AMC ships Film-Buying Operations to Kansas City

AMC Theatres is moving its film-buying operations to the company's Kansas City headquarters, L.A.-based employees were told Thursday. As a result, Richie Fay, AMC president, is resigning, The Hollywood Reporter said. The film-buying operation will continue to be headed by AMC Film Group chairman Dick Walsh, who is based in Kansas City. The move has not been well received within the distribution community. While it may have been prompted by cost-cutting measures on the part of the company's new owners, in the long run it may hurt the second largest U.S. exhibitor.

Study Supports Independence of LAX Police Force
The LAX Police Department is a model for airport security nationwide and should remain independent from the LAPD, according to a study released Thursday. Despite the findings of Maryland-based Counter Technology Inc. L.A. Mayor James Hahn said for the first time that he supports folding the LAX force into the LAPD. The report concluded there's no reason to combine the departments because the 354-officer LAX force is "very proficient" at safeguarding the airport. The study's release, and Hahn's comments, sparked the first round of public skirmishes in the battle over a May ballot measure on the police merger issue.

Rep. Maxine Waters Backing Mayoral Bid of Villaraigosa
South Bay Rep. Maxine Waters endorsed Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday, a move that threatens to dismantle the coalition that elected Mayor James Hahn four years ago, Copley News Service reported. Waters, who backed Hahn in 2001, promised to put her considerable political clout behind Villaraigosa by placing him on a political voting guide that she sends to nearly 200,000 voters in south Los Angeles a section of the city that went heavily for Hahn four years ago. Waters said her decision was based on Hahn's $11 billion plan for modernizing LAX.

Northrop Sees Defense Growth
Despite speculation that the Iraq War may divert federal funding from Northrop Grumman Corp.'s high-tech programs, the Century City-based firm expects to remain on solid footing with the Department of Defense, the Daily Breeze reported. The federal defense budget, which accounts for most of Northrop's annual sales, took center stage at the company's institutional investor conference Thursday in Redondo Beach. During a dinner for the investors Wednesday, Bob Helm, Northrop's vice president for government relations, assured the crowd no significant company program has been affected.

Adelphia Offers U.S. $725 Million
Potentially clearing the way for the sale of its cable systems, Adelphia Communications Corp. has offered to pay the federal government $725 million to resolve criminal and civil fraud actions against the company and its founder, a regulatory filing disclosed. The settlement, if accepted, would represent one of the largest in corporate history, the Los Angeles Times reported. Southern California's largest cable operator said it was making the $725-million offer to settle civil charges brought in 2002 by the Securities and Exchange Commission and to end an investigation by the Justice Department.

Southland Firms Mourn Loss of Workers in Refinery Blast
The refinery explosion that shook a town southeast of Houston on Wednesday also sent a shock wave through the headquarters of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. in Pasadena, the Los Angeles Times reported. Eleven of the 15 workers who died in the explosion and fire at the BP refinery in Texas City worked for Jacobs. Fluor Corp., another big Southern California-based engineering firm lost three employees who were working at the refinery.

Disney Stores Chain to Expand to Outlet Malls
Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. said it was expanding its newly acquired Disney Store chain into outlet malls, Reuters reported. The company, which acquired the chain from Walt Disney Co. in November, said it planned to open a store in Central Valley, N.Y., this weekend and planned five more openings this year. The chain retained the Disney name under a licensing agreement.

Bratz Stylin' Scooters Are Recalled
A Chinese manufacturer of Bratz Stylin' Scooters is recalling nearly 297,000 scooters because the wheels can become damaged, which can lead users to suffer injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The distributor, MGA Entertainment Inc. of Van Nuys, has received six reports of cracked wheels, the Associated press reported. All the incidents resulted in cuts, scrapes and bruises. In one case, a child suffered a broken arm. The recall includes scooters manufactured by Jurong Dumar Bicycle Inc. of China.

Yahoo Seeks Legal Protection
Yahoo Inc. asked a federal appeals court Thursday for legal protection for U.S.-based Internet portals whose content is protected by the 1st Amendment, but is illegal in foreign countries, the Associated Press reported. Some judges acknowledged the need for a shield for American companies in such situations, but suggested it was premature in the case of Yahoo, which is challenging a fine levied by a Paris court four years ago for allowing the site's French users to buy and sell Nazi memorabilia, in violation of French law.

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