Stories for June 2001

Monday, June 25

Insurance Brokerages

Insurance Brokerages

Newsmakers---Keeping Airport PR on the Right Course

Making planes take off and land on time, traffic flow more easily, luggage arrive on the right flight. Those might seem to be the greatest challenges for an airport executive.

LOANS---The Lending Squeeze

Bankers don't have to wait for official word on an economic slowdown. They see the sobering news every day in their commercial loan portfolios.

Jane Bryant Quinn---New Estate-Tax Law Could Result in Planning Quagmire

Congress has cobbled together the strangest, most reckless, most well hilarious estate-tax law ever. Laughter is the only rational response.

DEBT---Consumer Debt Levels Increase as Business Loads Drop

As the local economy slows, the level of debt being carried by L.A.-area consumers and businesses becomes a topic of increasing importance and intrigue.

Roving Eye

Every year hotels come up with some kind of gimmick meant to attract customers and outdo the competition. For a while it was sample-size selections of toiletries. Then it was in-room high-speed Internet and/ or TV screens that doubled as computer monitors

NEW L.A.---Job Losses but No Crisis With Flight of L.A. Banks

L.A. lost many of its premiere banks and savings and loans in the last decade Security Pacific, Great Western, First Interstate, Home Savings, to name a few.

AUTOS---Lenders Growing Cold To Auto Lease Market

Automobile leasing has hit the brakes this year, as consumer demand softened and manufacturers and financing companies begin to see losses in their leasing operations.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Debt-Free, Cash-Rich Firm Sticking to Internet Stamps

The share price of Inc. has become an easy target for ridicule. "It's worth less than a stamp," is the oft-repeated joke.

COLE---L.A. Journalist in Limelight

How does a guy who spends most of his days in dirty shorts and a T-shirt become the toast of the financial media circuit and a trusted source on information for members of Congress?

ACQUISITION---L.A. Multimedia Pioneer Sells Out To Conglomerate

One of Hollywood's older multimedia companies has been sold to a startup technology conglomerate in Connecticut, claiming industry competition was too much.

Jane Applegate---For These Entrepreneurs, Professional Life Begins at 40

John Drummond and Edmundo Macias have never met, but they have a lot in common. They live across the country from each other and have different professional backgrounds, but they both quit their comfortable corporate jobs at 40 to start quirky, one-produc

OPPONENT---Politicians Pressure VA on Westside Development Plan

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), in a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi, has urged rejection of a plan for the development of the VA's 388-acre Brentwood campus.

CONTROVERSY---Westwood's Height Limit Tested Again

Having once gotten the nod to eclipse Westwood's six-story height limit by building nine-story and 14-story buildings on an acre-plus site, developer Richard Weintraub is back before the city seeking another height variance.

RATES---Greater Liquidity, Higher Rates Lure Investors to Banks

Money market rates, usually the bottom of the barrel as far as paid interest is concerned, are closing in on and in some cases exceeding the rates paid for certificates of deposit.

Deals & Dealmakers---Staples II Developer Seeks City Aid

As expected, developers of the proposed downtown hotel and entertainment complex adjacent to Staples Center have asked the city for a $75 million tax subsidy.

OFFICES---Creative Office Fad Fades

Funky office space hailed as recently as a year ago as being de rigueur for the truly happening L.A. business has become a white elephant.

BUSINESS---Growth of Commercial Lending Showing Drop

Commercial lending among local financial institutions is beginning to reflect a nationwide slowdown.

POWER---PUC to Make Decision on Business Access to Power

A high-stakes showdown looms this week over the right of major industrial companies in California to choose their own power providers.

Backlot Buzz---Miramax Turning to Horror King Craven

There has been considerable industry debate about whether Miramax Films is turning its back on the kind of upscale "specialty" fare like "The English Patient" that made its name, but nobody denies co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein's eye for a winner.

Weekly Briefing

Creepy critters are at the heart of Larry Merritt's business. Vermont Fishing Tackle Co. in Los Angeles sells everything from night crawlers to squid, along with a variety of fishing equipment. Merritt is in the process of taking over the company started

FED---Risks Abound as Fed Considers to Cut or Not to Cut

When the Federal Reserve began cutting interest rates in January, there was little doubt about the direction it should be going. The economy was in a steep dive. Recession seemed likely. Bold action was needed soon.

Leonard Pitts---No Closure With Execution of McVeigh

Now that it's over, I find myself wondering if it really is. Or might it not be said in some sense that Timothy McVeigh cheated the death penalty after all?

PROFILE---Hardball for 'Hard' Money: Sub-Prime Lenders Thrive

The 60-year-old Inglewood resident had been on leave without pay from her U.S. Postal Service job to deal with a diabetes diagnosis. And now she was about to tap into $50,000 worth of equity at one of her rental properties to dig herself out of debt.

Real Estate Column---Large Land Deal Would Extend Topanga Park to Beach

A $43 million deal for 1,659 acres adjacent to Topanga State Park could ensure preservation of parkland stretching from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Tech Talk---Fee-Based Model Buoys Content Site as Cash Vanishes

Investors have been showing a surprising interest in eUniverse Inc., one of the few remaining Web content companies in Los Angeles. eUniverse operates what it calls an "interactive entertainment network," which is in fact several entertainment Web sites t

Politics---Riordan Run for Governor Gains Support in Party

Mayor Richard Riordan has picked up support from several fellow Republicans, including some conservative GOP members from Orange County in a possible bid for governor.

DELEGATION---Producers Slow to Jump to Indian Studios

India has some of the largest studios in the world. It makes more movies per year than Hollywood. It has a growing talent pool of actors, directors and producers. And producing films there could reduce U.S. studios' costs by up to 40 percent.

My Favorite Sites

This site has all the drink recipes you'll ever hear about and you can search for them (based on different criteria). But the coolest part of the site is a section called "in my bar." What you do is tell it what types of different ingredients are in your

Ahead of the Curve

Hockney Shots: MOCA presents the first major survey of artist David Hockney's photography beginning July 22. While best known for his paintings, Hockney was also a prolific and experimental photographer. The exhibition, "David Hockney Retrospective: Photo

CHAIN---Turnaround Pro Exits Louise's as Company Rebounds

Turnaround meister Fred LeFranc, who came on board in 1997 as chief executive and president of Louise's Trattoria, knew it would be a challenge to make the small chain of Italian restaurants profitable. But he never expected the company to file for Chapte

INTERVIEW---Musical Deals

Career Turning Point: Giving up the dream of being a philosopher-musician and taking up law

John Dorfman---End-of-Quarter 'Casualty List' Provides Some Bargains

With the end of the second quarter nearing, it's a good time to look for bargains among stocks that have been banged up since March.

ADS---Building Brands

Goal: To reach $250 million in gross billings by 2005. To convince mainline adverters to use a portion of their media budget for direct response.

CARS---Ragtop-SUV Rivalry Picking Up Speed

When Lexus unveiled its new high-end SC430 convertible earlier this year, Bill Legg, sales manager of Lexus of Santa Monica, knew he would have no trouble selling his dealership's allotment of 10 cars per month. There was a waiting list more than a year l

ALTERNATIVES---Private Investors Step in as Traditional Lenders Retrench

With banks tightening their commercial lending activities, capital-hungry companies throughout Los Angeles have been left in the cold. And that's bringing hot prospects to private investors who are eagerly providing debt and equity financing on terms very

RESIDENTIAL---L.A. Mortgage Activity Reaches Record Levels

Los Angeles County lenders are seeing record-setting mortgage loan activity spurred by a rise in refinancings.

COMBAT---Defense Contractors Jockey for Army's Next Arms Program

TRW Inc.'s Carson-based Tactical Systems Division has begun the concept design of Future Combat Systems, a state-of-the-art array of sensor-based unmanned military hardware operated by a far-away command and control vehicle.

Wall Street West---Congress Setting Hearings To Look Into Analyst Bias

As a member of the U.S. House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Studio City) offered some cautious commentary on recent congressional hearings about whether investment banking considerations have unduly influenced br

BARS---Raising the Bar

Gimmicks and promotions are nothing new, but now bar owners are offering everything from bedside service to voyeurism in search of provocative themes that will lure hip and well-heeled customers into their establishments

COUNCIL---Council Newcomers Bringing Pragmatism to City Hall

By July 3, six new members will have been sworn in to the L.A. City Council, making for the largest freshman class in the council's 150-year history.

HISTORY---A look at the largest financial institutions in L.A. in 1991 and 2001

In April 1991, reported yearly earnings drop of 49 percent Aborted proposed merger with Wells Fargo During shareholder meeting Chief Executive Robert Smith that said other strategies such as dismantling firm's merchant banking operation were more i

EXCERPT---How Analysts Pushed Dud

From "The Pied-Pipers of Wall Street: How Analysts Sell You Down the River" & #352;2001 by Benjamin Mark Cole, Published by arrangement with Bloomberg Press.

SATELLITE---Merger Drama Clouds Picture Inside DirecTV

As Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. closes in on a deal for Hughes Electronics Corp. and its subsidiary DirecTV, employees at the El Segundo satellite TV provider could be in for a rough ride.

BIOTECH---Lengthy Talks on Biotech Site Could Squelch Pasadena Project

A proposal to build a biotech park in Pasadena to support that city's nascent industry is in jeopardy.

LABOR---Case Tests Use Of State Funds In Union Issues

Legislation prohibiting employers from using state dollars to influence union organization is undergoing its first test under a lawsuit filed by the Service Employees International Union Local 399 and one of its members against two Santa Monica convalesce

Cybersense---Web Speech Remains Protected, Even When Offensive

If those notes are online, they might well try. Over the past few years, a growing number of students have been disciplined at school for items they've sent each other in e-mails or posted on their personal Web sites. Some students have even been threa

GASOLINE---Decline in L.A. Gas Prices Lags Nation as Dealers Try to Recoup

Gas station owners' attempts to boost their profit margins after a tough spring are keeping Los Angeles pump prices high even as drivers in the rest of the nation start to see a substantial drop in the cost of gasoline.

NEWSPAPERS---Despite Cuts, Tribune Vows to Keep Unit

Tribune Co. is pledging to keep its struggling Times Community News division going despite the sudden departure of two top TCN officials amid a companywide effort to stave off falling revenues through an early retirement program and layoffs.

Chet Currier---Know What to Expect From Mutual Fund Management

If two of the most important people in a business are the owner and the customer, then every mutual fund investor is a VIP twice over.

L.A. Stories

It took three days of auditions and 90 actors for Encino-based Kalmenson & Kalmenson Voice Casting to find the perfect sounds for talking Harry Potter toys.

EATERIES---Restaurant Owners Prefer Price Hikes to Energy Surcharges

A steady diet of energy hikes has restaurant owners raising or preparing to raise their menu prices, an alternative to tacking on a 2 to 4 percent energy surcharge that some were considering placing on bills.

RECRUITING---State GOP Seeks Outside Help in Search for Head

In another sign of a deeply divided state Republican Party, an executive search firm has been hired to find a new administrator.

REFINANCING---Investors Pull Back on Bonds Amid Wave of Refinancings

Many mortgage-bond investors, battered in March by a wave of refinancings, are concerned falling interest rates will prompt another round of homeowners to refinance their loans.

Monday, June 18

Tech Editor Leaves as Content Focus Shifts

It took a year in the dot-com trenches for Peter Gumbel, among the elite in business journalism, to pick up on something he might have observed sooner if he had stayed at the Wall Street Journal.

DEFENSE---Air Force Considers Switching to Boeing Cargo Plane

Special Features: Tilt-wings, no vertical tail, autonomous loading and unloading equipment for large cargo

Newsmakers---Marketing of Muppets Is in His Hands

Michael Polis could make or break the likes of Elmo, Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster.

TOURISM---Settlement With Group Paves Way for Cruise Ship Terminal

An out-of-court settlement between cruise ship operator Carnival Corp. and the Surfrider Foundation has cleared the way for Carnival to build a terminal adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Backlot Buzz---'Cop' Could Carry Beverly Hills Prices

Seven years after "Beverly Hills Cop III," a fourth installment in the Paramount Pictures' series may be coming to the screen.

ENERGY---Power Demands Drain Regional School District Coffers

Public school districts throughout Los Angeles are preparing to cut their budgets or dip into reserves to offset rising energy bills.

AIRLINE---Turning Blue Into Green

Goal: To provide low-fare airline service to underserved markets and major destinations

PERKS---All-Star Celeb Treatment Just Way of Doing Business

The L.A. Zoo isn't the only place in town where celebrity gains access or wealth generates perks.

TRADE---Imports Coming In From Europe Boost L.A. Ports

The appetite for European imports, such as cars, wine and antiques, is growing in the Western U.S., and that's boosting cargo at the Los Angeles and Long Beach seaports.

Working at Home---Experience, Responsiveness Identify the Right Lawyer

Over the last month, I've dealt with three different attorneys about issues with my office space.

ENTERTAINMENT---Starwood Resorts Retains Gerber to Add Cachet to W

Nightclub entrepreneur Rande Gerber confirmed he would be taking over operations of the bar at the W Hotel in Westwood this summer.

Real Estate Column---In New Twist, Turner Broadcasting Eyes Burbank Sites

Turner Broadcasting Systems has been playing hot potato with brokerage houses and Westside office space over the last several months, but it appears that the AOL Time Warner Inc. unit has dropped that russet altogether in favor of new digs in the San Fern

ECONOMY---L.A. Ranks as 16th Largest Economy in World

In a report released last week by the L.A. Economic Development Corp., the county's $352 billion economy would rank 16th in the world if it were a separate nation.

IMMIGRATION---Visa Changes to Help High-Tech Firms

Despite the downturn in the dot-com industry, demand for skilled tech workers continues to outstrip supply in Los Angeles, and nationwide. But beginning July 30, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will aim to help fill that gap by expanding its Pr

BROADCASTERS---New KZLA Owner Rises Up the Charts

Bucking a weakened advertising environment and a market reluctant to embrace country music, Emmis Communications Corp. has engineered a surprising turnaround at its recently acquired KZLA-FM 93.9. And the ascension of the station has encouraged the Indian

Public Relations Firms

Public Relations Firms

Wall Street West---M & A; Company Rides High As Firms Search for Capital

The economy gets hot, the economy cools off, but always the vast sea of middle-market companies in California need M & A; advice or lately, some suggestions on how to keep the debt wolves at bay while finding new capital.

TRANSIT---MTA to Weigh Downtown-to-Beach Options

Local transportation officials are set to vote next week on two controversial transit projects that would connect Downtown to the beach at a cost of up to $1 billion.

MEDICAL---Firm Adjustments

Core Business: Manufactures stroller-type wheelchairs, primarily for children

Leonard Pitts---Coming Out as Act of Truth, Not to Incite

It's not the gay part that bugs her so much as the coming-out part what she sees as trumpeting one's sexuality. Margie has issues with that. So she snapped off an e-mail to me after reading a recent column of mine about a gay professional athlete whos

John Dorfman---Low-Priced Shares Offer Opportunity as Well as Risk

When John Templeton, one of the legendary investors of the second half of the 20th century, was a young man, he pulled off a wild stunt.

Cybersense---Windows XP Will Ensure Microsoft's Web Dominance

Microsoft has made most of its money by embracing rival technologies, twisting them to suit its needs and using its market strength to grind the original into the dust.

Ahead of the Curve

Irrational Exhibits: In what its promoters are calling a night of "raw independent thought," experimental artists perform and show works at Bergamot Station on June 29. The night of performance art, called "Irrational Exhibits," includes fine artists, act

EDUCATION---Online Learning Firm Targets Businesses

Long Beach online education company Kiko Inc. received $8 million in second-round financing last month, and in a bid to reach profitability, it is using the funds to shift its focus away from academic learning.

APPAREL---Guess Licenses Children's Line, Returns to Core Goods

In an effort to cut costs, Los Angeles apparel designer Guess Inc. has licensed out its fledgling children's clothing line.

RADIO---Frequency of L.A.'s Radio Ads Soaring

Radio stations throughout Los Angeles are sharply expanding the amount of airtime devoted to advertising, as a softening ad market is resulting in lower ad rates that requires stations to sell more time to meet revenue goals.

CONSTRUCTION---State Budget Woes to Slow, But Not Kill, Transit Projects

Funding promised to the San Fernando Valley for transit improvement projects is said to be secure, despite state budget threats resulting from the ongoing energy crisis.

Deals & Dealmakers---LAUSD Must Pay Contractors

The Los Angeles Unified School District must pay more than $17 million for breaching contracts with the developer, contractor and architect of the unfinished Belmont Learning Complex, an arbitrator ruled.

MAYOR---Strong Black Support Putting Heat on Hahn to Show Results

James Hahn pulled down more than 80 percent of the African-American vote in his election victory earlier this month, the highest proportion of a single ethnic block in Los Angeles. Without such support, he might have lost.

Chet Currier---Firm Not Afraid to Discuss Burden of Nation's Wealthy

A century and a half of managing other people's money hasn't made U.S. Trust Corp. afraid to take a risk.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Quake Effects Finally Past, Insurer Begins to Rebound

The Northridge earthquake shook L.A. to its core on Jan. 17, 1994, and for one company the aftershocks are only now subsiding.

MUSIC---Independent Beats

By offering local bands free studio access in exchange for limited music and video rights, Hen House is trying to create a 'multimedia company for the 21st century'

Jane Bryant Quinn---New Tax Law Impacts All, But Wealthier Still Fare Best

Yes, the rumors are true. Most of the new tax cuts do go to higher-income people. Among the scraps, there's a little something for moderate earners and almost nothing for the working poor.

L.A. Stories

For years, state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, has slipped Yiddish expressions into his speech and often got blank stares. So earlier this month, he decided to compile a Yiddish dictionary for his colleagues.

HEALTH---Picture-Perfect Profits

About the best bet for getting an up-close view of the interior of the human body in the 1960s was to check out Fantastic Voyage, the classic sci fi drama about a miniaturized submarine crew that navigates its way through the hero's blood stream to eradic

FINANCE---Conglomerates Losing Talent to Boutique Firms

Top-line financial executives, frustrated with working for global conglomerates based elsewhere and eager to cash in on rich opportunities in Los Angeles, keep leaving their jobs to launch boutique firms. And in many cases, they are taking their clients w

INTERVIEW---Taking Risks

Career Turning Point: Being appointed chief marketing officer in 1988 and serving on a committee in 1992 that helped chart Farmers' future course

Weekly Briefing

What looks like a rock or a pillar on the silver screen is probably just a piece of painted foam. Just ask Jim Kelley, founder of Studio Foam Shop, a company that supplies foam and other materials for sets and props. Started in 1998, Studio Foam has provi

Political Pulse---Magic's Mayoral Aspirations May Hold Hahn to Pledges

There's no doubt that former basketball star-turned businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson emerged as one of the biggest winners in this month's city elections. Not only did he support and then introduce James Hahn to the world as the new mayor of Los Angeles

Roving Eye

Balloon lights, which are helium-filled globes with light bulbs that can dispense a soft glow while floating overhead, have been popping up everywhere these days.

MEDIA---New Plan in Place, Merged Content Site Draws Investors

Buoyed by an A-list of Hollywood investors and $15 million in new financing, the entity created from the merger of and is pushing a new business model that aims to change the way advertisers and producers connect with emerging t

AWARDS---Business Journal Earns Top Awards

The Los Angeles Business Journal was the recipient of several journalism awards at two separate events June 9.

My Favorite Sites

This is considered to be one of the leading sporting goods industry Web sites. It has information about vendors and retailers in the industry, as well as information about larger retailers who sell sporting goods in their stores. I use this for updates on

RETAIL---Hilfiger Rodeo Property May Be Leased to Clothier Coogi

The next occupant of Rodeo Drive's largest retail space the two-story store vacated earlier this year by Tommy Hilfiger Corp. might be Coogi Australia, a Melbourne-based company best known for its expensive men's sweaters with wild colors and swirling

Jane Applegate---Foreign Countries Provide World of Options for Firms

When John Hazlewood told one of his advisers that he was planning to hire a team of Bulgarians to build and operate his online travel company, "he thought I had totally lost it," Hazlewood recalls.

Monday, June 11

FILM---Workers Push For Sanctions On Canadians

Frustrated by the unwillingness of Sacramento and Washington to slow runaway film production, a group of disaffected Hollywood workers is petitioning the U.S. Commerce Department to sanction Canada for unfair trade practices stemming from its use of gover

CATALYSTS---Downtown Calling

The reinvention of downtown L.A. is no longer mere talk or dreams, it's a reality in the making.


With upsale eateries like Pinot and The Grill in Beverly Hills offering a tempting array of pre-arranged gourmet dinners, what's in the picnic basket is almost as important as who's on stage at the Hollywood Bowl

COMPUTERS---Collaborations Lift Software Newcomer

Two-year-old Los Angeles software company 3Ga Corp. has designed a breakthrough product called 3G.web.decisions 2001 that it says will help dramatically lower the price of a wide variety of industrial products.

BANKING---Korean Banks Seek Strength With Mergers

Korean banks in Los Angeles, which for decades have peacefully co-existed by focusing on their own respective niches within the 800,000-person Korean-American community, suddenly are initiating aggressive acquisition drives.

Money Managers

Money Managers

ROUNDTABLE---Downtown Players See Vital, Burgeoning City Center

With downtown's long-sought renaissance finally beginning to take shape, the Business Journal surveyed some of the major players orchestrating that revival, to get their take on what's happening, why it's working now and where they think it will all end u

Newsmakers---Legal, TV Veteran to Head Toon Disney

Once a lawyer with a private practice in New York, Barzilay has been the general manager of children's programming at ABC since 1997 and recently took on a couple of additional titles, senior vice president and general manager of Toon Disney, one of Walt

Political Pulse---Voters Look to Local Actions in Choosing Candidates

June 5 was not a good day for former and current elected officials seeking office in L.A., especially those from Sacramento.

Backlot Buzz---Joltin' Joe Biopic Coming to Big Screen

Just weeks after the baseball icon (or at least a thinly disguised version) got the small-screen treatment in "Blonde," based on Joyce Carol Oates' account of the life of Marilyn Monroe, DiMaggio is coming to the big screen thanks to producer Larry Gor

SHOPPING---Revived Retail Scene Still Relies on Residential Growth

While he has been in business downtown for only a month, Dan Maughan already knows he made a good choice.

DOUGHNUTS---Filling a Hole Market

Goal: To have 42 Krispy Kreme stores operating in Southern California by 2005

Tech Talk---Bright Future Forecast for 'Disruptive Technologies'

Last week was another bleak one for the local Internet economy, but the bigger picture for technology stocks looks astonishingly bright, according to financier Michael Milken and Amerindo Investment Advisors Chief Investment Officer Matthew Fitzmaurice, w

CORPORATE FOCUS---Shares Rise as Defense Firm Strengthens Aerospace Grip

Through a series of shrewd acquisitions, including the purchase of a $60 million (annual revenues) company that's expected to close this month, Ducommun Inc. has further solidified its standing as Los Angeles County's second largest defense/aerospace subc

Roving Eye

Come August, international travelers arriving at LAX can forget the expensive roaming charges they incur on their cell phones.

ADVERTISING---NetZero Debuts New Production Technique on TV

Westlake Village-based NetZero Inc., one of the nation's largest Internet service providers, unveiled a new television ad campaign last week it said would further blur the lines between content delivery on old and new media.

ENTERTAINMENT---Vibrant Nightlife Seen as Crucial to Downtown Strategy

Standing in the middle of the historic Orpheum Theatre, Steve Needleman is surrounded by d & #233;cor so lavish it almost hurts your eyes. There are ornate chandeliers, each laden with 240 lights that shine like candles. There is the original shiny gold leaf tha

AUTOMOBILES---L.A. Sales Surge Fuels Korean Automakers' Rebound

Korean automakers have staged a dramatic turnaround in Los Angeles, as consumers are snapping up cars from local dealerships in volumes not seen since the 1980s.

PERMITS---'Faceless Bureaucrats' Face Challenges of Their Own

To many developers looking to build in the city of Los Angeles, the employees of the city's planning and building and safety departments are merely faceless bureaucrats behind a counter.

Jane Applegate---Tech-Driven Services Help Small Companies Cut Costs

Two years ago, industry analysts predicted that small-business owners would be managing most of their business operations online including payroll, human resources, marketing and sales. It didn't happen, and many of the small-business-oriented applicati

Jane Bryant Quinn---New Tax Law Adds Options To Variety of Saving Plans

The new tax law is stuffed with welcome changes to America's retirement plans. My desk is strewn with summaries listing all the new choices that savers might have.

Real Estate Column---Developer Drops Loft Project for Downtown Hotel Deal

System Property Development Co. Inc. might be giving up one downtown redevelopment project to get into a grander one right next door.

INTERVIEW---Power Forward

Career Turning Point: Learning about development opportunities in the inner city while regional director for Grubb & Ellis Co.

IPO---Aviation Firm Looks to Public Markets for Spin-Off of Unit

Local aviation services company Mercury Air Group has filed to undertake an initial public offering as a means of spinning-off one of its operating divisions as an autonomous public company to be based in Los Angeles.

HOSPITALITY---Hotel Insiders Await Downtown Revival

If downtown Los Angeles becomes the vibrant urban hub of cultural attractions, Vegas-sized conventions and hopping entertainment districts, as seems increasingly likely, far more visitors will undoubtedly descend on the area.

Ahead of the Curve

Common Ground: Well, common but also slightly mischievous. A.S.K. Theater Projects brings an array of performances to UCLA June 20 through June 24 for its Common Ground Festival 2001. Sandra Tsing Loh, author of the zippy new novel "A Year in Van Nuys," p

My Favorite Sites

This is a traffic Web site. I do a tremendous amount of traveling, and I don't go anywhere without getting on this site. It covers the whole area, either in detail or broad overview of the entire region, all the way from southern Orange County to the (San

POWER---Businesses Angling To Keep Power On

As summer nears and the threat of more rolling blackouts looms, hundreds of L.A.-area businesses and public agencies are making dramatic assertions that shutting off their power would endanger human lives, thereby qualifying them for an exemption from the

FASHION---Prada's Rodeo Drive Flagship to Enter Dubious Market

Just months after clothier Tommy Hilfiger Corp. pulled the plug on its gargantuan custom-built Rodeo Drive flagship store, Prada is preparing to begin construction of a similarly massive flagship on the famous Beverly Hills shopping street.

Deals & Dealmakers---Boeing Deal to Create Local Jobs

Boeing Co. announced it has won a $1.5 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force to overhaul the cockpits and electronics systems of the widely used C-130 Hercules military cargo aircraft.

PROFILES---Downtown Activists Making Over L.A. Central Core

Background: Land-use attorney worked on Getty Center and Farmers Market Appro-ached by planning commissioner Roger Landau to come up with downtown revitalization idea He and Landau came up with initial concept of Nighttime on Broadway last summer while

Mitch Albom---Indignant Bush Can't Have It Both Ways

Let me get this straight. Jenna Bush, the 19-year-old daughter of President George W. Bush, a woman who has been all over TV, all over the newspapers, who appeared on the campaign trail, who danced with her father before a million flashbulbs, and who, out

FIGHT---Hahn, Davis Face Showdown

A showdown between Hahn, who doesn't even get sworn in until July 1, and Gov. Gray Davis over L.A.'s municipal power is emerging. And it threatens to poison relations between the incoming mayor and the embattled governor for months to come.

Wall Street West---Flexibility Bringing Success To Boutique Finance House

On Wall Street, there are times it pays to be one-dimensional, and times when it pays to be flexible. In the 1990s, for example, sticking resolutely to tech or blue chip stocks beat just about any other investment scheme, no matter how fancy.

ENERGY---Companies Taking Drastic Steps To Cope With Power Price Hike

Michael Denton Jr. opened his statement from Southern California Edison and saw that the electricity costs for his axle manufacturing plant in unincorporated Los Angeles had suddenly shot up from $10,000 a month to $25,000 a month, with no increase in con

RESIDENTIAL---Interest Levels, Rents Rise As Residential Market Gains

When Jason Fergerstrom became the leasing consultant for Bunker Hill Towers four and a half years ago, he had no experience in leasing or in residential real estate.

INDUSTRY---Obstacles Abound, but Industrial Lure Remains Strong

With the $2.4 billion Alameda Corridor on track to be complete by next April, a number of industrial developers are reshaping downtown's industrial landscape in preparation for the surge in cargo shipments that will soon begin rolling through the area.

L.A. Stories

If Antonio Villaraigosa decides to run for higher office, he already has some symbolic support from an unlikely place: supporters of his opponent and Mayor-elect James Hahn.

MEDIA---Emap's Magazine Holdings on Block

The fate of Emap USA may be determined as soon as this week, as its parent company takes final bids from firms wanting to buy the magazine publishing empire.

HEALTH---Relentless Pursuit

By most measures, any businessman whose interests include an office development with David Geffen, a Holsteiner horse breeding operation and a Hollywood production company ought to feel successful enough.

Weekly Briefing

Rick Memsic and Jerry Rothstein went from college roommates to business partners in the workaday world. Soon after graduating from the Art Center College of Design and taking jobs at separate design firms, the two decided to reunite. In 1976, they founded

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Asking Right Questions Will Help Screen New Clients

Some say it's worth meeting with everyone, because you never know what you'll learn from the encounter.

CULTURE---Civic Leaders Begin Banding Together to Link Arts Efforts

Efforts at cultural rejuvenation in downtown have flickered for decades, but at no point in its history has the area been as poised for change as it is today. This time around, the team of business leaders, politicians and architects behind the rejuvenati

DEVELOPMENT---Council Assailed For Rezoning Westside Industrial Area

The L.A. City Council's May 29 decision to allow rezoning of a Westside tract of industrial land for a 309-unit apartment project has ignited a squabble over whether jobs or housing should get preference as the supply of developable land dwindles.

Monday, June 4

MEDIA---Ethnic Publications Thriving in L.A.

While daily newspapers are struggling to post circulation gains, the city's foreign-language newspapers are flourishing, thanks to the burgeoning population of immigrants.

Working at Home---Maintaining a Professional Approach to Virtual Teams

During the past month, my staff has been working with a small design company based in New York. Last week we were surprised to find out that each member of the company's team is located in a different state. Up until this point, the employees gave us the

Cybersense---Kids' Domains are the Next Phase of Parental Duty

I love my daughter, of course, and my wife and I take care of her the best we can. But such quaint affection is merely evidence of our outdated, old-fashioned approach to raising a child. Clearly, we're falling out of step with the fast moving pace of m

Jane Bryant Quinn---Medicaid Abuse by Wealthy Jeopardizes Program Health

As the population ages, Medicaid spending on nursing homes could easily lurch out of control. That is, unless it's limited to the people who really need it.

PRODUCTION---Liberty Media's Post-Production Foray Proves Costly

Liberty Livewire Corp., a Santa Monica-based subsidiary of John Malone's Liberty Media Group, has been taking the local post-production business by storm, acquiring 10 media companies in the past year. But despite the deep pockets of its multibillion-doll

Leonard Pitts---Motherhood 'Crisis' Reveals Ignorance

Don't get me wrong: I'm sure Massachusetts is as screwed up as any other state. Probably has all sorts of problems.

BASEBALL---Long Beach Team Aiming To Break Into Crowded Market

Two local businessmen have poured more than $1 million into a minor league baseball franchise and are projecting profitability within three years, despite a failed baseball history and increased competition for sporting dollars.

Real Estate Column---One Firm's Contraction Creates Opportunity for Another

Musical chairs in a market with, by some estimates, a couple million square feet of sublease space available can be an interesting game.

Ahead of the Curve

Other Worldly: If you can imagine living across time and space and falling in love with the same person at several times in several ways, then you might identify with the central character in John Mighton's play "Possible Worlds." If not, then you'll find

BUYOUTS---List of L.A.-Based Companies Dwindles With MiniMed Sale

With biotech pioneer Alfred Mann's announced $3.28 billion sale last week of his Northridge-based MiniMed Inc. and a related company to Medtronic Inc. of Minneapolis, L.A.'s roster of home-based companies continues to dwindle.

L.A. Stories

It took President Bush four months to make his inaugural trip to California, and Mayor Richard Riordan slyly let him know he could not have picked a more inopportune time.

CORPORATE FOCUS---Shift From Internet Strategy Boosting Computer Reseller

Shunning its high-risk Internet approach to business, Torrance-based computer reseller PC Mall Inc. is boosting its bottom line and stock value by transitioning into more traditional marketing channels.

CAMERA---New Cameras Face Big Test At NBA Finals

Fresh off a $6 million infusion of equity financing, Los Angeles video innovator Be Here Corp. is taking its panoramic technology to center stage this week when it teams up with NBC during the NBA championship to present the first-ever single camera 360-d

Roving Eye

A mystery is unraveling on the outside walls of the Los Angeles Center Studios, a complex of new sound stages in downtown Los Angeles.

Chet Currier---Performance 'Races' Rarely Have a Solid Finish Line

Call it the Fund Performance Games, with results posted not just annually and quarterly but every month, week and day.

ENERGY---Legislative Proposal Would Slam Big Edison Customers

Major business and industrial customers of Southern California Edison could get hit with huge surcharges on their electric bills under a new Edison rescue package being drafted by top-ranking Democrats in the state Assembly.

Newsmakers---Academic Hits the Bankruptcy Trenches

After a decade spent as a professor at the UCLA School of Law, Daniel Bussel is moving from the classroom to the courtroom to practice what he's been teaching.

DEVELOPMENT---Downtown Deluge

When it comes to the nascent renaissance of downtown Los Angeles, the areas grabbing all the headlines are Bunker Hill, the historic core and the neighborhood around Staples Center. But another neighborhood is emerging as an equally powerful force.

MARKETING---NBA Finals Shaping Up as Prime Time for Shaq, Lakers

When the National Basketball Association finals get underway at the Staples Center this week (June 6), both L.A. and the Lakers stand to profit from the exposure.

TELEVISION---Bucking Data, Networks Skew Younger

Broadcasters, ignoring recent census data showing the country is aging rapidly, are trotting out new programming this fall geared at younger and younger audiences.

50 Largest Hotels

50 Largest Hotels

BROADCASTERS---Univision Joins Industry Shift to Niche Programming

Officials at Los Angeles-based Univision Communications Inc. are preparing to launch a second broadcast network by this coming January, marking the latest salvo in the escalating war between Spanish-language broadcasters looking to gain a bigger slice of

MERCHANDISE---Lakers' Streak Unleashes Fan Frenzy for Souvenirs

Even before the Los Angeles Lakers begin action in the final round of the NBA playoffs, local retailers are big winners.

PORTS---Maritime Group Files Grievance Against Dockworkers

The Pacific Maritime Association has filed an unfair labor practices grievance against local dockworkers for their refusal to complete implementation of an automated dispatch system.

HAIR---Ahead In the Market

Goal: To accelerate growth by opening a new Sherman Oaks store this summer and an additional store in the San Gabriel Valley in the near future

Political Pulse---Term Limits, Close Contests Likely to Lift Voter Turnout

That's how many votes James Hahn or Antonio Villaraigosa must cobble together to win the general election for L.A. mayor if current turnout projections hold. It's also the number of votes Mike Feuer or Rocky Delgadillo must assemble to become city attor

SAFETY---Cash Comfort

With the Fed cutting interest rates and tax refund checks all but in the mail, one might suspect that investors would be comforted. Not in Los Angeles.

Wall Street West---Flutter of Activity Bringing Life to High-Yield Markets

Bond markets have always been segmented, but there is a particularly sharp division going on in the world junk bond scene that between troubled telecom corporate IOUs and most other high-yield bonds.

LAYOFFS---Variety's Staff Cut As Parent Slashes Costs Across Units

Cahners Publishing, the American publishing company of Amsterdam-based media giant Reed Elsevier Inc. and publisher of the Hollywood trade paper Variety, has laid off 140 employees, or about 3 percent of its U.S. workforce of 4,800.

My Favorite Sites

The whole notion behind Realage is that you have an opportunity to go through a questionnaire and give your dietary habits as well as exercising habits, but that's just one piece. They also request lifestyle information as well. After you complete the que

John Dorfman---Select Shares Double in Value Despite Market Decline

In 1969, a fellow named Ira Cobleigh published a book titled "Happiness Is a Stock That Doubles in a Year."

INTERVIEW---The Sporting Life

As president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Tim Leiweke is at the hub of L.A.'s sporting, real estate and entertainment worlds, consolidating 36 businesses into a force for downtown development

FASHION---Apparel Makers Face Harm From Power Blackouts

L.A.'s apparel manufacturers and contractors dependent on a quick turnaround to produce trendy apparel and fill orders rapidly are worried that rolling blackouts this summer will endanger their business at a time when apparel sales are sagging.

Deals & Dealmakers---Semel Deal Tied To Yahoo Growth

Former Warner Bros. co-chairman Terry Semel, now chief executive of Yahoo Inc., has been granted a 10 million share stock option package, the value of which will be pegged to future performance of the struggling Internet giant.

AVIATION---The Wright Stuff

About two dozen aviation buffs are building a slightly modernized replica of the Wright Flyer with the aim of getting it off the ground at the centennial of the first flight

LABOR---Nurses Plan For Unionization By Forming National Group

Riding a wave of unprecedented organizing victories at Los Angeles County hospitals, the California Nurses Association is forming a new, more militant national nurses' organization with a heavy emphasis on unionizing.

CULTURE---Major Institutions Band Together to Market Museums

Several of L.A.'s major cultural institutions are banding together to form a marketing roundtable, hoping to increase attendance by pooling their ideas and resources.

Backlot Buzz---Affleck's Schedule Busies After 'Harbor'

Now that "Pearl Harbor" has been launched successfully (though with a somewhat less stellar start than the $90 million opening that weekend insiders were hoping for), Ben Affleck is turning to new projects that will pay him a wee bit more than the $250,00

Tech Talk---Big Blue Ramps Up for Digital Assault on Hollywood

Big Blue's local outfit has been ramping up, unveiling an array of high-tech products that it is targeting at the entertainment and media industry.

Entrepreneur's Notebook---Workers, Customers Key to Helpful Market Research

Many business owners, trying to differentiate their companies from those of their competitors, will often say that they provide "better customer service." That sounds good, but what exactly does it mean? Obviously, it means different things for different

Weekly Briefing

Ever walk down the street and step in a gooey wad of gum? Though there's a lot of stuff to step in on the streets of Los Angeles, Agoura Hills-based Revorvrx has found a way to reduce the odds for such an encounter. Using a patented system called "Gumbust

BOMBER---B-2 Bonanza Ready for Takeoff

There is a growing likelihood that the B-2 Stealth Bomber program, which was a powerful L.A.-area economic force until it was ended last summer, will be put back into production soon, according to Pentagon and aerospace industry officials.

TECHNOLOGY---Losses Force Strategic Shift at Tech Firm

Faced with ballooning losses and tighter capital markets, Chatsworth-based MRV Communications Inc. has pulled back from its plan to take some of its subsidiaries public through initial public stock offerings and is instead exploring the possibility of sel