Riordan Paper's Debut Delayed, Slow Summer Cited

Media by Claudia Peschiutta

Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan is backing off on his plans to launch a local newspaper this summer.

The wealthy entrepreneur said last week he now hoped to get prototypes of the publication ready for focus groups and potential advertisers by September. The first issue might be out by the end of October, he said a couple of months later than first envisioned.

Asked about the delay, Riordan said, "August is a pretty dead month."

Based on the response from potential advertisers and focus groups, Riordan said he would decide "whether it's worthwhile or not" to pursue the paper noting "there's a one in 10 chance that it might not happen."

Riordan surprised local media types when word got out that he planned to start up a broadsheet newspaper to rival the Los Angeles Times. He has gone back and forth on whether to publish as a daily or a weekly but said he is leaning toward the latter.

"It's hard to do a daily right off the bat," Riordan said. "You need to have a seasoned staff."

Launching a newspaper, daily or weekly, would cost millions of dollars and will be especially difficult given the downturn in advertising spending. Riordan said he was uncertain how much it would cost to launch the publication, but noted he has partners lined up to cover some of the expenses.

Daily News columnist Rick Orlov reported last week that Riordan was having a hard time getting his friends to put up money for the paper.

But Riordan said he isn't even pitching it. "I haven't gone out to raise anything," he insisted. "Several people have offered to put money in, any one of which could write a check for the whole amount."

Thinking Big

While many publications struggle to just stay alive in this tough advertising market, Jane Dalea-Kahn talks about boosting circulation and doubling ad revenues at New Times Los Angeles.

After less than two months on the job, Dalea-Kahn, former L.A. advertising manager for Vogue magazine, wants to make her paper the city's "preeminent alternative newsweekly."

But what about LA Weekly?

"The way I look at it, I'm competing against everyone who sells advertising in the L.A. market, not just the LA Weekly," she said. "This is a huge media marketplace and my goal is to really focus in on this paper and how we can establish our niche."

The plan is to increase circulation to 130,000 from the present 115,000 within the next six months and to double ad revenues over the next two years. So far, Dalea-Kahn has reorganized the paper's sales department so that each member is "publisher of their own territory." She also has hired a new arts editor and retail sales director.

Since her arrival in June, there have been no layoffs and none are planned, she said. The paper has a staff of 83.

Getting With the Programs

L.A.'s Southern California Magazine Group will be publishing programs for the Music Center of Los Angeles County.

Like venues throughout the state, the Music Center found itself without a publisher for the upcoming cultural season when it was announced a few weeks ago that Performing Arts magazine would be shutting down. The move comes as a result of Playbill Inc.'s acquisition of the publishing rights to rival Stagebill, which had published Performing Arts.

The long-term deal means that the magazine group which also publishes the L.A., Orange County and San Diego editions of tourism-oriented Where magazine will provide programs for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre.

"It's a nice contract that's going to be good for the theaters and great for (us)," said Jeff Levy, president of the magazine group. The venues will get their programs for free, while the group will keep advertising revenue generated by the publications, he said. Levy declined to disclose any other details about the deal.

The group has hired four employees, including three from Performing Arts, to handle the new work.

'Family' Goes to Mexico

KCET-TV (Channel 28) has been struggling to become a major national programming producer in the public television world. Still far from that goal, the station is getting some international attention.

KCET's Latino drama "American Family" soon will be airing in Mexico on the Televisa network, the result of a deal with Fox Television, which owns the international distribution rights.

The series, which stars Edward James Olmos and Raquel Welch, is produced by KCET and El Norte Productions, in association with The Greenblatt Janollari Studio and Fox Television Studios.

"American Family" recently began a run of nine additional episodes, which will complete the show's first season.

Legal Shuffle

The Los Angeles Daily Journal has dropped its weekly California Law Business and Verdicts & Settlements sections. The daily legal paper is replacing the two with one section tentatively titled "Daily Journal Extra."

"This is an exciting development that will combine the best of both publications," said an internal memo about the move.

The change did not result in any layoffs and was not driven by a desire to cut costs, said Martin Berg, managing editor.

California Law Business featured profiles of law firms, practice areas and business trends. Verdicts & Settlements offered summaries of jury verdicts, arbitration and settlements from throughout the state.

In Other News...

KABC-TV (Channel 7) makes some changes to its on-air line-up in the wake of anchor Laura Diaz's departure for KCBS-TV (Channel 2). Kathy Vara becomes co-anchor from 5 to 7 a.m. Ellen Leyva co-anchors the 5 p.m. newscast. Rob Fukuzaki replaces sports anchor Bill Weir, whose departure is imminent, on the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekday newscasts. Curt Sandoval replaces Fukuzaki on the weekends.

Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at

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