Hollywood deal: The dilapidated Seven Seas building across the street from Grauman's Chinese has been bought by CIM Group, which plans to restore the property to its original 1920s style. In the midst of all the improvements on Hollywood Boulevard, the building has stuck out like a sore thumb. Building owner Eddie Nash said he finally agreed to sell after a CIM executive "wore me out." The Seven Seas was once home to an island-themed nightclub. LAT
New SEC inquiry: This time, the agency is looking into whether employees from Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Deutsche Bank leaked information about big trades to favored clients. Tracking down clients and how they trade would be a lot tougher than focusing on the banks themselves. From the NYT:
The commission, according to one Wall Street employee, is requesting a wide swath of information: all stock and option trading data, for themselves and their customers, for the last two weeks of September. Those weeks are the close of the third quarter and investigators may be looking to see any pickup in trading activity as money mangers sought to dress up their returns. With data on millions of trades from most major Wall Street banks, the S.E.C. will try to examine whether outside traders like hedge funds or internal traders like those inside the firm who are trading with the bank’s money may be getting tips from the bank handling the mutual fund’s trade and using the information to place a trade elsewhere.
Where's Disney.com?: The Mouse House's overhauled Web site was to be rolled out by late January, so what's the deal? Disney won't comment and for now the site has yet to be updated. One possible explanation is that the Disney board was shown the new site last week and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, one of the Disney directors, is notorious for turning down new designs and products the first time around. LAT
Gas goes up: L.A. saw pump prices jump 6.1 cents a gallon in the government's weekly survey. The average price is now $2.49 and don't be surprised if the numbers keep rising. Higher oil prices and the switchover to summer gasoline blends at California refineries are said to be behind the increases. LAT
Zucker day: Today he's formally annointed the new CEO of NBC Universal and will take over on April 1. Kind of interesting nugget from Katie Couric, who used to work with Zucker at the "Today" show (where he really got his start). "He has always had a bit of an attitude," said Couric. "Anyone in the [top] job has to guard against hubris—and Jeff isn't alone in that." BW
Downloading at Wal-Mart: It will be the first mass merchandise retailer to sell movies and television shows over the Internet. The company will announce today the formation of a partnership with all of the six major Hollywood studios. Download prices will be $12.88 to $19.88 on the day of the DVD release; older movies will start at $7.50 and TV shows at $1.96 an episode. But downloading has become a competitive business. Amazon.com, CinemaNow and iTunes all do pretty much the same thing. NYT
Super Bowl loser: It's not just the Bears - Mars has decided to withdraw the crazy spot that has two guys kissing inadvertently and then pulling out their chest hairs in order to affirm their manliness (it was actually funnier than it sounds). Mars parent company Masterfoods received complaints from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign that the commercial was homophobic. A special Web site - afterthekiss.com - was also taken down. Bet they're happy they spent $2.6 million (or thereabouts) for all this great publicity. NYT
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with Steve Julian on KPCC covers the new airline service out of Ontario and Palmdale, Jeff Zucker's promotion at NBC Universal and the latest news from Barbie. Available on KPCC Web site later today.