Monday morning headlines

Wall Street slips: Dow is down 110 points in early trading, to under 8000.

SAG close to a deal?: Maybe this time it'll really happen. A Screen Actors Guild group meets tomorrow for an update on the informal back-channel talks with Hollywood executives. Apparently lots of progress has been made. (Variety)

Peter Bart steps down: Variety's longtime editor-in-chief moves upstairs to a new role as vice president and editorial director. A Variety story says that he will assist Tad Smith, CEO of Reed Business, "in furthering Variety's editorial mission in print and online and expanding the brand's position in new revenue streams." Variety Editor Tim Gray now assumes the responsibilities for the news operation.

ESPN opens in L.A.: The sports cable network will broadcast its first 10 p.m. "SportsCenter" from the new L.A. Live studio tonight. There will be about 80 employees at the opening. (LAT)

"Fast & Furious": The tale of illegal drag racers - fourth such feature in the franchise - generated $72.5 million at the box office, which is the biggest opening weekend so far this year. From Bloomberg:

To date in 2009, domestic ticket revenue has climbed almost 15 percent from a year earlier to $2.57 billion, while attendance has risen 12.8 percent. The industry may reach a record this year, said Media By Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian. "We've had the first billion-dollar January, the biggest February ever and now a record-breaking opening for the beginning of April," Dergarabedian said. "Summer is just around the corner and maybe the first $10 billion year could be reached if we continue at this pace."

Ruth Madoff seen shopping: She apparently was in Palm Beach with several girlfriends a couple of weeks before her husband was jailed. Lucinda Franks has some details at the Daily Beast:

"We thought it was odd," the shopkeeper said. "Where did she get these girlfriends? We had never seen her before without Bernie." She reportedly stayed at the famous Breakers Hotel--where Bernie has in the past rented a cabana--perhaps because she had word that authorities would seize her multimillion dollar waterfront home and did not want to be in it when it happened. The wood shuttered balconied mansion, plus two boats and the yacht, were actually seized several days ago, the locks changed, and Ruth Madoff banned forever.

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
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