MPAA's New Chief: 2004 'Healthy'

New Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Dan Glickman gave an upbeat take on the state of the industry at the 2005 ShoWest convention Tuesday, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. There were 1.54 billion tickets sold, a 2.4 percent drop from 2003, but Glickman noted that the 2004 domestic box office figure of $9.54 billion marked the third straight year the figure had surpassed the $9 billion milestone. Overall grosses were boosted by a 3 percent hike in the average ticket price of $6.21. Glickman also reported that MPAA member studios, which include Warner Bros., Disney, Sony, Universal, Paramount, Fox and MGM, are spending an average of $98 million to make and market a movie, down nearly 5 percent from 2003.

UCLA Enters Race for Stem-Cell Money
Eyeing the state's $3 billion research funds provided by the November passage of Prop. 71, the University of California, Los Angeles, launched the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Medicine on Tuesday, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The announcement follows a similar entry to last month's announcement that the University of Southern California will participate in the creation of a biomedical park, fostering the academic competition experts say could lead to scientific breakthroughs. UCLA will invest $20 million to start the center, using the funds to hire a dozen faculty members and expand its laboratories.

President Names Panel in Charge of Base Closures
President Bush on Tuesday launched the process of deciding which military bases nationwide might be closed to save money, the Daily Breeze reported. Bush formally nominated eight of the nine members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, including Philip Coyle of Los Angeles, the senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information. Among the many California installations that have been mentioned as potentially vulnerable is the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, which manages space and missile acquisition programs.

MTA Studies Idea of New Fee for Roads
With L.A.'s crowded freeways getting worse and no relief in sight from tight state and federal budgets, homebuyers and owners of new businesses could find themselves helping to pay for widening and building highways, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials are considering imposing fees on new homes and businesses to help pay for highway improvements. For the next 15 months, MTA officials and consultants will be studying population forecasts, high-priority highway projects, the fees imposed or being considered in other Southland counties, and possible mechanisms for directing any new fees to regional congestion-relief projects.

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