Stocks are mixed: When a behemoth like JP Morgan reports a 54 percent drop in net income and Wall Street's response is positive, you know that expectations are not what they used to be. Same with the parent of American Airlines announcing a $1.45 billion loss (the WSJ reports that higher fares and additional fees are starting to show results). Anyhoo, the Dow was up about 70 points in early trading, but it has since fallen back. Oil fell about 25 cents and is now back up by more than a buck.
Hollywood keeps humming: With little prospect of an actors strike - at least anytime soon - TV production is running at a faster-than-usual pace. Variety reports that the networks have urgent scheduling demands for the fall season and they're banking as many episodes as possible. Film production has slowed considerably, but it doesn't appear to be creating any big problems.
Most of the majors are in relatively good shape for the 2009 release sked thanks to the ramp-up of production undertaken earlier this year in anticipation of the June 30 expiration of SAG's contract. Each of the majors put as many as 11 pictures into production early this year, running through their annual production allotments and filling pipelines for 2009 and part of 2010. They don't need any more films, and several are looking to shrink the number they make each year. Studios are also reluctant to sked more pic starts any time soon because of the risk and insurance costs they'd face in the event of a strike -- even though SAG still hasn't called for a strike authorization, which would require a 75% approval and take three weeks.Writers finding reality: A new campaign is being launched to organize the writers who work on "American Idol" (and yes, much of that stuff is written). It's part of the ongoing efforts by the Writers Guild to move into the reality genre. Starting today in Daly City, TV writers and supporters will stage a series of protests in cities where "American Idol" holds auditions. From the LAT:
Guild leaders contend that writers are pivotal to such shows and deserve the same protections as their peers. Producers argue that writers act more as editors and producers and have denied creating sweatshop conditions. The union has backed high-profile lawsuits against reality show producers, which are pending; led an unsuccessful strike against the producers of "America's Next Top Model"; and later helped workers file complaints with the state alleging various wage and hour violations, many of which have been settled.
More drilling support: A new Field Poll shows that 43 percent of Californians favor the idea of offshore drilling, which is up a few percentage points from when the topic was last raised in 2005. The majority of Californians have opposed the drilling in the Field Poll since 1984. From the WSJ:
Memories of a 1969 oil spill off the Santa Barbara, Calif., coast appear to be fading as gas prices rise. "That memory was embedded in the minds of local officials, state legislators and members of Congress," said Richard Charter, consultant to the Defenders of Wildlife, which is lobbying against lifting Congress's moratorium. Other businesses and politicians worry about the potential impact that drilling would have on coastal tourism and ocean-dependent businesses. Of California's 27 offshore platforms, 20 are in the Santa Barbara channel and environs.
Delgadillo sues Blue Shield: L.A.ís City Attorney is accusing the health insurer of illegally cancelling the coverage of more than 850 policyholders since 2002. The suit alleges that complex and confusing applications were used to trick individuals into making mistakes. The suit seeks fines and penalties of more than $1 billion. A Blue Shield spokesman says the suit is without merit. (LAT)
Sportsmen's Lodge update: It turns out that the Valley landmark will remain open after all. The operator of the banquet hall, restaurant and bar appears to have told the Daily News that the place would close for good on Dec. 31 because of a lease dispute. Thing is, the owner of the property, Richard Weintraub, says he isn't closing anything. "I am dismayed at the misleading and inaccurate representations on the part of my tenant," Weintraub said. The tenant, Patrick Holleran, claims ownership of the Sportsmen's Lodge trade name, so we probably haven't heard the last of this one.
Cabbies get break: The L.A. City Council has approved a pilot program that will allow taxi drivers to stop, load and unload passengers in red no-stopping zones - but only
between in downtown and Hollywood (seems like an odd limitation). Up to now it's been a violation to stop in a red zone, which is one reason why drivers are reluctant to pick up customers on the street. (Daily News)
WSJ facelifts: CJR's Ryan Chittum noticed that the Journal has been redrawing the headshots of biz executives (Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit is smiling in one pose and subdued in the updated version). Perhaps a reflection of the changing times?