Stories for June 2008

Monday, June 30

Broad Says Investors `Better Off in Cash'

Eli Broad, Los Angeles philanthropist and founder of KB Home, said the growing number of vacant U.S. homes, mortgage-related losses at banks and declining consumer confidence have convinced him investors are "better off in cash" right now.

Special Report: Banking & Finance Quarterly

Here's the bad news: L.A.'s banks have had a year they would like to forget. Here's the sort-of-good news: The banks have learned a lesson they're not about to forget anytime soon and they're changing their ways, fast.

Employers Wary of Updates to Disabilities Act

Employer groups are expressing concerns about new federal regulations under the Americans With Disabilities Act proposed this month by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sew Pricey

Customers' pockets will feel a lot lighter after shelling out $10,000 for Key Closet's new jeans.

Ban on Fast Food Proposed for South Los Angeles

Fed up with fast food, L.A. Councilwoman Jan Perry is pushing a ban on new eateries in a 32-square-mile area.

Diadora Drops Skechers Lawsuit

An Italian shoe and sportswear maker has dropped its trademark lawsuit against competitor Skechers U.S.A. Inc. without giving a reason, according to reports Monday.

Online Poll Positions

Software firm Interpolls has carved out an online niche with promotions based on offering brief quizzes.

Conservative Tactics Help Bank Escape Subprime Toll

Hard lessons that Community Bank learned in the '90s have helped it rise above the sector's troubles.

Christensen Still Brokering Power

Even though a trial date nears for litigator Terry Christensen, he still is sought after by business leaders.

Childhood Fun in Kitchen Blossoms Into Career as Chef

Deciding whether to go to college or culinary school was an easy call for Paul Shoemaker. That's because he'd spent countless hours as a child cooking in the kitchen with his grandfather something he enjoyed tremendously.

U.S. Order Expected to Provide Lift for Plane Plant

An expected order for 15 C-17 planes would keep the Southland's last airplane assembly plant open and support more than 5,000 jobs.

'Mixed' Message Received

Joseph Miller says mixed-use projects will expand residential options in Culver City.

Oxy Partnership to Expand Production

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said it plans to invest $1.1 billion as part of a partnership with SandRidge Energy that could expand Oxy's Permian Basin production by at least 50,000 barrels of oil per day within the next five years.

Ticketmaster's Independent Path Points Overseas

Soon-to-be-independent Ticketmaster is mulling moves into foreign markets.

Firm to Flex Global Arm From Hollywood Office

PR giant Fleishman-Hillard Inc. has announced a global entertainment practice based in its new Hollywood offices. David Stamper, general manager of the local bureau, will co-chair the practice along with Michelle Mikoljak Stevenson, vice president of Flei

Developer in Koreatown Feels Bite of Slow Market

The profit that a Koreatown apartment building brought to a Beverly Hills-based real estate investor may look solid, but the company says the downturn in the real estate market robbed it of the bigger payday it had hoped for.

LABJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GUIDE, SUMMER 2008

Florida AG Sues Countrywide

Following similar moves in California and Illinois, the Florida attorney general's office on Monday filed a lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. accusing the mortgage lender of unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Spitzer Fallout Lands in L.A.

Some locals are feeling the pain from ex-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's reckless attacks on AIG, writes Charles Crumpley.

Success Followed To the Letter

For businesswoman Rachel Sarnoff, a cease-and-desist letter from the National Geographic Society paved the way for a new venture.

Digging Out

Local banks are scrambling to retain stability amid dire economic conditions.

Net Gain

Former high-profile sports agent Leonard Armato now runs his own league: AVP Pro Beach Volleyball.

Break on Sarbanes-Oxley

Small companies can breathe a sigh of relief after receiving a reprieve from a Sarbanes-Oxley auditing provision widely considered complicated and costly.

It's 'Back to Basics' for Banks When Dust Settles

Banks map out revised business models.

Former Federal Prosecutor Will Play for Defense

Federal prosecutor Michael Zweiback decided to join Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish LLP in order to help the firm build a white collar criminal defense practice group.

Men 7 Network Will Look To Charm Male Persuasion

For a man's world on late-night TV, it's been cable channel Spike and pay channel Playboy. Now a new player, Men 7, is entering the space with a midnight show emphasizing entertainment, consumer technology, extreme sports and of course women.

J2 Global Files Patent Suits

J2 Global Communications Inc., which provides integrated Internet fax and voice-mail services, said it has filed patent infringement lawsuits against three competitors.

Northrop Still Has High Hopes for Tanker Contract

Northrop Grumman Corp. was remaining upbeat last week that it would retain a $35 billion aerial refueling tanker contract despite a scathing report by government auditors who picked apart the awards process.

Soaring Oil Prices Drive Occidental's Return to Canadian Region

Occidental Petroleum paid $491 million last week to get back into a Canadian oil region it left in 2000.

S & L; Lessons Served CEO During Mortgage Frenzy

Greg Mitchell, CEO of California National Bank, discusses why his bank is expanding while much of the sector is struggling.

Newsmakers

Kudos, hirings and promotions.

SCPIE Acquisition Closes

Medical malpractice insurer SCPIE Holdings Inc. sai that its merger with Doctor Cos., a Northern California competitor, has closed.

The Big Spin

Investors have powered up microturbine maker Capstone's stock 49 percent since April.

Post-NBA Johnson Works Business Magic

Since retiring from basketball, Earvin "Magic" Johnson has built a business empire with roots in urban America. It pays to know the community, he says.

State Could See Big Payoff From Loans to Spur Energy Efficiency

California would reap benefits from a fund to help businesses become energy efficient, according to Ari L. Bessendorf.

Friday, June 27

Regulators Approve Acqusition of Malpractice Insurer

State regulators have approved the acquisition of Los Angeles-based medical malpractice insurance provider SCPIE Holdings Inc. by a competitor.

KB Posts Steeper-Than-Expected Second Quarter Loss

Los Angeles-based homebuilder KB Home reported a second quarter loss Friday that was more than three times greater than analysts expected, sending shares down nearly 7 percent.

Countrywide CEO Helped Many Get Loans

As the mortgage market was wobbling a year ago, Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of Countrywide Financial Corp., intervened to help the daughter of a casino manager and her fianc & #233; borrow to buy a home in Nevada.

Lawsuit Alleges Chairman Threatened to Kill Executives

The former vice president of a Pasadena-based subsidiary of Garda World Security Corp. filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday claiming the chairman of Garda World Security threatened to kill any executives who spoke publicly about the M

Virgin Mobile to buy Helio for $39 Million

Virgin Mobile USA is buying Helio, a struggling cell phone carrier that was founded to bring the advanced features of South Korean phones to the U.S. market.

Emak Shares Surge on Possible Sale

Shares in Los Angeles-based marketing services company Emak Worldwide Inc. surged 40 percent Friday after the company announced the formation of a committee to consider a buyout offer.

Kennedy Wilson Buys Miracle Mile Office Building

Beverly Hills real estate company Kennedy Wilson said Friday that it has purchased 6100 Wilshire, a 16-story office building on the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the Miracle Mile area, for an undisclosed price.

New Office Complex Rising in Playa Vista

Work has begun on the first phase of a $1.2-billion office complex in the Playa Vista development south of Marina del Rey as the popular Westside office market remains strong in the face of the nation's faltering economy.

AIG Says Divestments Won't Include Aircraft Leasing

American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer by assets, said its aircraft-leasing unit won't be sold off as the parent company tries to recover from back-to-back quarterly losses.

Three Shareholders Wage Proxy Battle With Napster

Three shareholders of Napster Inc. are seeking election to the board in an effort to change the struggling digital music company's strategy.

Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies was hit hard this week, dropping 5.2 percent. Of the companies, 161 either lost ground or stayed the same.

Thursday, June 26

Villaraigosa Wants Ssales Tax Hike for Transit

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said for the first time Wednesday that he would like to ask voters in November to consider a half-cent sales-tax increase in Los Angeles County to pay for more road and mass transit projects.

SAG Says AFTRA is Playing Favorites

After spending recent weeks blasting AFTRA's deal, SAG's turned its ire back on the majors and accused them of playing favorites.

Ralphs Lowers Prices, Clips Coupon Savings

Ralphs Grocery Co. unveiled a lower-price policy Wednesday in what it said was a nod to beleaguered consumers struggling to pay rising food and gasoline prices.

SEC Ends Probe of Herbalife

Herbalife Ltd. said Thursday that the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission completed its investigation of a former employee and the SEC will not seek any enforcement action against the company.

Reed's Shares Surge on Ralphs Deal

Shares in all natural beverage maker Reed's Inc. shot up nearly 15 percent early Thursday after the company said it has expanded its agreement with Ralphs supermarket chain.

Ameron Shares Gain on Strong Q2

Ameron International Corp. said Thursday its second-quarter profit climbed 3 percent, thanks in part to strong sales in its fiberglass pipe division.

Fund Acquires Stake in Maguire Properties, May Seek Board Seats

JMB Capital Partners Master Fund LP said it has amassed an 8.3 percent stake in Maguire Properties Inc. and may seek seats on its board.

IndyMac Shares Swoon to Record Low

Shares of IndyMac Bancorp Inc. hit an all-time low Thursday, plummeting more than 25 percent to just 80 cents, leading Sen. Charles Schumer to express public concern over the Pasadena lender's financial health.

BofA to Cut 7,500 Jobs After Countrywide Deal Goes Through

Bank of America Corp. said Thursday that it will cut about 7,500 jobs after buying Countrywide Financial Corp.

Mayor Signs Controversial Clean Trucks Law

Capping more than a year of negotiations, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday signed into law the Clean Trucks Program, the port proposal that will fund the replacement of diesel trucks with cleaner burning models.

Wednesday, June 25

Judge Chops Celebrity Chef Puck's Steakhouse Suit

New York-based porterhouse pro Wolfgang Zwiener is making mincemeat of a trademark lawsuit brought by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

Tribune Co. Puts L.A. Times Building up for Sale

Tribune Co. is putting two of its most historic properties -- the L.A. Times building and Tribune Tower in Chicago -- on the block.

State Panel Kills Cruise Safety Bill

A state Assembly committee Tuesday killed a bill strongly opposed by cruise companies that would have placed peace officers for the first time on passenger ships sailing from California ports.

California, Illinois Sue Countrywide, BofA Deal Okd

The California attorney general's office said Wednesday that it has filed a civil lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. and its chief executive, Angelo Mozilo, over the company's allegedly deceptive mortgage lending practices.

Bank of America's Countrywide Tab Picked Up By Taxpayers

Bank of America Corp.'s $3 billion takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp. will be financed by 138 million tax-paying Americans.

GAO Details Tanker Blunders

A new, fuller account of the June 18 auditor's ruling that gives Boeing another shot at a $35 billion contract for refueling tanker planes details numerous instances of "prejudicial" bungling by the U.S. Air Force.

AeroVironment Shares Surge on Strong Earnings, Forecast

Shares in AeroVironment Inc. gained as much as 15 percent early Wednesday after the company on Tuesday posted fourth-quarter profit that was up because of a jump in demand.

Countrywide Shareholders to Vote on BofA Deal

Bank of America Corp.'s takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp. could be wrapped up as early as next week, but first it must clear one last hurdle - getting the OK from the struggling mortgage lender's shareholders.

In Battle of Wolfgangs, Puck Loses First Battle

New York restaurant owner Wolfgang Zwiener won the first round in a battle with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck on Friday, but the trademark dispute between the dueling restaurateurs isn't over.

Tuesday, June 24

Strike Threat Creates Drama for Hollywood

Universal Pictures is getting ready to roll the cameras on some big pictures in the next few months.

Hilton to Expand in Asia

Hilton Hotels Corp. wants to add 300 hotels to the 47 it already operates in Asia over the next decade.

Disney, UMG Team up to Bring 'Hannah Montana' to Asia

Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it will license its "Hannah Montana," "High School Musical" and some other recordings to Universal Music Group for distribution in Asian markets outside of Japan.

Reliance Ups Second Quarter Guidance

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said Tuesday that it expects higher earnings for its second quarter thanks in part to price increases as well a jump in gross margins.

Obama Corners Hollywood Glitz

Barack Obama's gala fundraiser tonight will attract the mandatory lineup of big-screen talent and boldface names - actors Samuel L. Jackson and Dennis Quaid, model Cindy Crawford and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.

Landmark Coliseum's Name Up for Sale

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been the home to the National Football League's Rams and Raiders, baseball's Dodgers, college football's USC Trojans and the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.

Developer Charged with Money Laundering

Raffaello Follieri , an Italian businessman sued last year by L.A. billionaire Ron Burkle for allegedly misappropriating $1.3 million Yucaipa Cos. funds , was arrested Tuesday on money laundering and other charges.

Optimism Spurs Homebuilders After S & P; Report

Shares in local homebuilders KB Home and Ryland Group Inc. jumped early Tuesday after a report estimated U.S. home prices have fallen more than 15 percent over the past year spurring optimism that consumers may begin buying homes again.

Cheesecake Shares Rise on Possible Starbuck's Deal

Shares in Cheesecake Factory Inc. closed up nearly 7 percent Tuesday after an analyst raised his rating on the stock following better-than-expected sales and a possible partnership with Starbucks Corp.

Monday, June 23

Ticketmaster to be Spun off From IAC

Ticketmaster Inc. plans to complete a spinoff from New York-based conglomerate IAC/InterActiveCorp by early August, the company's chief executive said Monday.

Insurer Shake-Up Stirred by Broad

Local billionaire Eli Broad took the lead in calling for a management shake-up of ailing AIG.

'60s Trip

High fuel prices are driving some commuters to scooter dealer Route 66 Modern Classics.

Penny Wise

The economy has been driving more customers to 99 Cents Only stores while making it harder for the chain to stick to that price point.

NFL in Talks With ESPN, In Bid to End Cable Battle

Seeking to end an embarrassing dispute that kept live pro football games out of many homes, the National Football League's NFL Network is in talks to form a partnership with Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN cable sports network, according to people familiar with th

Will Sleepy Larchmont Wake Up as Next Robertson?

A landlord's desire to attract national chains has rattled merchants in sleepy Larchmont Village.

Newsmakers

Promotions, hirings and kudos.

Swimwear Maker Dives Into Downtown Home

Warnaco Swimwear Group, a division of New York clothing manufacturing giant Warnaco Group Inc., has signed a lease for 38,000 square feet in downtown Los Angeles.

Marketing Chief Exec at Home With Creative Clients

Rick Eiserman, the new chief executive of Hollywood marketing agency Trailer Park, said he didn't get into show biz publicity for the glitz and glamour.

Calabasas IT Firm Takes Stock of Double Listing in Middle East

Calabasas-based Netsol Technologies will double list on the Dubai stock exchange in addition to Nasdaq.

Airport Hotels Switch Fight From Pay to Unions

LAX-area hotels have agreed to honor the living wage ordinance but could resist unionization.

Deal Marks Breakthrough On Buybacks

TechForward will extend the reach of its electronics buyback program through a deal with warranty provider W3 Solutions.

Cookie Grumbles

A trademark dispute over a cookie diet has left local franchisee Scientific Weight Loss with a bitter aftertaste.

Road to Recovery? Local Residents, Groups Must Place Priority on Traffic Woes

Rob Carpenter and David Murphy back the anti-traffic focus of Building LA's Future.

Light Touch for Dentists

Millennium Dental Technologies' laser treatment lets people with infected gums cut out scalpel pain.

Oxy Buys Interest in Canadian Oil Sands Assets

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Monday that it has agreed to buy an interest in Canadian oil sands for $491 million.

Broadcom Co-Founder Samueli to Plead Guilty

Anaheim Ducks owner, and former UCLA professor, Henry Samueli has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal authorities about his role in the backdating of stock options at Broadcom Corp., the Irvine computer chip company he co-founded, documents filed i

Damper on Doom, Gloom

Charles Crumpley says a new economic forecast rains on recession-pushers' parade.

Fandango Buys Disney's Movies.com

Walt Disney Co. sold its Movies.com Web site to Comcast Corp.'s Fandango Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

Northrop Stock Withstands Shock of Boeing Appeal

Northrop Grumman shares remain steady despite the possible loss of a huge Air Force tanker contract.

U.S., City Officials Back L.A. Port's Truck Program

Just months before it is set to begin, the $2.2 billion truck replacement program at the Port of Los Angeles has received support from several quarters, including the Federal Maritime Commission and congressional leaders.

Web Boutique Seeks to Click With High-End Crowd

Delight.com is a kind of boutique shop you may find on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

Charities Battling For Business Bucks

America's Charities is mounting an L.A. campaign to raise money for groups not supported by United Way.

Road to Recovery? Half-Cent Sales Tax Necessary To Keep Transit System Rolling

Pam O'Connor supports a half-cent sales tax to fund transit projects.

The Pride of Westchester

The late Westchester businessman, developer and civic leader Howard Drollinger had a Westchester street named after him last week.

L.A., Paris Companies Gear Up for Bicycle Races

Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of the Amgen Tour of California cycling competition, is going on a tandem ride.

Live Nation Chairman Resigns

Live Nation Chairman Michael Cohl, the driving force behind the concert promoter's wooing of superstars such as Madonna, has resigned, the company said on Friday after a disagreement over strategy.

L.A. News Agency Grows Reach With Local Focus

Full Disclosure Network, the scrappy independent news agency, has long focused on events and issues that other local television news channels fail to cover at any length.

Law Firm's Relocation Grounded in Dressed-Up Digs

Latham & Watkins has traded its upper floors for new dressed-up lower offices

Web Head

Jeffrey Cole, director of USC's Center for the Digital Future, helps businesses prepare for what's brewing on the Web.

Friday, June 20

Chairman to Leave Live Nation in Amid Feud With CEO

Shares in Live Nation Inc. dropped nearly 7 percent Friday on a report that the concert promoter is negotiating the departure of the company's chairman.

California Unemployment Hits 6.8 Percent

California's unemployment rate in May soared to 6.8%, up six-tenths of a percentage point from April and a whopping 1.5 percentage points higher than it was a year ago, the California Employment Development Department reported today.

BofA Sets Closing Date For Countrywide Purchase

Bank of America Corp. aims to complete its planned acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. July 1.

Obagi Names New CFO

Obagi Medical Products Inc. has named Preston Romm as chief financial officer.

Big Movers

In a week where the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 3.7 percent, the Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest public companies dipped less than one percent, with 127 of the companies either losing ground or staying flat.

County Unemployement Rate Rises

The economic slowdown hit L.A. County hard in May as the unemployment rate shot up to 6.7 percent from 5.9 percent in April, according to state figures released Friday.

Amid Rising gas Prices, More Turn to Commuter Rail

Commuter rail ridership broke an all-time record this week, and Caltrans reported a dip in freeway traffic as commuters across California struggled with record gasoline prices.

Canadian Company to Buy DIC

Cookie Jar Entertainment, a Canadian company, will buy Burbank-based children's animation company DIC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

Icahn Loses Biogen Proxy Battle

Carl C. Icahn has lost his campaign to elect a slate of dissident nominees to Biogen Idec's board, an effort he hoped would eventually prompt a sale of the 30-year biotechnology firm to a major pharmaceutical company.

Pacific Buys San Diego Office Buildings

Pacific Office Properties Trust Inc. has acquired four San Diego-area office buildings with almost 130,000 square feet of leasable space.

Thursday, June 19

U.S. Rep. Frank: Hopefully There Will Be No Countrywide Soon

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank said Wednesday he doesn't plan to have oversight hearings over favorable loans offered by Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC) to at least two U.S. lawmakers because the firm is being acquired.

Tetra Tech Shares Slip After Downgrade

Shares in Tetra Tech Inc. dropped nearly 6 percent Thursday after shares in the company were downgraded by the Stanford Group Co.

Push For Subprime Mortgage Regulations Loses Steam

A key Senate committee Wednesday killed or greatly watered down a series of Assembly bills that would have imposed new regulations on sub-prime mortgages in an attempt to curb the worst wave of foreclosures since the Great Depression.

Cheesecake Factory Downgraded on cost Concerns

Shares in casual dinning chain Cheesecake Factory Inc. dropped 2 percent Thursday after shares in the company were downgraded by Credit Suisse.

Delta to Cut About 13 Percent of its LAX Flights

Delta Air Lines, struggling with high fuel costs, plans to slash about 13% of its flights at Los Angeles International Airport, including nonstop service to Boston, Hartford, Conn., and Columbus, Ohio, according to a national flight database.

Oxy, Plains Go in on Colorado Gas Assets

Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Plains Exploration & Production Co. have agreed to expand their holdings in Colorado's Piceance Gas Basin with a $162 million asset purchase.

Wednesday, June 18

Live Nation Ups Stakes in Swedish Concert Promoters

Live Nation Inc.'s Swedish affiliate, Live Nation Sweden, said Wednesday that it has bought full control of two Swedish concert and festival promoters.

Boeing Says Plan For Tankers at Risk If It Loses Protest

If Boeing Co. loses its protest of the Air Force's decision to buy at least $40 billion worth of aerial refueling tankers from a competitor, it may abandon plans to sell its own tanker internationally.

GAO Sides With Boeing in Tanker Dispute

In a surprising move, the Government Accountability Office sided with Boeing Co. Wednesday in its protest over the Air Force's decision to award a lucrative tanker contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. and a European partner.

Spielberg, India Firm Near Deal to Ally With DreamWorks

The principals of DreamWorks SKG are close to a deal with one of India's biggest entertainment conglomerates to form a new movie venture.

Reed's Inks Deal in Singapore; Shares Surge

Shares in all-natural beverage and soft drink maker Reed's Inc. surged early Wednesday after the company said it will begin offering its range of products in Singapore.

IPC Shares Stung By Lowered Expectations

Shares in IPC The Hospitalist Co. plunged more than 11 percent early Wednesday after the company said it expects second-quarter profit to fall well below Wall Street expectations.

Fremont Files For Chapter 11 Protection

Fremont General Corp., once one of the largest subprime mortgage lenders in the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday.

Tribune May Wind Up in Default as Ad Sales Evaporate

Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune controlling investor Sam Zell may be unable to stop the loss of advertising revenue leading him and other U.S. newspaper publishers closer to default on billions of dollars in debt.

UCLA Anderson Forecast: Still, No Recession

Buffeted by the housing implosion, the California and Los Angeles economies will be weak through the rest of 2008, but thanks to strong exports should manage to avoid slipping into recession and should even begin to pick up again at the start of 2009.

In Lingering Family Fight, Alan Casden Wins Round

Real estate developer Alan Casden won the latest round in the battle with his brother, Henry Casden, on Tuesday when a state court of appeal agreed with a Los Angeles jury that Henry Casden is not entitled to $5 million.

Union, Shippers Closing in on a Deal

West Coast shippers and the union representing dockworkers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday on health care benefits, but both sides are still negotiating a series of other issues that will be contained in a new, three-year labor pact.

Tuesday, June 17

Disney Revs Up Tween Star Machine

At a recording studio in this gritty neighborhood, Walt Disney Co. executives are putting the finishing touches on a project of pressing importance: grooming a 15-year-old Texas girl as a possible successor to Miley Cyrus.

American Apparel Gains on Analyst Comments

Shares in American Apparel Inc. rose nearly 6 percent Tuesday after an analyst said the apparel maker's second quarter earnings are likely to exceed projections.

L.A. is Nation's Most Congested City

Surprise, surprise - Los Angeles is the most congested city in the nation, according to a report set for release today by a traffic-information provider.

Afternoon Briefs

Simulations Plus Lands EPA Deal

Gas Prices Latest Worry for So. Cal. Real Estate Market

Rising gas prices may be the latest ailment afflicting the housing market, as figures released Monday showed Southern California home prices plunging 27% in May from a year ago and falling even more precipitously in distant suburbs.

Franklin Otis Booth Jr. Dead at 84

Franklin Otis Booth Jr., a former L.A. Times executive and businessman whose early investment in a venture headed by a then little-known Warren E. Buffett later made him one of the richest men in the nation, has died.

Boeing, Northrop Await GAO Verdict

A $30 billion U.S. defense acquisition now comes down to the assessment of a single arbiter: the head of a small, behind-the-scenes, 9-to-5 team of bureaucrats at the Government Accountability Office.

Los Angeles Company Buys 'Soul Train' Show

People who think of "Soul Train" as an artifact from 1970s television may be surprised to learn that the 38-year-old song-and-dance show was never canceled.

Reliance Buys PNA Group for $1.1 Billion

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy PNA Group Holding Corp. for $1.1 billion.

Daily Briefs

LivHome Acquires Continual Feast Companion Care; Rolling Stones Play Down Live Nation Rumors

United Doubles Palmdale/San Francisco Flights

United Express announced plans Tuesday to double the number of flights offered between LA/Palmdale Regional Airport and San Francisco International Airport.

DineEquity Completes Applebee's Sale-Leaseback Deal

DineEquity Inc. said Tuesday that it has completed a sale-leaseback deal for 181 Applebee's company-owned restaurants. The deal generated $296 million, considerably less than expected.

Monday, June 16

Hollywood Studios Are Editing Their Home-Video Strategy

As one of their most lucrative sources of revenue stagnates, several Hollywood studios are considering something that would have been unthinkable even two years ago: renting films to cable subscribers and Internet users on the same day they're released on

Increasing Appeal

Appellate boutique Greines Martin increasingly becomes involved in trials at the preverdict stage.

Business Takes Wheel on Traffic

Charles Crumpley is happy to see business in the driver's seat on L.A.'s

Collectors Empty Their Pockets to Snap Up Ancient, Rare Coins

A wealth of rare coins went on the block at a three-day auction, ringing up $34 million and change.

NetSol Becomes First U.S. Company to Trade in U.S., Dubai

NetSol Technologies Inc. became the first U.S. company to dual-list on the Nasdaq as well as the Dubai International Financial Exchange.

Disposal Issue Dims Luster of Energy-Efficient Bulbs

Many users of energy-efficient light bulbs are in the dark about the costs of improper disposal.

Is Hollywood Heading for Crash?

Once one of L.A.'s busiest construction areas, Hollywood has seen projects slow down due to the credit crunch and general economic downturn.

L.A. Attorneys May Face Punishment in Dole Case

High-profile Los Angeles plaintiff's lawyers Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack may face disciplinary action over a clerical error that stems from a toxic tort case between Nicaraguan banana workers and Dole Food Co.

Newhall Land Shrugs at Parent's Financial Woes

Newhall Land and Farming is trying to stay grounded as parent company LandSource deals with financial woes.

Rolling Stones Say No Deal in Works With Live Nation

The Rolling Stones played down a report that the band was set on leaving long-time record label EMI to join concert promoter Live Nation Inc.

Financially Strapped Bank Drafts Recovery Plan

Financially strapped PFF Bancorp's recapitalization plan will likely heavily dilute shareholder stakes.

Jakks Gets Drop On UFC Figures

After the loss of its wrestling contract, Jakks Pacific has punched up its bottom line through a deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship.

PFF to be Acquired by California National Bank's Parent

PFF Bancorp Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to be acquired by FBOP Corp., for $1.35 in cash for each share of PFF Bancorp common stock, a deal that values the bank company at about $31 million.

Motorcar Parts Shares Jump on Strong Q4

Shares in remanufactured automobile parts maker Motorcar Parts of America Inc shot up nearly 15 percent early Monday after the company posted a fourth-quarter profit ahead of Wall Street estimates.

Lighting Products Maker Buys Euro Counterpart

Pelican Products Inc., a Torrance-based manufacturer of lighting products and durable cases, completed the acquisition this month of a European LED lighting company.

Loan Startup Sees Opportunity in Credit Crunch

A common complaint by developers amid the credit crunch has been that even good projects are having difficulty getting financing by big banks and other established lenders.

MySpace Might Have Friends, but It Wants Ad Money

When the News Corporation added MySpace to its portfolio nearly three years ago, it expected that if its base of 16 million users kept growing , and each user kept adding friends, sharing photos and swapping flirty messages , the advertising dollars would

On Board

It's sink or swim for PR firm SnL when it comes time to promote the short-notice Mavericks Surf Contest.

Stars Struck

TV journalist Harvey Levin's career has hit high gear courtesy of tabloid Web site TMZ.com and its spinoff television show.

ESPN High School Bound With New Production Deal

In an effort to expand its reach into the high school sports market, ESPN recently acquired Torrance-based Student Sports Inc., a youth sports television production company and online producer of high school sports programming nationwide.

Driving BMW A Real Gas

That was attorney Tim Lappen who was tooling around town recently in a prototype BMW 7 Series that is outfitted with a hydrogen power plant. He took it to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank's annual silent auction and wine tasting June 7 at Greystone Mansi

Santa Monica-Based Firm Beefs Up Trophy Case

Santa Monica-based Secret Weapon Marketing was among the top winners at the Effie Awards Gala in New York. The agency won a Gold Effie in the Fast Food/Casual Dining/Restaurants category for the "Sirloin vs. Angus" TV campaign on behalf of Jack-in-the-Box

Architect Made Turn From Banking Into Urban Design

It wasn't long after he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in finance that Rhett Beavers realized he had chosen the wrong profession. He had already begun work at a local bank.

Maguire to Sell Founder's Pet Project, CFO to Leave Company

In one of his first major steps since being named chief executive of struggling Maguire Properties Inc., Nelson Rising hopes to raise hundreds of millions of dollars by selling Park Place, a former pet project of founder and former Chief Executive Robert

Paying to Play Expensive Name Game

By any name, price controls drive up costs and decrease available housing, according to Tom Means and Edward Stringham.

Amgen's Enbrel Causes Side Effects in Kids, FDA Says

Amgen Inc.'s anti-inflammatory medication Enbrel causes ``life-threatening'' side effects in children with psoriasis, U.S. regulators said in a report that cast doubt about whether the drug can win expanded approval.

Tarrant Reviewing Founders Offer

Apparel maker Tarrant Apparel Group said late Friday that it hired advisers to evaluate a second proposal submitted by its founders to acquire the remaining publicly held shares of the company.

Bank Statement

Joanne Kim, chief executive of Wilshire State Bank, has succeeded as a woman in the male-dominated sector of Korean-American banking.

Taking Middle Path To Ready Students For Future Careers

Concentrating education reform efforts at the middle school stage will help prepare students for the workforce, writes Elise Buik.

Hospital Buyer Offers Bitter Pill

Dr. Prem Reddy's Prime Healthcare Services has been snapping up local hospitals.

Newsmakers

Hirings, kudos and promotions.

Settlement in Milberg Case

New York-based law firm Milberg LLP agreed to pay $75 million to settle a suit over an illegal kickback scheme in L.A. federal court on Monday.

Friday, June 13

Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies took quite a hit this week, dropping 3.5 percent as 157 of the companies either lost ground or stayed flat.

National Technical Systems Posts Strong Q1, Shares Dip

National Technical Systems Inc. reported first quarter net income Friday of $728,000 (8 cents per share), a 23 percent increase compare to $591,000 (6 cents per share) in the same period a year earlier.

Amgen May Sue Over Blood Cell Drug

Amgen Inc. may sue Maxygen Inc. for patent infringement over a drug used to treat a disease associated with a low white blood cell count, Maxygen said in a filing Friday.

More Politicians Implicated in Favorable Countrywide Loans

Senators Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad denied receiving special treatment in getting loans from Countrywide Financial Corp. of Calabasas.

IndyMac Hit With Shareholders' Class-Action Suit

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against IndyMac Bancorp Inc., accusing it of issuing misleading information that artificially inflated the Pasadena-based lender's stock price.

Bratz Testimony Could Bolster Mattel's Claim

Bratz creator Carter Bryant testified Thursday that he drew up some plans for the dolls while he was working at Mattel Inc. as a designer of fashions, hairstyles and makeup for its Barbie line -- and that he used some Ken boots to put together a Bratz moc

MySpace Gets Ready for Makeover

News Corp. is stepping up its efforts to wring more ad coin out of MySpace. The social-networking behemoth is unveiling a massive redesign of its website and tech functions next week.

Fremont, CapitalSource Deal Gets OK From State

California regulators gave approval to Chevy Chase, Md.-based CapitalSource Inc. to buy the retail banking assets of Fremont General Corp.

InBev Bid May Lead to Expansion at Local Bud Plant

This week's $46 billion bid by a Belgian brewer to take over Anheuser-Busch could be a boon for the San Fernando Valley and its 800-worker plant in Van Nuys, local business leaders said Thursday.

Thursday, June 12

Boeing, Northrop Tanker Fight May End in Court

Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp., locked in a three-month dispute over a $35 billion U.S. Air Force refueling-tanker contract, may wind up in court before the fight is done.

DreamWorks Shares Slip After Downgrade

Shares in DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. sunk nearly 5 percent Thursday after the studio was downgraded by UBS Investment Research.

ESPN Buys Prep Sports Media Company

Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN sports network said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire Student Sports Inc., a Torrance-based digital media and event production company focused on high school sports.

99 Cents Only Posts Loss, Shares Decline

Shares in 99 Cents Only Stores dropped early Thursday after the company posted an unexpected fourth-quarter loss Wednesday afternoon.

Hilton Continues Push to Expand in Turkey

Hilton Hotels Corp. said Thursday that it has entered an agreement to develop 25 hotels in Turkey.

Live Nation's Leaders Battle Over Strategy

A fierce battle has broken out among top executives at Live Nation Inc. over the concert-promotion company's ambitious strategy to reshape the struggling music industry by making wide-ranging but expensive deals with artists such as Madonna and Jay-Z.

SAG Deal Unlikely Before June 30 Deadline

With the SAG-AFTRA bloodbath in full fury, don't expect a deal between the Screen Actors Guild and the majors any time soon.

Lampert Bets on Homebuilder Rebound; KB Pays EPA Fines

Shares in KB Home advanced early Thursday after billionaire hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert bought shares of KB and another homebuilder, betting on a U.S. housing recovery. In a separate matter, KB was fined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Northrop, Boeing Find Errors in Air Force Tanker Award

Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. said separately Thursday that the Air Force has discovered errors in the calculations for operating costs in the $35 billion refueling tanker contest won by Northrop earlier this year.

Wednesday, June 11

Cherokee Shares Dip on Q1 Earnings

Shares in Cherokee Inc. closed down 4 percent Wednesday after the licenser of clothing brand names reported lower first-quarter earnings.

Queen Mary Lessees Got Millions, Auditor Says

Former Queen Mary operator Joseph Prevratil and his management company were paid nearly $8 million in salaries, benefits and other disbursements between 2000 and 2007, according to an auditing firm hired by the city of Long Beach.

CalAmp Combines Divisions, Names COO

CalAmp Corp. said Wednesday that it has consolidated its wireless DataCom division and its satellite division into one operating unit and has appointed Michael Burdiek the company's chief operating officer.

Ambassador Campus Site Back on the Market

The Ambassador West project, one of the largest and most prestigious in the city's history, has been foreclosed on and the property is back on the market for the fourth time in a decade.

Mercury to Cut Insurance Rates in California

Mercury General Corp., a Los Angeles-based low-cost insurer, today is expected to announce rate cuts for about 1.7 million of its automobile and homeowner insurance customers, mainly in Southern California.

IndyMac Mortgage Volume Decrease

Shares in mortgage lender IndyMac Bancorp Inc. closed down more than 4 percent Wednesday after the company said its loan production in May fell 13 percent from the previous month, as the U.S. housing market continued to deteriorate.

Mattel Says Bratz Creator Erased Evidence

Lawyers representing Mattel Inc. in its lawsuit against MGA Entertainment are claiming that Bratz doll designer Carter Bryant erased incriminating data from his personal computers that would have showed he designed the dolls while working for Mattel.

Obama's V.P Team Manager Quits on Countrywide Allegations

Jim Johnson, a manager of Democrat Barack Obama's vice presidential search team, resigned Wednesday amid criticism over his personal loan deals.

Korn/Ferry Shares Drop On Guidance

Shares in Korn/Ferry International dipped Wednesday after the executive-search firm posted strong fourth quarter earnings but came in on the low end of Wall Street's expectations on its first quarter guidance.

Tuesday, June 10

Actors' Unions Fight as One Tries for a Deal

Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild publicly declared war on a fellow actors' union at a Monday rally here, increasing the likelihood of new labor strife in an entertainment industry still recovering from a writers' strike that ended just four months ago.

Disney to Offer Movies For Free On Web Site

Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it will begin to offer movies for free on its Web site starting this summer.

Herbalife Sued Over Product Safety

A Rosemead woman represented by an ally of Herbalife Ltd. critic and short seller Barry Minkow has sued the nutritional supplement maker, claiming its products caused lead-related liver problems.

Skechers Shares Drop On Downgrade

Shares in Skechers U.S.A. Inc. dropped nearly 6 percent early Tuesday after the Manhattan-based shoe and apparel retailer was downgraded by an investment firm.

Jakks Inks UFC Toy Deal

Toy maker Jakks Pacific Inc. said Tuesday that it signed a four-year license agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization to develop a line of collector-focused action figures. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Monday, June 9

Site Best Known as Home of Naughty Painted Statues

Some of the world's richest and most powerful lived at the Wehbas' prime piece of Beverly Hills real estate. The list includes a controversial Middle Eastern sheik.

Broker Bows Out at Grubb & Ellis Post-Merger

Veteran real estate broker Bill Boyd, who began working for Grubb & Ellis Co. in 1998 and rose to become an executive vice president and managing director of the Los Angeles region, has left the company.

Texas Native Gets Creative With Career in Los Angeles

Alan Chapman built a list of behind-the-scenes show business jobs before joining marketing company Avatar Labs as a production designer.

Warner Bros. Pitches Commercial Appeal to Fans

Warner Bros. has taken Internet interactivity up a notch by asking fans to create commercials that could appear in the movie "Watchmen."

Popular Loan Program Approaches Congressional Cap

It's becoming harder for small-business owners to obtain Community Express loans, which are geared to women, minorities, veterans and business owners in low- to moderate-income areas.

Southern California Losing Water Wars One Drop at a Time

Wayne Lusvardi and Charles B. Warren warn that "Perfect Drought" conditions imperil Southern California's water access.

Long Beach Port OKs Agreement on Truck Plan

The Port of Long Beach last week approved a concession agreement that sets the requirements for motor carriers participating in the upcoming $2.2 billion truck replacement program

MRV Launches Stock Option Probe

Shares of MRV Communications Inc. continued to fall on Monday after the company announced late last week that it may have to restate financial results once a board-appointed committee re-examines its stock option practices.

Newhall's Owner Files for Chapter 11

LandSource Communities Development LLC, the joint venture that owns Santa Clarita's Newhall Land & Farming Co., said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Heavyweight Investor Suit Spotlights Ex-Underling

The latest round in the legal feud between Ron Burkle and Michael Ovitz focuses on a former prot & #233;g & #233; of Ovitz and his relationship with Burkle.

Northrop Tanker Contract Challenge Still Up in Air

Northrop Grumman Corp. is hoping to keep the $35 billion deal to supply aerial refueling tankers to the Air Force, despite a considerable challenge from the defense contractor initially expected to win the contract.

Boeing's Challenge of Northrop Tanker Contract Still Up in Air

The Government Accountability Office is nearing its decision on Boeing's challenge to Northrop's Air Force tanker contract.

With the Flow

David Nahai, general manager of L.A.'s DWP, has his hands full with the city's aging water service infrastructure.

Slow Road to Nowhere

John T. Boal writes that Southland drivers need to rethink the wasteful practice of idling in their vehicles.

Broker Bows Out at Grubb & Ellis After Merger

Veteran real estate broker Bill Boyd, who began working for Grubb & Ellis Co. in 1998 and rose to become an executive vice president and managing director of the Los Angeles region, has left the company.

Profits Head North

Sleeping bag maker Exxel Outdoors has bucked the trend by moving production operations to the U.S. from Mexico.

Clothing Maker Seeking Better Fit

Six months after going public, clothing maker American Apparel is trying not to come apart at the seams.

Wealth Evaporates as Gas Prices Clobber McMansions

Homeowners in the exurbs aren't the only ones whose assets have taken a hit because of the surge in energy costs. The destruction of wealth and capital will weigh on U.S. growth for years to come.

Change of Control at the Los Angeles Times Magazine

The Los Angeles Times has made plans to transfer control of its monthly magazine from its newsroom to its business operations and to replace the magazine's entire editorial staff, according to two executives at the newspaper.

Megamansions!

The economic downturn hasn't stopped some Beverly Hills homeowners from building dream mansions.

How Do You Make the Skies Friendlier? Fly Yourself

Business routes are sky high for L.A. executives and entrepreneurs who fly their own planes.

Companies Promise CEOs Lavish Posthumous Paydays

You still can't take it with you. But some executives have arranged for the next best thing: huge corporate payouts to their heirs if they die in office.

County Home Sales, Median Price Drop in May

Los Angeles County's median home price was down and sales dropped in May.

Alternative Pursuits

A legal mandate is powering Southern California Edison's push into alternative energies.

SAG Goes to War Against AFTRA

The Screen Actors Guild has launched an extraordinary campaign to persuade members who also are part of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists to defeat ratification of AFTRA's primetime television deal.

Online Retailer Drops PC Focus for New Venture

Newegg.com an online geek-haven that ships 40,000 computer peripherals a day is turning into a mainstream online retailer.

Cytrx Announces Acquisition, Drug Delay

CytRx Corp. shares fell 16 percent on news of a delay in the development of its lead drug candidate, despite also announcing an acquisition.

Newsmakers & Kudos

News about Los Angeles-area businesspeople and professionals.

Grand Avenue Developer Gets Shorter Extension

The Los Angeles city-county joint powers authority that oversees downtown's Grand Avenue mixed-use project has given the project's developer a two-month extension for the start of construction.

An Ihop by Any Other Name

Charles Crumpley is having trouble getting a handle on why established businesses change their names.

Safety Hang-Up

California's "hands free" cell phone law means businesses could be liable when an employee causes a traffic accident while yakking

Analyst Likes DineEquity's Plan to Cut Debt

Shares of DineEquity Inc., owner of the Ihop and Applebee's restaurant chains, briefly gained as much as 13 percent after an analyst applauded the company's plan to reduce post-merger debt.

Group Gears Up For Road Battles

Local business leaders are hoping to take the wheel on L.A.'s pressing traffic problem, since no one else is.

Taking Home a Little Less

Ray Irani and Angelo Mozilo will never have trouble gassing up the Bentley or paying the mortgage on the mansion, But the compensation packages that they and other L.A.-area chief executives received in 2007 did moderate in some respects from previous yea

Malpractice Insurer Trades Despite Delisting Plan

SCPIE shares continue to trade on the NYSE as Sacramento regulators ponder whether the merger of the state's second and third largest health care liability insurance companies would create an unacceptable monopoly.

Fortune Flags For Lakers Fan

Clifford Isaac, says his novelties company has been selling out of Lakers flags almost immediately after it gets a shipment.

Local Firm Electra-fies Promotion for DVD Debut

Local creative marketing company Jetset Studios' most recent viral marketing campaign used an unusual promotional method: allowing fans to tattoo their names on a digital image of Carmen Electra's body.

Coliseum Has Bright Idea for New Video Display

University of Southern California football players will look bigger and brighter this season, at least to those fans looking up at a new LED video board installed at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Local Home Sales, Median Price Drop in May

Los Angeles' residential market took another tumble in May, as sales slowed and the county's median home price fell to its lowest level in three and a half years.

Firms Widen Horizons With Overseas Volunteering

Some local companies have expanded their corporate philanthropy programs to include volunteering overseas

Sunday, June 8

Newhall Land Owner Files for Bankruptcy

LandSource Communities Development LLC, the joint venture that owns Santa Clarita's Newhall Land & Farming Co., filed for bankruptcy late Sunday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Friday, June 6

Bottled Water War Settled

A dispute between Los Angeles-based Fiji Water Co. and a Fiji-based bottled water company has ended after the parties agreed to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Disney Combines Digital Media Divisions

Walt Disney Co. will merge its video-game and Internet divisions, according to an internal company email posted on the Internet.

Big Movers

After posting a 1.4 percent gain last week, the Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest local public companies fell by that same amount this week.

Port Traffic Turnaround Forecast

After months of depressed cargo volumes at ports both locally and nationwide, there are now signs that a turnaround is near.

Analyst Cuts Entravision

Entravision Communications Corp. shares fell 20 percent on Friday after Citgroup downgraded shares from "buy" to "hold" on a challenging outlook for the Spanish language broadcaster.

Ed McMahon Becomes Housing Crisis Casualty

Leave it to Ed McMahon, the jovial sidekick to the late Johnny Carson and host of "Star Search," to humanize the often faceless statistics behind the nation's current home foreclosure crisis.

Thursday, June 5

American Apparel's Same-Store Sales Surge 24 Percent

Shares in American Apparel Inc. added more than 4 percent early Thursday after the retailer posted a 24 percent jump in same-store sales for May.

Massachusetts Lures Filmmakers With Generous Rebate

Angela Peri was shepherding the more than 200 extras she had sent to the set of a new movie, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," being filmed in an upscale mall near Boston. So Ms. Peri, who runs a small casting agency, Boston Casting, hardly had a moment to talk abo

Shares in Hot Topic Surge After May Sales Beat Estimates

Shares in teen retailer Hot Topic Inc. jumped nearly 17 percent Thursday after the company said late Wednesday that its May same-store sales fell less than 1 percent, surprising investors.

CVB Gets Upgraded, Stock Surges

CVB Financial Corp. was upgraded by Credit Suisse Thursday after the investment firm said the bank holding company was looking financially strong. Shares jumped more than 12 percent early Thursday.

Nearly 1 in 10 Homeowners Face Loan Problems

Nearly 1 in 10 American homeowners with a mortgage faced foreclosure or fell behind in their payments in the first three months of the year, according to a report released Thursday, a figure that offers a look into the toll caused by the collapse of the h

L.A. Sues Time Warner Cable Over Poor Service

The Los Angeles city attorney's office is suing Time Warner Cable Inc., alleging that the company caused "major havoc and distress" when it became the No. 1 pay TV provider in Southern California two years ago.

UTI Posts Dip in First Quarter Profit, With a Hike in Sales

Shares in UTI Worldwide Inc. added nearly 3 percent early Thursday after the logistics company reported higher sales. Profits dropped 25 percent but that was because of a restructuring charge as well as higher expenses.

Airline Troubles May Hurt Disney Theme Park Sales

Walt Disney Co. may see a decline in visitors at its Florida theme parks this year due to surging fuel costs and airline cutbacks, according to investment firm Pali Capital Research.

Housing Supply Declined in May

The supply of homes available for sale in major metropolitan areas declined slightly in May.

Fed OKs Countrywide, BofA Deal

The Federal Reserve gave its stamp of approval Thursday for Countrywide Financial Corp. to be acquired by Bank of America Corp.

Daily Briefs

FirstFed Opens Two Branches

Wednesday, June 4

Calif. OKs Initiative Limiting Home Seizures

Warned their houses could be bulldozed for a shopping mall, a car dealership or other private development, California voters overwhelming approved an initiative limiting government seizures.

MSN Looks to Hollywood for New Site

Can two of Hollywood's most innovative executives help MSN become a player in advertiser-supported entertainment on the Web? MSN, the Microsoft portal, is betting millions of dollars that the answer is yes.

KB Sues MacFarlane Over Shuttered Developments

KB Home accused MacFarlane Partners LLC of failing to pay millions of dollars for its share of three residential projects in the state.

FDA Probes Amgen Drug for Childhood Cancer Risks

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it is investigating a possible link between the onset of childhood cancer and the use of arthritis drugs made and sold by Johnson and Johnson and Amgen Inc.

Classic Film Prints Lost in Universal Fire

In addition to the ruined "King Kong" attraction and the burned New York street scapes, the Universal Studios Hollywood fire has claimed another casualty: perhaps hundreds of classic 35-millimeter film prints, the studio said Tuesday.

Paramount Realigns Indie Unit

In the latest sign that Hollywood studios are reconsidering the independent movie market, Paramount Pictures announced that its main studio will absorb the marketing, distribution and physical production departments at its specialty label, Paramount Vanta

May Box Office Measures Up

Despite economic woes and tough comparisons with last year, the May box office stayed competitive with previous years and managed to create a new film franchise in "Iron Man."

J2 Buys U.K.-Based Mediaburst

J2 Global Communications Inc. said Wednesday that it bought undisclosed assets of Mediaburst Ltd. a United Kingdom-based provider of digital faxing services.

Tuesday, June 3

Panel OKs $3.2 Billion Airport Budget

The Board of Airport Commissioners on Monday approved a $3.2 billion budget for Los Angeles World Airports for the fiscal year that begins July 1, a 23 percent increase from last year.

CBRE Buys Australian Firm

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. said Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire Brisbane, Australia-based Corporate Property Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.

Edison, Idealab Team up on Solar Deal

The Southern California division of Edison International said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy 245 megawatts of thermal-solar power from plants to be built by Pasadena-based hi-tech business incubator Idealab.

Demand Drives South Bay Warehouse Project

A crane lifted a 68-ton slab of concrete off its side and placed it vertically in a ditch, where workers secured the giant wall. The dusty scene was repeated several times Monday as crews assembled the exterior skeletons of a scarce commodity in the South

Guess Enjoys Strong Q1, Boosts Outlook

Guess Inc. posted gains in profit and sales that beat Wall Street's estimates, and it gave a strong outlook for the upcoming fiscal year.

Countrywide Urges Shareholders to Vote for BofA Deal

Countrywide Financial Corp. on Tuesday urged shareholders to vote for its acquisition by Bank of America Corp.

California Frets Fire Season's Early Start

Californians normally are treated to a kaleidoscope of colors this time of year as spring rains give rise to wildflowers and verdant hillsides.

Warner Pacific Buys Price Associates

Warner Pacific Insurance Services said Tuesday that it has acquired Price Associates for an undisclosed sum.

Monday, June 2

What Makes an 'L.A.' Ad?

Los Angeles firms have made an impact on advertising with outdoorsy

Laser Maker Focuses on Making Small Projectors

A boardroom presentation inevitably comes with a clunky multimedia projector at the back of the room. What if that projector came in a cell phone?

Hilton to Tap Starwood Luxury Team

As part of an ambitious plan to nearly double its luxury properties in the next year and create an upscale boutique hotel brand, Hilton Hotels Corp. has hired two luxury gurus away from competitor Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Motown's Former L.A. Headquarters on Block

A piece of Motown history is up for sale. The West Hollywood creative office complex at 7317 Romaine St. that once served as Motown Records' headquarters has been put up for sale for $6.9 million.

Sushi to Kimchi

Little Tokyo is experiencing culture shock as a group of Korean-Americans has bought the Little Tokyo Shopping Center and will replace the Japanese shops.

Consultant Builds Foundation on Cancer Diagnosis

Her own experience inspired consultant Alice Crisci to launch a non-profit breast cancer support foundation called My Vision.

Green by Design

Venice store epOxyGreen has carved out a green niche selling recycled and sustainable materials.

Minkow Targeting Supplement Maker

Former fraudster and current crusader Barry Minkow has turned his sites on Herbalife, rocking the stock of the supplement and vitamin maker.

Afternoon Briefs

Hot Topic Names COO

Thomas Properties Partners with UBS

Thomas Properties Group Inc. said Monday that it has partnered with UBS Wealth Management to acquire $250 million worth of Class A office properties in select markets.

'Magic' Touch Falls on Parks

Earvin "Magic" Johnson has gone from basketball to business. And now he's getting deeper into politics. He's thrown his support to Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks in the June 3 county supervisor race between Parks and state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thom

Volunteer Programs Offer Instruction for Tomorrow's CEOs

Tony Buzzelli suggests an inexpensive way to train executives: Let them use those skills to help non-profits.

Milberg LLP Close to a Settlement

Class-action law firm Milberg LLP is close to a settlement that could end a federal prosecution of the firm for alleged kickbacks, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Releasing Some Oil Pressure

Charles Crumpley offers some real reasons why oil prices are high, and why they'll likely come back down.

Hollywood Is Muscling In on Turf of Ad Agencies

Entertainment producers are muscling in on ad turf.

New Media Is Turning L.A. Into a Petri Dish of Startups

New media is cited as the future of advertising and PR, but when the payday will arrive is anybody's guess.

Muscling In

Litigator Maurice Suh has an established track record representing athletes accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Work to Do

Pacific Palms Resort seeks to become a destination by overcoming its location: the City of Industry

New Chief Executive Looks to Do Good by Readership

Jonathan Greenblatt has worn many hats during his career.

Century Plaza Hotel Sold For $367 Million

The landmark Century Plaza Hotel has been sold for $367 million to a group led by local real estate investor Michael Rosenfeld.

Melvyn Weiss Sentenced to Prison in Kickback Scheme

A federal judge has sentenced law firm co-founder Melvyn Weiss to 30 months in prison for his role in a lucrative lawsuit kickback scheme targeting some of the largest corporations in the nation.

SPECIAL REPORT: What Makes an 'L.A.' Ad?

Los Angeles firms have made an impact on advertising with outdoorsy spots often featuring bright colors and positive spin

Face Time

David Rainer, chief executive of California United Bank, explains why he gave up a corporate job at Bank of America for a small, independent institution.

Time to Change County Hospital Governance?

Jim Lott writes that he's warming up to the notion of L.A. County ceding oversight of its medical facilities to a health authority.

Battle of Bottled Water Spilling Into Courtroom

The feud between Fiji Water and Dayals (Fiji) Artesian Waters has bubbled over into an L.A. court.

Newsmakers

Kudos, hirings and promotions.

Tenet Sells Three Area Hospitals

Tenet Healthcare Corp. said Monday it has sold three of its Southern California hospitals to Prime Healthcare Management Services Inc.

National Lampoon Dead Serious About New Comedy Label

It's no joke National Lampoon is launching a comedy label at a time the record industry has nothing to smile about.

Roundtable

Three local advertising executives discuss the industry.

Fire's Effect on Production Negligible, Universal says

The back-lot blaze at Universal Studios will have little effect on movie, television or other video productions, according to studio officials.

Ticket Broker Beats Path To Internet to Build Sales

As the Internet has supercharged ticket sales for top acts like Madonna, ticket brokers are inventing new ways to grab the attention of music fans.

L.A. Firm Taking Plunge With Algae-to-Oil Venture

OriginOil, a company working to transform algae into a source of fuel, has hired PR firm Cerrell Associates to help communicate its mission of developing a viable competitor to petroleum.

Paint Makers Look to Brush Off Air Quality Fee

Local and national paint and coatings manufacturers are up in arms over a fee proposed by local air quality regulators on most of their products.

Capstone Lands Russian Deal

Shares in Capstone Turbine Corp. gained more than 4 percent Monday after the alternative power and microturbine systems maker said it received its first order for a new product.

CalAmp Renews Customer Shipments

CalAmp Corp. said Monday that it resumed shipments to its largest customer after resolving an issue over the performance of certain broadcast satellite equipment.

L.A. Ad Numbers Still in Big Apple's Shadow, but ...

L.A. firms might be growing, but New York still takes the lion's share of advertising and public relations revenue.

Defense Agency Hatches Plan for Birdlike Aircraft

A company known for its miniature aircraft is now going even smaller.

Former Mayor Wants View From Behind the Bench

Will Los Angeles lawyers soon be referring to James Hahn as "your honor"? The former Los Angeles mayor announced last week that he is seeking a position on the Los Angeles Superior Court bench.

Reliance Steels For Price Plunge

The steel boom that fueled Reliance Steel & Aluminum's growth is slowing and causing analysts to reassess the company's health.