I-5 reopens after all: Talk about a story that's been tough to figure out. The main traffic lanes on both sides of the freeway in the Newhall Pass were open as of 3 a.m. - earlier than expected. The southbound truck lanes, which include the tunnel where Friday's deadly crash occurred, remain closed - and it could be a while before the tunnel reopens. Three people were killed and 10 injured, none critically, in the chain-reaction crash. (LAT)
Mattel earnings dip: So much for last week's projections of higher third-quarter numbers. The El Segundo toy maker reported earnings per share of 61 cents, down a penny from the year earlier and nine cents below what analysts had been estimating. The results included about $40 million in charges tied to the company's product recalls. Third-quarter gross sales fell 2 percent in the U.S. and increased 10 percent in international markets. (TheStreet.com)
Leno's second thoughts: The LAT gets around to confirming what had been bubbling for many months: Jay Leno doesn't want to relinquish "The Tonight Show" chair in 2009, as he is committed to do. You might recall that NBC had promised the slot to Conan O'Brien, who offers a younger audience in his 12:30 position. NBC Entertainment co-chair Marc Graboff told the Times that "we are working with Jay to convince him that there is life beyond late night."
Leno went along with NBC's succession plan to ensure a smooth transition, according to several people who were involved in the negotiations. That was a courtesy Leno didn't enjoy in 1992, when he followed in the footsteps of the legendary Johnny Carson. Back then, NBC's management was fiercely divided over who should get the coveted 11:35 p.m. gig. Would it be Leno, the frequent fill-in host for Carson, or Carson's protege, Letterman, the puckish star of NBC's 12:30 a.m. broadcast, the slot that now belongs to O'Brien? The debate sparked months of bitter infighting at NBC's highest levels. Letterman defected to CBS. Leno took the job knowing that key NBC executives lacked confidence in him. NBC Universal didn't want another gut-wrenching situation and figured that by 2009, with Leno at 59, it would be time to shuffle the deck.
Fox Business premieres: And already there's a bit of a ruckus. The new channel's chief competitor, CNBC, had signed a contract with Dow Jones to buy advertising that was to run today on two Dow Jones Web sites, MarketWatch and WSJ.com. Well, as we all know Dow Jones will soon be owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Last week, CNBC’s ad buyers received a call from a Dow Jones representative saying that the ads couldn't run today, the first day of the Fox channel. A DJ spokesman told the NYT that "as is standard practice, we retain the right to adjust the precise placement and timing of online advertisements, including to accommodate links from other Web sites."
For CNBC, the conflict with Dow Jones has an additional angle. CNBC has five years remaining on a contract with The Wall Street Journal to use Journal reporters for business news exclusively on the channel. There has been some question about whether the News Corporation would try to undo that deal to get access to the Journal reporters for Fox Business Network. If executives at NBC Universal and CNBC (both of which are owned by General Electric) had not understood the nature of the game they were getting into with Fox and the News Corporation before (and mostly they did), they said that the advertising switch made it entirely clear.
Weiss posts bond: The co-founder of Milberg Weiss is scheduled to be arraigned in L.A. today on two counts of conspiracy and one count each of obstruction of justice and making false statements about documents that were the subject of a grand jury subpoena. It's all part of the class-action kickback case that has resulted in guilty pleas by several former partners and lawyers at the firm. Melvyn Weiss made his first court appearance after being indicted last month. The NYT described him at the bond hearing as appearing tanned and relaxed.
California's toxin ban: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation making California the first state to outlaw the use of a toxic chemical in baby bottles, soft baby books, teething rings, plastic bath ducks and other toys. Beginning in 2009, any product made for young children that contains more than one tenth of one percent of phthalates cannot be made, sold or distributed in California. Oregon, Maryland and New York are also considering bills that would ban phthalates in certain products. Phthalates have been banned by the European Union and at least 14 other countries after studies found that the chemical might lead to health problems. (AP)
Hotel workers authorize strike: They're from the Wilshire Plaza, Sportsmen Lodge, Holiday Inn (downtown Los Angeles), Fairmont and Manhattan Beach Marriott. Thousands of workers at more than a dozen other Los Angeles area hotels have ratified new union contracts within the past year. The vote gives officials of Unite Here Local 11 the authority to call a strike at any time. (Daily Breeze wires)
Port plan deadline: The $1.8 billion plan to reduce diesel emissions at the ports will be voted on by the two harbor commissions by Dec. 14. Maybe. L.A. Harbor Commission President S. David Freeman urged his fellow commissioners and his counterparts in Long Beach to at least begin rolling out the plan through 2008. "The idea of putting this thing off indefinitely to study it some more and pontificate some more is just not acceptable," he said. From the Daily Breeze:
Port officials announced the Clean Truck Program last year, hoping for a Jan. 1, 2008, start date. After a series of public meetings earlier this year, the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissions twice delayed a final decision. The stall in part stems from a study released last month by economist John Husing, who found that high costs associated with the plan could force a majority of the 1,300 port trucking companies out of business, resulting in a loss of drivers and a temporary slowdown of cargo deliveries.
The trucking industry Friday continued to rally against the provision that would require all drivers to go from working as independent contractors to becoming employees of trucking companies, which would lead to higher salaries for drivers, along with increased costs for health benefits and truck maintenance. "The provisions regarding employment requirements are not negotiable for us and would seriously impact goods, besides the very real impact on the national and international supply chain that runs through the ports," said Julie Sauls, vice president of external affairs for the California Trucking Association.