Stories for April 2001

Monday, April 30

Deals & Dealmakers---Library Renamed for Mayor Riordan

Citing his efforts to improve the city's libraries, The Los Angeles Library Commission voted 3-1 to rename Central Library the Richard J. Riordan Central Library.

Public Companies

Public Companies

COMPANIES---L.A. Becoming 'Red Chip' Colossus

A just-completed study believed to be the most comprehensive assessment of Los Angeles-based public companies in recent history, generated exclusively for the Business Journal by investment banking firm Duff & Phelps LLC, reveals a sprawling landscape dom

MONEY---'Cosby' Producers Launch New Media Venture Fund

Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Co., the television production company that created hit shows such as "Roseanne" and "The Cosby Show," has launched an investment subsidiary devoted to investing in media companies.

SALES---Media Giants Streamline Ad Sales Efforts

Advertisers looking to launch a multimedia blitz in years past had to make appointments with several different media salespeople from a number of different companies. Today, a number of media conglomerates are looking to simplify that media-buying process

POWER---Power Crisis Threatening to Damage DWP

For months now, L.A. city officials have touted the Department of Water & Power as being immune from the effects of the power crisis plaguing the rest of the state. There would be no rolling blackouts in L.A., no rate increases and no utility bankruptcies

Chet Currier---New Set of Favorites Will Propel Next Market Climb

For anybody with a stake in stock mutual funds, the next sustained market rally will bear close watching.

ALLIANCE---Latino Business Group Forms Ties With PC Maker

Compaq Computer Corp. announced last week that it has formed an alliance with the Latin Business Association, the L.A.-based non-profit that represents the business interests of about 440,000 Latino businesses in Southern California.

Real Estate Column---With Reagan Out, Penthouse Will Command Top Price

Whoever wants Ronald Reagan's space at Fox Plaza in Century City probably will pay significantly more than the ex-president did for the digs.

Mitch Albom---Forced Confessions Just Don't Ring True

They were all so sure. The police. The prosecutors. The judge. The mourners. They were all so sure that the killers were in jail. Justice was coming. A good kid had been murdered, shot while he was on his knees in a pizza parlor refrigerator. The town cri

BALLOONS---Reaching New Heights

Goal: To create and sell the world's most unique promotional tools and special events backdrops

WATER---Pending Bill Jeopardizes Water District Rate Adjustment

The sweeping rate restructuring being formulated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and scheduled to take effect next year may be derailed by a bill now making its way through the state Legislature.

IPOS---Public Offerings Dry Up as Investors Seek Sure Bets

The window for initial public offerings is shut tight not a single Los Angeles-area company has gone public so far this year.

Weekly Briefing

Patting customers on the head and scratching them behind their ears is nothing unusual at Three Dog Bakery. The national chain has about 30 franchise locations nationwide, with Mark and Leanna Bodnar being the only franchise licensees in the Los Angeles a

Jane Bryant Quinn---Trickle-Down Theory Isn't True With All Interest Rates

With general interest rates coming down, when can you expect rates on your own loans to drop?

Backlot Buzz---Miramax Seals Deals for Stars to Produce

Just a week after scoring a one-two punch at the box office with its hits "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Spy Kids," Miramax Films is racing ahead with a slew of new movie projects, including vehicles for Antonio Banderas and Miramax regular Gwyneth Paltrow.

ENTERTAINMENT---Semel Crams For Cyber Gig Yahoo Reign Starts May 1

When Yahoo Inc. founder Jerry Yang shocked the tech world this month by tapping former Warner Bros. chairman Terry Semel to lead the struggling Internet giant out of its economic doldrums, he set up a potentially dynamic marriage of his company's tech exp

PERSONAL---Several Public Firms Operate Like Private Enterprises

Torrance-based Edelbrock Corp., a seller of high-performance automotive parts, has been a public company since in 1994.

MOVIES---'Mini-Major' Studios Coming of Age

As the major Hollywood studios grapple with ways to become more cost-efficient, as evidenced last week by the Walt Disney Co.'s announcement that it plans to cut 4,000 jobs, a leaner type of entertainment force is re-emerging on the scene.

LAND---Prime Westside Development Parcel Placed on Market

Menlo Park-based Argonaut Insurance Co. is looking to sell an 11-acre development site in West Los Angeles one of the last major undeveloped parcels in the area for as much as $50 million.

ART---Venice By Design

Artists aren't letting the invading corporate influence in this creative L.A. community disrupt their work or the independent spirit of their enclave

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Be Informed Before Beginning Search for Financing

Completing a major financing transaction can be difficult. Whether they're obtaining angel financing, bridge debt, venture capital, or senior debt financing, many entrepreneurs do not take the steps necessary to ensure that the transaction occurs as smoot

MONEY---Profits Abound At Local Firms

While the L.A. economy was perhaps best known last year for its spectacular e-commerce flops, another group of L.A. companies was quietly pumping out big profits. As the e-world crashed around them, these mundane money-makers served up solid returns for s

PORT---Shippers Object as Long Beach Transfers Port Funds

Unlike a successful attempt nearly a decade ago to stop L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan's diversion of port funds to hire police, shipping companies in Long Beach are being stymied in their efforts to stop that city from shifting some of its port's monies to i

DOWNTOWN---Homes, Market Planned Downtown

Another major downtown L.A. residential project encompassing a full city block and designed to include 500 homes and a long-awaited Ralphs supermarket is in the works, informed sources have told the Business Journal.

Political Pulse---Ferraro Legacy to Linger Longer Due to Term Limits

Last week's funeral for L.A. City Council President John Ferraro provided some dramatic evidence of how much term limits have already changed the face of L.A. politics.

PAY---Nurses' Union Pushes Legislation Banning Overtime

Raising the stakes in its effort to win better working conditions for state nurses, the California Nurses Association is sponsoring federal legislation that would ban hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime.

Roving Eye

The new bicycle racks going into downtown Long Beach look more like elaborate metal sculptures than a place to lock up your bike.

Wall Street West---L.A. Company Has Wealth Of Information For a Price

The world's most comprehensive historical financial database is right here in Los Angeles, thanks to Bryan Taylor, professor at Cal State Los Angeles and founder of Global Financial Data Inc. (globalfindata.com), a financial Web site and investor service.

Jane Applegate---Advisory Boards Help Companies Avoid Big Mistakes

Gayle Martz worked for years to solve a big problem for people who want to travel with their pets. As founder of Sherpa's Pet Trading Co., Martz not only designed stylish, lightweight, ventilated pet carriers, but lobbied hard to convince major airlines t

INTERVIEW---Heating Up The D.A.'s Office

Career Turning Point: Deciding to pursue a career in criminal law after finishing at top of criminal law class at USC

QUIZ---L.A. Companies Test Your Knowledge

How well do you know L.A. public companies? Try your hand at this quiz and find out. Answers are BELOW

Newsmakers---Executive Keeps Music Deals on Track

Robert Allen may not have a household name, but the new vice president of business affairs for Universal Music Publishing Group is one of those who plays an important role in getting some of music's biggest names into people's homes.

OBSCURE---'Pink Sheets' Can Be Double-Edged Sword for Firms

Call it the final resting place for down-on-their-luck companies ineligible for listing on major exchanges. It's the "pink sheets," an over-the-counter quotation service where the stocks of some 125 Los Angeles-based public companies are traded.

SPORTS---Scaled-Back Plan For Ontario Arena Gains Approvals

After months of negotiations, Ontario city officials and executives with CoachSports Inc. have reached an agreement to reduce the size of a planned multi-purpose arena, cutting the project's cost by $9 million and bringing construction of the long-planned

TRADE---Pending Chilean Trade Pact Seen Boosting Port Activity

While this month's Summit of the Americas in Quebec City drew public attention toward the proposal for a hemispheric free-trade zone, the creation of a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Chile is a more likely prospect and area busi

TACTIC---Union to Descend On State Capitol

Hoping to pressure legislators to support a bill that would set minimum staffing ratios at nursing homes, labor union activists are planning to hold a rally at the state Capitol this week.

Ahead of the Curve

Reality TV Bites Back: As part of its May independent film festival, the Aamerican Cinematheque presents the L.A. premier of "The Wedding Video," a satiric look at the state of reality television programming. The film, about a gay marriage and the videogr

My Favorite Sites

This is one of my favorites. This is a weekly magazine, sort of on the irreverently liberal side of things. What I really like about it is a daily e-mail they send out called "today's papers." They do a comparison of how the daily news is covered by the f

Tech Talk---RealNetworks Chief Draws Crowd at Tech Pow Wow

How do you get L.A.'s top media company executives, venture capitalists, investment bankers, entertainment lawyers and talent agents in one room and seize their attention?

Cybersense---Like It or Not, Cyberspace Still Part of the Real World

Some people like to think of cyberspace as an actual place, complete with its own code of conduct and free from the limitations that apply anywhere else.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Move Into Music Business Seen Boosting Broadcaster

Even as other U.S. media companies falter in the slowing advertising market, Univision Communications Inc. is hitting its stride, aided by its pending diversification into the music business.

L.A. Stories

At last week's funeral for City Council President John Ferraro, Cardinal Roger Mahony provided one of the morning's few light moments while searching for the right anecdote to illustrate how Ferraro exercised his leadership skills and displayed courage.

DEFENSE---Litton May See Benefit From Competitor's Shipbuilder Deal

Northrop Grumman Corp. officials seemed less than pleased by last week's announcement that rival General Dynamics Corp has agreed to buy Newport News Shipbuilding Inc., and that the Navy and Pentagon are unlikely to oppose the $2.1 billion deal, but indus

Monday, April 23

Wall Street West---Accountants Have Designs On Investment Banks' Turf

Maybe the question is asked with a smile, but the answer is dead serious. "Our corporate finance unit is considering that," said Greg Soukup, partner and co-director of a special team named Ernst & Young National Office West (EYNOW) in downtown Los Angel

Backlot Buzz---'American Psycho' Shoots for Franchise

Ever since the era of "Rocky" and "Rambo," studio executives have had a mandate to search for the kind of material that can spawn not just one movie, but a whole series a "franchise," in Hollywood parlance.

PROJECT---Makeover in Fashion District

A $72 million residential/retail development a city within a city, complete with tunnels is planned for the Fashion District in downtown L.A., further boosting the area's growing prominence as a place to live.

TRI-CITIES---Vacancies Up as Prospective Tenants Weigh Their Options

The decline of the dot-com sector, rising utility costs and a general sense of economic uncertainty hit the Tri-Cities market hard in the first quarter, with vacancy rates climbing in all pockets.

MID-CITIES---Completion of New Projects Causes Uptick in Vacancies

Demand for industrial space in the Mid Cities remained strong through the first quarter, though several significant projects coming on line caused vacancies in the tight market to bump up slightly.

ENVIRONMENT---Playa Vista Faces Legal Challenges On Wetlands Use

In the latest legal assault on the Playa Vista development, project opponents are seeking a federal injunction to halt bulldozing and other work on 16 acres of wetlands on the site as part of a larger action that aims to take the case to the U.S. Supreme

SCRIPTS---Script Writers Would Not Be Idled By Labor Action

With the Writers Guild of America within days of a possible strike, one prominent faction of the Guild will remain busy no matter what. And their fellow Guild members won't be upset in the least.

Roving Eye

The caffeine in the coffee isn't the only thing that gets people jumping at The Booth in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD---Producer Deals Getting the Ax

Major businesses throughout California already nervous about the impact of pending electricity rate hikes are up in arms over state legislation that could end their ability to sign contracts with outside electricity providers and leave them stuck payi

Leonard Pitts---Honor Reagan, Sure, But Don't Overdo It

If you don't get the reference, don't worry. You will before long, courtesy of something called the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. If that group has its way, the former president's name will soon be slapped on something near you. They're out to re-ch

Working at Home---Small Firms Must Master the Softer Side of Layoffs

Every few days or so I receive calls from people who are looking for work. Some of them are freelance writers and project people; others are in business development. This availability of resources means that layoffs are continuing and are likely to hit

Chet Currier---Testosterone Trap Weakens Male Talent for Investment

In an era when the sky is practically raining investment books for women, somebody needs to speak up for their fathers, brothers and sons.

WEBCASTS---Broadcasters Pull Back Web Efforts as Ad Bills Jump

The number of people listening to radio over the Internet is growing steadily, yet many local radio stations are pulling the plug on their Internet audio-streaming operations.

Aerospace Subcontractors

Aerospace Subcontractors

POWER---Plan to Delete Power Choice Sparks Battle

Major businesses throughout California already nervous about the impact of pending electricity rate hikes are up in arms over state legislation that could end their ability to sign contracts with outside electricity providers and leave them stuck payi

DOWNTOWN---Despite Signs of Tightening, High Vacancy Rates Persist

Going slightly against the grain of a softening regional economy, the downtown Los Angeles office market actually tightened a bit in the first quarter. But there are literally millions of square feet of space still available there, and for relatively mode

Cybersense---Yahoo Didn't Need to Take Brief Pornographic Plunge

In an era when most dot-coms were acting like little kids, Yahoo always seemed a little more mature like the cool teenager everyone wanted to know.

NORTH COUNTY---Demand for Industrial Space Drives Vacancy Rate Lower

The industrial sector continued to drive the Santa Clarita Valley real estate market during the first quarter, while the Antelope Valley showed signs of robust commercial growth.

L.A. Stories

After more than 40 years, Glendale-based International House of Pancakes is retiring, at least for the summer, its Silver Dollar Pancakes.

Jane Bryant Quinn---Long-Term Care Insurance Targeting Younger Buyers

As the population ages, larger numbers of people are purchasing coverage. Meanwhile, the industry hopes to reach younger, more affluent buyers by combining long-term care (LTC) with life insurance.

EXPANSION---Developer Seeks Major Expansion of Popular Center

The owners of Century City Shopping Center are working out details of an expansion plan that would add nearly 72,000 square feet of store space to the Westside mall and move Gelson's supermarket from Century Park West to Little Santa Monica Boulevard.

Deals & Dealmakers---DreamWorks Stays With Universal

After negotiations with Warner Bros. failed to bear fruit, DreamWorks SKG reupped with Universal Studios on a new five-year international theatrical and video distribution deal.

CONSOLIDATING---Coverage Changes Bring Cutbacks to Times' Operations

As part of ongoing restructuring efforts by its new owner, the Los Angeles Times is refocusing its news coverage to concentrate on regional and national news, officials at the newspaper said.

SOUTH BAY---Office, Industrial Vacancies Rise as Slowdown Continues

While the South Bay real estate market softened in the first quarter, due to the economic slowdown, it remains healthier than it was a year ago.

NEWCOMER---Indian Animator Seeking Starring Role

When Mike Scully, executive producer of "The Simpsons," heard that Film Roman, animator of the long-running Fox hit, had agreed to be bought by India-based Pentamedia Graphics Ltd., he quipped that the new owner would probably expect a higher profile for

DEVELOPERS---Optimism Reigns as Chastened Builders Move Ahead

Developers around Los Angeles said they're not going to let a little ol' thing like the economy get in the way of their work.

Weekly Briefing

People who excel at their craft often make it look far easier than it is. Take sushi chefs: Sure, it looks like all they do is cut up little hunks of eel and salmon and lay it over rice, but in truth there's a great deal of art to it. The California Sushi

HOLLYWOOD---Tenants Enjoy Lower Rents After Tech Sector Thins Out

The downturn in the technology sector hurt Hollywood in the first quarter. But there was some gain with the pain.

VENTURA COUNTY---Pent-Up Demand Cushions Dip Caused by Tech Decline

The downturn in technology stocks is showing its ugly face in Ventura County, as the commercial real estate market during the first quarter began a slide that brokers fear will ultimately mean a 10 to 20 percent reduction in space absorption this year ove

INVESTORS---Individuals Step in as Funds Shun Property Investments

Investors in Los Angeles real estate are being cautious about new acquisitions after a flat first quarter, driven by a slowing economy that optimists predict is headed toward recovery and pessimists say will gradually deteriorate into a full-blown recessi

Real Estate Column---Retail Redevelopment Has Designs on Latino Market

Seeking to capitalize on the growing population and bulging buying power of Latinos, two Korean brothers from the San Gabriel Valley are spending nearly $20 million to turn their Lynwood shopping plaza into what they claim will be the country's largest an

ARCHITECTS---Broad Client Bases Keep Architects Busy

Not many local architects want to revisit the early 1990s, when a spiraling downward economy forced many firms to knock around Asia looking for projects in order to survive.

LENDERS---Lenders Remain Bullish on Region Despite Slowdown

There was time in the real estate business when the mantra was, "If you build it, they will fund." Then the bottom fell out of the market.

WILSHIRE CORRIDOR---Increased Tenant Departures Cause Office Market Jitters

The Wilshire Center office submarket had a tough first quarter, losing more than 11,000 square feet of occupied space, a dramatic reversal from the more than 100,000 square feet absorbed there in the fourth quarter of 2000, according to Grubb & Ellis Co.

IMPERSONATORS---Familiarfaces

A handful of local agencies are turning coincidence into cold cash for people whose more-than-passing resemblance to celebrities, sports stars and politicians puts them in demand at parties and corporate functions

INLAND EMPIRE---Slow Start Doesn't Dampen Outlook for Industrial Deals

The demand for warehouse distribution space in the Inland Empire appears insatiable, looming recession or not.

COUNTY---Economic Downturn Starts To Gnaw at Office Markets

The slowing economy finally appears to be manifesting itself in the Southern California office market, as nearly every submarket of Los Angeles County experienced negative absorption in the first quarter of 2001.

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY---Industrial Diversity Braces Market as Vacancies Climb

After ending last year with a record-low 2.8 percent vacancy rate, the San Gabriel Valley's industrial market cooled off in the first quarter.

WESTSIDE---Rents Dive As Huge Supply Of Space Comes on Market

For the Westside office market, the first quarter of 2001 was in most ways a replay of 2000's fourth quarter the widening tech wreck torpedoed tenants, resulting in floods of newly available sublease space.

My Favorites Sites

You can track any flight that's going on in the country that's on an instrument flight plan. If someone's coming in on an airline and you know the flight number, you can log in and find out exactly where they are in the country.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Sales and Earnings Growth Have Sport Chalet Rolling

Venerable regional retailer Sport Chalet Inc. is basking in investors' rediscovered love for basic businesses with solid profits and a successful track record.

AEROSPACE---Contracts Mean New Life for Boeing in Long Beach

A recent surge in sales of aircraft manufactured at Boeing Co.'s Long Beach plant has allayed fears that the company might soon shutter the plant and layoff the 13,000 people who work there.

Newsmakers---Internet Service Firm Taps Outside CEO

Working in the Internet industry today is no cakewalk, but that's not deterring Charles V. Callahan, who has been named president and CEO of PeopleSupport Inc., a 3-year-old Web-based customer service firm.

RETAIL---The Retail Headache

Eddie Bauer recently closed its clothing store in the Beverly Center. A few doors down, Natural Wonders, which sells nature and science-oriented gifts and knickknacks, is having a going-out-of-business sale.

Tech Talk---Party Atmosphere Gone, Serious Deals Get Attention

That's what local investors and entrepreneurs alike did at last week's Sixth annual Southern California Technology Venture Forum.

INTERVIEW---Imagining Better Television

Career Turning Points: Joining the mailroom at CAA; leaving CAA to become a producer

Ahead of the Curve

Island Blues: Been looking for an excuse to escape to Catalina Island? The 5th annual Fender Catalina Island Blues Festival provides just that beginning May 11 and extending through May 13. Koko Taylor, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Susan Tedeschi, Edgar Winter,

AUCTIONS---Bear Market Brokers

Goal: To be fast and responsive and to provide maximum recovery and personal attention

ENERGY---PUC Chief Says Federal Inaction Behind Power Crisis

When Loretta Lynch accepted Gov. Gray Davis' appointment to head the California Public Utilities Commission a year ago, she knew the job would involve facing a certain amount of controversy. After all, the PUC is a huge agency with regulatory authority ov

SLOWDOWN---Restrained Market Braced to Endure Slowing Economy

Businesses are downsizing, lenders are skittish and Westside tech companies have packed up, leaving a ton of sublease space available in their wake. It's the kind of situation that should strike fear in the hearts of landlords, property managers and devel

Political Pulse---Valley Secessionists See Opportunity in Hahn Mayoralty

There's a theory going around that several proponents of San Fernando Valley secession are supporting City Attorney James Hahn in the mayoral runoff not because they believe he's the best man for the job, but because they believe his opponent, former A

BLACKOUTS---Drive for Blackout Warnings Running Into Legislative Wall

Pleas being made by L.A.-area businesses to obtain advance warnings of power blackouts are receiving a cool response from state and utility officials.

CONSTRUCTION---Large Projects, Pent-Up Demand Keep Builders Busy

A backlog of commercial and industrial projects in the pipeline and pent-up demand for housing is keeping L.A.'s construction industry busy at least for the time being. But officials in the industry are cautious, as home sales begin to decline and econo

GENESIS---Genesis to Grow Even Without Riordan

Anyone who thought Mayor Richard Riordan's innovative Genesis L.A. economic development program would die once he left office would be greatly mistaken.

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Downturns Offer Opportunity to Set Businesses Apart

Recessions are self-fulfilling prophecies. At the first hint of a slowdown, businesses start to worry. They lay people off and pull back their investments in new initiatives because no one wants to be the last one off the train. Other businesses then reac

WIRELESS---The Teen Connection

America is finally waking up to a fact that Europe and Japan have known and exploited for years.

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY---Flood of Sublease Space Fills Market, Boosting Vacancies

The San Fernando Valley office market displayed a rare combination in the first quarter a significant exodus of tenants coupled with a slight increase in the average asking rental rate.

Monday, April 16

CHANGES---Habits, Hangouts Change As Firms Focus on Basics

Last year the stock market was just cresting, energy was affordable and casual wear was in. Bill Gross at Idealab in Pasadena could do no wrong, and Toby Lenk was confident that his eToys would burst through the Christmas season.

Roving Eye

A team of special agents in clip-on ties and high-water pants has been seen driving around Los Angeles in Oreo-colored Volkswagen Beetles, making house calls to small businesses in need of computer help.

Newsmakers---New COO Plans Efficiencies at LAUSD

As the new chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Allen Solomon plans to make life easier for teachers.

Jane Applegate---Investors Turning Attention to Traditional Businesses

Anxiety created by a jittery stock market is prompting many business owners to think hard about why they are in business and consider whether or not they should sell out. The good news is that owners of traditional, non-Internet businesses are finding the

Real Estate Column---Cushman Will Keep Racking Up Miles at Merged Firm

John Cushman won't be running his own show when Cushman Realty Corp. officially merges with Cushman & Wakefield Inc., but he promises he'll neither slow down nor stay put.

INTERNET---Web Studio Stays Strong in Lean Times

DNA Studio defies conventional wisdom. The Beverly Hills firm is in a business Web content and Web marketing that is supposed to be withering. Its clients are mostly Hollywood entertainment companies, which are supposed to be slashing budgets for anyt

LIQUIDATON---What Ever Happened to All That Cool Dot-Stuff?

Now that the dot-com boom is bust, what happens to all the party favors? Not just the high-end work stations, Blueberry pagers and laptops used for gearing up tech employees during their moment in the sun, but the massage tables, foosball sets and Coke ma

Wall Street West---Company With Nine Lives Has Answer to Power Crisis

El Segundo-based Aura Systems Inc., a maker of mobile power sources (that's its latest incarnation, anyway), is one of those outfits that seem to have nine lives.

CUISINE---The Flavor of Fantasy

Led by Disney and Universal, Southern California theme restaurants are finally leaving the Middle Ages when it comes to concept dining

Mitch Albom---Airport Turmoil: A Real Pain in the Neck

How many times have you felt that, thought it or even said it when dealing with an airline person? Once? Twice? Countless times?

LABOR---Mexican Grocery Giant Close to Cutting Labor Deal

Grupo Gigante, the large non-union Mexican supermarket chain that has been dogged by labor protests, is close to finally recognizing the grocery workers' union in an effort to end the U.S. labor troubles that have hindered its expansion in the L.A. area.

My Favorite Sites

Stratfor stands for strategic forecasting, and the reason I like this site is it's a bunch of ex-CIA guys writing about everything that's been going on, only they have an in-depth perspective. They give you the back-story you can't get anywhere. And becau

Ahead of the Curve

Chan's Miracles: Rarely shown on the big screen, Jackie Chan's 1989 film "Miracles" comes to the Egyptian Theatre April 20 through April 23. Loosely inspired by Frank Capra's "Pocketful of Miracles," the film is set in 1930s' Hong Kong, which looks suspic

STUDIOS---Season Starts Early As Pressures Mount

Spring has barely sprung throughout the Northern Hemisphere, except in Hollywood, where summer is dawning.

RADIO---wner Pulls Plug On Plan to Change Format of Station

The nation's largest radio station owner has aborted its planned launch of a new format for KLAC-AM (570).

WINDFALL---Local Cities Reaping Tax Windfalls From Energy Crisis

Call it an unintended consequence of the state's energy crisis: Dozens of cities in L.A. County have reaped large windfalls from their utility taxes as residential and business bills for natural gas and electricity have soared. And taking the same tack as

David Wilson---Profits Hard to Find for Publicly Traded Tax Preparers

Taxes are certain, as the saying goes. Profits from investing in tax-preparation and payment companies are another matter.

ENERGY---City of Industry Forms Own Utility, May Build Plant

Jolted by the threat of rolling blackouts and soaring energy bills hitting its huge manufacturing base, the City of Industry has become the first city in L.A. County in 12 years to set up its own municipal utility.

FASHION---Apparel Firms Seek Showcase For L.A.'s Fashion Designers

A decades-long attempt by the local apparel industry to create one grand showcase event each year to highlight L.A. designers is getting closer to a reality.

Deals & Dealmakers---French Bank Poised to Buy Trust Giant TCW

Downtown-based Trust Company of the West, one of nation's largest privately held fund managers, has agreed to sell a 70 percent stake to French banking giant Societe Generale SA in a deal worth more than $1.2 billion.

GIFTS---Finding That Perfect Gift

Driving Force: Creativity in finding good promotional gifts and molding the company's services to meet the clients' needs

TURNAROUND---Gores Engineers Rapid Turnaround at Software Maker

Having tamed the cash-eating monster that consumed Jill Barad, Alec Gores is being inundated with calls from others looking to have their monsters tamed.

HOUSING---Santa Monica's Troubling Housing Boom

Santa Monica apartment properties, which were an albatross for landlords who suffered under the city's rigid rent control laws for years, are now a gold mine to them but a headache for city officials.

INTERVIEW---Turning a Page For Playboy

Career Turning Point: The day in 1975 that my father suggested I come to work for Playboy instead of going to law school. He made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

Weekly Briefing

Doug Pick is a classic example of the American dream at work. After graduating from USC's Marshall School of Business, the aspiring entrepreneur went looking for an opportunity to start a record business. Though his tenacity was rewarded with a personal j

COPORATE FOCUS---Restructuring Expected as Higher Costs Hit Tech Firm

In the wake of Computer Sciences Corp. issuing a severe earnings warning last month, some industry analysts are predicting that a major restructuring of the El Segundo-based computer services giant is imminent.

Backlot Buzz---DreamWorks Shops for New Distributor

That question is increasingly at the forefront of insiders' minds as the 7-year-old studio's distribution pact with Universal Pictures draws to a close at the end of the year. Universal handles the U.S. releases of all DreamWorks pictures but the te

MAYOR---Pro-Business Era Fading at City Hall

The Riordan era crashed this week, and with it, perhaps, the end of Los Angeles' capitalist renaissance. Not only did the most aggressively left mayoral candidate, Antonio Villaraigosa, come in first place, but his challenger, City Attorney James Hahn, is

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Viral Marketing Can Be Useful Tool in World of B2B

You've heard the latest buzzwords in marketing: so-called "viral marketing." But before you dismiss them as just that buzzwords take a closer look and see that they could have some use and value for B2B marketers.

Political Pulse---Business Unlikely to Match Labor's Muscle in Runoff

Local labor clearly showed its clout in last week's city primary election, getting out the troops on behalf of its chosen mayoral candidate, Antonio Villaraigosa. But there was no matching effort from the city's business community; even the one actual bus

Tech Talk---Revived Icebox Pursues Content Syndication Model

The newly launched Icebox.com is an entirely new and refreshing breed of online entertainment company: one with no advertising, no offices, no overhead, no Web site (yet) and only two full-time employees.

AEROSPACE---Northrop Begins Integration of Litton's Troubled Units

With its $5.1 billion acquisition of Litton Industries Inc. complete, Northrop Grumman Corp. now faces a far tougher and costlier task turning around three of Litton's four operating units.

L.A. Stories

There have been massive layoffs, funding has dried up. It's not news any longer that dot-coms are in trouble.

Real Estate Appraisal Firms

Real Estate Appraisal Firms

FINANCE---Driven Dealmaker Builds Finance Firm

Almost all investment banking and finance boutiques in town are founded by seasoned professionals who decided to cash in on good reputations and hang out their own shingles. Take Jim Freedman, at Barrington Associates, who earned his stripes at The Foothi

PRODUCTION---Advertising Wanes, Adding to Worries

Against a backdrop of increasingly likely strikes by writers and actors, the beleaguered Los Angeles production community could be in for an economic double whammy this year as national belt tightening triggers a cutback in the amount of money spent to ma

Personal Finance---FHA Insurance Premium Cut Results in Borrower Refunds

Alert homeowners know that mortgage rates have dropped significantly in the past 10 months. They also probably know that as a result, there's a refinancing boom underway.

Chet Currier---It's Still Wise Not to Fight the Fed, Despite All Its Flaws

So goes the recurring complaint as the stock market keeps languishing in spite of three interest-rate reductions since the start of 2001 by the Federal Reserve.

Cybersense---Pitch for Revenue Has Baseball Executing Squeeze Play

A return to the good old days doesn't seem likely for either baseball or the Internet.

Monday, April 9

ADVERTISING AGENCIES

ADVERTISING AGENCIES

Sunday, April 8

Tech Talk---New-Media Outfits Joining Forces With Tech Giants

Explore synergies. It sounds like a New Age mantra, but it's actually the mission of countless small tech companies wading in today's choppy marketplace. For some L.A. tech companies, the synergies are all about latching onto the Fortune 500.

Ahead of the Curve

Boob Tubes: Anyone planning to upgrade their entertainment center should look to the Hollywood Entertainment Museum for inspiration. The museum features a new exhibition of exotic television sets from the past 50 years. A total of 44 sets dating to the 19

BANKRUPT---Infomercial Company Seeks Protection as Bank Calls Loan

Once the largest public company in the infomercial business, e4L Inc. (formerly National Media Corp.) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is selling off assets to repay debts.

WEB---Syndicator Strikes Major Content Deals

At first, FirstLook Inc. ran a Web site for movie fans interested in viewing movie trailers and previews of other entertainment content. That business model, like most pure content plays, fizzled. Today, the company is all about syndication. And the strat

CORPORATE FOCUS---Losses at Insurance Division Prompt Changes at Fremont

Battered by losses in its workers' compensation business, Fremont General Corp. has spent the last year laying off staff, closing offices and increasing its reserves in an effort to reach profitability and avoid having its insurance division seized by sta

John Dorfman---It's Time for Painful Reports On Misery of First Quarter

The first quarter just ended so, like most money managers, I am busy writing quarterly reports to clients.

COSTS---L.A. Affordability Rating Soars in Power Crisis

Blessed with its own power supply at a time of soaring energy costs, the city of Los Angeles has vaulted over almost a dozen other local areas to become among the most affordable places in the county in which to do business, according to a just-completed

DEFICIT---Power Crisis Not Only Culprit

Much has been written in recent months about the rapid evaporation of what was once a projected $10 billion state budget surplus, with the primary culprit being identified as the energy crisis.

Real Estate Column---School District Nears Deal for New Headquarters Site

Los Angeles Unified School District is close to announcing that it will buy the 928,000-square-foot building at 333 S. Beaudry St. for an estimated $75 million, consolidating its headquarters at the site and despite the hefty price tag saving a ton of

Backlot Buzz---Guild Styles Differ as Strike Dates Near

It didn't take the closing of the old Spago or the shuttering of that other industry watering hole, Citrus, this week, to show that something is seriously wrong in Hollywood.

RESTAURANTS---Mexican Food Chains Hoping New Leader Brings Fresh Ideas

The Long Beach-based owner of the faded Acapulco and El Torito Mexican restaurant chains is preparing to undertake a significant makeover, orchestrated by its new president and chief executive, Frederick F. Wolfe, who steps into the ring on May 15.

PROJECT---New Miracle Mile Residential High-Rise Faces Opposition

A proposal for what would be the first residential high-rise built on Wilshire Boulevard east of Westwood in more than half a century is scheduled to come before the Planning Commission next month. But residents living near the Miracle Mile project site a

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Anne sweeney President, ABC Cable Networks Group, Disney Channel Worldwide

Newsmakers---Ex-Disney Manager Oversees The Grove

As the new director of development for Caruso Affiliated Holdings, John Murphy will be bringing a little showtime to shopping.

CORRIDOR---Tech Corridor's Bull Run Shows Signs of Slowing

The constellation of star technology companies scattered along the Ventura (101) Freeway Corridor have gone into a freefall, jeopardizing what has been one of L.A.'s fastest-growing areas. While economists and others say it's too early to pronounce a Sili

Wall Street West---Investment Bankers Prepare For Rise in Takeover Action

There are now 40 investment bankers in the West Los Angeles offices of UBS Warburg, who are eyeing what can be done in the nation's M & A; and restructuring markets, said veteran banker Warren Woo, managing director and head of the office. "Given where we ar

Political Pulse---Mayoral Race Likely to Turn on Level of Voter Turnout

By the standards of recent local elections, a relatively strong voter turnout is predicted for this Tuesday's citywide primary election.

Deals & Dealmakers---Sanwa and Tokai Banks Announce Merger

In a move signaling an effort to mend the troubled Japanese banking system, Sanwa Bank California and Tokai Bank of California have agreed to a merger that would create a new institution, United California Bank, with $12 billion in assets.

Chet Currier---Mythological Bargain Hunters are Waiting in the Wings

Among the great heroes of stock market mythology, few stand taller than the Bargain Hunters.

DISPUTE---Founder of Recruitment Outfit Ousted by Court Order

The founder and chairman of executive search firm Cornerstone Board Services Inc. has been fired under a court order for allegedly stealing company assets, as well as misrepresenting the firm to its clients.

FASHION---Livin' Large

Spurred by demand from young women not served by designers' slim stylings, a new cutting-edge fashion trend centered in Los Angeles and rolling out across the country is targeting a heavier market

CUTS---Several L.A. Projects Face Indefinite Delays

The power crisis and declining state tax revenues due to the slowing economy are jeopardizing the future funding of several key L.A. projects, including expansion of the Blue Line and additional support for the public health care system.

ARTISTS---Artists' Complex to Replace B-Movie King's Venice Digs

A piece of Hollywood history, tacky as it may have been, is gone. The Venice studios where director Roger Corman made movie stars out of silly monsters and buxom babes have been torn down to make way for a $16.5 million, four-building artist-in-residence

LASER---Laser Outfit Gets Praised, Prosecuted

The state's biggest laser eye surgery chain has received accreditation from one of the nation's most respected health care organizations, even as the chain and its owner await trial on charges of bilking the federal Medicare program.

Mitch Albom---Everyday Heroes Are Real Role Models

This is a story about taking pride in your work, whether it's saving children or cleaning toilets or, in Willie Davis' case, both.

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Prepare a Checklist Before Setting Out to Buy a Firm

You've made the decision: You want to buy a business. But before you go any further, it is essential to describe what you're looking for carefully enough that your search efforts are well directed, but not so narrowly that you overlook qualified targets.

TRADE---Alliances Forming in Anticipation of Open China Trade

Even as tensions between the United States and China intensified late last week over the fate of 24 U.S. Navy crew members, a slew of small and mid-sized L.A. companies are busy forming trading alliances with Chinese counterparts in anticipation of that c

Weekly Briefing

While the term "pawnshop" may conjure up images of seedy characters dumping their latest "acquisitions," that's not what the Beverly Loan Co. is all about. The Beverly Hills pawnshop has been giving short-term cash loans to many of Los Angeles' rich and f

Roving Eye

Given the monikers of a new class of hybrid roses making their debuts this spring, local florists are betting that, even if they don't smell sweeter, the new roses may sell better.

POPULATION---Getting Priced Out

While almost all of California experienced population growth during the 1990s, two of L.A. County's most desirable cities, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, actually saw their populations decline, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2000 census.

ENTERTAINMENT---'De Facto' Hollywood Strike Beginning to Take Hold

While some portions of the entertainment industry are still scrambling to finish projects before the Screen Actors Guild's current labor contract expires July 1, those working on the front end of projects are already feeling the effect of what increasingl

Jane Applegate---Online College Sites Succeed Amid Internet Clutter

Despite the gloom generated by the demise of thousands of online businesses, the Internet still offers solid business opportunities if your business model is narrowly focused on a target market. Two small companies serving college-bound students looking f

Personal Finance---Homebuyers Finally Getting To See Their Credit Scores

Want to know your score? Now you can have it. And better yet, you can understand it.

INTERVIEW---Independent Innkeeper

Career Turning Point: Leaving the family clothing business in 1991 and entering hospitality full time.

MICROMACHINES---Reflecting On the Future

Driving Force: The need to speed up the bottleneck caused by the existing generation of electronic fiber-optic switches in data transmission

POLLUTION---Proposed Diesel Regulations Draw Ire of Bus Companies

Once again, businesses are complaining that the cost of cleaning up L.A.'s rotten air will take too big a bite out of their bottom line.

FUND---Calpers Establishes Fund for Real Estate Investments

The California Public Employees' Retirement System the nation's largest pension fund has launched a Los Angeles-based private equity fund, called Global Innovation Partners LLC, to invest in later-stage growth businesses and buyout situations.

Cybersense---Lobbyists Take Teeth Out of Pending Anti-Spam Law

You know what they say about sausages and laws: It's best not to watch while they're being made.

L.A. Stories

The state of public education in Los Angeles is no joke. Just don't tell that to Jefferson High School English teacher Mike Dean.

Monday, April 2

Jane Bryant Quinn---Playing Fund Name Game May Bring Investor Chagrin

Whatever happened to the mutual funds that used to be called "high-growth"? Some of them are off by 40 percent or more, shocking investors to the core.

Cybersense---Congress Should Open Itself to Greater Web Scrutiny

In an age when some people share every detail of their private lives online, it's surprising to see that Congress is still playing hard to get with the Net.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Earnings Estimates Raised For Managed Health Firm

Having shed an unprofitable division, boosted premiums and settled a nearly $400 million claim against the Department of Defense, Health Net Inc. is poised to see its stock price climb, according to several industry analysts.

TROUBLED---Watts Facilities' Problems Bring Challenges

It's recess at the Watts Learning Center, and some 200 5- to 9-year-olds are rollicking on two small playgrounds and in a lunch area partially blocked by parked cars. Several basketball backboards tower overhead, without nets or even rims.

HOSPITALS---Hospitals, Unions Square Off on Seismic Upgrades

When the state finally released a long-awaited report last week showing more than a third of California hospital buildings and more than half locally could collapse in a major earthquake, it seemed to bolster industry claims that public funding is nee

Deals & Dealmakers---Santa Monica to Pursue 'Living Wage'

Four months after Santa Monica voters overwhelmingly voted to defeat an initiative that would have prevented such an action, the Santa Monica City Council ordered its staff to draft a "living wage ordinance" that would require significantly higher pay for

HISTORY---A chronological look at the evolution of charter schools

1970s The origination of the charter-school idea is traced to a New England educator who suggested that small groups of teachers be given contracts or "charters" by their local school boards to explore new teaching and educational approaches.

Tech Talk---Is 'It' Driven by Genuine Innovation or Media Hype?

Inventor Dean Kamen's top secret project, dubbed "Ginger," is supposed to change the world. It has stirred a media feeding frenzy, and most people speculate that Ginger, also known as "It," is a revolutionary, clean-fuel-burning engine. But should we beli

LEGISLATION---Pending Legislation Could Boost Cruise Stops at Port

To help usher in a revival of American cruise ship operations, port operators on the West Coast have quietly been trying to modify an archaic law severely restricting foreign-flagged vessels from docking in ports of non-origin.

Ahead of the Curve

1,200 Teen Voices: The L.A. Master Chorale hosts one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the nation when it presents the 12th annual High School Choir Festival on April 27 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Music director Paul Salumunovich, who retire

Roving Eye

Imagine seeing Tommy Lasorda staring back at you nodding while you're stuck in traffic on the 405.

TELEVISION---New Obstacle Arises in TV Labor Talks

What's a network to do when its new drama or sitcom lands with a dud on the television landscape, putting at risk months of work and millions in production costs?

GLYPHIX---Higher Glyphix

Goal: To continue to grow and position the company among the best in its field

Working At Home---Setting Personal Limits Creates Opportunity for Staff

A few days ago, I received a request to speak at a series of trade shows focused on small and home-based business. This is just the kind of opportunity I ordinarily like. I enjoy public speaking and learn a lot from interacting with the people in the audi

CUISINE---Crawling Cuisine

Eating bugs isn't such a revolting idea at some local restaurants. In fact, the establishments go to great troubles to serve up the creatures

FEEDBACK---Networks Turn to Outsiders

To keep pace in the competitive cable-ready world, the Big Four television networks are soliciting unprecedented feedback on program content from both advertisers and affiliates.

INTERVIEW---George W.'s L.A. Pointman

Career Turning Point: Leaving Dean Witter to form the firm Riordan, Freeman & Spogli

ROCKETS---Boeing Rockets Back to Life

Company No Longer at Serious Risk of Losing $1.67 Billion Air Force Contract

Backlot Buzz---Strike Buzz Dominates as Deadlines Near

Stroll through the usually crowded confines of Hollywood's favorite watering holes Orso, Campanile and The Grill and you can feel an almost palpable tension as the writers' and actors' strikes loom closer and closer.

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Elizabeth Daley Executive Director The Annenberg Center for Communication, USC

POWER---Companies Seek Sanctuary From Power Rate Hikes

Immediately after last week's approval of the largest electricity rate hike in state history, officials in Los Angeles and other cities with reliable and cheaper power saw their phone lines light up with inquiries and requests from upset business owners w

CONFIDENCE---Businesses Adapt to Dampening Consumer Confidence

Alan Greenspan, the President and Congress may all have a hand in setting economic policy, but it's the consumer who truly controls the action. When shoppers hesitate, the economy chokes.

EYEMATIC---New Animation Tools Face Eager Market

After four years of computer vision and biometrics research, the L.A. company is rolling out potentially revolutionary products that give eyes and ears to computers, as well as giving them the ability to replicate human expressions with uncanny accuracy.

HMO---Twice Spurned, Cigna Seeking New Pact With Calpers

After its first two proposals were rejected, Cigna HealthCare of California is scrambling to put together a new bid to be one of the managed health care plan for the giant California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers).

COMPARE---Charter Success Marred in Some Locations by Abuses

Since Minnesota passed the first law enabling charter schools in 1991, more than 2,200 charter schools have been formed across the country.

Wall Street West---Stock Problems Don't Scare County's Retirement Chief

A lesson driven home again in recent seasons, although perhaps never with such a swift vengeance, is that a good investor has a diversified portfolio. With the Nasdaq down more than 60 percent, and the broader indices deep in bear territory, today many wi

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Chet Currier---Resist Euphoria and Gloom as Markets Run Course

In the past couple of decades, periods of falling U.S. stock prices had been taking less and less time to run their course as Wall Street settled into a golden age of prosperity. By the summer of 1998, an entire declining phase of the cycle could be compl

LAYOFFS---L.A. Unemployment Rate Likely to Rise

L.A. County's most recent published unemployment rate doesn't reflect the reality of today's job market, as layoffs in a wide variety of industries continue to mount, economists and labor consultants said. They expect that official statistics will soon sh

Mitch Albom---Media Attention Romanticizes Violence

Then comes a TV anchor, pushing on a small earpiece, breathlessly informing you there has been another shooting in a high school.

Real Estate Column---Hollywood BID Battle May Result in New District Rules

A property owner's battle to gain access to the Hollywood Boulevard business improvement district has landed in court and on the floor of the General Assembly.

Newsmakers---New Getty Officer to Manage Finances

When Bradley W. Wells steps into his new position as vice president of finance for the J. Paul Getty Trust on May 1, he knows he'll have $250 million to spend.

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Early Estate Planning Benefits Young Business Owners

Estate planning is something that people generally begin to think about when they're old. But what about young entrepreneurs? When should they start thinking about estate planning?

PROPERTY---Troubles Might Be Brewing At Prized Project

The huge Hollywood & Highland project, which TrizecHahn Corp. has said it will sell upon its completion next year, is nearly $300 million over budget and is having trouble signing up tenants, according to several sources familiar with the project. TrizecH

SUCCESS---Flexibility Builds Strength at L.A.'s First Charter School

The Accelerated School, Los Angeles' first fully independent charter school, has been hailed as a living, breathing example of what education could be.

EMERGING---MacArthur Park Charter Aims for Community Revival

Philip Lance stands in front of the old dilapidated brick building on Wilshire Boulevard and envisions the future: a new charter school that he and a group of community activists are working to establish in this rundown Latino neighborhood near MacArthur

Weekly Briefing

Most people go to the hardware store in search of maintenance items for those small home improvement projects. But when there's an unexpected emergency such as rolling blackouts hardware stores must be prepared to help then, too. Since the early '30s,

INNOVATION---Charter Schools: Are They The Answer?

Fixing the sorry state of L.A. public schools it's at the top of almost every local leader's agenda, including those of all six major mayoral candidates.