Stories for December 1997

Monday, December 29


The music industry is notorious for infighting, and now a new battle is emerging between record labels and music retailers in cyberspace.


That's the question rippling through L.A.'s international trade community, with 1998 looming beneath a cloud of uncertainty.


L.A. is moving steadily toward becoming the epicenter of multimedia especially now that many of the city's multimedia companies, including Digital Planet, Boxtop, W3 Design and Digital Evolution, have forged relationships with Fortune 500 companies.


With computer problems delaying implementation of energy deregulation for perhaps two months or more, Los Angeles companies will miss out on substantial savings on their power bills perhaps totalling in the millions of dollars.


When it opened in 1984, the shiny new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was considered state of the art.

This Week

Entrepreneurs, who play an unusually important role in the Los Angeles economy, discuss their expectations for 1998.

Tech Outlook

L.A.'s high-tech sector has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the industry: Next to Silicon Valley, it just doesn't get any respect.


Seven oil refineries located there have a combined estimated worth of $4.8 billion, according to the county Assessor's Office, including the value of the land, improvements, fixtures and equipment. The predominance of oil refineries and other industrial c


After an exceptional 1997, L.A.'s economy in the the new year is expected to be slower but still strong.


The new Getty Center in Brentwood may be a cultural oasis and world-class attraction for Los Angeles, but it's a royal headache for its residential neighbors.


There hasn't been a major earthquake in four years. The city has been riot-free for almost six years. El Ni & #324;o? So far at least, it's been El No-Show.


Deregulation. That word will dominate the utilities industry in 1998, when California electricity providers will be able to compete in an open market for the first time much the way long-distance phone companies have been able to compete freely since th


Allstate Insurance Cos. 1, 23


Can't a billionaire put his estate in order without sparking speculation about his longevity?


There's never any shortage of year-ahead forecasts concerning Fortune 500 companies, but what about the smaller guy?


With a net worth of $3.2 billion, the Australian-born media czar's control of Sydney-based News Corp. gives him such powerful toys as Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., the Fox TV network, 22 U.S. TV stations, cable outlets like FX, Fox Sports, Fox News an


With construction cranes roaring to life again, can Los Angeles expect renewed disputes between pro-growth and slow-growth forces?


The $200 million shelled out by Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox to make "Titanic" may have Hollywood bean counters shuddering, but industry insiders say more huge production budgets are on the way.


You don't have to be a transportation expert to realize that Los Angeles has a serious gridlock problem.

Opoed #2

After a fruitless one-week wait for a reply to its offer to buy El Segundo-based Computer Sciences Corp., Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc. last week launched a $9.8 billion hostile takeover bid.

Year review

The huge Los Angeles regional economy chugged forward in 1997, creating thousands of new jobs, boosting fortunes for retailers, real estate agents and others, while shrugging off industry consolidations and a rash of corporate defections.


Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan spent much of last week reminding everyone that the town is on a roll. "You have a safer city, a cleaner city, a friendlier city," he told a group of Business Journal editors and reporters.


Consolidation, conflict and reform are the watchwords for L.A.'s health care market in 1998.


Investment in industrial, office and retail properties is expected to intensify next year as vacancies continue to drop and rental rates rise. Many analysts expect the office market to shift into the development phase of the growth cycle, while the indust

LA Forum

There are two basic kinds of New Year's resolutions those we make for ourselves (like losing weight and turning off "The Jerry Springer Show") and those we make for our businesses and companies. With only two years left in the 20th century, the Business


If there is a common thread running through the industry forecasts for the coming year, it is lingering unease over the economic troubles in Asia.


Maybe it's the weather, or the transient nature of Los Angeles society, but the really hot trends don't start out these days in Paris or Rome or even New York. If it's hot, it usually starts in the City of Angels.


My family and I are very troubled that Councilman Michael Feuer seems to still be favoring developer Ira Smedra's project, which is against the present laws and which would wreck Westwood Village.

Oped #1

A just-released report by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that "income disparities between the top fifth of families with children and families at the bottom and middle of the income scale have grown substantially over the last


The gubernatorial election will dominate the political scene in 1998, a year that will also see the San Fernando Valley secession movement gain steam.


By his own admission, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan prefers to work behind the scenes building consensus quietly before making a public stand.


Los Angeles retailers, initially confident of a better than average 1997, were ultimately let down and for many of them, that disappointment will extend into 1998.


Taking office for his second term as mayor last summer, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan attorney, venture capitalist and restaurateur declared that education would be his No. 1 priority.


Economic woes might keep some Asian tourists at home, but the good news far outweighs the bad when it comes to L.A. tourism.


Los Angeles will continue to be a feeding ground for big banks looking for acquisitions in 1998.


Following several years of the "grunge" and "basic-black" looks, apparel fashions in 1998 will be new and different and that bodes well for L.A.'s apparel industry, which is increasingly dominated by young, cutting-edge designers.

Saturday, December 27


This year, there could be good news for a change. The Los Angeles aerospace industry should benefit from the surging market for commercial airplanes and satellites, although there still will be losses within local defense operations.


Many ad executives publicly expect 1998 to be an even stronger year than 1997. But behind their typically rosy forecasts, executives on Madison Avenue (and Wilshire Boulevard, where many of L.A.'s biggest agencies reside) are a little nervous.

Friday, December 19


Contrary to popular newsroom belief, economic outlook sections are not an editor's way of filling space during the slow holiday stretch between Christmas and New Year's Day. They represent a benchmark of sorts, both in terms of the overall economy and spe

Monday, December 15


With fresh capital and new management, Playa Vista is just months away from breaking ground on one of the largest housing developments in L.A. history.


The bidding-war climate for office properties among real estate investment trusts has Kilroy Realty Corp. eager to return to its development roots.


Things don't always get worse; they sometimes get better, as Russ Hindin, principal at the Woodland Hills-based investment banking shop Hindin/Owen/Engelke can tell you.


AT & T; last week unloaded its 2.5 percent equity stake in El Segundo-based satellite broadcaster DirecTV Inc., selling it back to its parent Hughes Electronics Corp. for $161.8 million.


In the wake of the 1992 L.A. riots, Plastopan North America Inc. was a striking example of private-public urban renewal possibilities.


The news that Sumitomo Bank of California has been put up for sale by its Japanese parent sent shock waves through the California banking community, leading many to speculate that other Japanese-owned banks in the United States would be next in line.


Who would have thought L.A. would be without professional football for this long and that the prospects of bringing an expansion franchise back to town would be in such doubt?


In 1994, Carlton Calvin founded a company to publish children's books. During his product development research, he heard about a toy craze among youngsters called "pogs and slammers." It's a game sort of like marbles, only using cardboard discs that child

Company Index

America Online Inc. 4


Teamed with the late Don Simpson, Jerry Bruckheimer became one of Hollywood's most successful producers turning out hits like "Flash Dance," "Beverly Hills Cop" "Top Gun" and "Crimson Tide."


It remains to be seen whether Los Angeles will see the Memorial Coliseum get its much-needed overhaul to attract an NFL team. Even more uncertain is whether the city could get public support for using taxpayer funds to help pay for the renovation. The Bu


On the recommendation of a colleague, I saw the movie "Jerry Maguire" starring Tom Cruise. Throughout the movie, a key character emphatically used the mantra, "Show me the money!"


Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. has announced that it will launch the much-anticipated ESPN West cable sports network in October 1998, setting the stage for a battle between Disney and the rival Fox Sports cable networks for the attention of die-hard sports


It's a picture-perfect morning at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. A rider and her horse bound over red, white and blue fences at a jumping competition in a 3,500-seat arena. An urban cowgirl primps her mount for a jaunt on the trails of Griffith Park.


As a former senior loan consultant and a five-time President's Club member achieved through blood, sweat and tears and at the cost of having so-called "family balance" I could not agree more with the recent letter "Rinehart a Harsh Task Master" (Dec.


With reference to Allyson Stewart-Allen's article (Entrepreneur's Notebook, Dec. 1), many small U.S. companies following the "paths to business growth abroad" fail to penetrate overseas markets because they have not learned how to extend competitive credi


Earlier this year, it was the hottest buzz in town: Microsoft Corp. was on the prowl in Hollywood, looking to help small production houses put TV-like shows on its online Microsoft Network.


Two mammoth projects account for 15 of the 25 largest contracts on the city's books during the 1996-97 fiscal year.


Orders from your best customers have plummeted. Even worse, your eye catches a headline in your industry's trade journal in which the CEO of your primary competitor boasts of record-high sales in a market your company was about to launch into.


Last summer, a boastful Congress passed 824 new income- tax changes, most of them cuts. The big beneficiaries: investors and families with children.


Fresh from completing its merger with a major property management firm, CB Commercial Real Estate Services Group agreed last week to add an international real estate services company to its operations.


Hot Rodders back in the late '40s and early '50s were screeching through the fast lanes of post-war Southern California, leaving the smell of burning rubber on boulevards like La Cienega and Van Nuys.

El Rey

Owner and manager Rodney Nardi laughs about the "overnight success" of his El Rey Theatre, which over the last few months has showcased Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Everclear.


If there's one thing those of us in agriculture wish we could control, it's the weather. So when talk turns to the issue of climate change, we listen.


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, after an extensive amount of research, public testimony and debate, will replace the earthquake-damaged County-USC Medical Center with a 600-bed facility if the state provides the additional funding, or a 500-b


I tip my hat to the Business Journal as you continue to print important and educational articles such as "Why Business Lacks A Voice" (Nov. 24). As a businessman/citizen activist over the last 27 years, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of particip


Personal finance journalist Jane Bryant Quinn is the "maven of money," a Harvard Business School professor wrote in a recent review of Quinn's book "Making the Most of Your Money."


LBA Properties Inc., a Newport Beach-based commercial property company, is in final negotiations to sell its 5 million-square-foot portfolio of Southern California holdings.


The clock is ticking on Los Angeles being awarded a pro football franchise and despite the best of intentions, it seems clear that the city is nowhere near the goal line.


The banding together of Century Communications Inc. and Tele-Communications Inc., announced last week, gives Century the market clout it needs to launch its long-talked-about 24-hour cable news channel in Los Angeles.


Hot tubs, weight-lifting rooms, garden concerts and a panoramic view of the Pacific where staffers ride the surf during breaks for New Age record label Higher Octave Music, it's more than a business, it's a lifestyle.


Martin Paul Valencia has been named vice president of commercial finance lending at Union Bank of California. Valencia will serve as an asset-based lending officer in the bank's Pasadena office. He previously was assistant vice president in the commercial


Fujitsu, not known for its personal computer products, is trying to establish itself in the booming laptop market, and is selling a feature-packed, low-end model that might fit nicely both under your Christmas tree and into your holiday budget.


The producers of Fox-Paramount's "Titanic," reportedly the most expensive movie ever made, have come up with a novel merchandising campaign just in time for the holiday season.


Here's one way to quantify the impact of deregulation on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power:


For French radio journalist Carole Germain, it may be the biggest challenge she's faced since arriving in Los Angeles two years ago: How to explain the sprawling new Getty Center to an audience with little direct knowledge of L.A. and how to do it in a


With TBWA Chiat/Day Inc. moving out of the Binoculars Building, and "hip" agencies like BBDO West and Ground Zero inhabiting converted warehouses or wild frat-house-inspired work spaces, the question arises: Which ad agency has the coolest office in Los A


Westlake, 43, is the recently appointed chairman of Universal Networks and Worldwide Television Distribution Group, a newly created division of Universal City-based Universal Studios Inc. The division was created following a deal with Home Shopping Networ

Monday, December 8


When Edward Kim and his family purchased the Han Solh Health Land gym last year, the first thing they did was change the facility's name to the Century Sports Club.


KTLA-TV Channel 5, perhaps envious over the attention KCBS-TV Channel 2 received from its recent news series on unsanitary eateries, made its rival eat a little crow.


On behalf of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., I would like to commend the Business Journal on its recent issue addressing the lack of business unity in Los Angeles County ("Why Business Lacks a Voice," Nov. 24). As the editor pointed out, there


Beitcher has become president and chief executive of Hollywood-based Consolidated Film Industries, which does motion picture processing and post-production.


L.A.'s Koreatown is growing fast in terms of size and economic power. But for some it is an ethnic community still somewhat below the radar screen. To gain an idea of how familiar the business community at large is with this area, the Business Journal For


All we want for Christmas is: Well, for starters, we'd like a totally state-of-the-art laptop computer, with speed, sound quality and video display that matches the latest desktop models, equipped with all the standard features, plus a few extras thrown i


As mentioned in your recent editorial ("Non-United L.A.," Nov. 24), the L.A. economy indeed comprises a disparate group of businesses. We've found that when you put business owners together, they have a tremendous amount in common. The vagaries of running


Scores of Westside businesses that signed bargain-basement lease deals during the recession are now experiencing sticker shock as their contracts come up for renewal.


There are over 125 chambers of commerce in L.A. County, each providing programs and services to help their business communities succeed. This year's top 25 chambers, ranked by 1997 budget, represent a geographical cross-section of the county. Some represe


With the bargain-basement retail sector consolidating, 99 Cents Only Stores is poised to swallow up similar chains if it doesn't become a target itself.


For those of you who know little about Koreatown its business community, its growth and its history this week's package of stories is a must-read.


When Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Michael D. Eisner announced last week that the Burbank-based company plans to donate $25 million to the Walt Disney Concert Hall project, it marked a possible sea change for philanthropic Hollywood.


In the 1930s, Glenn Morthland patented a membrane for builders to install beneath showers or tiles to keep water from seeping through and causing damage. This was the genesis of Los Angeles-based Compotite Corp., which Glenn's granddaughter Joan now runs.


Concerned that Los Angeles could lose its bid for an NFL team, Mayor Richard Riordan is backing away from his unequivocal support for the Memorial Coliseum as the franchise stadium.


When a city or state agency decides to redevelop an area, it uses its eminent domain powers to buy properties and move existing businesses and residents out.


Sunset Plaza, the collection of retail designer boutiques between San Vicente and La Cienega boulevards, is like no other place in Los Angeles. The row of international shops and restaurants attracts the area's wealthiest, trend-savvy locals.


Keum-Rin Baik was a college-educated accountant working for a large cement company in Korea. Frustrated by a lack of upward mobility and worried by the worsening political situation in his homeland, he emigrated with his wife to Los Angeles in 1980.


Koreatown's economy is built largely on small business restaurants, liquor stores, dry cleaners and the like and as a result, trade groups representing these and other businesses play an important role in the Korean American community. Here are some o


Plagiarism claims are nothing new in Hollywood, but the lawsuit over the movie "Amistad" is drawing special notice.

entrep notebook

We all want to communicate with power and ease, but many people feel challenged when faced with a crucial business meeting. The truth is, anyone can command an audience or take charge at a meeting. The key to charisma is relaxation.


General Motors Corp. last week said it plans to consolidate its dealer network in the San Fernando Valley by buying about a dozen small operations and combining them into four or five larger dealerships.


Question: I started my own medical-billing company in the early 1980s. Like many other women small-business owners, I have been snubbed many times by traditional lenders. For years, I have funded my business through personal loans and credit cards, and bo


Powered by a new generation of Korean American entrepreneuers, L.A.'s Koreatown is expanding in almost all directions from its historic core near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.


As one of the "voices" of the business community that was not mentioned in the Business Journal's recent series of articles exploring why the L.A. business community lacks a voice ("Why Business Lacks a Voice," Nov. 24), we offer the following observation


By day, the streets around Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown are among the city's busiest with thousands of office workers crowding the sidewalks, delivery vans fouling traffic, and noisy construction crews forever digging up pavement.


Ah, for the heady days of 1996, when an infomercial producer could throw together a contraption made of metal bars and a padded headrest, give it a name with "Ab" in the front and sell a million or two units at $69.95 a pop.

r.e. column

One of the largest property management firms in the county is muscling up its commercial brokerage division.


Why, after investing so much effort in customer service, is your company still not achieving customer loyalty?


A sure-fire way to see your restaurant business take a nose-dive is to be featured or even mentioned on TV.


When 20th Century Fox wanted to show aliens blowing up cities around the world for its blockbuster movie "Independence Day," the production team turned to Louis Schwartzberg's Energy Film Library in Studio City for stock film of the cities.


I applaud your major treatment of Los Angeles' nagging problem "Why Business Lacks a Voice" (Nov. 24).


Don't look now, but the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 31.6 percent for the year, as of last week.


Having a customer or supplier tell you how to run your business might be viewed as an affront, but Allfast Fastening Systems Inc. actually asked its biggest customer to do just that.


Now that the Los Angeles real estate industry is finally rebounding, developers are developing, landlords are renovating and architects are once again flooded with business.


It's just happenstance, but this is the month that several long-standing projects finally took definitive turns all of them leading, we believe, to a more vibrant, reinvigorated Los Angeles.


Perennial cellar-dweller in the local network news race, KCBS-TV Channel 2 last month turned to one of the oldest tricks in the book to boost its ratings: a series on restaurant health conditions.


When you read about problems with managed care, they're always big ones, involving denial of costly treatment. But if my mail is any guide, a million so-called "little things" are troubling you too all of which challenge the vaunted efficiency of HMOs.

Monday, December 1


It was a rare combination of factors that made the San Gabriel Valley THE LARGEST? THE SECOND-LARGEST? center of Chinese-Americans in the United States.


The busy corner of Daxiyang Avenue and Shangu Boulevard bustles with life in the cool of a fall Sunday morning.


The new generation of leaders in the San Gabriel Valley's booming Chinatown harken largely from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. Most are still men, although more women are playing prominent roles.