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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023


Bubble Factory Burst

That’s gratitude for you. Universal Studios Inc., which under former President Sid Sheinberg distributed such mega-hits as “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List,” ended its production deal with Sheinberg last week.

Sheinberg, who departed the studio formerly known as MCA Inc. in 1995 after it was purchased by Seagram Co. Ltd., signed a deal for his new production company Bubble Factory calling for Universal to finance production of three to four films annually for five years.

In the first two years of its existence, though, Bubble Factory has had a dismal record at the box office.

Universal officials said the deal was ended through mutual agreement. In a prepared statement, Sheinberg said, “During the past year it has become increasingly apparent that our original agreement committing us exclusively to Universal (with minor exceptions) was functionally too restricting.”

Daily Variety, though, reported that when Seagram negotiated its contract with the Bubble Factory, it included a provision allowing the studio to back out if certain financial goals weren’t met.

Apparently, they weren’t.

Airport Accord?

After nearly a year of backbiting and lawsuits, the Burbank City Council and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority finally agreed last week to resume negotiations over the controversial expansion of the airport.

The return to the bargaining table was attributed to three things: The election of Bob Kramer as mayor of Burbank, a recent endorsement of the airport expansion plan by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, and the removal of Glendale City Councilman Robert Garcin from the Airport Commission.

Garcin, one of Glendale’s three appointees to the board that runs the Airport Authority, is one of the most strident supporters of airport expansion and has been outspoken in his criticism of Burbank’s tactics.

Burbank has spent more than $3.5 million in legal fees fighting airport expansion so far. City officials fear that the proposal, which would add a 19-gate terminal to the facility that could eventually be expanded to as many as 27 gates, would lead to increased traffic and noise.

Kramer, who was chosen as mayor last month, has been an outspoken opponent of the airport expansion in the past but is concerned with the high legal costs of fighting it.

Money Manager Bought

Pasadena Capital Corp., the holding company for Pasadena-based money management firm Roger Engemann & Associates, agreed last week to be acquired by Phoenix Duff & Phelps.

The $180 million cash purchase, which involves an additional $50 million payment if Engemann meets certain financial goals within the next five years, will add Engemann’s $5.5 billion in assets under management to Phoenix Duff & Phelps’ $33 billion.

Engemann primarily handles individual investment accounts and manages the Pasadena Group of Mutual Funds. Roger Engemann, who owns 83 percent of the company (the rest is owned by its employees), decided last year to put the firm up for sale. He and his senior management team have signed long-term employment contracts with the new owners.

There are no plans to move Engemann’s headquarters from Pasadena or change its name, although the name of the Pasadena Funds will likely change to the Phoenix-Engemann Funds.

Xylan Troubles

The value of Xylan Corp. stock tumbled by $3 a share on June 10 after the company announced that its earnings in the second quarter would be lower than they were in the first.

The Calabasas-based computer networking company earned 13 cents a share in the first quarter. Analysts had predicted earnings of 14 cents a share in the second quarter, but many had lowered their forecasts to about half that by last week.

Xylan shares have fallen almost 40 percent in value this year. Analysts say the problem stems from its biggest customer, IBM Corp., which is apparently overstocked with Xylan products and has cut back on orders.

Xylan is also experiencing difficulties with one of its chip suppliers, which has delayed production of one of the company’s new products.

Time Warner Cuts

In the latest cost-cutting move from Time Warner Inc., which is seeking to shed debt following its acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System, the Burbank-based digital effects arm of Warner Bros. will be shuttered.

About 150 people will lose their jobs following the completion of effects work on the film “Batman and Robin,” although Warner is helping them find jobs at other digital effects firms. In a statement, Warner Bros. officials said they were closing Warner Digital Studios because it is “difficult to anticipate long-term staffing, technical and equipment needs on upcoming movies while maintaining a highly competitive facility.”

Meanwhile, Time Warner-owned Castle Rock Entertainment based in Beverly Hills (formerly a Turner division) announced last week that it was laying off 60 people, nearly half its staff.

Avery Move

Pasadena-based Avery Dennison Corp. will consolidate it’s office products group in a new five-story office building in Orange County.

The Office Products Group currently has 500 employees scattered in five locations Diamond Bar, Azusa, Ontario, Fontana and Pasadena. The company’s headquarters will remain in Pasadena.

The new building which still must be constructed will be located in Brea.

“The company is not abandoning Pasadena only about 10 people will be moving from the Pasadena site to Brea,” said Rick Kaplan of Cushman Realty Corp., which represented Avery. “As for the other cases, Brea was centrally located.”

The office products division manufactures adhesive labels, including stamps for the U.S. Postal Service.

Dan Turner

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