Disney earnings: Good-looking results reported this morning for the third quarter were helped by growth at the theme parks and strong DVD sales of "Chronicles of Narnia." Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. also reported gains at its film studio, which laid off 650 people last month as part of a major restructuring. Earnings beat analysts estimates by nine cents a share, which is a lot.
DWP patrols: We've managed to escape from last month's outrageous heat, but it's only August and the Department of Water and Power still has an aging system of transformers that must hold things together for another couple of months. So DWP crews are going block by block to see what needs to be upgraded.
Enough condo conversions: Councilmen Alex Padilla and Bill Rosendahl have asked for moratoriums on converting apartment buildings into high-priced condominiums. "Why should [living near] the ocean be just for the rich? It should be for everybody," Rosendahl said. They might not need moratoriums at this point - the soft housing market doesn't make more condo conversions a very wise bet. Of course, it doesn't address the core problem: a lack of affordable housing.
"WTC" opens: From what I've gleaned this morning, Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" is drawing mixed reviews. The New York Times' A.O. Scott says that Stone "has taken a public tragedy and turned it into something at once genuinely stirring and terribly sad." Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) says "what was meant to be inspirational is conventional at best." Audience screenings had been pretty good. Hollywood is paying close attention to the box office because it will signal whether there's much appetite for 9/11-themed features.
Anschutz watch: The Denver-based billionaire's film company, Walden Media, will be teaming up with Fox Filmed Entertainment in producing family fare and presumably taking aim at Disney's prime business. Walden Media was behind "The Chronicles of Narnia."
San Diego mess: Lots of coverage this morning on result of the investigation into San Diego's pension crisis. They're recommending that the city be placed under the supervision of an independent monitor who would report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. But overall, there weren't many simple answers offered. As former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt put it: “San Diego officials fell prey to the same type of corruption of financial management and reporting that afflicted municipalities such as Orange County, and such private sector companies as Enron, HealthSouth and any number of public corporations.”
Speaking of Orange County: The county owes its pension and retiree medical funds about $3.7 billion, an amount that dwarfs the $1.7 billion in debts it cited in the 1994 bankruptcy filing. The added burden is the result of soaring medical costs combined with a large population of retired workers who are expected to live longer.
Sony success: "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby" will help provide Sony Pictures Entertainment its fifth straight year of $1 billion or more in domestic grosses. Warner Bros. is the only other studio to have accomplished the $1 billion milestone in five consecutive years.
Lax at LAX: The computer snafu that slowed air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport the other day could have been fixed in a few minutes. Trouble was that the only technician on duty had left the airport. Why is this not comforting?