New ban on texting?: A divided state Senate approved a bill that would outlaw text messaging while driving (this closes a loophole from the calling-while-driving legislation). Republicans see it as interfering in personal behavior, but the bill is backed by the wireless companies and Gov. Schwarzenegger sounds like he's on board. By the way, has anyone else noticed more motorists using hand-held phones while driving? (LAT)
End of "cheap" gas: The average price of regular in the L.A. area is $3.976 a gallon, down about a dime from last week, according to the Auto Club's latest survey. But with oil prices bouncing all over the place, it's unlikely that that the big downward pattern will continue much longer. Crude jumped more than $5 yesterday, but it's back under $120 - still eight or nine bucks higher than the most recent low.
Airline wipe out: Some carriers are charging as much as $300 to check in a surfboard, and it's creating an uproar among the surfing set. The fees are especially high because boards require special handling. Of course, the airlines are tagging fees on most everything that moves. (LAT)
Port deal on trucking firms: Two big freight hauling companies have agreed to participate in the Port of L.A.'s clean-truck replacement program. That's despite opposition by the American Trucking Association, which has filed suit to block the program. Some California-based ATA members are not happy. From the LAT:
The Port of Los Angeles plan would require the formation of concessions, companies that would employ some of the thousands of drivers who now operate as independent owner-operators. That is part of what prompted the ATA lawsuit, which seeks an injunction against the concession requirement. But the potential participation of the two Phoenix-based companies -- Swift Transportation Co., with 37 major terminals in 26 states and Mexico, and the publicly traded Knight Transportation Inc., with nearly half of its fleet consisting of 2008 model trucks -- was seen as a significant development. Both are members of the ATA.Sheraton Gateway sold: The LAX-area hotel is being bought for $97 million by a Chicago investment firm. Kor Hotel Group picked up the property in 2002 for a mere $44.5 million. Since then, the place was renovated. (LAT)
Secret to newsstand success: All you need are exclusive photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins. Women's Wear Daily reports that 2.6 million newsstand copies were sold, which would be the biggest seller in seven years and the fourth-highest ever. People and Hello supposedly paid $14 million for the photos.
The issue’s 2.6 million newsstand sale is way above People’s average weekly newsstand sale of 1.5 million copies, but the issue has been on newsstands longer than a typical one. People released the issue on Aug. 4, two days before its regular newsstand drop date, and the issue will stay on stands for three weeks through Aug. 25. But People also raised its cover price for the special issue, to $4.49, or 50 cents more than its regular price.
SAG rejects offer: The union's national board told its negotiating committee to keep bargaining, though Variety reports that board representatives from NY and some of the regional branches abstained. The group representing the studios and networks says it made its final offer on June 30, and that it's done negotiating. The guild insists that it's still holding informal negotiations. Meanwhile, Hollywood is largely getting back to business.
Forget artsy-fartsy: The new Warner Bros. strategy is to release fewer films overall, but more comic book blockbusters of "The Dark Knight" variety. "The long-term goal of the studio is to take advantage of what has become a very global market by focusing on bigger films that require a bigger commitment," Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov told the WSJ. Here's a telling stat: Warner Bros. films released last year grossed $2 billion internationally, about 42 percent more than the domestic take.