Remembering: Americans marked the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with solemn commemorations around the country, including many in Los Angeles. Most businesses were open but some paused to mark the occasion with a moment of silence. Coca-Cola Co. didn't advertise, airlines curtailed flights and the New York Stock Exchange opened late. Retailers reported business generally picking up as the day went on.
Super Ads: The ABC television network has sold 80 to 90 percent of its commercial time for the Jan. 26 Super Bowl, at a higher price and ahead of Fox's pace for last year's game. Media buyers told Bloomberg News the network has received up to $2.4 million for a 30-second commercial. Last year, Fox, which sold its commercial time in a weak advertising market and against NBC's telecast of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, received up to $2 million per ad and had sold about half of its available commercial time by early September.
Shoe Slump: Skechers U.S.A. Inc. said third-quarter profit would be 30 cents to 35 cents, lower than earlier projections as well as analysts estimates because of sluggish back-to-school sales. The Manhattan Beach-based shoemaker also said sales would remain slow during the holiday season, resulting in lower profits for the fourth quarter. The announcement led to a drop in the company's share price.
Overturned: Republican Bill Simon's flailing gubernatorial campaign claimed a boost Thursday (12th) when Superior Court Judge James Chalfant set aside a $78 million fraud judgment against his family's investment company, William E. Simon & Sons. Chalfant ordered a new trial in the suit brought by pay phone operator Pacific Coin, which closed after a plan to go public failed. Simon has countersued Pacific Coin, seeking $33 million.
Universal Update: Vivendi Universal SA Chief Executive Jean-Rene Fourtou is considering a public stock offering as one way to raise cash from the company's U.S. entertainment divisions. Other options, according to a report in The New York Times, include selling some businesses individually or keeping them. Vivendi has met with at least one possible buyer for its entertainment assets and looked into the sale of Universal's theme park business to private investors. Fourtou, who took over in July when Jean-Marie Messier was ousted, is weighing which assets to sell to reduce the company's debt.
Arbitration Update: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt notified the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers that their refusal to schedule arbitration proceedings in California because of a new state law is not justified. As the Business Journal reported earlier this month, neither the NYSE nor NASD has scheduled arbitration sessions involving California investors since July 1, when a state law went into effect barring arbitrators from accepting fees from the brokerages whose disputes they are arbitrating. Pitt's comments signal that the NYSE and NASD could soon resume hearings.
Goldman Sacked: The California Public Employees Retirement System has fired Goldman Sachs as a fund manager because its equity investments assigned to the investment house underperformed a four-year benchmark. CalPERS made the disclosure in an annual review of its overall stock investments that showed Goldman fund managers lost 27.3 percent over that period.
Disney Confab: Providence Capital, a Walt Disney Co. shareholder, said it's organizing a meeting of Disney investors on Tuesday (17th) to air concerns about the Burbank-based entertainment company. Providence, which holds less than 1 percent of Disney stock, wants to place shareholder-nominated directors on Disney's board. Shareholders at the meeting will also discuss a plan for Disney to appoint an eventual successor for Chief Executive Michael Eisner. Disney spokesman John Spelich said the company "welcomes input from all our shareholders."
Sports Beat: The Dodgers take on the Giants in a pivotal four-game series Monday-Thursday (16th-19th) at Dodger Stadium as the National League wild card position remains up for grabs. (Arizona has a near-lock on the Western division title.) Also, UCLA takes on Colorado Saturday afternoon (21st) at the Rose Bowl in a nonconference matchup that will provide clues on whether the Bruins have top 25 abilities. Kickoff is 12:30 p.m.
TV Winners: It's Emmy Award time, this year at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday (22nd) and once again tape-delayed for West Coast viewers (never mind that the television industry happens to be centered in Los Angeles). Expect the usual flood of winners for HBO shows not all of us get to see. The telecast airs on NBC from 8-11 p.m. The creative arts categories will have a two hour highlights telecast on E!, Saturday (21st) at 8 p.m.
Government Reform: With L.A. city government threatened by secession measures for the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood, reforming local government is now in vogue. Leading academics from around the nation gather on Thursday (19th) for a two-day conference at the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development on various reform proposals for governing L.A. Charter reform, neighborhood councils, boroughs, secession and regional governance are all on the agenda. Information: (213) 623-9151.
Fox Talk: Peter Chernin, president of News Corp., will speak at a luncheon hosted by Town Hall Los Angeles on Wednesday (18th). His presentation at the Beverly Hills Hotel is titled "Mind over Merger: The Power of Creative Content in the New Media Landscape."
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