Friday morning headlines

Gas hikes not as sharp: The average gallon of regular was only up 8.3 cents from the previous week, according to the Auto Club's latest survey. In L.A., that still totals $4.626, but at least we're not seeing weekly jumps of 20 cents a gallon. Perhaps our old friends supply and demand are finally having some effect: Since the beginning of the year U.S. demand has fallen 1 percent. Meanwhile, oil prices are zig-zagging between $130 and $140 a barrel.

Changing patterns: Well maybe. Metrolink had a record number of riders on Tuesday - a relatively modest 50,232 - and freeway traffic in May fell from 91.7 million miles to 91.4 million miles. Both the LAT and WSJ have stores suggesting that higher gas prices could make for fundamental changes in the way people get around. From the Times:

Antral Thomas, 35, started taking the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Red Line in Koreatown a few weeks ago because of rising gas prices. Although his commute from his residence to the Koreatown restaurant where he works has increased from 30 minutes by car to an hour and a half by train, the money he's saved has paid off. "I save a lot. It takes $60 to fill my car, and I use that in a week," he said. Thomas now buys a weekly Metro pass for $17. Transportation experts are quick to point out that mass-transit riders like Thomas remain part of a tiny minority who use rail instead of their own cars. And it remains an open question whether that will ever change.

From the Journal:

People have begun migrating from far-flung suburbs to urban centers where commuting distances are shorter and public transit is more easily accessed. In a poll this month of more than 900 Coldwell Banker residential-real-estate agents mainly in urban markets, more than 70% of them said their clients increasingly are interested in living in the city to shrink their gasoline bill. "The McMansion in the half-finished subdivision in a distant suburb has become the equivalent of the large SUV that people can't unload," says David Goldberg, spokesman for Smart Growth America, a group that advocates for more compact, walkable communities.

Bad news at Ford: The nation's second-biggest automaker says its 2008 numbers will be worse than last year because nobody is buying large pickups or SUVs. Demand is "at one of the lowest levels in decades," says CEO Alan Mulally. Ford receives almost a quarter of its U.S. sales from F-Series pickups. (Bloomberg)

Live Nation chairman to leave: Michael Cohl has been battling with CEO Michael Rapino over the L.A. concert company cutting huge soup-to-nuts deals with Madonna ($120 million), Jay-Z ($150 million) and other brand-name artists. Cohl wanted to step up the pace of these "360 deals" in which Live Nation handles everything from recordings to concerts to image licensing. But Rapino has tried to slow down the dealmaking (Live Nation stock has been tumbling in response to the strategy). Now, the WSJ reports that Cohl is expected to leave the company.

As founder, in 1973, of Toronto-based Concert Productions International Inc., Mr. Cohl has helped shape the financial landscape of the modern concert business, enlisting corporate sponsors to underwrite production costs and helping usher in the era of the $500 concert ticket. Mr. Cohl joined Live Nation last year, becoming its chairman and largest individual shareholder, after Live Nation bought his company for $123 million in stock and $10 million cash. When tensions with Mr. Rapino first surfaced, say people familiar with the matter, Mr. Cohl initially tried to buy his company back from Live Nation. But the parties couldn't agree on a price.

How "Dream" story was spun: DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen has been pinned sort of as the orchestrator of the WSJ's front-page "scoop" about the movie company's likely defection from Paramount, courtesy of a $500 million cash infusion from India's Reliance Big Entertainment. The's Richard Morgan quotes one of those unnamed studio insiders as saying "This is what [Geffen] does really well." That is, put the word out that a deal is almost done when in fact it isn't - and then use the publicity as a carrot for other interested parties. That's where this thing really gets incestuous. Among those parties is Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. now owns the Journal - and who might be interested in having Fox distribute DreamWorks movies.

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?
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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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