Los Angeles Sparks General Manager Penny Toler was the first woman to make a basket in the WNBA. She is also the first woman to have her number retired by the Sparks.


As the team enters its 12th season, fans attending games at Staples Center will be able to see Toler's number hanging in the rafters alongside the retired jerseys of Los Angeles Lakers greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and announcer Chick Hearn as well as Los Angeles Kings players such as Wayne Gretzky.

But Toler's jersey adorns the wall of the arena which is owned by Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group only during the WNBA season. That's a sore point for current Sparks owners Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson.

"We want Penny's number to be on the wall all year round," said Goodman, who feels the issue is representative of the struggle that women's basketball faces in comparison to men's sports.

Goodman said she mentions the disparity at every single meeting she has with AEG executives, who have yet to agree to hang the jersey during the Sparks' off-season. The season-only arrangement was made with former team owner Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Goodman hopes to have that changed as soon as possible, but Staples executives have resisted the change, she said.

Staples Center executives did not return calls for comment.

Reel Relocation

David Naylor's entertainment company, the DVD Group Inc., which provides movie studios with content for their DVD releases, has left Hollywood for the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles. Does that make any sense?

Naylor said it pencils out because of tax incentives offered to businesses heading to downtown.

"There are various tax advantages to working in the area," said Naylor, president and owner of the DVD Group.

In December, his company moved into office space it purchased at the Biscuit Co. Lofts. "I think the primary reason was that the whole area is undergoing rejuvenation and there is a lot of money being poured into the area to make it a business community," he said.

The DVD Group, which works with companies such as HBO Video and Lions Gate Home Entertainment to produce DVD featurettes and behind-the-scenes documentaries, moved from 7175 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood on Dec. 22, around the same time Naylor left his home in Hollywood for new digs downtown.

"I think it's great, it's New York with a West Coast feel," he said.

Naylor said that he first became interested in downtown while working on movie shoots in the area. The DVD Group has worked on films including "Cloverfield" and "Mission: Impossible III," which were partially shot downtown.

"The biggest adjustment is trying to find new places to go out for lunch and socialize," he said.

Mode Mess

The drama continues to unfold at restaurateur Anthony Jones' downtown 24/7 haunt, Mode. The restaurant at 916 S. Olive St. in the Fashion District opened for business Dec. 7, but problems lingered through the month and by Jan. 12 it was closed again. Permitting issues have kept it shuttered.

Jones said that the fashion-forward restaurant, which serves French fare and features a 40-foot Plexiglas catwalk, had been issued a permit by the Department of Public Health. But the department later revoked the permit because the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety had concerns over plumbing troubles and the restaurant's use of a portable generator. The generator was employed as a temporary fix while the building's electricity was being completed.

"We were open for a quite a bit of time so this is a bit unfortunate," Jones said.

The necessary fixes were being made in advance of another Department of Building and Safety inspection, he said, adding that that Mode could reopen this week.

"Three days at the most is what it would take to reopen," Jones said.

He also owns the Mid-Wilshire eatery/nightspot Royale, which stopped serving food Jan. 1 so that fiscal and staffing issues could be resolved. The bar and lounge remain open, Jones said.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum contributed to this column. Staff reporter Daniel Miller can be reached at dmiller@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.

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