VIDIOTS SAVED: Many were heartbroken when Santa Monica video rental store Vidiots, home to many out-of-print and obscure films, announced it was closing. Among the brokenhearted was Academy Award-nominated producer Megan Ellison, daughter of billionaire Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, who donated enough money to keep the movie rental store’s lights on. The size of Ellison’s donation was not disclosed, but the store revealed last month that it needed $150,000 annually, and co-owner Cathy Tauber said that Ellison’s donation should keep the shop open “for many years.” In response to the gift, the store created a new shelf, “Megan’s Pix,” for the films Ellison has produced, which include Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” Leonard Lipman, a physician and longtime Vidiots customer, also donated an undisclosed sum.
STRIKE NINE: Gasoline traders reacted quickly to labor stoppages at nine oil refineries, including one in Carson, raising wholesale prices to their highest level in more than a month. Roughly 3,800 workers went on strike at nine plants in California, Texas, Kentucky and Washington state, representing 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity. The strike was called by the United Steelworkers after the union said oil giant Shell Oil Co. did not meet its demands regarding safety and health insurance issues.
DECEPTIVE ADS: A federal appeals court has upheld the Federal Trade Commission’s ban on deceptive advertising by pomegranate juice division POM Wonderful, a unit of West L.A. agriculture giant Roll Global. Roll and POM, owned by local billionaires Stewart Resnick and Lynda Resnick, have been fighting with the FTC for years over claims about the health benefits of pomegranate juice. The couple funded studies at multiple universities, including UCLA, that resulted in findings praising the pomegranate’s high concentration of antioxidants. The Resnicks then launched an ad campaign purporting that their juice can help fight heart disease and erectile dysfunction, among other ailments. The FTC was skeptical, and in January 2013 upheld the findings of an administrative law judge that POM’s advertising was deceptive and ordered the company to stop claiming that its products are effective in treating, curing or preventing any disease “unless the claim is supported by two randomized, well-controlled, human clinical trials.” The appeals court ruling reduced the FTC’s study requirement for POM to one clinical trial.
RETIRING: Gina Marie Lindsey, who has led Los Angeles World Airports for nearly eight years as executive director, said she will retire this spring “to move on to other adventures.” During her tenure, Lindsey oversaw an expansive and ongoing multibillion-dollar renovation program championed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The project has brought improvements and a new international terminal to LAWA’s marquee property, Los Angeles International Airport. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Board of Airport Commissioners will use executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find Lindsey’s replacement.
‘G’ THANG: For years, Gucci has been accusing Guess Inc. of trademark violations, claiming that the downtown L.A. retailer and fashion brand sold products, including wallets and shoes, that imitated Gucci designs. In the latest chapter of the international battle between the Italian luxury retailer, which is owned by French luxury goods group Kering SA, and the California brand, the Court of Paris ruled in Guess’ favor, finding no trademark infringement or unfair competition. The court rejected Gucci’s request for $62 million in damages and instead ordered it to pay Guess $34,000. The court also invalidated Gucci’s trademark for three of its “G” logos. Gucci said in a statement that the company strongly disagrees with the decision, and will “certainly and immediately bring an appeal against the decision.”
MERGED: Century City hotel management firm Warnick + Co. has merged with competitor Capital Hotel Management of Beverly, Mass., to form CHMWarnick. The combined company has a client portfolio of 54 properties with 23,000 rooms, representing roughly $8 billion in hotel assets. It has no dedicated headquarters at this time, but will have offices in Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York and Phoenix. A statement from CHMWarnick said the merged company will be the world’s largest hotel asset management company. The combined firm’s portfolio includes several local hotels, including the Marriott Los Angeles Airport and the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
PASCAL OUT: Amy Pascal is stepping down as the co-chair of Sony Corp.’s Culver City studio Sony Pictures Entertainment, three months after the studio faced a cyberattack that included a leak of Pascal’s email exchanges, some of which were seen by some critics as insulting and racist. She will start her own production company, moving into that venture in May. Pascal will not be leaving Sony, however. A new four-year agreement stipulates that Sony Pictures will finance Pascal’s company, which will be located and the studio’s Culver City lot, and will retain all distribution rights worldwide to its films.
HAPPY MICKEY: Shares of Walt Disney Co. reached an all-time high the day after the world’s largest entertainment company reported earnings that blew past analysts’ expectations. Shares soared after Disney announced net income of $2.2 billion ($1.27 a share) for the quarter ended Dec. 27, compared with $1.8 billion ($1.03) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue increased 9 percent to $13.4 billion, flying high on the success of “Frozen” and its popular merchandise. Analysts on average expected net income of $1.07 a share on revenue of $12.9 billion. Later in the same week, Disney named Thomas O. Staggs as its chief operating officer, making the parks chief the No. 2 executive at the company and the top internal candidate to potentially succeed Chief Executive Bob Iger, who recently extended his contract and is expected to stay in the top job through June 2018.
PROFITABLE: After years of running at a deficit, the Los Angeles Convention Center reported profits of $3.3 million for last year, the first year the facility was turned over to a private operator, a division of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the adjacent Staples Center and L.A. Live. AEG said it transformed the center into a moneymaker by running it more efficiently. Brad Gessner, senior vice president and general manager at the Convention Center, told the Los Angeles Times that AEG cut staffing from about 200 workers to 91 and hired a contractor to manage the 5,400 parking spaces at the center.
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