Monday morning headlines

Costliest ever: Remember all that talk out of Hollywood about cost-cutting? So how does that jive with Universal's upcoming comedy "Evan Almighty," which according to the LAT ,is shaping up to be the pricest movie comedy ever made. Costly visual effects, plus filming hundreds of live animals, seem partly to blame.

Century City teardown: Turning the St. Regis (that's the one right next to the Century Plaza) from hotel to condo is requiring total demolition, a process that won't be completed until next March. The developer of the project, Related, plans to start units at $2.5 million for space that's about the equivalent of a two-bedroom house.

Dunn's story: Don't know whether Mike Sitrick's hand was responsible for ex-H-P Chairman Patricia Dunn's appearance on "60 Minutes" (he had been pushing hard to get her on the show a couple of weeks back), but however it happened she offered up a very sympathetic case. More nuanced was this morning's WSJ's dissection of the mess, with wealthy venture capitalist Tom Perkins playing a major role. Perkins made no secret of his wanting to fire Dunn, and it's not a stretch to speculate that the pair's sparring might have had a hand in the company's outrageous spying of board members.

Tourism office: Talk about being pushed off the front page. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's opening of a tourist office in Beijing kind of pales next to what's happening in North Korea. (By the way, the market is down on the North Korea news but not by a lot.) Still, it's potentially a big deal for the Socal tourist business, considering that 100 million Chinese travelers are expected to visit the U.S. by 2020 (and a few of them will want to see what Hollywood looks like).

Economic panel formed: The Committee for Jobs and the Economy - really gets your blood racing, huh?. It's a new panel made up of 30 biz types and will be chaired by City National Bank chief executive Russell Goldsmith. "I plan to intensify my focus on economic development in L.A., and the Asia trade mission and this committee represent a launching of this sharpened focus," Villaraigosa told the Business Journal. Among others on the committee: Magic Johnson, John Cushman, the big real estate guy, Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp. and Bruce Karatz, chairman and chief executive of KB Homes.

Silent Iger: Sunday's LAT looks at how the new Disney chief is trying to keep a low-profile, quite a contrast to his predecessor. Interesting nugget well into story is that Iger spends as much as 60 percent of his time "plotting Disney's technology strategy." He's looking to streamline the company's Web offerings next year. Speaking of Disney: WSJ explores the improbable success of "Quelli dell'Intervallo" on the Disney Channel in Italy. It has several kids talking in front of the camera, much as they might do at recess. Disney is talking about an American version next year.

Testy Target: First came word of Wal-Mart being hot and bothered over the studios giving movie-downloading services a better pricing deal than what it was getting for DVDs. Now Target, another huge seller of DVDs, is expressing concern. Retailer says it doesn't mind the competition, but just wants a level playing field.

TV update: Several stories on the new season to date. The basic message is that despite all the attention paid to high-priced shows, there are no major hits and just a few modest successes. Among the new stars so far: "Ugly Betty" and "Heroes." Those not faring so well are "Six Degrees," "Sudio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "The Nine." Comedies are especially having a tough time.

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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