DRAGONS: Glendale’s DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. will soon fill TV screens in 19 Asian territories with Kung Fu Pandas and kindhearted green monsters. The company is launching a television network that will be available in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, but not in the coveted China market, thanks to that country’s government grip on media. The channel’s offerings will include movies from the DreamWorks library and shows based on the company’s films, including “DreamWorks Dragons,” a spinoff of “How to Train Your Dragon.” Original animated series will also be created specifically for the channel. HBO Asia, based in Singapore, will manage affiliate sales, marketing and technical support for the network. DreamWorks expects to start broadcasting in the second half of next year.
PRISON: Two brothers who ran used-car dealerships in Los Angeles have been sentenced to three years in state prison for tax evasion. Dagoberto Dueñas of Rosemead ran Space Auto Sales in South L.A. before handing the business to his brother Mario Ernesto Gonzalez, who renamed it Spin Auto Sales. An investigation by the State Board of Equalization found that Dueñas failed to report at least $12.3 million in taxable sales resulting in more than $1 million in unreported sales taxes. Gonzalez was held responsible for failing to report almost $500,000 in sales tax. Both men pleaded no contest to sales tax evasion earlier this month.
LAYOFFS: Chicago aerospace manufacturer Boeing Co. will lay off 360 people in Southern California between Dec. 12 and Jan. 1, according to notices posted by the California Employment Development Department. The company will lay off 98 workers in El Segundo, 137 in Long Beach and 125 in Huntington Beach. Boeing is expected to lay off thousands of workers by the middle of next year as it closes down a production line in Long Beach, but it is not clear if any of this month’s layoffs are part of that process.
UBER-SUED: The district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco have sued Uber, the most popular ridesharing service in the country, seeking to stop the business from operating until it complies with California law. The district attorneys allege the company has misled customers into believing it screens out drivers who have committed criminal offenses, when really it doesn’t. Uber and similar service Lyft do not require drivers to submit their fingerprints for a background check, which the attorneys said is the most comprehensive form of driver screening. California officials are not the only ones scrutinizing Uber’s selection practices. Other U.S. cities, including Portland, Ore., have filed similar lawsuits against the company, and the service was recently banned in the Delhi region of India after an Uber driver was accused of raping one of his passengers.
FAKE: An undercover operation has resulted in the arrest of 34-year-old Armando Robledo of Los Angeles and the confiscation of $300,000 worth of counterfeit Gucci, Prada and other high-end branded sunglasses from Robledo’s business and nearby storage locker in downtown L.A.’s Santee Alley, according to state investigators. The confiscation was one of the largest seizures of its kind in California in the last few years, officials said. California’s Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement Task Force, working with private company Investigative Consultants, bought counterfeit watches from Robledo with a total retail value of more than $100,000, officials said. The Los Angeles Police Department’s piracy unit arrested Robledo on five felony counts of counterfeiting. He was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail, where he posted $50,000 bail.
GENOME PHONE: NantHealth, the health care technology division of billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Culver City holding company NantWorks, has collaborated with smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd. on a secure clinical genome browser that gives doctors access to patients’ genetic data on the BlackBerry Passport smartphone. The NantOmics Cancer Genome Browser will give doctors a view into the individual genetic alternations that make each patient’s cancer unique and highlight relevant treatment options. BlackBerry bought a minority stake in NantHealth earlier this year.
BIG SALE: New York investment firm Blackstone Group has agreed to sell a portfolio of 26 Northern California office buildings for $3.5 billion to West L.A. real estate investment trust Hudson Pacific Properties Inc. in its largest office sale in seven years. Hudson paid $1.75 billion in cash and the rest in stock, making Blackstone a 48 percent stakeholder in the company. Considering that the properties are located in the magnetic Silicon Valley area, they include a surprising amount of vacant offices. The portfolio has an aggregate 19 percent vacancy rate. The deal will allow Hudson Pacific to expand beyond its mainstays: West Los Angeles, downtown San Francisco and Seattle.
ARSON?: More than 20 members of a federal response team that handles arson investigations are trying to get to the bottom of a fire that consumed the Da Vinci residential complex that was being built in downtown Los Angeles. Roughly two dozen agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, working alongside investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department, will try to determine whether the blaze was intentionally set. Arson is a possibility because of where the fire started and how quickly it spread at the seven-story, 526-unit building, officials said. Altogether, about 50 federal agents are working on the case; the investigation could take weeks or months.
OOPS: Thousands of emails by Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairwoman, were leaked as part of a massive hack attack, revealing dramatic and angry exchanges between her and other big Hollywood players. One was producer Scott Rudin, who was working with Pascal on an Aaron Sorkin-penned film about Steve Jobs until the studio pulled out last month. Gawker Media Group’s Defamer blog sifted through and published several exchanges, which reveal how desperately Sony tried to make the film, while Angelina Jolie tried to pull director David Fincher away to direct her in “Cleopatra.” “I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat,” Rudin said of Jolie in one of the email exchanges. Among the trove of insensitive comments was a conversation between Pascal and Rudin about what Pascal should discuss with President Barack Obama at a “stupid” fundraising breakfast hosted by DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, which led the two to speculate what movies the president likes. Pascal suggested “Django Unchained,” while Rudin offered “12 Years a Slave.” Rudin and Pascal have since apologized for the remarks, which some have deemed racist.
TAX DEALS: Walt Disney Co., Koch Industries Inc. and other companies channeled hundreds of millions in profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg in secret deals designed to avoid paying U.S. taxes, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Disney established an intercompany bank in Luxembourg that then extended high-interest loans to operating affiliates in France and other countries, effectively reducing taxable income, the journalists’ group said. Other companies whose tax deals appear in the group’s latest leaks include Skype, which is a unit of Microsoft Corp.
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