While ticket sales for everything from movie seats to theatrical performances have become a victim of a slowing economy, business for one local discount ticket broker has been booming.

Tix Corp., which was listed as TIXC on the Nasdaq exchange earlier this month, is predicting a 40 percent increase in ticket sales this year to over 1 million sold for a variety of Las Vegas shows. Sales generated $7.5 million in fees and commissions for the company in 2007, according to the company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Studio City-based Tix operates five discount ticket booths along the Strip in Las Vegas under the name Tix4Tonight. It sells tickets from 50 percent off and up, but only on the day of the event or show. Tix gets batches of unsold tickets from show and event producers and quickly sells them off to tourists seeking discount prices.

"With some show tickets priced at more than $150 each, we have hundreds of people standing in line day and night to get a deal," said Mitch Francis, chief executive of Tix.

The company only makes its tickets available at Tix4Tonight booths along the Strip, not through concierges or brokers. Tix also sells tickets for discount dinning reservations and golf tee times, among other events.

Nearly a year ago, the company acquired Exhibit Merchandising so it now sells T-shirts and other souvenir items with show graphics.

Tix is also preparing to go international with an Internet ticketing branding currently under development.

Permit Changes

City officials are preparing to put film permitting coordination services out for bid, while making several recommendations to streamline the current service being handled by FilmLA, a private non-profit contractor.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles officials are recommending that FilmLA's contract, which expires June 30, be extended by six months at a cost of $572,000 in order to redefine the scope of the new contract proposal, still being drafted by the city.

FilmLA asked for a yearlong extension in order to prepare for the bidding process. City officials have responded by offering two 90-day optional extensions beyond the initial six months.

The city wants the contractor to combine permit coordination, community notification and complaint referral services. Those services are currently handled by FilmLA but are funded separately.

In addition, city officials have asked FilmLA to immediately make more staff workers available 24 hours a day and seven days a week to handle problems.

To increase cash flow, Los Angeles officials also want to eliminate an ordinance that allows FilmLA to delay payments to the city for up to 60 days without being penalized. Filmmakers pay FilmLA estimated fees in advance of production, and the city then bills FilmLA for the actual expenses; accounts are balanced later.

Meanwhile, FilmLA has hired Australian-based executive search firm Johnson and Co. to find a replacement for former Chief Executive Steve McDonald, who left his post in April. Michael Bennett, FilmLA's chief financial officer, is serving as interim president.

People Puppets

Jim Henson Co., creator of the Muppets, is pioneering a proprietary technology that allows actors to take on the form of animated characters in real time, using a suit of body sensors.

While the body sensor technology has been around for some time, the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio is the first to use it in a real-time environment.

The new studio and technology are being used for the first time on an animated children's television series currently in production called "Sid the Science Kid." The half-hour 40-episode educational comedy program, being co-produced by the Los Angeles-based Henson Co. and KCET, features a 5-year-old fictional character named Sid who provides answers to preschoolers' questions such as "How does a juice box straw work?"

The series will debut across the country on PBS Kids on Sept. 1.

Launching at the same time as the broadcast series is an online interactive Web site that will feature three zones: the Super Fab Lab at Sid's school, the playground and Sid's kitchen.

Advocate Honored

Advocate recently won Best Magazine Overall Coverage at the annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco.

Until this year, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has never allowed gay and lesbian media outlets to enter its competition. Only mainstream media were allowed to compete. As a result, the Los Angeles-based Advocate is the first gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender publication to win an award from GLAAD.

The Advocate was nominated alongside such mainstream media outlets as Newsweek, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly.

In a move to place all of its resources behind its online endeavor Gay.com, Advocate owner PlanetOut Inc. recently sold the Advocate and Out magazines for an estimated $6 million to Here Networks in Westwood.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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