Stagflation in the air?: Wholesale inflation is up and consumer confidence is way down, which doesn't bode well for the economy. Also, the number of homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January compared to a year ago. And for all that, the Dow is up about 90 points at last check. (AP)
Little change in home prices: Different survey, similar results for L.A. The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed a 3.1 percent drop in December from the previous month and a 13.7 percent drop from December, 2006. Miami had the biggest fall, at 17.5 percent. Most all cities in the index had declines, with the exception of Seattle, Portland and Charlotte. (PR Newswire)
Big jump in gas: The government's new survey has the average price in L.A. of self-serve regular at $3.274, up from $3.161 last week.
Dutton's fallout: There were all the predictable regrets about its closing, though the circumstances still seem murky. Plans to redevelop the Brentwood property would have included a smaller, 5,000-square-foot Dutton's, but owner Doug Dutton told the LAT that his decision to close mostly had to do with the heavy debt from an ill-fated decision to open a store in Bev Hills. By far the silliest comment came from Jennifer Watling, who said the closure "solidifies my moving back East." Dutton said the decision was "devastating after 23 years of goodwill and generally fond memories."
WGA, SAG seek revenue boost: The two Hollywood guilds, along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, are sponsoring legislation that would require that studios sell their affiliates the rights to films and TV series at the "fair market value." The studios oppose the measure, SB1765, calling it an attempt to make an end run around recently concluded labor negotiations with the writers. From the LAT:
At issue is the contention that Hollywood's six major studios charge their co-owned affiliates, including cable networks, artificially low prices to rerun popular shows. Such discounting means that writers, actors, directors and other creative workers get less money in the form of residual payments that are calculated as a percentage of the license price, the Writers Guild contends. Tension between screenwriters and production companies and movie studios over alleged below-market licensing agreements has been building for years. Studios have been hit with lawsuits involving the sale of reruns for a number of popular television shows, including "Home Improvement," "NYPD Blue," "The X-Files" and "Will and Grace."
Deal news: John Malone’s Liberty Media won FCC approval for its purchase of a controlling stake in DirecTV, the nation’s biggest satellite operator. In late 2006, Liberty agreed to buy the News Corp.'s 38.5 percent stake in DirecTV in a deal that included cash and asset swaps. (DealBook)
Even Oscar ads were weak: Lots of them had already been showed, perhaps the result of uncertainty about the writers strike. The takeaway among some advertisers is that the Academy Awards isn't such a big deal after all. The NYT's Stuart Elliott some hits and misses:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS The model Heidi Klum is no movie star, but she was mentioned often enough during the broadcast to warrant an honor. Why? Several commercials for Diet Coke promoted a sweepstakes that will give away a red designer dress that she “wore on the red carpet” before the show. The commercials, created by Wieden & Kennedy, were part of an initiative by Diet Coke, a Coca-Cola brand, to promote healthy hearts among women. Yes, you can join the company in contributing to heart health even if drinking carbonated beverages may not contribute to heart health.
BEST VANISHING ACT The ceremony took place at the Kodak Theater, as was noted as the broadcast began. And the Eastman Kodak Company also won an Oscar during the presentation of the scientific and technical awards. But there were no commercials for Kodak, a longtime sponsor. The company’s extensive — and costly — digital makeover may have taken precedence over buying spots in an expensive TV show (an estimated average of $1.8 million for each 30-second spot).
WORST VANISHING ACT Nate Berkus, the decorator and designer, is the host of “Oprah’s Big Give,” a new series that ABC promoted frequently during the show. But you would never know it because the spots were focused on the host, Oprah Winfrey. Agency: created internally at ABC, part of the Walt Disney Company.
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covered the internal bickering at SAG, Dubai's investment in Grand Avenue, and a study on office cleanliness.