Broad on Zell's turf *

I'm hearing that at last night's L. A. Times farewell soiree, the elephant in the room, so to speak, was Eli Broad. The billionaire art patron was a very active participant in last year's bidding for the Tribune after being turned down in his gambit to acquire the Times. Jim Newton, the editor whose resignation prompted last night's party, acknowledged Broad from the microphone, saying something like 'uh, can we get you a drink or anything?" I'm told everyone laughed. Just about everyone who chatted with Broad asked if he would please buy the paper (yes, there was a lot of anti-Sam Zell sentiment being spoken.) Broad reportedly quipped to most that "it has to be for sale first," but at least once he mentioned that if the Times were put on the market, he might try to get together a group of buyers. Though, at least one friend says that Broad is relieved that he didn't get Tribune, which has tanked in value under Zell (though not just because of the Zellots.)

Another report: At least one attendee heard Broad quote earnings figures that suggest the Times still makes a healthy profit and would not be a financial burden should civic-minded investors buy it. The same source hears that David Geffen recently rebuffed a Zell overture, saying the paper is no longer worth the $1.7 billion Zell was asking. Says the source, a staffer with connections: "A close friend of Geffen today said that at this point, 'he's so over it.'"

Last night: Mayors turn out for Times wake

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