One might expect local moguls to give lavish gifts during the holiday season. Perhaps a Porsche for a teenage son or a pony for a young daughter. Well, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Rick Caruso, real estate developer of the Grove and other outdoor shopping centers, said he and his family give basic gifts like clothes, shirts and ties.

"I don't think I gave anything outrageous," said Caruso, known for his bespoke suits. "I don't think we are that exciting."

Meanwhile, Richard Weintraub, the developer of the forthcoming Malibu Lumber Yard retail
project who lives on an oceanfront estate in Malibu, said that this year he and wife tried to teach their young children about charity.

"It was about trying not to give gifts and not emphasizing the material stuff," said Weintraub.

The ponies and Porsches will have to wait.

Striking Soup Kitchen

Jay Perrin, general manager of restaurant Campanile on La Brea Avenue, said that his eatery's "Writers Soup Kitchen" for striking Writers Guild of America members has been a hit since it began Nov. 21.

He said that every Wednesday about 200 WGA members show up to flash their union cards and dine on a three-course meal for $18 a veritable bargain at the Cal-Mediterranean restaurant.

"One of the things I love about it is, it's old Hollywood it has got great energy in the room," Perrin said. "There has been some backlash from the producers, and I say to them, "if you had a union and went on strike we'd help you too.'"

Perrin said the soup kitchen nights will continue until the strike ends. Campanile is owned by chef Mark Peel.

And because writers for the "Late Show with David Letterman" have reached a much-publicized agreement to return to work, would Perrin allow them to take part in the meal deal?

"I don't think so. We'd ban them," Perrin joked.

Resolute Resolutions

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, Linda Dishman is all business.

Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, said that she's made it her resolution to save the historic movie palaces in downtown Los Angeles' theater district and it make the "year of the Broadway theaters."

Some of the theaters, such as the Orpheum, have been restored. But such theaters as the Cameo and the Arcade need work. A variety of plans have been bandied about, including turning theaters into nightclubs, book stores and restaurants.

"There is a lot of momentum with the property owners and the city council," she said. "The theaters are a perfect link between L.A. Live and Grand Avenue."

Daniel Miller can be reached at

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