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Monday, Aug 15, 2022

News of the Week

SKYLINE: Calling all architects. Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced an end to the city mandate that L.A. skyscrapers less than 1,000 feet tall to be topped with helipads. Los Angeles was the only big American city to have such a rule, and the new policy means architects of future skyscrapers will have the freedom to design spires such as the one crowning the Chrysler Building in New York. The old rule had been in place to aid firefighters who might one day be called on to rescue people from tall buildings, but skyscrapers can now be designed with special staircases or elevators to be used during emergencies.

CHANGING STATIONS: The never-ending quest for better ratings has led CBS Radio to force a program director and several on-air personalities to sign off from KNX-AM (1070) and KRTH-FM (101.1). KNX Program Director Andy Ludlum and on-air voice Bob McCormick were asked to leave KNX, which recently shifted from news talk to an all-sports format. Producer Austin Cross also lost his KNX job. KNX was the 15th-ranked station in the L.A. radio market in August. Music station KRTH cut four weekend personalities – Sylvia Aimerito, Dave Randall, Christian Wheel and Bruce Chandler – from the station. KRTH ranked third in the August book.

MARVELOUS: Listen up, true believers. Marvel Entertainment and the family of late comic-book artist Jack Kirby have settled a legal fight over who owns some of the characters that have made comic-book movies one of the biggest entertainment trends of the decade. Kirby’s family sued in 2009 after Burbank’s Walt Disney Co. acquired Marvel for $4 billion. The lawsuit sought to prevent Marvel from using characters, including X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The agreement came after Kirby’s family lost an appellate ruling and had been pursuing a run all the way to the Supreme Court.

DISMISSED: A judge has thrown out a case alleging a unit of video-game company Activision Blizzard Inc. infringed upon two patents for technology that synchronizes the lip movements of animated characters. Santa Monica visual effects firm McRO Inc., which does business as Active Blue, filed more than 20 lawsuits against Activision and other video-game companies in January. U.S. District Judge George H. Wu, however, dismissed the cases and determined the patents in question covered abstract concepts that should not have been patented in the first place.

SOLD: Trade show organizer Advanstar Communications Inc. of Santa Monica will be sold to a British company for $972 million in cash. UBM, a publicly traded communications and events firm, is set to merge Avanstar’s more than 150 events with its own international portfolio. The deal will result in UBM becoming the United States’ biggest events company by 2013 revenue, according to the company. UBM is purchasing Advanstar from New York hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group and private equity firms Veronis Suhler Stevenson of New York and Ares Management of Century City. The deal is expected to be final by year’s end. Advanstar Chief Executive Joe Loggia is expected to remain at the company during the transition.

CHARGED: The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged two men, Filip Szymik and Jordan Peixoto, of illegally taking advantage of hedge fund manager William Ackman’s bet against Herbalife. Peixoto traded on information that Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management would short Herbalife before the news was made public and made $47,100 on his trade. Ackman has accused the downtown L.A. nutritional supplements company of being a pyramid scheme.

OVERTIME: Anschutz Entertainment Group wants more time to build its proposal for a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. AEG has announced plans to name the stadium Farmers Field, but has yet to actually sign up a National Football League team willing to leave another city for Los Angeles. AEG said it needs six more months to make things work, and agreements previously made with City Hall in October 2012 for a downtown stadium are set to run out later this month. AEG is also asking for the time in order to put together an alternative plan that would involve upgrades to Los Angeles Convention Center and another hotel for the L.A. Live entertainment complex.

FUNDING: NantHealth, affiliated with billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks Culver City holding company, has raised $250 million in new money from the Kuwait Investment Authority. The sovereign investment fund previously provided NantWorks with $100 million in April. NantHealth is working on a cloud-based system intended to give patients, health care providers and researchers access to medical information. NantHealth’s platform has been established at some 260 hospitals and is linked to more than 16,000 devices. NantHealth also announced new leaders. The firm’s new chief operating officer is Steve Curd. Laura Beggrow will serve as executive vice president of commercialization and Scott Holbrook will be a new member of the company’s board.

METRO: The beginning of construction of the Metro Regional Connector project doesn’t mean all the legal challenges to the $1.4 billion rail project have been resolved. Although Mayor Eric Garcetti and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx have already overseen a groundbreaking for the project, major downtown landlords are opposed to construction plans. Citing traffic concerns, Thomas Properties Group Inc. and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel want construction planners to alter plans. Current plans will require workers to dig trenches downtown, but landlords want a switch to a plan involving tunnel-boring machines, which would likely be more expensive. Cases are pending in state and federal court. A joint venture of Skanska USA and Traylor Bros. has the construction contract.


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