Morning headlines

Big defense news: Both Northrop Grumman Corp.'s navigation-systems division in Woodland Hills and Wyle Laboratories Inc., a test-and-research company in El Segundo, are up for sale, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is reporting this morning. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said that the Northrop unit could fetch between $800 million and $1 billion, while Wyle might go for under $400 million. Northrop has been gradually selling off some of its smaller units.

Gibson backlash?: That's what the Times is speculating, though no one in Hollywood was willing to go on the record over the weekend (figures). The story notes that even before Friday's DUI arrest, Gibson was facing a marketing challenge with his latest epic, "Apolcalypto," scheduled for release on Dec. 8. The story also notes that his proposed ABC miniseries on the Holocaust doesn't even have a script at this point, with a network spokesman sounding pretty non-commital about whether it will ever happen. Expect lots of me-too stories in the next couple of days, many centered on whether Mel can afford to thumb his nose at Hollywood.

Cruise deflated: His sweet deal with Paramount Pictures, which gives him and his partner Paula Wagner $10 million a year to develop ideas and stuff, comes due today and Claudia Eller in the Times reports that the studio won't renew for anywhere near that amount. On the table is an offer of just $2 million a year, plus a $500,000 discretionary fund. Poor guy.

Nissan leaves: Both the Times and Breeze cover the shutting of Nissan's operations in Gardena. In a sobering reminder of the area's challenge in keeping middle income workers, more than 40 percent of Nissan's workforce agreed to move to Tennessee with their jobs. The South Bay is no stranger to job losses, what with the big aerospace cuts in the early 1990s.

ICM cuts agents: At least nine were let go, most from the television department. The cuts, which come right after word of ICM's purchase of boutique shop Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency, were making the rounds late last week.

Time Warner's advantage: Its pending takeover of Adelphia's operations in Southern California could jack up programming costs for the channels that want to be seen in L.A. With the pending sale, Adelphia's programming contracts will lapse, putting Time Warner at a distinct advantage. "If you're a programmer, you have to be there," said one analyst.

Remember Cnooc?: That's the Chinese-owned oil company that tried to purchase Unocal Corp - until its plans got upended in Congress. Today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) interviews the company's chairman, Fu Chengyu. Here's what he says about the failed acquisition try:

I thought it would be good for the U.S. There would be no laying off of employees, no reduction of oil supply to the market. And on the other hand, we were looking to hire more local employees and secure more jobs and spend more money in the local market for the exploration and production and try to invest more to increase the supply to the market. All that could have helped to lower the pump price. But this was not very well communicated. I think if in the future there's another opportunity, I may not pursue it until I'm confident that the American people and American politicians are happy about this. If they are not happy, I will not do anything there. This is very important, like it or not, but you have to make them feel confident.

More mall space: The new wing of Del Amo Fashion Center is set to open in September. The "lifestyle wing" (mall-speak for stuff like restaurants and multiplexes) will be an open-air promenade.

Tribune react?: Might be a good day to pay attention to Tribune Co. stock in light of Saturday's Los Angeles Times story about the continued interest in buying the newspaper. Tribune turned down billionaires Burkle, Broad and Geffen, but not as definitively as in the past. It's very early, but an up day might suggest that traders are expecting an eventual sale. Below is my take on the chances of a sale.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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