GAMBLE: Former casino executive and media novice Richard Mirman has been named interim publisher and chief executive of the Orange County Register, taking over for Aaron Kushner, who will remain principal owner and chief executive of the paper’s parent company, Freedom Communications Inc. Mirman held several executive marketing roles at Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas. The shift comes as Freedom has fumbled in its attempts to spread its reach, killing the short-lived Los Angeles Register last month and stopping daily publication of the Long Beach Register in June. Both changes resulted in layoffs.
UP IN VAPE: The Santa Monica City Council has voted unanimously to ban the use of e-cigarettes in most public places, effectively subjecting them to the same restrictions as regular cigarettes. The decision came after months of discussion about the safety of the devices. Proponents of “vaping” say they help people quit smoking and are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. Critics say sellers target young people in marketing a habit that could be a gateway to smoking. The new ordinance will take effect Nov. 14, and also requires vapor retailers to obtain a tobacco license. The cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Beverly Hills passed similar measures earlier this year.
SMART: Legendary Entertainment has purchased Austin, Texas, site Smart Girls at the Party, founded by comedian Amy Poehler. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Launched in 2008, the site featured video interviews with adolescent girls and young teens with the stated aim to “celebrate individuals who are changing the world by being themselves.” It has grown to have more than 5 million views on its YouTube channel. Smart Girls will join Legendary’s digital division, which includes the culture site Nerdist and the recently acquired Geek & Sundry.
ASSIST: The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday gave Anschutz Entertainment Group six more months to find a National Football League team for its proposed downtown L.A. stadium. It also agreed to make the developer a participant in what city officials have been calling Plan B: the effort to figure out how to upgrade the Los Angeles Convention Center if no stadium is built. As part of the agreement, AEG will provide $750,000 for design work on a Convention Center modernization that would not include a stadium. If AEG manages to lock down a team by mid-April, it would then receive another six months to finalize all the agreements with the league and the city.
DODGERS: The Los Angeles Dodgers named Andrew Friedman, the former Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, as the team’s president of baseball operations. Friedman assumes the role held by Ned Colletti, who has been with the Dodgers nine seasons. Colletti will remain with the team in a new role as senior adviser to Stan Kasten, the team’s chief executive. A handful of other teams tried unsuccessfully to poach 37-year-old Friedman, who has a Wall Street background and saw the Rays through six consecutive winning seasons and four playoff appearances after taking over in 2008.
SOLD: Despite union opposition, the Daughters of Charity Health System’s board of directors has approved the sale of its six California hospitals – including St. Vincent Medical Center near downtown Los Angeles – to Prime Healthcare Services of Ontario. The Service Employees International Union immediately said it would fight the proposed sale, claiming it is not in the public interest. The union and other opponents said Prime Healthcare, a for-profit company that operates 29 hospitals in California and other states, has a record of buying up distressed facilities and then cutting patient services, hiking prices and laying off workers.
CHINA CALLING: Warner Bros. Entertainment has announced that it will create a partnership to make investments in Chinese film and TV content. The Burbank studio will work with Chinese firms Shanghai Media Group and CMC Capital Partners; London advertising firm WPP; and director Brett Ratner’s Universal City production house, RatPac Entertainment. The partnership, called the CMC Creative Fund, will focus on television, film and live-event content. Warner Bros. Entertainment Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara called China a market with incredible potential and a wealth of talent.
DEASY GOING: After much controversy, John Deasy resigned as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and was replaced by Ramon Cortines on an interim basis. The school board voted 6-to-1 to ratify Deasy’s separation agreement, which allows him to remain on paid “special assignment” with the district through the end of the year. With Deasy at the helm, the district saw graduation rates and achievement scores rise despite budget cuts. But he struggled during his 3.5-year tenure with teacher relationships and technology fiascos tied to LAUSD’s $1 billion program to get an iPad in the hands of every student.
SMOOTH CRIMINAL: As part of a settlement with the Department of Justice, the second vice president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, agreed to forfeit his Malibu mansion, a Ferrari and various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia, among other assets, purchased with corruption proceeds. The settlement forces him to relinquish assets worth an estimated $30 million and prevents him from hiding other stolen money in the United States. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said Obiang “looted” his government and “shook down businesses” in his home country, raking in bribes and kickbacks to support a lavish lifestyle complete with a “corruption-fueled spending spree” in the United States.
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