Northrop hangover: The LAT reports that Northrop Grumman executives "were stunned" when NASA's multi-billion contract for the Orion manned space capsule went to Lockheed Martin - a deal that could be worth more than $8 billion. No one is talking on the record, but there's buzz that Lockheed may have gained an upper hand because it was willing to allocate the work in states like Florida, which put together a package of tax breaks and other incentives. Northrop was prepared to do much of the work in California.
Filler 'up: More individual stations in the Los Angeles-Orange County area are listing prices below $3 a gallon, according to the Auto Club's weekly report. The average price of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.118, six cents lower than last week and more than 13 cents lower than last month - though still 29 cents higher than a year ago.
Movie metrics: Despite all the "woe is us" talk you hear around Hollywood, this turned out to be a pretty decent summer at the box office. With just the Labor Day weekend numbers to go - and Labor Day tends to be slower than the other big summer holidays - movie revenues were running 6.3 percent above last year. Of course, last year was a disaster of "Poseidon"-like dimensions.
Allies needed: The greenhouse gas bill is about to be signed into law, but in order for the emission-reducing plan to really work, other states and nations must jump on the bandwagon. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) notes that California accounts for only 2 percent of the world's annual global-warming emissions, so without more support the big polluters might just take their business elsewhere. Meanwhile, there's already chatter about how the new law will result in price increases for gas and electricity.
What about diesel?: Ultra-low sulfur diesel, much cleaner than the old stuff, will be introduced in California today, reports the LAT - ahead of the federal mandate that takes effect next month. The new fuel will be easier on the environment, but could also eat into trucking company profits. In general, diesel prices have remained high - often higher than gasoline.
Slowdown evidence?: Cal State Fullerton's economic index fell in the second quarter, the second time in three quarters there has been a drop. Still too soon to know how much slower the economy has gotten, however. This week's generally positive news - lower unemployment, better than expected growth in the second quarter, and a pretty good back-to-school season - makes the picture pretty murky, per usual.
L.A. venture bucks?: A big study on venture capital investment doesn't even list Los Angeles among 12 U.S. tech regions. In 2005 investments, Silicon Valley ranks first, at almost $8 billion, followed by Boston at $2.1 billion and Portland at $1.9 billion. San Diego is at $409 million. The study was prepared by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Not to sound like a booster, but be careful with those numbers. They tend to be wobbly because not all VCs open up their books.
Vulgar and obscene: That's how the Parents Television Council described comments by actresses Helen Mirren and Calista Flockhart during this week's Emmys. Something about falling on one's ass. The organization says that NBC should be fined.
Food 911: With the casual dining business in a slump, presumably due to high gas prices, several chains are cutting prices, adding menu items or offering coupons. Applebee's, which reported a 2.7 percent drop in same-store sales, will try to lure customers with new dishes from Food Network star Tyler Florence. I'm sure that will do the trick.
Musical houses: Who said the real estate market has taken a tumble? Gwen Stefani has just bought a four-bedroom, 10,000 square-foot house in the gated Summit development off Mulholland Drive for close to the $15.5 million asking price. The seller is film producer and man-about-town Sam Nazarian, who bought the property from Jennifer Lopez in 2004 for a reported $12.5 million. Nazarian is building a home in the Hollywood Hills - right next to Leonardo DiCaprio.