Tribune vs. Chandler: With little action from the outside, it's looking like Tribune management and the Chandler family will make competing bids for some or all of Tribune Co. LAT is short on the details because there probably aren't many. The Chandlers, who own 20 percent of Tribune stock, have been in talks with Ron Burkle about making a joint offer (what happened to Eli Broad?), while Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons is making noises about taking the company private with the help of several private equity firms. Meanwhile, Tribune stock has slipped below $32 a share, which is a further sign that outside interest in the company is minimal. Actually, a management-led buyout is what many had been betting on from the beginning.
Regan's phone call: The fired publisher's conversation with a HarperCollins attorney Friday afternoon apparently included comments that were considered anti-Semitic. That led HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman (not a Regan friend) to call Rupert Murdoch (he's chairman of News Corp., which owns HarperCollins) to say that such behavior wouldn't be tolerated, or something to that effect. No details on what Regan said to the lawyer, according to the NYT, other than that they were "offensive and inappropriate, but not a hateful tirade." By the way, guess who Regan has hired as her attorney? None other than Bert Fields, who told the WSJ: "They've chosen war and they will get exactly that. She won't take this lying down."
Options scandal: It could be even bigger than previously thought because as many as 1,400 outside board members may have received manipulated stop option grants over the past decade. A Harvard Law School study looked at 30,000 directors at 6,500 companies who were granted stock options from 1995 to 2005. More than 120 companies are being investigated in some way over the possible backdating of options, including more than a dozen in Socal. NYT
Holiday travels: Or should we say travails? Expect 4.4 million Southern Californians to be on the road during the holidays, a 1.4 percent increase over last year, according to the Auto Club. Add to that 840,000 people getting on a plane. The numbers are a bit higher this year because both Christmas and New Years Day fall on a Monday, providing three-day weekends. The most popular driving destinations are San Diego, the Socal mountain resorts and Vegas. Travelers will be paying about 20 to 30 cents more per gallon for gas than they were this time last year.
Last minute shopping: As expected, retailers are hoping for a last-minute pickup in sales. The first couple of weeks in December are normally pretty slow, but this year they were slower than normal. That has led merchants to start marking down items, which is what shoppers had been expecting them to do all along. Except availability is likely to be limited, both at the stores and online. WSJ
No-frills Rose Bowl: An NFL renovation plan may be out of the picture, but that doesn't mean the storied stadium couldn't use an overhaul. The so-called plan B option will still run close to $350 million (an NFL redesign would have cost almost double that) and will focus on stadium seating and new club amenities. The menu of proposals will be vetted over the next few weeks, with a final package of recommendations scheduled for release in February. Pasadena Star-News
Box office recap: Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" plunged 50 percent over the weekend, finishing sixth with $7.7 million. Its top position at the box office last week was probably based on all the buzz the film had been receiving - along with a dearth of new features that week. Variety