Morning Buzz

Thursday Buzz, 7.20.06

* Investigating why LAX shut down
* Incredible shrinking movie business
* Analyzing Broad's break with Villaraigosa
There's a whole bunch of news and observations today. Click the Buzz for details.

Top News
The FAA's mess in Palmdale
When the power failed at the air traffic control center, then the fail-safe backups failed, "the anxiety level definitely shot through the roof." LAT
Movie business is shrinking
Hollywood is now officially scared, says the Times.
Disney is not the only media conglomerate over the last year to cut, and cut deeply. Financial pressures recently forced the owners of two major movie studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and DreamWorks SKG, to sell once-vital operations to deeper-pocketed players. Those moves resulted in about 1,350 lost jobs.

Another formerly robust supplier, Revolution Studios — an independently financed production company that counted Sony Pictures among its investors — has significantly downsized its ranks and ambitions after too many box-office misses.

Disney dramatically scaled back its Miramax Film specialty unit from the mini-studio that it had been under its founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein. And Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. cut about 400 jobs.

As DVD sales level off and soaring talent, production and marketing costs slice into profits, most studios have opted to hedge their bets by taking outside financiers as partners on many of the movies they make.

Another sign of belt-tightening: Sony is in the throes of severing a number of producer deals at its Culver City lot.

One fewer Hollywood companies
The feds say that Limelight Films was a front for drug smuggling and an international money-laundering operation.
USC professor convicted
William French Anderson, a scientist called "the father of gene therapy," was convicted of four counts of continuous sex abuse and lewd acts toward a child under 14. He directs USC's Gene Therapy Laboratories, which does stem cell research aimed at fixing defective genes in fetuses.
Library Tower can ban photos
Patt Morrison learns that the Bunker Hills steps are private property, but says in her Times op-ed column that it's time the tower's security guards learn to distinguish between tourists, students and potential threats.
Blogging the news
KNX's Michael Linder rides along as the LAPD busts a ring of sex shops posing as aromatherapy parlors in the Valley.
Mayor's break with Broad
Estrangement from the city's richest school reformer hurts Mayor Villaraigosa's strategy to raise money in the private sector for his LAUSD compromise. Now, writes David Zahniser in the LA Weekly, "the mayor’s most powerful business ally may turn out to be Tim Leiweke, president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group — a company that received nearly $270 million in city financial assistance for the construction of L.A. Live, a complex of hotels and entertainment venues being constructed next to Staples Center. Leiweke...has shown a willingness to generate six-figure checks on behalf of city ballot measures when the need arises. He is already devoting significant financial resources to another City Hall policy initiative — the City Council’s effort to roll back municipal term limits." Leiweke co-hosted a private appearance by Villaraigosa at CAA to pitch for money.
Daily News wants Villaraigosa to take on council
An editorial rails that "what is clear is that the mayor - the man who was elected precisely because he seemed to have the brass to stand up to City Hall shenanigans - hasn't stood up for anything."
Ludlow fundraiser attracts political names
Rep. Diane Watson, Assembly members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Karen Bass, councilman Herb Wesson and police commission president John Mack are among the co-hosts of Friday's reception in Holmby Hills to raise money for the convicted ex-councilman's legal expenses. David Zahniser wonders in the LA Weekly if they are condoning wrongdoing. The prosecutor in one of Ludlow's cases says of the crimes:
"It was very calculated behavior involving a whole bunch of people. It was done intentionally. It went on over a period of time, and there was a cover-up. It was very, very dishonest, and very, very inappropriate."
Playa Vista suit
Activists asked a judge to hold city officials in contempt of court for violating a previous order to ensure the safety of methane-mitigation measures at the huge development. The city and Playa Vista denied the allegation; no ruling expected before late August.
Hancock Park in a tizzy over -isms
CityBeat says the uproar over a proposed historical preservation overlay zone "has Hancock Park residents so divided they can’t even agree on how divided they are...And as anger has risen, there have been hurled accusations of racism, bullying – even communism."
Bratton and Zine hug for cameras
No feud, says the councilman. Interesting week, says the chief, who also says he wants another five-year term. LAT, DN
Secretary fined
The assistant to attorney Pierce O'Donnell was hit with a $41,000 tab by the city Ethics Commission for "aiding and abetting" the laundering of contributions to Jim Hahn's 2001 campaign for mayor.
Conflicts abound
As an ethics commissioner, Gil Garcetti was banned from contributing to his son's reelection campaign. So the city's Board of Referred Powers was supposed to look into it — but Eric Garcetti appoints some of its members. LAT
McCaw threatens to sue
She sends cease-and-desist letters to two former editors and ex-columnist Barney Brantingham, telling them to stop criticizing the Santa Barbara News-Press. The Santa Barbara Independent says it got a letter and, on advice of its lawyer, complied with demands regarding the resignation letter from reporter Scott Hadly. Washington Post
Chicago Tribune close to putting ads on section fronts
But not on the front page of the paper.
Talker of the day
Boy in the South L.A. chimney
Intricate forensic work and DNA testing gave police a name to go with the remains found wedged into a chimney last year. That was just the beginning. Story by Hector Becerra in the L.A. Times.
Los Angeles nightlife royalty declares its favorite club operators, if you want to know who's who.
No more Pond in Anaheim
The Orange County arena will now be called Honda Center. Yuck.
Front page linksLA Observed archive

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Morning Buzz stories on LA Observed:
Thursday news and notes
A little bit of mid-week reading
A few links from a few different places
Let's talk about anything but the weather
A few links from here and there
A couple of links from a couple of places
A bit of news from a few places
Morning Buzz: Wednesday 4.16.14


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