Recovery mode: After yesterday's drubbing, stocks are up a bit in early trading. There's a lot of economic and earnings news, mostly mixed.
Spielberg gets financing: Finally, DreamWorks completes its funding deal that will allow the production company to make 18 to 20 films over the next three years. The financing involves India's Reliance Big Entertainment, Disney, and a bunch of banks. From the LAT:
DreamWorks plans to produce as many as six movies a year, which will be released under Disney's Touchstone Pictures label. Disney, suffering an uneven run at the box office, hopes to benefit from movies supplied by the famous filmmaker. Nonetheless, the major beneficiary at the moment is Spielberg and his business partner, Stacey Snider, who haven't been able to bankroll a new movie since their company's contentious split from Paramount last fall.
Are Zell's days numbered?: NY Post reports that the Tribune CEO is on the verge of giving up his claims to buy a 40 percent stake in the company - another indication that he's ready to call it quits.
Profit at Union-Tribune: The new owners of the San Diego paper say they expect to make $5 million in 2009, a striking turnaround from what had been expected to be a losing year. A bunch of initiatives, including advertising partnerships, hyper-local content and shorter stories, are cited for the improving results. (VoiceofSanDiego)
Big bucks at LACMA: The museum's director is pulling in $1 million a year, which is proving a bit embarrassing at a time exhibits have been cancelled and the film program has been eliminated. From the LAT:
Govan said his pay was commensurate with the demands of his job, which requires him to be out "five or six nights a week" raising money -- a task at which he has excelled. "Do you have any idea how much that costs in baby- sitting?" the 46-year-old director, who lives with his wife and their young daughter, said jokingly. If the museum decided to cut salaries, "I'd be first in line," he said, adding that he decided to forgo a bonus and raise this year.
Backdaters never caught: Researchers sifted through public companies to see the ones most likely to have improperly backdated stock options, and found that many of them were never publicly linked to the practice. From the WSJ:
Backdating companies reached back in time by weeks or months to select a date when their shares were trading at low points, then represented that options had been awarded to executives at that time. The practice gave executives a head start on rich options profits, generally contravening accounting and disclosure rules. Employee options allow the recipient to buy a particular stock at a preset price for a period of time, usually a decade.
New fees at LAX: The airport commission has hired a lobbying firm to push lawmakers for changes in a federal law that would hike an airport passenger fee. Currently, airports are allowed to collect up to $4.50 per traveler. Hiking the fee would generate an additional $60 million annually for LAX. (Daily Breeze)
Gas edges lower: Don't spend it all in one place - an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area fell less than a penny, to $3.043, according to the government's weekly survey.
MySpace nearing deal: The social networking site is close to acquiring the social music service iLike. Price is around $20 million, TechCrunch reports.
iLike, which launched in late 2006, is a social music recommendation service that now has more than 50 million registered users. It tracks what you listen to and like and gives you recommendations on new music based on that data as well as what your friends are listening to. It is the top music application on Facebook, Bebo, Hi5 and just about every other social network other than MySpace, which has MySpace Music.
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at sluggish traffic at the ports and why local hotels are cutting their room rates. Also on kpcc.org and on podcast.