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Friday, Sep 29, 2023


A Titanic Delay

Originally scheduled for a July 2 release, James Cameron’s $200 million epic movie “Titanic” has been pushed back until Dec. 19, studios announced last week.

Cameron attributed the delay to what he called “a crisis with visual effects” in March, which slowed production because he had to call in help from several outside effects firms.

Production costs are shared by Paramount Pictures, which contributed $60 million and has domestic distribution rights, and 20th Century Fox, which is paying the rest and holds foreign rights. Sources estimate that by the time the December release date rolls around, the three-hour film will have cost around $285 million including costs for marketing and prints.

Cameron said he could have delivered a finished print for an August premiere. However, he and the studios decided that, since the film would miss the most choice summer release date (for the Fourth of July holiday), it would be wise to wait for the lucrative Christmas season.

Davis Eyes Desert Inn

Los Angeles investor Marvin Davis, who has professed an interest in adding gambling ventures to his portfolio, was reported to be seeking to buy the Desert Inn casino/hotel in Las Vegas.

Earlier this year, Davis stated his intention to build a gambling complex on the Las Vegas Strip from scratch through his Davis Cos. But at that time, Davis was apparently unaware that ITT Corp. would place its Desert Inn on the market.

ITT Corp., which bought the resort for $160 million four years ago and spent $170 million upgrading it, is believed to be seeking more than $300 million for the complex. While the 744-room Desert Inn, the only strip hotel with a golf course, is seen as a prime property, ITT reported first quarter losses of $22 million from the venture.

Davis, an oil and real estate magnate and L.A.’s second-richest resident with a net worth of $2.9 billion is believed to be one among a handful of bidders including Kirk Kerkorian, whose Tracinda Corp. sold the Desert Inn to ITT four years ago.

Port Appeals Judge’s Ruling

The Long Beach Board of Commissioners, which would like to convert the former Long Beach Naval Station into a cargo terminal, appealed a Superior Court judge’s decision forbidding the plan.

Judge Robert O’Brien ruled that the panel was “precommitted” to the project, which would demolish the Navy base, even before it fully assessed the impacts on the environment. The Audobon Society has opposed the Commission’s plans, saying it requires too much tree cutting and poses a danger for certain bird species. Historical groups also oppose the razing of what they consider historically important buildings on the site.

“The Board believes that it has fully complied with all environmental laws,” board president George Murchison said in a statement. “Its position is amply supported by decisions of other California courts, and … the least disruptive means to put the project back on track is to” appeal the decision.

Riordan Keeps Mum

At a meeting with homeowner groups, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan sidestepped taking a specific position on Universal Studios’ proposed $2 billion, 25-year expansion plan, which the groups oppose.

Universal wants to add 5.9 million square feet of theme park attractions, hotels and studio and office space, plus 6.3 million square feet of parking, on its 415 acres, which would nearly double its existing facilities.

“Whether it’s DreamWorks or Universal expansion, (the goal is) to try to come up with a reasonable balance,” Riordan said after the May 27 closed-door meeting in Toluca Lake.

Seventy percent of Universal acreage is on unincorporated county land while the rest lies within the City, so both have jurisdiction over the company’s proposed expansion.

Area residents believe the company’s proposal is too vague. Some fear it could allow the building of a complex that would attract excessively large numbers of visitors and unduly boost crime, noise and traffic levels.

Thieves Market Closing

The 65-year-old Thieves Market Inc. cowboy boot specialty chain announced it is closing its doors.

The original store in Long Beach was purchased in 1975 by the Downes family, which built it into a chain encompassing 19 locations throughout Southern California. In its heyday in the early 1980s when cowboy fashion was in vogue (spurred by the film “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta), the company reported $25 million in annual sales.

The Los Alamitos-headquartered company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last December.

“Markets change,” read a statement from company President Richard Downes. “Thieves Market couldn’t adapt their stock or merchandising to accommodate the Western boot customer.”

The six remaining locations were to have a “going out of business” sale starting May 31, but a final closing had not been announced.

USC Janitors OK Union

In a victory for L.A.’s labor unions, 211 janitors at the University of Southern California have voted in favor of union representation.

By a vote of 123-88, the janitors, who clean USC’s main campus and the USC/Norris health campus, voted to be represented by Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union the statewide local that spearheaded the controversial “Justice for Janitors” campaign. The election was monitored by the National Labor Relations Board.

The janitors began their campaign in March 1996, when USC sub-contracted their jobs to the Chicago-based contractor ServiceMaster. They are now calling upon the company to respect the election results and begin negotiations immediately.

The janitors, who currently earn about $7 an hour with benefits, will ask for guaranteed yearly wage increases and expanded health benefits, said Local 1877 spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos.

By Wade Daniels and Larry Kanter

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