Twist in writers talks: Never try to figure out labor negotiations when you're sitting on the sidelines. You'll usually be proven wrong. Out of the blue (well, at least to those on the sidelines), the studios and networks scraped their proposal to revamp residuals for writers. Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, said withdrawal of the idea was an effort to jumpstart negotiations with the Writers Guild. Of course, if Counter takes something off the, er, table, his bosses will expect the guild to take off something in return. No talks scheduled for today.
WGA negotiators have insisted that the AMPTP's proposal was out of the question and had used it as one of the centerpieces of their campaign to seek strike authorization from members. Guild leaders have contended that companies' accounting on net profit deals has been unreliable; the WGA has singled out what it sees as fuzzy math used by the companies to keep hits such as TV's "The Simpsons" and feature films such as "Chicago" in the red.
Disney's new adventure: The Mouse House plans a $1.1 billion overhaul of California Adventure (Disney spent $1 billion to build it in the first place). Since opening in 2001, the complex has always taken on the poor cousin role next to Disneyland itself (six million visitors vs. 15 million). The new park will bulk up on attractions, with an emphasis on animated movies created by Pixar, including "Cars" and "Toy Story." Also, lots of references to Uncle Walt; a new entrance will trace the footsteps of Walt Disney from when he arrived in L.A. The LAT has a p1 piece, though the WSJ has a more complete story. From the Journal:
California Adventure was the result of a years-long attempt to build on Disneyland's success. In 1991, Disney originally announced it was working on a plan to build Westcot, a West Coast version of Disney's Florida park, Epcot, which had opened nearly a decade earlier. According to people involved, Disney's then-chief executive, Michael Eisner, was eager to replicate the successful model of Walt Disney World in Florida, which had grown to include several theme parks, a fleet of hotels and a thriving retail and entertainment district. The expansions created a destination that families sometimes visit for a week. But Westcot came with a price tag of as much as $3 billion and, according to these people, Mr. Eisner got cold feet after the new Disney park outside Paris became a financial and public-relations nightmare. In 1995, Disney ditched Westcot. In the summer of that year, Mr. Eisner held a three-day retreat in Aspen, Colo., where about 30 executives came up with an idea for a California-themed park, say people at the meeting.
Sumner rules: As long as our man Redstone keeps running things at Viacom and CBS, senior executives are stuck with his “suggestions." Take CBS CEO Les Moonves, who has signed a new employment deal that bases his compensation heavily on the performance of company stock. His base salary drops to a miserly $3.5 million from $5.9 million, but he also receives a large one-time stock option grant to purchase five million shares, plus other stuff. It's not clear how much of a direct hand Redstone had in this, but equity compensation is definitely preferred over there. (NYT)
At the other end...: Ever wonder how folks earning the minimum wage can make ends meet? Well, they can't. L.A. County families must earn two to four times the minimum wage just to survive, according to a report by the California Budget Project. The study concludes that the federal poverty line of $20,650 for a family of four is inadequate when applied to California's high cost of living. Housing and health care are the two biggest expenses. (Daily Breeze)
Skechers cuts deal: It's not often that industrial real estate makes news (stop yawning!) - and yet, it's worth noting that the Manhattan Beach shoe company has leased a 1.8-million-square-foot building as its distribution center. That's believed to be the largest
industrial lease by a single tenant under one roof ever in the United States (OK, so it's a slow news day). No announcement on price but it's valued at about $100 million, according to the LAT. The building, which has yet to be built, is in the Moreno Valley, near the 60 and 215 freeways.
Doctors deal: Actually, it's called Doctors Co., a physician-owned medical malpractice carrier, and it's buying L.A.-based competitor SCPIE Holdings Inc. for $268.8 million. After the deal is completed, privately-held Doctors will expand its market in California to 19,000 physicians and become the nation’s largest insurer of physician and surgeon professional liability insurance. (Business Journal)