Thursday morning headlines

KB tumbles: The L.A.-based homebuilder this morning reported an 84 percent slide in first-quarter earnings, reflecting the industry's slowdown, and new CEO Jeffrey Mezger expects things to remain gloomy for at least the rest of the year. There are just too many homes on the market - both new and existing. Plus, with all the subprime problems - and the likelihood of more foreclosures down the road - expect even more homes to be available. In the latest quarter, KB's average home price fell to $261,400 from $276,200. New orders fell 12 percent. Bloomberg

Networks vs. YouTube: After months of talking, NBC Universal and News Corp. this morning announced plans for their own video-sharing service, crammed with TV shows and movies. The service could get launched this summer, according to the LAT. The News Corp.-NBC Universal partnership has deals with Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., and News Corp.'s MySpace. Earlier, there had been talk about CBS and ABC joining the collective, but those networks opted out.

Emmy flap: It's between the L.A.-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences NY-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and it's about which one recognizes the stuff that appears on YouTube, cellphones and the like. Turn out that the more prestigious ATAS wants to prevent the NATAS from giving out Emmys for new media programming. From the WSJ:

The fight began to brew last year, when the West coast ATAS began handing out "broadband Emmys." The Los Angeles group objected that one nominee was a version of the prime-time show "24" made for cellphones -- called a "mobisode." That's a prime-time show, ATAS argued. East coast NATAS retorted: on the Internet, what's prime time? At first, the two groups agreed to work things out, and a joint committee was formed. Last month, the committee recommended that the two groups collaborate on developing a new broadband award ceremony. The two sides were scheduled to present the proposals to their respective boards in the coming weeks. But last week, ATAS in Los Angeles appeared to have an abrupt change of heart, prompted in part by the January announcement that the social-networking Web site MySpace.com had agreed to sponsor NATAS's 2007 broadband awards.

The Tribune watch: While the kids in L.A. bicker over who actually concocted the dumb idea to have Brian Grazer edit the Sunday opinion section, the grown-ups in Chicago are still trying to figure out what to do with the whole bloody company. The latest is that the Tribune board met last night and apparently has taken a new liking to the revised offer by real estate guy Sam Zell. Sounds like Zell is throwing more equity into the mix, which means less debt and that's a good thing. As the company's cash flow starts to slow because of slow ad sales, taking on too much debt is turning out to be a big deal. It sounds like these folks really don't know what to do; there's even some talk about doing nothing, though that would be disastrous. Chicago Tribune

Enough studies already!: The United Way of Greater Los Angeles found that L.A.'s quality of life ain't so great, which isn't exactly a big revelation to anyone who got stuck in traffic this morning. With a score of 10 signifying a good quality of life, Los Angeles County got a rating of just 7.32. California scored 8.08. The findings were laid out during a bizfolk gathering at the Bonaventure, where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa talked about why he should be running the school system and the bizfolks nodded that, ahem, something needs to be done, all right. Then they got into their fancy cars and back onto the absurdly packed freeways. Daily News

Puck drops foie gras: From now on, the fatty liver produced by overfeeding ducks and geese that the foodies not only love but are willing to pay big bucks for will no longer be available at Spago or any of Puck's 14 other high-end restaurants. He's also planning to use veal from roaming, not shackled, calves, and eggs from hens that have lived cage-free. An animal-rights group has been after Puck for some time, though he denies that influenced his decision. SF Chronicle

Disney's expansion plans: The Mouse House apparently wants to expand big-time in Anaheim, with plans for time-share units, boutique hotels and maybe even a third theme park. If it sounds a little like Disney's presence in Orlando, well, that seems to be the idea. All of which might explain why the company is making such a fuss over a proposed residential project that includes affordable housing. This week, it joined business leaders in seeking a ballot initiative that would tie the city's hands in the kinds of zoning changes required for the residential project. From the LAT:

In Anaheim, there's no shortage of demand. Disney's three hotels the original Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier and the Grand Californian are operating at an extraordinary 93% occupancy. Citywide occupancy rates hover around 72%. The company has slowly but steadily amassed 460 acres in Anaheim, including a prime chunk of strawberry fields down Harbor Boulevard from Disneyland that is the designated site of a third park.

All Mustangs, all the time: Galpin Ford is devoting an entire showroom to the car, which saw a 19 percent sales drop in the first two months of the year. Huh? "You have to look beyond Mustang sales," Kevin Tynan of Argus Research Corp. told the Daily News. "If you open a Mustang showroom, you become a beacon for Mustang enthusiasts." An hour before opening day, dozens of Mustang fans had filled up the parking lot with models dating back to 1970 (they came to get the signature of race car driver Steve Saleen).



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?
Recent stories:
Siri versus Hawaiian pidgin (video)
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar

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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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