Real estate may not be the most star-studded business, but there are certain perks to running a concert venue.

Steve Needleman, 56, who owns a number of downtown L.A. buildings including the Orpheum Theatre, has a wall of photos in the venue showing him mugging with the artists who have played there. The shots include a pic by noted L.A. photog Gary Leonard showing Needleman with Lady Gaga – which was posted recently on a local blog – and another of him with one of his all-time favorites, Yoko Ono.

“She was really delightful,” he said of Ono. “Where you might have expected the diva attitude, she was really pleasant with everyone.”

Indeed, not every artist is so friendly.

“There’s a lot of artists, which I surely would not name, that come in with a diva attitude and a photo opportunity just isn’t feasible,” he said.

Speed Read

How long does it take to start a company? If you’re Daniel O’Shea and his business partners, all you need is one weekend.

Last month, O’Shea, 28, pitched an idea at Startup Weekend, a Santa Monica event that pits entrepreneurs against each other in a 54-hour race to build the best business prototype. His idea not only won the top prize, but could turn into his next business venture.

O’Shea’s idea, a smart phone application called Hinty that reads news feeds and other online content to users while they’re driving, came from his own frustration getting stuck in L.A. traffic.

“I’ve been making the drive from Redondo Beach to Pasadena and I wanted a way to read the news while I was sitting in terrible traffic,” he said.

Helping him at Startup Weekend was an eight-person team including partners Max Mullen and Jay Stakelon. This isn’t the first time the trio has participated in Startup Weekend together. They met and formed their current business venture, a communication application called Volly, at the previous event in May.

This time, they entered the competition just for fun, but said they’ll see if they can turn Hinty into a moneymaker.

“We approached it as a fun competition,” Mullen said. “But if a good idea comes out of it, it could turn into a company.”

Congressional Humor

Call it poli-tick-ing.

Just days before the November elections, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, was the featured speaker at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Pancakes and Politics breakfast.

Becerra, who is expected to easily win re-election, spoke to about 50 chamber members. He focused on the recession and steps Congress has taken to try to jump-start the economy.

But his most memorable line came at the beginning, when he expounded on the event’s Pancakes and Politics title and provided his own definition of politics. He told the audience that it was a Greek word meaning “poli” – which is “many” and “tics” which are “blood-sucking organisms.”

Staff reporters Richard Clough, Natalie Jarvey and Howard Fine contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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