COLD SHOULDER: Toymaker Hasbro Inc. has announced a partnership with Burbank’s Walt Disney Co. to make Disney princess and “Frozen” dolls starting in 2016, leaving El Segundo toy giant Mattel Inc. out in the cold. Mattel currently holds the rights to develop dolls based on characters from the blockbuster animated film and Disney princess stories, but that will end when they are transferred to Hasbro. It’s a blow to Mattel, which has seen strong sales of “Frozen” dolls offset the weak performance of Barbie dolls in recent quarters. Mattel will stop manufacturing the dolls next year.
HOTEL HIKE: Large nonunion hotels in Los Angeles will soon be required to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers – one of the highest minimum-wage requirements in the country. Despite objections from business groups, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-3 to raise the wage from the current $9 an hour. Mayor Eric Garcetti has already said he will sign the measure. The increase begins in July for hotels with more than 300 rooms and extends a year later to hotels with more than 150 rooms. The California Hotel & Lodging Association estimates that 41 hotels in the city will be affected. Before the votes were cast, local business and hotel industry groups had warned that they would likely file suit to overturn the ordinance if passed.
SIDEWAYS: The 438-unit, 1,500-foot-long One Santa Fe apartment and retail development in downtown L.A.’s Arts District has begun welcoming its first residents. The two-building project, designed by Michael Maltzan, earned the nickname “Empire State Building on its side” because, if stacked vertically, it would rise higher than the New York landmark. The project was financed by Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds of Century City and Goldman Sachs, which donated 5,000 square feet of retail space for use by five local arts non-profits, including One Santa Fe’s neighbor, Southern California Institute of Architecture. The first 124 apartments are open, with the rest scheduled to be ready before year’s end.
BROTHERS: UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest health insurance company, is suing Michael and Julian Omidi, the brothers who ran the L.A. weight-loss surgery centers behind the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign. UnitedHealth alleges the Omidis defrauded the insurer of more than $40 million by billing for surgeries that never happened or weren’t necessary. The companies advertised for years on Southern California freeway billboards, radio and television with the slogan, “Let your new life begin, call 1-800-GET-THIN.”
SISTERS: Two models have sued Venice startup Snapchat, accusing the company of misusing their likenesses to promote its app. In their suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Turner claim that Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel asked to take photos of them for “a class project” while he was developing Snapchat’s precursor, Picaboo, at Stanford University. The sisters claim the photos were edited to look as if they were posing nude at Santa Monica State Beach, and that they appear in Google search results for the term “Snapchat sluts.” No stranger to legal battles, Snapchat paid an undisclosed amount to settle an ownership dispute earlier this month with a former classmate of co-founders Spiegel and Robert Murphy.
CHINA: Fosun Group, one of China’s largest conglomerates, is investing about $200 million in Studio 8, a startup run by former Warner Bros. Pictures Group chief Jeff Robinov, people with knowledge of the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The deal marks the biggest investment to date by a Chinese company in U.S. film production. Studio 8 has a five-year agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment to distribute 24 movies, the first of which is likely to hit cinemas by 2016.
KOREA: Koreatown’s BBCN Bancorp Inc. announced Monday that it would expand its business into South Korea. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Seoul, affirming its plans to expand operations there and work to promote the city’s Yeouido International Financial District as an Asian financial hub. BBCN, which does business as BBCN Bank, is the largest Korean-American bank in the United States, with $6.9 billion in assets as of June 30. The bank operates 49 branches in California, New York state, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington and Virginia.
GRAND: British hospitality company InterContinental Hotels Group has announced that it will operate the hotel atop the $1.1 billion Wilshire Grand project in downtown Los Angeles. The publicly traded company, which has more than 4,700 hotels worldwide under brands such as InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, signed a multidecade contract to operate the 900-room hotel as an InterContinental. It will be the luxury brand’s largest hotel by room count in the Americas. The 73-story tower, owned by Korean Air and Hanjin Group, will be the tallest building in the Western United States when it opens in 2017. The hotel will occupy the uppermost levels of the building, with a “sky lobby” on the 70th floor.
ABSURD: Santa Monica videogame publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. has hired former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to fight a lawsuit brought by imprisoned Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who is suing the company over his inclusion in the hit game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Giuliani said he does not want to see the imprisoned Noriega profit from his crimes, which include convictions for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering. Giuliani and his firm will ask an L.A. judge to dismiss Noriega’s lawsuit, which claims his likeness was used without permission in the 2012 game, depicting him as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” Giuliani called the lawsuit absurd.
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