Sept. 26 - Oct. 2
Workers' Signature: Gov. Gray Davis signed into law legislation aimed at controlling workers' compensation costs by limiting visits to chiropractors and expanding the use of generic medications. The measure has been met with mixed reaction, especially among Republican lawmakers and some business groups for not being broad enough.
Diller's Decision: Barry Diller says he expects to either sell a stake in Vivendi Universal SA's entertainment unit or use it to raise cash this year. Investors in the electronic commerce company InterActiveCorp, which Diller heads, have said that Diller should liquidate the stake in the Vivendi unit, which is in the process of being sold to NBC.
Wherehouse Deal: A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Wherehouse Entertainment Inc. to a group led by Trans World Entertainment Corp. for $35.6 million in cash and $5 million in assumed debt. Trans World said the purchase would give it entry into the Western U.S. market. The purchase includes 145 music-and-movie retail stores, including 34 that will be shut. Torrance-based Wherehouse filed for Chapter 11 protection in January.
Showbiz Results: News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin said profit would increase 8 to 12 percent in fiscal 2004, in part because of increases in advertising sales. The parent of the Fox television network is benefiting from a low cancellation rate for ads sold in advance of the upcoming TV season, as well as an increase in advertising time sold on a spot basis. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co. President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger expects "strong earnings growth" in fiscal 2004, pointing to the company's cable networks and ABC. Also contributing, said Iger, is a gradual recovery at Disney's theme parks and strength from DVD sales.
Screener Ban: In a move to thwart piracy activity, the trade group representing the major movie studios announced that DVDs and videocassettes of new releases would no longer be sent out in the fall and winter for awards consideration. Executives of boutique studios objected to the ban, maintaining that the release of so-called screeners enhances the visibility of their movies.
Pump Prices: Average L.A. gasoline prices for the week ended Sept. 29 dipped below $2 a gallon, although there are mixed signals on whether prices will continue to decline. The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular was $1.93, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, down from $2.04 a week earlier.
Getty Financing: The J. Paul Getty Trust plans to sell $250 million of taxable bonds to finance a $30 million parking garage and create a pool of $84 million for art purchases for the J. Paul Getty Museum. In addition, the proceeds will be used to repay $136 million of commercial paper.
WB Moves: Longtime television executive Garth Ancier was named co-chairman of the WB network as part of a succession plan for retiring network founder Jamie Kellner. Ancier, former president of entertainment at NBC and Fox, will become chairman next spring. Jordan Levin, the WB's entertainment president, will become chief executive.
Beaming Movies: Walt Disney Co. said it would begin offering its MovieBeam on-demand service in which movies can be rented at home. Disney will test the service in Jacksonville, Fla., Salt Lake City and Spokane, Wash. Movies can be received for about $3.99 each using a receiving device that is attached to televisions.
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