Disney watchers might have taken note last week that when it came time for Miramax Film Corp. to finally part company with the Burbank-based entertainment company, it was Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who shared the stage with Miramax's Bob and Harvey Weinstein not Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner, nor even Eisner's heir apparent, Robert Iger.
There certainly was no love lost between Eisner and Harvey Weinstein, which is one reason the corporate divorce took so long to execute. Eisner, in fact, had turned down several promising Miramax proposals over the years, including producing the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which became one of the big success stories for Time Warner Inc.'s New Line Cinema.
That's why the canned comments by both men in announcing the separation sounded so, well, canned.
Eisner: "Harvey and Bob's unprecedented 12-year association with Disney will go down in the motion picture annals for its unparalleled contributions to independent filmmaking and the entrepreneurial creative spirit they fostered within a corporate environment."
The Weinsteins: "We know that there is no bigger fan of our movies than Michael Eisner and think it was pretty brave of him to give us the ability to make movies like 'Hero' and 'City of God.'"
In Hollywood, kind words only go so far, of course. When Eisner was asked last fall why he offered gracious comments in a press release about Michael Ovitz's acrimonious departure, he said that in business and politics, "you say nice things. Nobody believes them but you say them."
The Los Angeles Times has promoted Deputy Business Editor Russ Stanton to the top job on the section. In announcing the promotion, Editor John Carroll and Managing Editor Dean Baquet evoked the possibility of "big changes and new beats."
Stanton said that the business section in recent years had "tightened the lens" on state news and would be providing more coverage on the national and international fronts.
He also wants to extend the Times' health care reporting. "Other than that, we'd like to keep our feet firmly planted in all the industries that are unique and important in Southern California," he said.
Stanton was business editor of the Orange County Register before joining the Times in 1997 as a reporter. He was then promoted to business editor for the paper's Orange County edition.
He plans some personnel and beat realignments, adding that, "Hopefully we'll be able to do better stories as a result."
Cerritos' buses are gearing up for the world of Wi-Fi. A 60-day pilot program will start with just one route, but the city intends to hook up all seven of its transit vehicles.
Passengers would have to purchase a bus pass, similar to a phone card featuring a log-in and password, to access the wireless network while traveling on the bus.
"We're trying to add additional service to the community, to help the people of Cerritos be more productive," said Tony Esfandiari, chief executive of Aiirmesh Communications, the wireless Internet service provider outfitting the buses for Wi-Fi.
The bus route passes by Cerritos College and a number of high schools, and Esfandiari hopes to tap into the population of Internet users as they go to and from class.
About a year ago, Woodland Hills-based Aiirmesh armed the 8.6-square-mile city of Cerritos with broadband wireless Internet access. Since then, neighboring cities of Artesia, La Palma, La Mirada, Norwalk and Bellflower have been added to the network.
Citywide, the company charges $3.99 per hour and offers monthly passes for $7.99. Pricing for Internet-on-the-bus service has not yet been released.
Aiirmesh is paying for the deployment, which involves installing antennas and transponders on buses. Esfandiari said he sees it as a capital investment that will pay off later. "A lot of people are trying to figure out how to make money on Wi-Fi," he said. "We stumbled upon this but buses are only part of the services we supply to the municipality."
When KCBS-FM (93.1), formerly known as "Arrow 93," changed formats last month adding music by Prince, Bruce Hornsby, New Order and others to its previous steady servings of Led Zeppelin and other classic rock the station now known as "Jack FM" adopted the slogan "We Play What We Want," a dig at the concept of heavy rotation that dominates most pop music radio.
Since then, listeners of classic rock station KLOS-FM (95.5) have noticed the DJs shoot back by saying "We Play What You Want" after a set culminating with, say, Black Sabbath's anthem "Paranoid."
Officials at KLOS didn't return a phone call to discuss the dueling slogans. Jeff Federman, vice president and general manager at KCBS, said he didn't consider KLOS any more of a competitor than other music broadcasters, and that he hadn't heard about the dueling slogan and didn't care, either.
TV en Espa & #324;ol
KNLA-TV, a Spanish-language station that used to broadcast with a weak signal at Channel 67 on the UHF dial, relaunched in late March with a stronger signal and new programming at channel 27.
The independent station, which caters to a primarily Central American audience, revamped its lineup with the telenovela "Pedro El Escamoso" as the centerpiece. In addition, KNLA launched a new marketing campaign billing itself as "World Television."
KNLA-TV (Channel 27) is the only Los Angeles broadcaster of CNN en Espa & #324;ol and GolTV, which broadcasts Latin American and European soccer. The station also broadcasts "Noticiero Centroamericano," an hour-long program on Central American news.
Station officials said KNLA now broadcasts 15 hours per week of locally produced programming.
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