which is spending record sums on security products and services.

Applegate

No matter how many salespeople you employ, you still have to be your company's best salesperson. Luckily, two veteran salespeople and two marketing consultants have shared their secrets in three new books.

Weekly Briefing

Lorene Wilhite has been running her South Los Angeles shop, the Bible Book & Gift House, for close to 40 years. The road has not been an easy one. At times, Wilhite said, her survival depended on the kindness of her creditors. Most of her business is done

Theater

Michael Holmes has operated Chandler Studios for 10 years, putting on about five productions a year at the 33-seat playhouse. Sometimes, if the play gets critical mention, he can fill the house, but there have been times when no one shows up at all.

LA Stories

The Shooting Gallery, an independent film company perhaps best known for "Sling Blade," was deluged with orders last week for a $17 baseball cap it's been selling online.

Lakers

Now that Michael Jordan has hung up his Nikes, television executives are anointing Shaquille O'Neal as basketball's biggest draw.