Studio Bidding: Artisan Entertainment, the film studio that made "The Blair Witch Project," received at least a half dozen offers from prospective buyers, including at least one topping $100 million, Daily Variety reported. The film studio rejected a bid by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., the newspaper reported, while Sony Corp. has emerged as an "interested party." The closely held Santa Monica-based company asked for "non-binding" bids by a deadline that expired last week. A deadline will be set for final bids, and the sale process is likely to be complete by mid-July.
Stadium Feelers: National Football League owners agreed to spend as much as $10 million on a potential football stadium on the site of a former dump in Carson. The move was considered a blow for proponents of a proposed renovation of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena that would house an NFL team. Meeting in Philadelphia, the owners agreed to continue negotiations with Pasadena, although Rose Bowl officials want the league to grant them exclusive negotiating rights. Still unclear is the role of former Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz in the Carson effort. Ovitz had earlier pitched a stadium deal in that city.
L.A. Election: Former legislative deputy Martin Ludlow defeated City Council deputy Deron Williams in the race to replace Councilman Nate Holden in the 10th District, while council aide Greig Smith beat school board member Julie Korenstein for the seat being vacated by his boss, Councilman Hal Bernson. Also in last week's election, Board of Education incumbent David Tokofsky was reelected by a wide margin. Korenstein will keep her seat on the Board of Education.
College Miscue: A UCLA graduate and his relatives were ordered to pay more than $500,000 for allegedly manipulating the price of five e-commerce company stocks by posting hundreds of false messages on Internet bulletin boards and chat rooms. An attorney for Refael Shaoulian said his client had no idea that touting stocks on the Internet was a violation of securities law when he and other college students came up with the idea of posting messages.
Selling TV: The television networks said advertising sales for the fall season might be moving toward a quick sellout. Rapidly selling the available ad inventory in the "upfront" market, when TV networks get commitments for most of their available time slots for the coming season, suggests higher overall ad sales and possibly a stronger economy. The broadcast networks are competing for about $8.7 billion in upfront sales, a 5 percent rise after last year's surge of 20 percent.
School Daze: Gov. Gray Davis said he would try to keep as many teachers on the job as possible despite a record budget deficit. Speaking during a town hall meeting hosted by ABC's Peter Jennings, Davis said his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes less in spending cuts to schools than he proposed in January. The California Teachers Association estimates that in the last 23 months, 30,000 teachers have been told they may lose their jobs because of budget cuts. Davis said only about 1,000 of them have been fired.
Holiday Time: Monday (26th) is Memorial Day, so expect the usual parades and barbecues to commemorate the holiday. Banks, schools and government offices will be closed, as will most offices.
Sports Beat: The Dodgers are home for a three-game series Friday-Sunday (May 30th-June1st) against Milwaukee. Also, the Stanley Cup Finals get underway Tuesday (27th) on the ice of the Eastern Conference winner. The Mighty Ducks will be at home for game three on Saturday (31st). In Paris, it's the start of the French Open.
Movie Fest: Wednesday (28th) is the opening night of the 19th annual Israel Film Festival at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Producer Laura Ziskin and talk show host Larry King will be honored at the event.
Economic Reports: More hints of whether the economy is coming or going: April new home sales and consumer confidence on Tuesday (27th), durable goods orders on Wednesday (28th), first quarter preliminary gross domestic product on Thursday (29th), and April personal income and personal spending on Friday (30th).
Economic Chat: Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart speaks on Wednesday (28th) to a luncheon meeting of Town Hall Los Angeles at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel. His topic is economic security in the 21st century. For information: 213-628-8141.
Summer Season: The Ford Amphitheatre opens its summer season this weekend. On tap Saturday night (31st) is the group Quetzal. On Sunday (June 1st), it's the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale. For information: 323-GO1-FORD.
Villaraigosa Speaks: L.A. City Councilman-Elect Antonio Villaraigosa speaks to the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum on Friday (May 30) at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. The former state Assembly Speaker and mayoral candidate is expected to discuss his agenda on the council and will be asked about the potential for another run for L.A. mayor.
Phone Home: Scientists looking for signs of life on other worlds will take the stage at an astrobiology symposium co-sponsored by the Planetary Society and the UCLA Astrobiology Society Saturday (June 1) at the UCLA Ackerman Union. The keynote speaker is Dr. Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research. For information: planetary.org.
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