Top Executive Leaving Universal to Run DreamWorks

Stacey Snider, chairwoman of Universal Pictures, will leave the studio to take a new job running DreamWorks, now a division of Paramount Pictures. Snider's exit, which had been rumored for weeks, leaves a major gap in the executive ranks at Universal, where she had guided the development and production of films since 1999. In her new position, Snider will be the chief executive of DreamWorks and will be co-chairwoman with co-chairman David Geffen, one of the three co-founders who guided the company's sale to Paramount in December. She, Steven Spielberg and Geffen will have the authority to give a green light to four to six movies a year at budgets of up to $85 million a picture, which will be released by Paramount, the New York Times reported.

Soundproof Plan Creates Noise in El Segundo
El Segundo's recent settlement with Los Angeles International Airport will provide millions to insulate up to 5,000 homes against ambient airport noise for free. In the meantime, the city is left to grapple with nearly 250 homeowners who already paid for improvements and now feel ignored by a settlement that had officials brimming with pride in December, the Daily Breeze reported. With an instructional workshop on the city's sound insulation program scheduled for Tuesday, the city is busy trying to find answers for homeowners calling for reimbursement. But legalities prevent El Segundo from just handing over the money in the eyes of the city attorney, simply giving them a check would be a gift of public funds and therefore not legal in California.

Governor Names Interim Prison System Chief
Surprised by the abrupt resignation Saturday of his corrections secretary, Roderick Q. Hickman, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday said finding a new leader for the massive and dysfunctional prison system would not be easy. The governor named Jeanne S. Woodford acting secretary. Woodford, a former warden of San Quentin State Prison, has most recently served as undersecretary , the No. 2 person under Hickman. On Saturday, Hickman, 49, said he was resigning because of wavering political support for a new correctional approach in the Legislature and Schwarzenegger administration, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ex-WB Chief Plans Production, Talent Management Venture
Former WB Chief Executive Jordan Levin plans to launch a new production and talent management company to supply entertainment for television, mobile phones and the Internet. The Santa Monica-based company, named Generate, is a partnership between Levin and four other industry veterans: Pete Aronson, former president of Regency Television; producer Mike Karz; and talent managers Dave Rath and Kara Welker, the Los Angeles Times reported. Generate will target families and young adults. The production arm of the company already has a development deal with Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks to supply its cable channels.

Earnings Growth at Blue-Chip Firms May Ease
U.S. blue-chip companies extended their streak of double-digit earnings growth through the fourth quarter. Average profit growth of firms in the Standard & Poor's 500 index is expected to decelerate this quarter to the slowest pace in nearly three years, based on analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Financial. With more than 90 percent of S & P; 500 companies having reported their fourth-quarter results, the year-over-year increase in earnings for the index overall is estimated at 14.1 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported. If that growth holds up once all profit reports are in, it would mark the tenth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for the S & P; 500. But in the first half of this year, the rate of earnings growth is expected to be pulled down by weakness in some consumer-dependent industries and in those hit hard by high energy costs.

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