Stories for September 2000

Monday, September 25

Bank Set to Fund Startups After Services Show Payoff

It's telling that when Comerica Inc. moved into California in 1991 and founded subsidiary Comerica Bank-California, it started off with the acquisition of Plaza Bank, which already had its fingers in the tech sector. Today, Comerica's high-tech banking gr

RESTAURANTS---Success of Firm Founded by Actor Is All in the Delivery

Glen Steele was a 29-year-old actor picking up rent money by making deliveries, when he decided it was time to settle down.

JANE BRYANT QUINN---Investing in Stranger's Life Insurance Carries Big Risks

You may have been approached to buy a "viatical" supposedly a safe investment with a high return.

BID---Despite Industry Changes, Fashion District Nearly Full

The commercial vacancy rate in downtown L.A.'s Fashion District has dropped to a miniscule 2 percent, lending substance to the hype about a "renaissance" in the city's urban core.

Multi-Pronged Strategy Is Paying Off in Venture Deals

By way of its various subsidiaries and divisions, Inglewood-based Imperial Bancorp has a strong and increasingly lucrative presence in the venture capital world.

DAVID WILSON---Reading Between the Lines of One-Letter Stock Tickers

Vivendi SA adopted the first letter of its name as the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol for its American depositary shares. The stock slid 1.9 percent in its market debut Sept. 12.

REAL ESTATE---Big Burbank Project Clears Its Final Hurdle at City Hall

Another void left by the decline of the aerospace industry is a big step closer to being filled.

TOYS---Hasbro has teamed up with Disney to make and license toys based on the studio's wide array of characters

Hasbro Inc., the world's second-largest toymaker, said it signed a marketing agreement with the Walt Disney Co. to make and license toys based on Disney films, television and videos.

SOAP---Margaret Saavedra's idea for a few personal holiday gifts ultimately blossomed into Beautiful Soap & Co

Margaret saavedra turned her hobby of making soap into her own company, which is exploding as demand for products that are free of chemicals and pesticides takes hold in the los Angeles market


Since 1972, the Rose family has been providing the residents of Santa Clarita with pets and pet supplies. Mark Rose took full ownership of the Newhall Pet Center on Lyons Avenue three years ago and subsequently opened Pet Adventure in Canyon Country.

Interview---Christopher Woolley of Imperial Bank's venture arm talks about how these deals work

Christopher J. Woolley, senior vice president and regional manager for Imperial Bank's Pacific Southwest emerging growth division, exemplifies the changing face of the Los Angeles banking community.

EDISON---Edison Debts May Result in Higher Prices for Power

As power prices on the open market have skyrocketed this summer, Southern California Edison is going deeper and deeper into debt completely wiping out recent gains in the company's stock price.

WORKING AT HOME---Ignoring Marketing Can Take Its Toll in the Long Run

My bookkeeper recently told me many of the small businesses that she's seen fail have one thing in common they don't prioritize marketing. This sounds incredibly obvious, but the fact that so many companies fall prey to "under-marketing" makes the issue

SEGREGATION---Ethnic, Class Segregation Rising in L.A.

To the casual observer, Los Angeles County may appear to be an extremely diverse place. But a new USC study paints a picture of a community sharply divided by race, with ethnic and class groups clustered within their own homogenous pockets throughout the

CHRISTOPHER BYRON---This P.R. 'Pirouette' Reveals the Ills Plaguing Dot-Coms

An instructive bit of stock price propaganda issued forth the other day from a company that, until recently, needed no such artifice to lift its shares: Andover, Mass.-based CMGI Inc., the dot-com world's first and certainly the most successful "Inter

JANE APPLEGATE---Freedom of Movement Can Be Benefit of Owning Firm

Relocating a business for personal reasons is one option frequently available only to entrepreneurs. If it's your business, you can pick up and move it just about anywhere.

PLAYA---Developer Rob Maguire is moving to increase his stake in the massive Playa Vista project

What happens when an individual goes up against a group of the most powerful firms on Wall Street?

TELEVISION---The much-hyped V-chip has done virtually nothing to protect children from inappropriate programming

As both presidential candidates and a host of federal legislators take aim at Hollywood for marketing violent fare to children, it is instructive to look at the results of the government's last major effort to rein in the entertainment industry: the V-chi

CHET CURRIER---Money Funds Look Good As a Hedge Against Stocks

The easy way to keep your head above water this year in mutual fund investing has been to own a money market fund.

Veteran of Venture Arena Is Eyeing Regional Expansion

Silicon Valley Bank, the granddaddy of banks financing emerging companies, has moved aggressively into the L.A. market.

ENTREPRENEUR'S NOTEBOOK---Stock Plans for Workers Pay Dividends to Employers

You've probably heard of employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, but did you know they can be excellent tax and succession-planning tools for family-owned businesses?

WALL STREET WEST---Investor Predicts Even More Carnage From Tech Wreck

You haven't seen anything yet, according to James Montgomery, founder and managing partner of Santa Monica-based Digital Coast Partners, an investment banking and venture shop. "There are just tons of (Web-based) companies running out of cash, with big

INTERVIEW---Keeper of the Domain

Herb Schorr's Information Sciences Institute is the quiet force behind many key innovations for the Internet



RADIO---Radio Stocks Falling Amid Ad Pullback

U.S. radio companies were licking their wounds in public last week as the industry gathered to discuss slowing advertising sales growth that has sent some radio stocks to their lowest levels in years.

VISITORS---Summer tourism was up in L.A,. especially in Hollywood, despite an absence of new attractions

It was a surprisingly strong summer for tourism in Hollywood surprising because the area has no new attractions to lure visitors and its major draw, Hollywood Boulevard, is in the midst of a massive construction project.

RETAIL---Trends suggest Goodwill Industries is going upscale

The next time you clean out your garage, don't expect Goodwill to take all your junk.

Tech a Natural Step for Real Estate Lender

General Bank is a known as a business bank that specializes in trade financing and commercial real estate lending so what's it doing investing in technology-oriented venture capital funds?

PETS---Dogs are enjoying the cushy lives of conspicuous consumption in an era of growing expendable income

There's nothing wrong with being kind to animals, but Angelenos are taking things to extremes as are the firms serving them


Terry Putz's longtime position as personal assistant to actor/director Orson Welles ultimately led to her present career, manufacturing and designing cigar-box handbags.

TECH TALK---Hollywood Stock Exchange Links With Software Firm

The Hollywood Stock Exchange has merged with New York-based Predict It, and HSX Chief Executive Andy Kaplan will step down when the merger goes through, the company announced last week.

JOHN DORFMAN---Foreign Companies to Scrutinize in Revamp of Portfolio

It probably is, if you are like most U.S. investors. I have been trying to include a fair sprinkling of non-U.S. stocks among my clients' investments the likes of AngloGold Ltd. (South Africa), Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones (Panama), Scudder Ne

FASHION---E! Entertainment's Style Network is poised to see its viewership skyrocket by year's end

More than two years after its launch, E! Networks' fledgling Style Network 24 hours of fashion, beauty and design will finally reach around 250,000 Los Angeles households by the end of this year.

CARS---Carmakers Are Worried About Pollution Rule

The car industry is about to collide head-on with the state government, and car manufacturers based in Southern California are bracing for the accident about to happen.

MITCH ALBOM---What If You Were Raised in Paradise?

What if I had been born somewhere else? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

HOTELS---Hotel Builders Stymied by Lack of Funding

The good news about L.A. County's severe hotel shortage is that 52 new projects designed to have a total of 7,500 new rooms were proposed in the past year.


Zorba the Greek: The second annual Great Greek Festival is being held at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the corner of Pico Boulevard and Normandie Avenue. There will be Greek food, homemade Greek pastries, folk dancing and m

Newcomer to Venture Wars Tries Hard to Gain Ground

City National Bank is a relative newcomer to the venture capital world. Just three years ago, the Beverly Hills-based bank lured away a key Silicon Valley Bank executive to launch its venture capital business. But the bank is now trying to make up for its


Mike Anuszewski has been appointed vice president and senior business development officer at Fleet Capital Corp. in Sherman Oaks. He will be responsible for delivering corporate finance products, including high-yield debt, private placements, and merger a

STOCKS---Valencia-based Newhall Land & Farming Co.'s aggressive stock buyback program has faltered

A year into an aggressive stock buyback program aimed at boosting its share price, Valencia-based mega-developer Newhall Land & Farming Co. has hit a series of stumbling blocks that have slowed down the repurchase plan and further sunk its stock.

Case Study---How Xdrive turned a $200,000 loan into a multimillion-dollar commitment from its bank

Imperial Bank's Daniel Styles showed up at the small offices of Xdrive about one year ago to get the scoop on the brand new company based in Santa Monica. Xdrive, which offers businesses and individuals a virtual hard drive for storing files online, neede

COUNTY---Poised for a Strike, County Union Turning to TV Ads

Service Employees International Union Local 660's current broadcast advertising campaign is testament to the fact that unions and more importantly, their members have come to recognize the importance of public relations.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Syncor International Corp.'s 3-year-old diversification strategy has impressed analysts

Syncor International Corp. is turning heads on Wall Street. A three-year-old diversification strategy at the once-sleepy little pharmaceuticals company has boosted profits and revenues, impressing analysts and running up the stock price by about 170 perce

CYBERSENSE---New Cat-and-Mouse Game Aims to Snare Consumer

You have to wonder about a business plan based on the notion that people want to interact with a soda can.

Banking---Local commercial banks are going after venture-backed companies like never before

Winston Damarillo has a company that is only six months old and certainly isn't profitable. But he is in a position many small-business entrepreneurs would envy: banks are beating down the doors for his business. Damarillo is founder and chief executive o

Monday, September 18

HEALTHCARE---Timing Right for Coming IPO by Specialty Labs

Specialty Laboratories Inc. filed for an $86 million initial public offering just as investors are bidding up clinical lab stocks.

DEVELOPMENT---Bob Stein, head of Tejon Ranch, takes a risk by planning a community in the sticks

Decades from now, when historians and academicians look back on the development of Los Angeles County, Bob Stine, the head of Tejon Ranch Co., could be remembered as a visionary or a dreamer.

Selecting a Building for Your Growing Business

You need to find some commercial real estate, and need it soon. You've outgrown your current space and it's starting to hurt your productivity. What should you be looking for? What are the pitfalls?

CYBERSENSE---Record Labels Should Change Their Tune on the Web

Universal appears to be the only major record label that has figured out how to make money from online music distribution.

SHOPPING---Procter & Gamble has hired an expert to help it run Giorgio of Beverly Hills

After five years of trying to make it on Rodeo Drive, consumer products giant Procter & Gamble is turning to an expert.

Buy an Existing Business

When you buy an existing business, you are assuming responsibility to an existing customer base. Buying a business this way, you are most concerned with the ability of the business to continue to earn profits.

JANE APPLEGATE---Web Seems Like Good Fit for Sale of Custom Toe Rings

Frustrated by the lack of easy-to-use electronic shopping cart programs, Shawn Roop hired a software consultant to create a customized e-commerce program to sell his mother's toe rings online.

DIGITAL---Canned Interactive designs Web sites, video games, and adds enhanced features to DVDs


SPAS---Pricey Pampering

Angelenos' craving for beauty and health has created an explosion of expensive spas that feature everything from hot river rock treatments to power peels and hydrabaths

Business Relocation: Buy or Lease?

Before you make any final decisions about leasing or buying a new commercial property you should consider the following:

CHET CURRIER---More Middle-Class Americans Sinking Cash Into Funds

Popular as mutual fund investing has grown over the last 20 years, it stands no chance of ever becoming hip.

New Technology Firms: Their Impact Upon Commercial Real Estate

Demand for office and Research and Development Space in the Los Angeles Basin is surging, growing at a pace that rivals that of the late 1980s. Much of the growth in demand is coming from "new technology firms" & #173; firms that are tapping into opportunities

WYNDHAM---Hotel and restaurant union employees were arrested after protesting their dismissal from an LAX hotel

Labor battles involving L.A. hotels heated up last week after 22 members of Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees International Union Local 814 were arrested for unlawful assembly during a demonstration against their dismissal from the Wyndham Hotel at Lo

INTERVIEW---Edward L. Masry, the attorney who along with Erin Brockovich brought PG & E; to its knees

Edward Masry, the real-life environmental attorney made famous by the recent Julia Roberts film, is at the forefront of some of L.A.'s biggest toxics cases

TRANSPORTATION---Truck drivers stage protests at the ports of Long Beach and L.A.

Frustrated by long waits at local seaport terminals and spiking diesel fuel prices, independent truck drivers are staging work disruptions at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

COMMENTARY---Rockers Made Deals With Devil for Hair

Mick Jagger has a big one. So does Paul McCartney. Bob Seger is so well-endowed he could give an inch away and still have plenty.


Since taking over the business for his father 21 years ago, Bruce Spiegel has been helping nervous grooms and anxious brides pick out wedding bands and other jewelry at his North Hollywood shop, The Jewelry Factory. Spiegel makes about half of the jewelry

HOUSING---Extended-stay housing outfits are leasing up hundreds of apartments around town

If you're moving into one of L.A.'s new luxury apartment complexes, you might notice that some of your neighbors don't stick around very long.

From Retail to E-Tail

E-Commerce is slowly but surely picking-up momentum and despite initial skepticism about its ability to attract consumers, the numbers are strong and they are only getting better. Over 15 percent of all consumer retail purchases are expected to take plac

BANKRUPT---Retailers filing for bankruptcy could leave mall owners holding the bag

The economy might be as strong as ever, but a recent flurry of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings by niche retailers and theater chains is threatening to slam L.A.-area shopping mall owners.

UNOCAL---The oil company may have its patents case heard by the Supreme Court

Unocal Corp.'s defense of its patents on cleaner-burning gasoline is before the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices are deciding whether to hear a challenge from five of the world's biggest oil companies.

POWER---Products That Save Electricity Are a Big Hit

For years, executives at Culver City-based Bristol Park Industries had seen relatively modest gains in sales of their chief product: a transformer designed to reduce the amount of electricity needed to power interior building lights.

WALL STREET WEST---Energy Is Powering Its Way Back on Radar of Investors

It seems like only yesterday that oil stocks were deader than yesterday's newspaper, and alternative energy projects were dismissed as a pipe dream of aging hippies.

SAG---Companies caught in the crossfire between striking actors and commercial producers are being hit hard

The real victims of the Screen Actors Guild strike against the commercial production industry aren't necessarily actors, most of whom have other jobs and don't rely on ad work to make a living. And they certainly aren't producers, who seem to be going ahe

JANE BRYANT QUINN---Dodging Heavy Flak Attack Over Support of Estate Tax

As promised, President Clinton vetoed the bill that would have phased out the federal estate tax over the next 10 years. Congress tried and failed to override the veto.

Investing in Real Estate: Profitable if Done Right

Why invest in real estate? Because real estate, when properly acquired and managed, provides capital appreciation, equity build up, cash flows, tax benefits and a hedge against inflation. Real estate, both land and improved, has a broad-based marketplace

Entering Into Your First Commercial Real Estate Lease

For most businesses, large and small, a real estate lease represents a major commitment. It is a commitment that goes beyond the financial outlay: it circumscribes the location of the business, the expansion opportunities, the operating environment, and o

Don't Make Office Selection Mistakes

The main job of corporate executives, owners of a partnership, and sole proprietors is to make decisions. The selection of an office site can be the most important decision a leader will make. We present here a list of the most common mistakes made in sit


Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, a fashion mecca for young hip L.A. fashionistas, is already displaying the newest trend for winter: the sleeveless look.

Lighting Can Make A Differece In Your Office

A factor often overlooked in eyestrain problems is lighting and glare. Studies have shown that workers rate good lighting as the single most important aspect of the office environment. This is followed by air quality and comfortable chairs. Improper light

HMOs Get a Break as Bills Target Care for Uninsured

For the past several years, when it came to health care legislation in Sacramento, HMOs were everyone's favorite whipping boy, with hundreds of bills targeting their practices on the table. But HMOs didn't dominate the debate this year. After a managed ca

CARGO---The Port of Long Beach has modified its 10-year expansion plan

The Port of Long Beach, locked in fierce competition with the neighboring Port of Los Angeles for dominance in the booming cargo-handling business, has just made its already ambitious expansion plan even grander.

CORPORATE FOCUS---99 Cents Only Stores

A decision by City of Commerce-based 99 Cents Only Stores Inc. to sell off an under-performing division has paid big dividends on Wall Street.

FINANCE---Insiders at fast-growing Digital Insight have unloaded almost $78 million in stock

Seven company insiders at fast-growing Digital Insight Corp. have simultaneously unloaded almost 20 percent of their equity in the company, netting them a total of $76.9 million.

HEALTHCARE---Insuring the Indigent

If you had to come up with a way to provide health insurance for L.A.'s nearly 3 million uninsured residents, would you:

MEDIA---End of Times Local Sections Is Good News for Rival

The Los Angeles Times' announcement that it will close all 14 of its Our Times editions in the suburbs is great news for at least one person: newspaper mogul Dean Singleton.

TELEVISION---Rupert Murdoch may be back in the hunt to buy DirecTV

Foolish me. I thought News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch called it quits last year in the U.S. direct broadcast satellite business, after a futile 16-year quest.

EDWARDS---What's the fate of the movie chain in the wake of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing?

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is a hard-nosed decision that has put Edwards Theatres Circuit Inc. in a better position to cut some unwanted costs and ride out a withering downturn in the movie-house industry.

Common Commercial Lease Mistakes

Today's soft commercial real estate market has created many opportunities for savvy companies, yet, with opportunity comes risk. And it's a situation that most managers will soon face. Because every year seven percent of the nation's commercial real estat

It's Hard to Raise Money on A Health Policy Committee

When it comes to campaign contributions, the health care industry has always been a big player in Sacramento, giving millions of dollars to legislators each session. The latest two-year session that wrapped up three weeks ago was no exception, with health

Recycling Tips for Small Businesses

1 Save paper by using plain-paper fax machines so you canrecycle faxed documents. Even better, use fax modems andreceive faxes on your computers without using paper.


Brooke Carey has been named vice president of e-business development and new media at On the Scene Productions, a Los Angeles-based provider of electronic communications. She will oversee the expansion of an online presence. Carey was most recently direct

REAL ESTATE---Landlord Expands Empire With Deal in Mid-Wilshire

A private investor with more than 4,000 apartment units has added another 100 units to his portfolio.

Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, a fashion mecca for young hip L.A. fashionistas, is already displaying the newest trend for winter: the sleeveless look.

The Los Angeles Basin commercial real estate markets are the healthiest they have been in at least a decade. Demand is very strong, vacancy rates are low and falling, rental rates are on the increase, and construction remains generally restrained. While

TECH TALK---DirecTV Deal Lets Travelers Tune In to Olympic Games

Just because you're flying across the country doesn't mean you have to miss the Olympics.

HMOS---The report cards are in, and Southern California HMOs didn't fare too well

Southern California health plans received mixed grades in a report card issued by a national group that monitors HMO quality.


Crawl On: The third annual East Side Art Crawl has grown from 10 galleries last year to 21 galleries this year in the Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park areas. It's organized by the La Luz de Jesus Gallery on Hollywood Boulevard. All participating galle

SCOOTERS---Electric bike makers are discovering that big business isn't in bicycles

Makers of electric bicycles, who until recently did nearly all their business in Asia because of tepid demand in the U.S., are suddenly seeing their revenues explode but it's not bikes that they're selling.

ENTREPRENEUR'S NOTEBOOK---Tapping Overseas Markets Takes Expertise in Exporting

Exporting U.S. products to overseas markets is not limited to large companies. A new study by the Small Business Administration/U.S. Commerce Department shows that small businesses play a major role in exports. Companies with fewer than 20 employees accou

Is Politics a Cure or Complication for Health Care Ills?

Few business issues have become as politicized in recent years as health care. The Business Journal assembled a panel of some of the most important decision-makers on the health care front, at both the county and state levels, as well as independent exper's Uptick May Be Short-Lived Inc. just joined the ranks of companies that have experienced the "AOL effect." If history is any guide, shareholders soon may wish that it hadn't.

Monday, September 11

MAGAZINES---Weider Magazines Bulking Up on Readers

Optimum Nutrition Inc., a sports nutrition supplement manufacturer, runs the same ad offering free samples of some of its products in four different exercise magazines, but at least 75 percent of the responses it gets come from only one of them: Joe Weide

WORKING AT HOME---Tips for Practicing the Essential Art of Self-Promotion

One of the differences between thriving businesses and those in a stall is self-promotion.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Fiber-Optic Company Grabs Attention by Planning IPOs

Not that the Chatsworth-based fiber-optic company is out of favor with investors far from it. MRV has become more than just a manufacturer of high-end fiber optic products. It has evolved into something of an incubator in the fiber-optic market, acquiri

UPGRADES---Effort to Improve Century Boulevard Gets Financial Lift

Most Angelenos probably never think of taking a stroll or having lunch along Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport.

ENTREPRENEUR'S NOTEBOOK---Getting the Most for Money Spent on Marketing Plans

Marketing budgets are usually thrown in the same category as diets restrictive.

COMMENT---Search for Truth Lands Her Inside Ring

For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for answers. Why am I here? What is my purpose? How can I make a difference in the world around me?


LISTel list

JANE APPLEGATE---Entrepreneur Cleaning Up by Making Medical Scrubs

After surgery, Peggy Piontkowski spent four years being a stay-at-home mom with a disability. One day, her daughter came home complaining about the stiff and scratchy scrub suits she had to wear in nursing school.

PAYCHECKS---Survey Shows Big Salary Increase In Los Angeles

If you didn't get a raise in the past year, there's something wrong. Wages in Los Angeles County rose across the board in the last year, according to the third annual salary survey prepared for the Business Journal by the Economic Research Institute in Re

MAPPING---Mapping Service Gears Up for Aerial Survey of L.A.

If you see a twin-engine airplane this week flying low over your house or office taking pictures, don't worry.

THEATERS---Even Vivendi Could Be Cast in L.A. Theater Meltdown

With every acquisition comes a pothole or sinkhole. When Vivendi SA acquires Seagram Co. Ltd., it may find the latter in the North American movie-theater business.


Michael Shirer has been named vice president of technology at Golin/Harris, a public relations firm in Los Angeles. He will oversee the technology division and provide strategic counsel to clients. Shirer was most recently public relations manager at Forr

REAL ESTATE---Merger Sends Architectural Firm to Century City Digs

Grand Island, N.Y.-based architectural firm Cannon Design's merger with L.A.'s well-known Dworsky Associates has prompted a trio of real estate moves as the two companies join forces.

FREE---Strum: Man Who Offered Free Macs Pitches New Deal

Jonathan Strum might have struck out once with his attempt to give away free iMac computers to people who agreed to sign up for his Internet service, but that's not stopping him from trying again with a whole new machine.

A Listing of L.A.'s Biggest Players in Reality TV Game

Bunim and Murray first collaborated on the dramatic detective series "Crime Diaries" and a six-part reality series called "American Families" for Fox, which presented footage on the daily lives of various families After hearing of MTV's plan to launch a

JOHN DORFMAN---Considering Cash Flow, These Stocks Look Strong

Over the years, I've made a lot of good stock picks in this column. But some stocks I recommended a year ago aren't among them.

HMO'S---State Watchdog Pushes HMO Reforms

Daniel Zingale wants to take managed care back to its roots. As director of the newly created state Department of Managed Care, he is charged with overseeing regulation of the California health care industry and enforcing health care reforms passed last y

MEDIA---Spanish-American Wars

News that a third Spanish-language television network will launch in the United States sent shares of industry behemoth Univision Communications Inc. of Los Angeles plummeting on Sept. 7, the day after the announcement.

MUSIC---Music Video Production on Way Down

As a steady stream of reality shows replace music videos on cable stations like MTV, local production companies are facing a precarious future.

HEALTH---Medical Firm Gets Shot in Arm From Key Acquisition

Chatsworth-based North American Scientific Inc. is gaining admirers on Wall Street.


Fully Committed: Opening Sept. 15 at the Coronet Theatre is "Fully Committed," an award-winning, one-man play. Direct from New York, it is a comedic look at a struggling actor's day job and all the characters he must deal with while answering phones at a

INTERVIEW---Policing the Police

Attorney Merrick Bobb, an important player in the Christopher Commission's probe of the LAPD, is back in his role of investigator following the Rampart scandal

TWEENS---Making Cool Stuff for Kids Is Paying Off

Since publishing their first children's book in 1997, the founders of Encino-based Swingset Press have edged into the "tween" market (kids aged 8 to 12, sandwiched between teens and younger children) with phone books and secret journals. It's a finicky ag

COURTHOUSE---Downtown Courthouse Plan Blocked

A long-delayed $315 million federal courthouse that local boosters see as one of the pillars of downtown revitalization has become embroiled in a political poker game, possibly delaying the massive project by a year or more.

MICHAEL LEWIS---Venture Capitalists on Top In Financial Pecking Order

One of the unsettling aspects of the modern capital markets, especially if you work in them, is how quickly one's status within them can change. It's hard to measure this sort of thing precisely; still, it's not all that difficult to make a list of the pe


After 30 years as an employee at a law firm that arranged care for the elderly, Sharon Toutant decided it was time to set out on her own to provide what she saw as a much-needed service.

AURAS---Aura Appliance

Johannes Fisslinger makes a device touted to read human energy fields, and new age therapists and some retailers are buying it

GEMSTAR---Gemstar Aiming to Change the Way We Read

It may seem a big leap to some, but not for Henry Yuen, chairman and chief executive of Gemstar-TV Guide International Group Inc.

SURVEYS---Valley Groups Want Written Pledges From Candidates

With the threat of secession giving newfound political power to the San Fernando Valley, local business and political organizations are grilling candidates about their positions on key Valley issues as never before. More than a year before voters head for

TAXES---L.A.'s Business Tax Reform Dead for Now

L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan's four-year effort to streamline the city's business tax code and reduce taxes for most L.A. firms is dead in the water at least for the present.

CYBERSENSE---Microsoft Can't Play Around in Push to Sell Game Deck

When it comes to marketing products to the digital generation, "X" definitely marks the spot.

SACRAMENTO---Business Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Outcome of Bills

State business leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after the first two-year session of the Democrat-controlled Legislature resulted in only a handful of bills impacting their pocketbooks being sent to the desk of Gov. Gray Davis.

CHET CURRIER---This Fund Is Putting Behemoth Competitors to Shame

While several of the hottest mutual fund houses have cooled off in 2000, one of their quieter competitors has sent up a rocket.

JANE BRYANT QUINN---When Borrowing Against Insurance, Beware of Taxes

Mary Howard, 61, a reader on the Atlantic Coast, tells me she couldn't believe her eyes. She was staring at a tax notice. She owed income taxes on $47,300 in mysterious gains, from a life-insurance policy she had allowed to lapse.

TECH TALK---Spate of Recent Deals Boost Video-Game Maker THQ

After going through a rough patch when it lost the rights to make pro wrestling video games, THQ Inc. has bounced back with a spate of recent licensing deals and acquisitions.

WALL STREET WEST---Plugging Into Energy Needs Sends Firm's Stock Soaring

Chatsworth-based Capstone Turbine Corp., a maker of "microturbines," went public on June 29 at $16 a share. But it never traded at the initial public offering price. It shot up to $27 on the first trade and roared into the $90-a-share range last week.

SUBURBS---Residents Fleeing the 'Urban Jungle' of Santa Clarita

John and Patti Tohill are packing up and moving out. They've had it with the traffic, the crowds, the stress and anonymity of urban living. They want space, a view of something other than their neighbors' backyard, and a community to call home.

MOTORCYCLES---An Indian Uprising

The vintage motorcycles are back, with two showrooms in L.A. that are getting lots of attention from enthusiasts


Rolls-Royce convertibles, Harry Winston diamonds and palatial estates are de rigeur in Beverly Hills, so perhaps it's no surprise that the Beverly Hills police ride bikes made by Mercedes-Benz.

TEXTILES---Textile Mart Adding New Dimension to Apparel Area

A third giant showroom has been added to downtown's garment district, bringing a much-needed upgrade to the faded area and creating something of a one-stop shop for wholesale buyers of apparel, textiles and even flowers.

Inside a Reality TV Pitch, in a World of Knockoffs

The idea for "Boot Camp," one of the latest reality TV shows hitting the airwaves this season, started with a concept outlined on two pieces of paper put together by British producers eager to capitalize on the American reality craze.

AMGEN---Amgen Lawsuit Over Its Patents Is Heating Up

An Amgen Inc. lawyer testified before a federal judge last week that the company's application for a patent covering its top-selling anemia drug Epogen was based on the "best information" available at the time.

Monday, September 4

TIRES---Where Are Flawed Tires Ending Up?

With L.A. motorists returning an estimated 300,000 potentially flawed Firestone tires and other drivers statewide turning in another 700,000 or so, the question arises: Where will all those bogus tires go?

TOYS---Bandai Parlaying Link With Saban Into Big Toy Sales

Bandai America Corp., after a long and profitable partnership with Saban Entertainment of Los Angeles, is deepening its tie-ins with children's TV shows.

MIGRATION---More Latinos Leaving High-Cost Los Angeles

Seven years after the peak of "white flight," Los Angeles is now seeing signs of "Latino flight." In particular, the number of low-income and poorly educated minorities taking flight is on the rise, while fewer and fewer whites are leaving, according to a

CORPORATE FOCUS---Boeing Stock Is Taking Off After Outlasting Turbulence

Boeing Co. seems to have the right stuff these days. Its stock price has soared to its highest altitude in more than two years, and the skies are wide open for it to climb even more.

MITCH ALBOM---How Kids Survived Summer Vacation

"Good morning, students. Welcome back to school. How did you spend your summer vacation?"

RADIO---Music Mogul Tuning In to Online Radio

Entrepreneur Richard Branson's marketing savvy has made his Virgin Group empire seem larger than life, and his latest endeavor, an online radio network based in Los Angeles, is no exception.

DESIGN---Trendy Interiors


THEATERS---Theater Woes Having a Big Real Estate Impact

If it were a movie plot, the predicament facing L.A.-area cineplexes would be a real nail-biter.

REAL ESTATE---With Better Deal Possible, MGM Plaza Lets Tenant Go

Tishman Speyer Properties, the new owner of MGM Plaza in Santa Monica, is letting a major tenant walk away from a lease estimated to be worth $17 million.

ENTREPRENEUR'S NOTEBOOK---Tips for Getting the Most Out of Selling Your Business

You've worked hard over the years to build a successful business. You took all the risk, worked countless nights and perhaps even leveraged everything you owned to get it started in the first place.

TENANTS---Landlords No Longer Willing to Cut a Deal for Tenants

Not long ago, an office landlord would reach deep into his pockets to keep a tenant whose lease had come up for renewal. Today, many tenants are finding nothing more than a hard-nosed stare as they gaze across the bargaining table.

TOURISM---A Different View of LA

By Cadillac, bike, or even by foot, these tour operators provide their own unique take on Los Angeles


While operating his own house-cleaning business five years ago, Steve Skidmore noticed a common problem among many of his clients a need for organization.

CHINA---Firm Cashing In on Rush to Launch Ventures in China

When S.R. Nair began opening factories in China in the late 1980s, his Chinese partner insisted that a dormitory be built in each one so workers could take an afternoon nap.

LOANS---Tiny Loan Delinquency Rate Reflects Strong Economy

Commercial mortgage lenders are having themselves a worry-free summer this year. According to the most recent data from the California Mortgage Bankers Association, the statewide delinquency ratio for commercial real estate loans dropped to a minuscule 0.


Down at the Bowl: The Hollywood Bowl goes "country" in the first-ever collaboration between the Los Angeles Philharmonic and singer Randy Travis, who is known for his deep voice and poignant songs. Blending his rare mix of country and popular music, Travi

POOR---Despite Good Times, Number of Poor in L.A. Is Rising

A pair of just-released studies point to a sharp rise in the number of working poor in L.A. County during the 1990s, a rise that has persisted despite the four-year economic boom the county is now enjoying.

HOSPITALITY---Four Seasons Gets Into Spa Business In Beverly Hills

The Los Angeles spa market continues to heat up with the Aug. 27 opening of a luxury spa at the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills, complete with amenities like digital monitors in the sauna and nighttime candlelit massages in the poolside cabanas.


Matthew N. Klink has been named vice president at Rogers & Associates, a public relations firm in Los Angeles. He will oversee the corporate communications effort in support of American Honda Motor Co. Klink was most recently director of public affairs at

INCUBATOR---After One Year, Fashion Incubator Has Mixed Record

The Fashion Business Incubator opened in downtown L.A. in 1999 amid much hype, its backers promising to do for apparel visionaries what tech incubators were doing for dot-coms.

GRANTS---L.A. Technology Companies Win Marketing Grants

Seven local companies have received state grants that will allow them to commercialize their cutting-edge technologies.

HOTELS---Downtown's Next Trend: Hotel Conversions

Downtown office buildings have been converted into everything from telecom-equipment storehouses to residential lofts. So the latest scheme to breathe new life into the outdated structures converting them into hotels may come as no surprise.

TECH TALK---Work During Convention Opens Doors for Dot-Com

On the heels of hosting the official delegate Web site for the Democratic National Convention, announced it has received $16 million in funding.

CHET CURRIER---Colliding Factors Could Bring Storm Over Capital Gains

A disturbance of potentially large proportions is brewing over the always-touchy subject of year-end capital gains distributions.

RETAIL---Loss of Potential Tenants Is Another Blow for Westwood

A key name-brand retailer that Westwood Village business owners had hoped would move in by the holidays has decided not to move in at all.

Top Airlines

Top Airlines

TELEVISION---Spanish Smash

Outside the Hollywood Palladium, traffic was stacked up like a bad day at Los Angeles International Airport.

CARGO---Truckers Growing Tired of Long Waits at Ports' Gates

Peak season is in full swing at the local seaports, and while cargo is being handled without any significant problems, truck drivers are getting increasingly fed up with the long waits at the terminals.

CYBERSENSE---Olympic Organizers Should Let Web Join the Team

NBC and the International Olympic Committee are inviting sports fans to play a game of make believe.

FOOTBALL---Rivalry in the Making as Arena League Braces for XFL Kickoff

The Arena Football League's Los Angeles Avengers finished its inaugural season in July at the bottom of the standings, with a record of three wins and 11 losses. That didn't stop it from doing quite well at the gate, averaging 11,600 fans for its seven ho

TELEVISION---Business May Be Good, but Satellite TV Stocks Slipping

After a wave of consolidation, two U.S. companies have the "direct broadcast satellite" business to themselves, and they're selling TV subscriptions like gangbusters.

INTERVIEW---Sister Act

Some might be surprised to learn that the same team that produced the zany "Austin Powers" movies are also purveyors of such socially driven fare as HBO's mega-hit "If These Walls Could Talk," which addresses such touchy issues as abortion and lesbianism.

MOVIES---Hobbit Hype

Last summer, Artisan Films' "The Blair Witch Project" came out of seemingly nowhere to make more than $140 million at the box office and make heroes of the online marketers cited for much of the movie's early success. But the Internet campaign now being w


Chryslers and Fords might be OK for people in the Midwest, but in L.A. the fastest-selling car appears to be a Lexus.

INTERNET---Internet Foreclosure Company Hoping for Worse Times

While pundits debate whether the economy may be cooling, one company is gearing up to take advantage of the worst-case scenario.

WALL STREET WEST---Firms Coming to Rescue of E-Tailers Seeking Mergers

The new guns don't talk about startups; they focus on restructuring, mergers or re-tuning enterprises for new capital infusions.

HOLLYWOOD---Lieberman Takes Aim at Kids' Access to Violent Media

Sen. Joseph Lieberman wants to testify to Congress this month on one of his pet issues, reducing children's access to violent entertainment. It's a play that could backfire for the Democratic vice presidential candidate, political analysts say.