February 7, 2014 |
Early in the development of "The Lego Movie," Jill Wilfert, the executive who oversees Lego's licensing efforts in Southern California, had a question for her bosses at company headquarters in Denmark: Can we have a character die? "It wasn't something we ever had to really think about before," Wilfert said. "But we had to think about it now. " Their conclusion was yes, and it became one of a number of freedoms the company allowed Warner Bros., producer Dan Lin and writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller in creating the most freewheeling and reference-packed picture to come out of film's branded-movie era. PHOTOS: Actors who've been turned down for famous roles "Lego"--which as of Thursday had garnered a rare 100% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and was expected to open upward of $50 million this weekend--is a rare Big Hollywood entertainment with a playful subversiveness, the world's first postmodern toy film.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2014 |
SACRAMENTO - Are California voters ready yet to change Proposition 13 so that all corporations pay their fair share of property taxes? A new nonpartisan poll indicates they might be. But a better, more relevant question is whether any state political leader - namely a governor - is courageous enough to lead the charge. Answer: Of course not. Gov. Jerry Brown told me five years ago, before he was elected to a third term as governor, that "messing with 13 is a big fat loser. " Clearly he hasn't changed his mind.
January 18, 2014 |
The stock market shined last year with an epic rally. Now it's time for corporate America - and the economy - to catch up. Stocks ballooned 30% last year, as measured by the Standard & Poor's 500 index. But the average company in the broad index only increased annual earnings - the key driver of stock values - an estimated 5.2% as the economy grew sluggishly. For stocks to maintain their gains, market observers say, American companies will need to eke out solid, if not better, earnings growth this year.
January 10, 2014 |
With Batman, Gandalf and Luke Skywalker all making appearances - and, of course, with constant references to the titular toy - "The Lego Movie" may be one of the biggest brand barrages Hollywood has unleashed on the American filmgoing public in recent memory. With an undercurrent of anti-totalitarianism, a suggestion that big corporations keep us numb with empty entertainment and even self-mocking references to dud Lego products, the film also may be one of the more meta and subversive movies Hollywood has unleashed on the American filmgoing public in recent memory.
January 5, 2014 |
Here's a business practice likely to keep booming in 2014: corporate extortion. We don't mean extortion of corporations, as is practiced by Somali pirates or entrepreneurial Russians. We mean extortion by corporations. In this field the victims are taxpayers, and what makes it a beautiful business is that the taxpayers think they're getting a great deal, even as they're led to the shearing. And a lucrative shearing it is, for business: By the estimate of the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, state and local tax incentives funnel $50 billion in tax revenue into corporate coffers every year.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 30, 2013 |
Dallas billionaire and heavyweight GOP political donor Harold Simmons, who gave tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has died. He was 82. Simmons, born to two school teachers in East Texas, became one of the richest men in the country with interests ranging from energy to chemicals. His spokesman Chuck McDonald said Simmons died Saturday in Dallas but did not disclose the cause. Simmons made his fortune as a Texas corporate raider nicknamed the "Ice Man" after structuring leveraged takeover bids using junk bonds in the 1970s and '80s.