September 12 - 18

Vivendi Update: A New York State Supreme Court Judge ruled that Vivendi Universal SA must pay $22.8 million in severance to former Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier, whose expansion plans to transform Vivendi into a media giant brought it close to bankruptcy. Investors and regulators sought to block the payment until a shareholder vote could be held on Messier's termination agreement.

Ritter Decision: ABC executives plan to continue the Tuesday comedy "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" after the death of actor John Ritter, who collapsed on the set. The network won't recast Ritter's character, instead incorporating the death into the script. ABC had been relying on "8 Simple Rules" to help rebuild the network's primetime schedule.

Earnings Reports: KB Home Corp. reported third-quarter net income of $97.8 million, compared with $83.9 million for the like period a year ago. Revenue for the Los Angeles-based homebuilder rose 12 percent, to $1.44 billion, although sales in California remained flat. Virco Manufacturing Corp. reported a second-quarter net loss of $8.3 million, compared with net income of $4.3 million for the like period a year ago. Revenue for the Torrance-based maker of classroom furniture fell more than 20 percent, to $65.9 million. The company cut 160 employees during the first week of September and will suspend cash dividends to reduce costs as orders from school districts fell. CKE Restaurants Inc. reported second-quarter net income of $6.3 million, compared with $10.8 million for the like period a year ago. Revenue for the Santa Barbara-based operator of Carl's Jr. rose 2 percent, to $333.7 million.

Senate Repeal: The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate rolled back new Federal Communications Commission rules allowing media companies to make more acquisitions, defying a White House veto threat. The bill, approved in a 55-40 vote, now goes to the House, where it's "dead on arrival," claimed House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Senate supporters said the vote sends a message to the Bush administration, the FCC and large media companies.

EIDC Lapse: Local elected officials told a criminal grand jury that they did little to oversee the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., even though they sat on the agency's board. The lack of oversight was cited as a factor in EIDC head Cody Cluff billing the agency more than $150,000 on personal expenses, including a country club membership. Cluff was indicted in August for alleged misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement.

Tenet Promotion: Trevor Fetter was named chief executive of Tenet Healthcare Corp., the Santa Barbara-based hospital chain under investigation by at least three government agencies. He replaces Jeffrey Barbakow, who resigned in May.

Homestore Pleas: Three more former Homestore Inc. employees pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the government's ongoing investigation of accounting fraud at the Westlake Village-based online real estate information firm. They, along with two other Homestore workers and two top executives with a Homestore vendor, also settled civil charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The charges bring to seven the total number of people who have pleaded guilty to date in the FBI criminal investigation, and 11 who have been charged in civil actions by the SEC.

September 22 - 28

Princely Appearance: In a rare public forum, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Saud, will speak at an L.A. World Affairs Council luncheon on Monday (22nd) in a talk entitled: "The U.S. Saudi Relationship: In Transition?" For information: 213-628-2333, ext. 16.

New Numbers: UCLA's Anderson Forecast releases its quarterly economic outlook on Wednesday (24th) under the heading "The State of the Region: Near-term Challenges Facing the Economy." Expect the state fiscal mess and the national economy to play prominent roles. The forecast will be presented at the Wilshire Grand Hotel.

Recall Debate: As the recall imbroglio speeds through the courts, they're still planning a debate among the major candidates will be held on Wednesday (24th) at 6 p.m. in Sacramento. Sponsored by the California Broadcasters Association, it's the only debate that Republican front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to participate in. Expect live coverage on several local broadcast outlets, and Warren Olney's "Which Way, L.A." will have a post-debate edition at 7:30 p.m. on KCRW-FM (89.9).

Sports Beat: On the college football front, USC is away on Saturday (27th) at California while UCLA is at the Rose Bowl against San Diego State. The Dodgers are on the road while the Galaxy is at home on Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards. And on Sunday (28th), the Oak Tree Racing Association opens its annual 32-day meet at Santa Anita Park.

High Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is observed beginning on Friday night (26th) and continuing into Saturday and Sunday. The holiday is followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on Oct. 6.

Economic Reports: Thursday (25th): Durable goods, new home sales and existing home sales. Friday (26th): Final gross domestic product for the second quarter and end of September consumer sentiment figures from the University of Michigan.

Business Crisis: The next installment in the Public Library's lecture series is on Thursday (25th) at noon and focuses on "How to Win When Your Company Faces Crisis." Featured speaker is Norman Sigband, adjunct professor on the USC Health Sciences Campus.

Media Talk: How the media covers foreign policy will be the subject of a Town Hall Los Angeles luncheon on Thursday (25th) at the downtown Marriott Hotel. Panelists include USC Professor Murray Fromson, L.A. Times Foreign Editor Marjorie Miller and L.A. Times columnist Robert Scheer. For information: 213-628-8141.

Airport Update: The latest update on plans to overhaul Los Angeles International Airport will be presented on Thursday (25th) during a dinner meeting of the Construction Management Association of America at the downtown Marriott. Featured speaker will be Jim Ritchie, deputy executive director long-range planning for Los Angeles World Airports. For information: 562-434-8409.

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