Stories for November 2000

Monday, November 27

Wall Street West---Investors Might Be Better Off If Dot-Coms Liquidated

Open the vaults, throw cash at shareholders, then slam the doors shut and go out of business.

MERGERS---The Next Wave

First came the dot-com craze, with predictions that Old Economy companies were obsolete. Then came the dot-com crash, with dealmakers rushing to snap up and combine assets from the carcasses of failed online ventures. And now comes the next wave, with Old

LAYOFFS---Layoff Toll Keeps Climbing at Troubled L.A. Dot-Coms

The number of dot-com layoffs has been staggering already high enough to populate a small city and Los Angeles has not been immune.

Real Estate Column---Casden Ready to Buy Forum If Sale to Church Collapses

It's been well publicized that the Forum arena in Inglewood is in the process of being bought by the L.A. Arena Co. and Faithful Central Bible Church. And those buyers expect to close before year-end, preserving the Forum for use by sports teams, ice skat

Deals & Dealmakers

Spurred by a tsunami of Asian-made consumer goods arriving for the holiday shopping season, the Port of Los Angeles set a new single-month record in October by taking in nearly 251,000 import containers, beating last October's total by 26 percent.

Mitch Albom---Ruling Might Throw Women for a Loss

Remember back in high school, when you went out for the school play, and you waited for the cast list to be posted on the bulletin board?

INTERVIEW---Los Angeles Times Publisher John Puerner

Since becoming publisher of the L.A. Times for the Tribune Co., John Puerner has taken aim at boosting circulation and staff morale in the post-Chandler era

POLITICAL PULSE---Secession Camps Have an Edge in Voter Breakdown

Last week's certification of petitions seeking to have Hollywood secede from the city of L.A. adds another 206,000 people to the total of those living in areas seeking to leave the city. That total now stands at roughly 1.64 million, or 43 percent of the

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SELLOFF---Gemstar's Rising Fortunes Take a Tumble

Rub your eyes. Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., a cocky fighter in the media world, was decked this month by investors who sold the stock in a pique over a sketchy earnings report. It was a rare comeuppance for a company that is accustomed to calling

Jane Applegate---Books Shed Light on Everything From Profits to People

Before you get swept into holiday madness, check out these new and not-so-new business books. They would make great gifts for you or other stressed-out entrepreneurs.

Cybersense---New Domain Names Don't End Much Online Confusion

Like most kids this time of year, Internet geeks and online entrepreneurs have been itching for some new toys.

COMMUNICATIONS---Giant Telecom Project Looms In Downtown

One of the largest industrial projects to hit the downtown area since the Great Depression is in the works for a site previously targeted for a state prison.

LAW---Lawyers Lining Up to Cash In on Web Cases

Today's digital marketplace is rife with legal battles that are making intellectual property attorneys into powerful titans of the business world.

HEALTH---Maternal Marketing Instinct

When Dayna Davis realized she was pregnant this year, she didn't know where she was going to deliver the baby. After all, it had been 13 years since she gave birth, and that was in San Jose.

Backlot Buzz---Travolta Wants to Return to 'Battlefield'

Hollywood is full of implausible plot lines, and this one's a doozy, but it's true: John Travolta wants to do a "Battlefield Earth" sequel.

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Successful IPOs Require Time, Planning, Professionals

As an entrepreneur, you have invested your heart and soul into your company and watched it grow and prosper. Now it's time for the next big decision entering the public marketplace.

AUTOS---Auto Painter Is Switching Gears To Repair Work

The major car manufacturers have found ways to improve the paintjobs on their vehicles considerably in recent years, which is welcome news for consumers. It's bad news for Earl Scheib Inc., however. The Beverly Hills-based king of the budget paintjob is e

Tech Talk---Firm Concocts New Way to Track Path of Web Surfers

Within two weeks, Predictive Networks will move into the high-tech 101 Corridor, specifically into 200 N. Westlake Blvd. in Westlake Village, and will initiate a new way of making "cookies."

INTERNET---Porn Entrepreneur Gives Inside Look at Profiting Online

What's in a name? Well, for starters, a lot of money if the name is a naughty four-letter word and you are in the Internet pornography business.

Weekly Briefing

The countertop at Millie's restaurant has been around since 1926, one of the many indications of the vibrant history of the Silver Lake eatery that prides itself on doing things the old-fashioned way.

Newsmakers

Michael S. Hearne has joined the firm of Rothstein, Kass & Co. as a principal. He will be located in Beverly Hills and will be leading the firm's West Coast tax practice, which includes the San Francisco and Walnut Creek offices. Most recently, Hearne ser

SHIPPING---Maritime Board Restructures To Better Take on Port Unions

Mirroring the changing face of the ocean freight industry, the Pacific Maritime Association has announced its first major reorganization in more than 50 years. The association hopes that the new structure will give it a more unified voice in its dealings

TAXES---L.A. Readies For New Run At Tax Cuts

Stymied in their previous attempts to reform the city of L.A.'s Byzantine business tax code, city officials and a private-sector advisory task force are set to unveil a new set of proposals this week.

ENERGY---Lighting The Way To Save

with many companies struggling to handle their escalating energy bills, bristol park industries has found a way to profit from the situation

Roving Eye

Tradition may be all well and good, especially during the holidays, but this is L.A., after all. So when ordering up that stiff dose of holiday cheer, you may want to opt for the libation of the moment, a Mojitos. It's all the rage at the Four Season's Ho

Ahead of the Curve

Ice Skating in the City: It's not a frozen pond in the country, but the outdoor ice rink at Pershing Square is the next best thing. "Downtown on Ice," sponsored by the Los Angeles Kings, features daily skating on the makeshift rink nestled between city sk

My Favorite Sites

If I am going to bid on a painting, this is the place that I go to first to start my research. Actually, I'm going to be bidding on a piece of art from Christie's very soon. And what I do beforehand is, I do my research.

GIFTS---Celebrities On a Spree

Retailers bend over backwards to accommodate, indulge Hollywood notables who want to do their holiday shopping in pampered privacy

BURIALS---Restored Hollywood Cemetery Becoming Profitable

According to the chief protagonist, though, it's a tale half told: Moved by a tour of the neglected but still-charming final resting place of dozens of entertainment luminaries, the scion of a minor funeral business empire, with a movie star name and the

CORPORATE FOCUS---On Assignment Inc.

In the tight labor market created by a swollen economy, the success of professional staffing company On Assignment Inc. has been a matter of following the fundamentals.

ELECTRICITY---Power Exchange: A Lightening Rod for Blame

The California Power Exchange Corp., originally the gleaming symbol of the power industry's long-sought deregulation, has suddenly become the whipping boy.

TRANSPORTATION---Truckers Want Federal Standard for Clean-Burning Fuel

After years of paying higher prices for cleaner fuel mandated by the state, truckers in L.A. and across California are pressing federal regulators to adopt a national fuel standard to help even the competitive playing field.

Monday, November 20

Working At Home---Delegating Tasks Can Free Up Time to Pursue Growth

Before I went on maternity leave, I made a list of all my responsibilities in the business. Wherever possible, I completed extra work that would carry the company through my absence. For the rest of the tasks, I created a delegation plan based on who I th

Newsmakers

Carole Crossley, Mohamed H. Sobhy, Gregory D. Goodman, Paige K. Hayes, James V. Hughes, Mark W. Wilbur and Tami D. Wilson have all been named partners at the Los Angeles office of Arthur Andersen, a worldwide professional services firm. Crossley will advi

RETAIL---Holidays Looking Bountiful for L.A. Business

Sales are lagging behind projections for retailers across the country, as the U.S. economy shows signs of slowing. But the Grinch is not coming to Los Angeles. Local consumers are spending freely and will keep it up through the holidays, industry observer

ENVIRONMENT---Endangered Bird Putting Area Projects in Jeopardy

The federal government's Oct. 24 designation of 514,000 acres of Southern California as critical habitat for the threatened California gnatcatcher has put several major L.A.-area projects in jeopardy.

ADVERTISING---Billboard Firms May Be Getting Message on Restrictions

Billboard companies seem to be buying into a proposed city ordinance that would significantly reduce the number of billboards in Los Angeles.

Wall Street West---ECompanies Fund to Target 'Clicks to Bricks' Ventures

Members of the team at eCompanies, the Santa Monica-based incubator-venture fund outfit, say they're raising $200 million in fresh dough for a new venture fund, which will have a broader mandate than the firm's first, e-centric fund.

Tech Talk---Fixed Wireless Company Lands $30 Million in Funding

A Calabasas company, Malibu Networks, is making a strong move to enter the fixed wireless broadband access equipment space with the help of $30 million in second-round financing.

POLITICAL PULSE---Might Mayor's MIA Advisor Be Bound for Washington?

For much of this year, former mayoral press secretary Noelia Rodriguez had one of the highest-profile gigs in town: chief executive of L.A. Convention 2000, the private-sector host committee responsible for raising the money to put on the Democratic Na

MUSIC---Contract Bidder Wooing Neighbors of Greek Theatre

The fight for control of the Greek Theatre has spilled into the surrounding streets of Los Feliz.

INTERNET---Napster Buzz Was Deafening at Webnoize

At last week's Webnoize 2000 digital entertainment conference in Century City, you couldn't walk a pace without hearing someone mention Napster.

Kathryn Harris---It's Tough to Trust Entity as Big as AOL-Time Warner

I've been watching the fireworks over the controversial merger of America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc. from my California home. Even from this distance, I know sparks are flying in Washington as federal regulators scrutinize the $138 billion deal.

Chet Currier---Comeback of 'Value' Stocks Falling Short of the Hype

The heralded comeback of "value" stock mutual funds in 2000 gets my vote for least impressive financial development of the year.

RETAIL---Style Statement

the founders of siany launched their leather and gift business from a shopping mall vending cart and went on to open stores in some of the hottest New retail developments in los Angeles

Personal Finance---Get Ready for Static When AT & T; Splits Up Yet Again

Have you ever owned a "tracking stock"? Odds are, you don't even know what it is. Yet some 5 million shareholders of AT & T; Corp. will get tracking stock, like it or not, when the company reorganizes.

ROADS---Shortage of Labor Threatens Push by Engineering Firms

This month's passage of Proposition 35, making it easier for the state to contract-out some highway work, translates to an economic windfall worth tens of millions of additional dollars per year for engineering firms.

Weekly Briefing

In the early 1990s, the legacy of Jurgensen's Market came to an end when the venerable chain finally shut down its last store in Pasadena.

Ahead of the Curve

Meet Matt Groening: The creator of "The Simpsons" and "Life in Hell" cartoon series gives a talk at the UCLA's Royce Hall in Westwood at 8 p.m. on Nov. 30. In 1990, "The Simpsons" debuted on the Fox Network as the network's highest-rated program, earning

CORPORATE FOCUS---Training Company Grows by Keeping Firms Tech-Savvy

Learning Tree International Inc. has been a quick study on how to profit from the information technology boom.

CHALLENGES---Officials Quit After Internet Buying Spree

CraftClick.com Inc., a Playa del Rey-based operator of arts-and-crafts Web sites, has been on a wild buying spree, acquiring an astounding 17 Internet sites since January, according to Mergerstat.

Roving Eye

It's late afternoon and your energy is fading as fast as the sunshine. Do you gulp down that 10th cup of Starbucks and risk climbing the walls all night?

Jane Applegate---'Tis the Season That Most Businesses Help Charities

Entrepreneurs may work eight days a week but it's not only for themselves and their families.

SCOOTERS---Razor Keeping Its Fad Rolling

Razor USA is riding high. The Cerritos-based exclusive distributor of one of the hottest products this holiday season, the Razor scooter, is frantically filling orders from its cavernous, scooter-packed warehouse. And just last week, it scored a notable v

HOT SPOTS---Areas With Low Home Prices Are Newest Hot Spots

The white-hot Westside housing market has suddenly cooled, and the fire driving L.A. home prices is spreading to some surprising places.

INTERVIEW---Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak

Following legend Jerry West as the front-office leader of the Lakers hasn't been a slam dunk for Mitch Kupchak, but he is scoring key points

Backlot Buzz---Bond Won't Be Back for Quite a While

MGM/UA can't count on James Bond box-office profits anytime soon because Pierce Brosnan says he won't be doing a Bond movie for awhile. "I wanted to do something different," says Brosnan, who is starring in a very different spy thriller along with Jaime L

My Favorite Sites

I got my daughter an Apple computer, so I have spent a lot of time on the Apple site. We have this DSL line we put in and my wife has one of these Mac Cubes, and it's just been incredible getting on the Apple site with QuickTime Apple's multimedia mecha

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TELEVISION---Upstaging the Sweeps

What's a network executive to do when reality is more compelling than fiction? Co-opt it, of course. That may have worked in the past, but even Hollywood producers aren't quick enough to fictionalize the gripping political events in Florida in time to hel

BARS---Jumpin' Joints

Los Angeles has a number of watering holes where mixing a good drink remains a fine art and the surroundings and finger foods make the libations taste even better

Real Estate Column---Another Project Stalled by Troubles at Theater Chains

It seems like they just keep dropping. Another project that had counted on a movie-theater anchor has been sidelined by the shakeout in the theater circuit industry. The future of Culver City's $41 million Screenland project, also known as the Town Plaza

Cybersense---Computers Could Be Key to Taking Kinks Out of Voting

Like many voters, my friend Mauro was puzzled by the electoral escapades in Florida.

John Dorfman---Stocks That Might Help Get a Jump on January Bounce

There are two types of stocks that traditionally rally in January: small stocks and stocks that got murdered in the previous year.

PARK---River Group Wants Site of Industrial Project for Park

Advocates of the movement to "green" areas around the Los Angeles River are in a battle with a Miami Beach-based developer proposing to build an industrial park and commercial/retail center on a portion of the old Taylor Yard rail depot near Glassell Park

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Keep Marketing on Front Burner When Business Is Hot

Marketing is the lifeblood of business for entrepreneurs, as well as for professionals such as lawyers and architects. Yet many say they don't have time to market their products or services because they're so busy. Or they contend there's no need to marke

Deals & Dealmakers

Seagram's Universal Music Group won a $53 million infringement judgment against the controversial Internet company MP3.com Inc. The judgment is about half the $100 million in damages that the world's largest record corporation expected to collect after a

HUSTLER---Hustler Confined to Strip

The spinning globe above the entrance of Larry Flynt's Hustler Hollywood store brashly proclaims that his X-rated approach to retailing is not for mainstream America but instead "for the rest of the world."

MEDIA---Wall Street Journal Cuts Add To Local Publishing Pullbacks

The Wall Street Journal's announcement last week that it is closing down its six regional weekly sections was the latest of several recent cuts by publishing companies both nationally and in the Los Angeles area.

Comment---Hey Napsterians, Music Does Have Value

The war's over. And anyone surprised by the outcome probably thought Ralph Nader was going to be elected president. In a landslide.

Monday, November 13

PARANORMAL---L.A.'s Own Ghostbuster

This Ph.D. charges $550 an hour for phone consultations and $7,500 plus expenses to investigate a ghost sighting

INTERVIEW---Larry Thomas, top executive of Guitar Center

As chairman of the nation's largest retailer of musical instruments, Larry Thomas caters to superstars and upstarts willing to pay big bucks for the right sound

The Roving Eye

Tuned in late and wondering who that woman is chatting up Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show?"

Cybersense---Music Fans Are Likely to Be Turned Off by Napster Fees

There's an old saying involving cows and free milk that applies nicely to the online music marketplace.

RECORDS---S.F. Music Landmark Headed to Sunset

The Bay Area music retailer that Rolling Stone magazine in 1998 suggested might just be the world's greatest record store, period, is coming to Hollywood.

Tech and Those Who Serve It Dominate the Fast Lane

To get a handle on what kinds of companies are thriving in Los Angeles, look no further than Exact Staff Inc., a Woodland Hills employee placement firm.

Jane Applegate---Selling the Family Firm Can Be Best Way to Keep Peace

When sisters Moo Thorpe and Sonja Bohannon's father suddenly died in 1992, it was more than a family tragedy. It jeopardized the future of their three-generation family ranch and hotel business in New Mexico.

Consultant Sees Hot Growth Among Lots of L.A. Firms

The fast-growing startup has become an icon of our times. But that story has changed a bit in the last year.

The Weekly Briefing

Established in 1991, when the L.A. music scene was still in the throes of glam rock, X-Large took note of the emerging rave and hip hop cultures and began marketing clothing to a new brand of music lovers.

Real Estate---Queensway Bay Loses Theaters, Undergoes Downsizing

The Aquarium of the Pacific, the Queen Mary and the Long Beach Convention Center are going to have to be enough for Long Beach's waterfront development dreams, at least for now.

INSURANCE---Lawyers Line Up to Help Northridge Quake Victims

Just weeks after Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill allowing homeowners to re-file claims from the Northridge earthquake, the smell of carrion is in the air.

Backlot Buzz---Maker of 'Charlie's Angels' Eyes Sequel

Leonard Goldberg, chairman of Mandy Films at Sony Pictures and executive producer of "Charlie's Angels," is taking a few weeks to enjoy his success and pondering a sequel.

REAL ESTATE---Residential Plans for L.A. Core Heat Up

Just a week after news surfaced that six more old downtown office buildings are in escrow to be converted into market-rate residential lofts, several more developers have confirmed that they too are acquiring properties in downtown's historic core.

Mitch Albom---Nuclear Ad Was Dud This Time Around

The TV commercial featured a little girl, standing in a field, picking a daisy. She began to count the petals, "1 2 3."

NURSES---Contract Is No Cure

If all goes as planned, some 4,500 L.A. County nurses will dutifully cast their mail votes by Nov. 21 and approve a new three-year contract that gives them almost nothing they were seeking. The 12 percent raise over three years is just 1 percent more than

GOURMET---Dishing Up Hot Togs

GOURMET GEAR HAS Concocted A BRAND NEW RECIPE FOR CHEF'S WEAR THAT'S POPPING UP IN THE MOST POPULAR RESTAURaNTS

Wall Street West---Veteran of L.A.'s Financial Wars Joins Different Camp

Mike Brown, a veteran investment banker who carries many scars and pelts from takeover battles and corporate financings, announced last week that he has left Sutro & Co. to hang his hat at regional brokerage Wells Fargo Van Kasper (formerly First Security

ECONOMY---Valley Stability Threatened by Potential Strike

Business in the San Fernando Valley couldn't be better, according to a report released by Cal State Northridge. But L.A. County's top economist said an over-reliance on the entertainment industry and some other nagging problems could cause trouble in the

RECYCLING---Recyclers Say New Law Unfair

If you ask Otis Tucker how he likes the recycling businesses these days, he'll tell you plain and simple: It's never been harder to make a buck.

ABC---It's More Musical Chairs as ABC Shuffles L.A. Workers

A year marked by the difficult relocation of some 200 staffers from New York to Burbank is not over yet for ABC, which is preparing to enter yet another phase of personnel shuffling.

AEROMEXICO---Flights Offered to Mexico After Service to Canada Flops

Ontario International Airport having recently killed its airline service to Canada just three months after launching it announced last week that it will introduce service to Mexico beginning Dec. 15.

BIG BOX---Big-Box Retailers Prepare to Battle Goldberg Measure

Caught off-guard by a proposed L.A. city ordinance that surfaced Oct. 31 to limit the spread of big-box superstores that sell both general merchandise and groceries, retailers are lobbying furiously to stop the proposal and threatening legal action if it

My Favorite Sites

For humor and satire, I go immediately to theonion.com, the online edition of the University of Wisconsin's award-winning student paper. When they get something right, it's side-splittingly hilarious. My daughter, Lisa Bloom, an attorney with my firm for

Ahead Of The Curve

LACMA in Fashion: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art celebrates fashion from the past 100 years with an upcoming exhibition that features 130 costumes from LACMA's permanent collection. "A Century of Fashion, 1900-2000" examines how changing styles in f

MILLIONAIRE---Advertisers Unfazed by Drop in 'Millionaire' Ratings

"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" may be sagging a bit in the ratings, but advertisers are sticking with ABC's flagship show, local media buyers said last week.

Entrpreneur's Notebook---Companies Can Prosper by Taking on Family Trappings

For some reason, many customers often prefer to do business with family-owned and operated firms. And in the process, those savvy firms have learned how to use their family status to attract and retain clientele.

LAUSD---Plan Would Send Students to Class In Empty Offices

Tens of thousands of school kids traipsing through the corridors of Los Angeles office buildings every day. Classes held in spaces designed to be corporate offices, possibly even on upper floors of skyscrapers.

INTERNET---Web Site Buys Magazine to Raise Its Offline Profile

Entertainment media giants like Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. often acquire Internet companies to leverage their offline properties.

Profiles

The clever advertising and marketing campaigns led by U.S. Marketing & Promotions belie the agency's humdrum name.

Newsmakers

Christina Carroll, Todd Moody and Michael Okabayashi have all been promoted to partner in the downtown Los Angeles office of Ernst & Young. Carroll is with the company's center for strategic transactions, an independent unit that advises top executives on

Chet Currier---Old Habits Could Die Hard for Investors in Stock Funds

If any doubts linger about that oft-demonstrated trait, they should be dispelled by the latest reports on flows of money into and out of the $7 trillion-plus fund industry.

Personal Finance---Rejuvenated Value Stocks Could Change Fund Picture

In recent years, "value" investors have been beaten into the ground. The kids all laughed at them on the playground. "Growth" investors kicked sand in their eyes.

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Dot-Coms Take Beating as Fewer Firms Rush to IPOs

When it comes to initial public offerings, timing is everything. This year, a handful of Los Angeles-based Internet companies learned that lesson the hard way, electing to raise cash by offering the public a piece of their businesses, only to see investor

CORPORATE FOCUS---Investors Spooked by Wild Gyrations of Liberty Digital

It's been a rough roller-coaster ride these last few months for Liberty Digital Inc., the West Los Angeles-based new-media arm of AT & T; Corp.

ZAGAT---Taste of the Town

For nine years running, Patina reigned as L.A.'s most popular restaurant, according to the Zagat Survey an awe-inspiring feat considering the fickle tastes of L.A. diners.

TechTalk---Digital Service Sets Up Shop to Serve Hollywood Clients

The company that specializes in transmitting video and other high-bandwidth material to just about anyplace in North America, Europe or Japan already serves some of the largest entertainment and media companies in the region.

ELECTION---Labor Union Tactics Pay Off on Election Day

Local organized labor again flexed its muscle during last week's general elections, racking up a string of victories against only a handful of losses in congressional and state legislative races, as well as in state and local initiatives.

Deals

The U.S. Justice Department broadened its investigation of Homestore.com Inc., the leading online realty services site, with a new round of civil subpoenas to industry rivals.

Monday, November 6

CULTURE---Lawsuit Filed To Halt Work On Bowl Shell

Preservationists have thrown a roadblock in front of plans to renovate the Hollywood Bowl and replace its historic band shell.

PERKS---Dot-Coms Turn to Fun, Games to Keep Workers

Let's face it. Working for a dot-com just isn't as slick as it used to be. Options are worthless. The IPO's a pipe dream. And the long hours are getting grueling.

Working At Home---Keeping It Simple Can Be Key to Successful Web Site

A few nights ago, I spent almost two hours choosing and ordering clothing and movies online, only to have my transaction fall apart in the final moments because of bad site organization. In one case, you couldn't discover until you got to the "check out"

FUEL---Turning Up the Gas

A small group of companies is expected to be the biggest winner in the area's war on dirty diesel, as a series of regulations force transit buses, refuse trucks and other public fleets to convert to clean-burning fuels.

My Favorite Sites

This is my favorite search engine out there. It's my first place to look when I need any information on anyone or anything. Whenever I have any sort of question, from a person's name to an idea, I get online sometimes while I'm on the phone or flipping

Jane Applegate---Candidates Spell Out Stance on Small-Business Issues

Throughout the televised debates, press conferences, town halls and campaign rallies, I thought there was too little attention paid to where the candidates stood on critical small-business issues. So, I asked the mainstream candidates to share exactly whe

RETAIL---Ground-Floor Retail May Be Required at Telecom Sites

With more and more downtown office buildings overflowing with telecom equipment, L.A. city officials and business leaders have hashed out a plan to encourage more street-level shops and offices.

Recyclers Say New Law Unfair

If you ask Otis Tucker how he likes the recycling businesses these days, he'll tell you plain and simple: It's never been harder to make a buck.

OUTAGE---Long Blackout Forces Edison To Make Fixes

Southern California Edison officials are trying to learn from a massive power failure in Santa Monica that crippled some companies for more than two days.

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INTERNET---Napster Pact Elicits Strong L.A. Reaction

Last week's announcement by German media giant Bertelsmann AG that it would partner with Napster Inc. ignited something of a firestorm in local music industry circles.

Lawyers Line Up to Help Northridge Quake Victims

Just weeks after Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill allowing homeowners to re-file claims from the Northridge earthquake, the smell of carrion is in the air.

FUNDING---Venture Money for Biotech Lags Far Behind Dot-Coms

Stephen O'Connor's story is very familiar, and also very unusual. He's a local entrepreneur whose company is not much more than a year old, but has already secured $1 million in seed financing from angels and venture capitalists. He's now putting together

AMGEN---Nation's Premier Firm Fails to Spark a Biotech Boom

Amgen Inc. may be the world's premier biotech company, but to the dismay of many in the L.A. biotech community it has yet to become the same type of magnet that anchored explosions in other parts of the nation.

BANKING---Imperial Bank Founder Sees Sale as Good Deal for L.A.

An era came to an end last week when Imperial Bancorp agreed to be acquired by Detroit's Comerica Inc. in a stock deal valued at $1.23 billion. And in the process, L.A.'s already thin base of financial institutions will be depleted by one.

Wall Street West---Fractions Getting Smaller In Current Pricing System

When it comes to pricing, most investors have probably seen the shares they hold split to the 32nd or even the 64th of a dollar. But it's rare to see prices sliced to the 256th.

Web Site Buys Magazine to Raise Its Offline Profile

Entertainment media giants like Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. often acquire Internet companies to leverage their offline properties.

S.F. Music Landmark Headed to Sunset

The Bay Area music retailer that Rolling Stone magazine in 1998 suggested might just be the world's greatest record store, period, is coming to Hollywood.

Backlot Buzz---Guber Film Uniting Brando and DeNiro

Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment, is understandably a bit anxious these days, with two $100 million babies about to be delivered. Mandalay's "Enemy at the Gate," starring Jude Law and Joseph Feinnes, and "The Score," starring Robert DeNiro

Tech Talk---Fixed Wireless Coming Despite AT & T; Restructuring

AT & T; Corp.'s recently announced restructuring will include spinning off its wireless operations into an independent company. Does that mean the company's schedule to roll out fixed wireless broadband service to Los Angeles is still in play?

DOWNTOWN---Moving on Downtown

The fledgling efforts to convert old, boarded-up downtown office buildings into snazzy residential lofts have suddenly caught fire, with new investors rushing in to undertake the risky conversions. No fewer than six office buildings in the downtown histor

TRIALS---Diversity Makes L.A. Prime Site for Myriad of Research

For research companies in search of human guinea pigs to test new drugs or conduct other research, L.A. is a very attractive place.

Mitch Albom---Kids' Love of the Game Is Fading Fast

In the old days, I loved baseball. My heart pounded the first time I saw a Major League game. I diligently took pencil to scorecard and filled in every play, every ground out and fly ball. In those days, I knew all the players on my team and it wa

DINING-- A look at L.A.'s oldest restaurants

Los Angeles may not seem old, but there are restaurants that have been around for almost 100 years

DODGERS---Team Makes Money as Fans Take Field

In an effort to at least partially offset the ever-burgeoning cost of fielding a baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers are selling their field to corporate America as a place for parties and other gatherings.

Roving Eye

With the possible exception of the sturdy-but-dowdy Volvo, it might have seemed that station wagons were a vanishing breed on Los Angeles streets and freeways.

OVERVIEW---Biotech Struggles to Gain Healthy Returns on Research

Electronic noses that can sniff out toxic smells. Artificial eyes that can give sight to the blind. Skin that can be grown in the lab and applied to burn victims' bodies. They're all being developed in Los Angeles, along with countless other innovations t

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Part of Business Equation Is the Value of Your Time

Ever come to the disappointing realization that if you had acted on a problem sooner, you could have saved yourself a lot of time and money?

Flights Offered to Mexico After Service to Canada Flops

Ontario International Airport having recently killed its airline service to Canada just three months after launching it announced last week that it will introduce service to Mexico beginning Dec. 15.

Newsmakers

Emiliano Calemzuk has been named vice president and general manager of Fox Kids Latin America. Calemzuk will be responsible for the channel's management, as well as implement strategies designed to grow revenues. Previously, he served as director of media

Deals & Dealmakers

Striking a deal in one of the nation's largest and longest-running environmental cases, Montrose Chemical Corp. and two other companies agreed last week to pay an undisclosed amount to compensate Californians for damages linked to a giant DDT deposit in t

HIKES---L.A. Firms About To Be Struck by Major Cost Hikes

For Michael Murphy, president of Santa Clarita-based Aquafine Corp., these were supposed to be the good times.

Weekly Briefing

The Midnight Special, a holdover from the early 1970s, when it was established in Venice amid social upheaval, now ranks among the most popular independent bookstores in Los Angeles.

Real Estate Column---After Decade-Long Delay, Courthouse Will Get Built

Century City-based MBK Southern California Ltd. has been awarded an $80 million contract to build the new L.A. County facility in Lancaster.

GIFTS---Shopping for the Stars

the folks at star treatment have built a booming Business by finding perfect gifts for hollywood's biggest names

Ahead of the Curve

Best of Webber:"The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber," starring Petula Clark, comes to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium beginning Nov. 14 for eight performances. It's a best-of performance of the Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer's works, including

CORPORATE FOCUS-- Superior Industries International Inc.

Last year, Superior Industries International Inc. couldn't get any respect on Wall Street. Despite consistently strong earnings quarter after quarter, investors were infatuated with tech stocks and barely noticed the Van Nuys-based car parts manufacturer.

HOOPS---Hoop Scouts Plugging Into New Gadget

In the world of bits and bytes, infinite mobility is getting closer and closer. The dream is to be anywhere at anytime conducting specialized work on an array of devices and software applications.

AIRPORT---Mayor Candidates Shy Away From LAX Issue

The expansion of Los Angeles International Airport will likely be the single biggest project to confront L.A.'s next mayor. But so far, the six mayoral candidates appear reluctant to take up the issue, let alone cheerlead for the multibillion-dollar proje

Cybersense---Internet Name Group Needs a Lesson in Democracy

The presidential election may amount to a celebration of the democratic process, but a group created by our elected leaders to run a critical portion of the Internet will soon do its best to run that process into the ground.

HOT SPOTS---Biotech Hot Spots Spread Across Map of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to a number of world-class biotech research centers. Here are some of the biggest and best.

HOLIDAYS---Prediction of Holiday Spending Should Make Merchants Merry

Los Angeles retailers should expect a fairly happy holiday shopping season this year, with sales just about matching 1999's robust period.

Kathryn Harris---Blockbuster Striking Deals To Cope With Tech Changes

Yikes. A share of Blockbuster Inc. now costs as little as a video rental with a late fee.

EXPORTS---L.A. District Shows Strong Increase in Export Volume

The volume of exports leaving local ports is ramping up, even as the national economy is cooling down, according to statistics released last week.

Valley Stability Threatened by Potential Strike

Business in the San Fernando Valley couldn't be better, according to a report released by Cal State Northridge. But L.A. County's top economist said an over-reliance on the entertainment industry and some other nagging problems could cause trouble in the

Maker of 'Charlie's Angels' Eyes Sequel

Leonard Goldberg, chairman of Mandy Films at Sony Pictures and executive producer of "Charlie's Angels," is taking a few weeks to enjoy his success and pondering a sequel.

CONSTRUCTION---Developers Abandon Fight Against Runoff Regulations

The long-running battle over whether developers would be required to undertake costly measures to capture storm-water runoff from their new L.A.-area projects appears to finally be over.

Q & A---UCLA; Ready to Play Catch-Up With Genome Work

When the UCLA Medical School created the Department of Human Genetics two years ago, a crucial element in securing the success of the new department was to recruit one of the world's foremost genetic scientists to head it.

INTERVIEW---Robert F. Maguire III

From his role in developing downtown L.A. to endless squabbles over Playa Vista, Robert F. Maguire III has never been afraid to get involved in the big projects