Essential California: Hollywood jobs, doctors and anti-vacciners, Kanye West vs. the Grammys

Welcome to Essential California, your daily newsletter covering stories across the Golden State. Here's a look at the stories you don’t want to miss. The newsletter is brought to you by California editor Shelby Grad and reporter Alice Walton.


Online to the Rescue

There was a time when some in Hollywood worried that online shows would hurt the local entertainment economy. But new statistics show that productions from YouTube, Amazon and other online providers are boosting employment. About 8,000 net new jobs were added to the motion picture and sound recording sector in L.A. County last year. That's despite big layoffs at Warner Bros., Sony and DreamWorks. The traditional studio may still be king, but Web-based TV production in L.A. jumped 353% from 2008 to 2013, according to FilmL.A. Inc. 

Strict Doctors Reject Anti-Vacciners

The debate about measles and immunization has spread from online forums about parenting into doctors’ offices. Some doctors are refusing to accept patients who won't get vaccinations, putting them at odds with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. The academy and other doctors see value in working with vaccine doubters. Said one: “My philosophy is that if I shut my door completely to people who maybe are on the fence about vaccines or want to do some and not all, they’re just going to find another doctor who will accept them and not educate them.”

Kanye West Slams the Grammys

People are still talking about Kanye West’s rant against musician Beck and his Grammy win for best album. In an interview with E!, West said, “What happens is, when you keep on diminishing art, and not respecting the craft, and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration.” West unleashed the rant after the Grammy ceremonies, during which he had jumped onstage briefly as Beck received his award, a move similar to one West made in 2009 when Taylor Swift topped Beyoncé at the MTV Video Music Awards. At least he got something of a thumbs up from the recording academy’s president. “That's what's great about live TV. Live is live. It’s unpredictable,” Neil Portnow said.  


GOP sober about Boxer seat: Even Republican strategists give the Democrats strong odds of keeping retiring Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat in the party next year. Some suggest that the GOP might actually have a better shot when Sen. Dianne Feinstein would be up for reelection in 2018.

Obama to visit California: President Obama is coming back to the Golden State for the Presidents Day weekend. He will spend Thursday and Friday in the Bay Area and then swing through Palm Springs, the Desert Sun reports. It’s unclear whether Obama will stay at Sunnylands, the famous Rancho Mirage estate that has hosted him twice before.

Contaminated water: In at least 2,500 instances, the state allowed oil and gas companies to work in protected water aquifers, the Associated Press reports. State officials are working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bring California back into compliance with federal requirements for safe drinking water.

State bill on absentee voting: State Sen. Bob Hertzberg wants sample ballots to double as absentee ballots, writes The Times’ George Skelton. That potentially could save money and increase voter turnout. The bill “is probably the most impactful election-law change you could do to increase voter turnout,” said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc.


We live in his world: Architect Jon Jerde made his mark on the L.A. landscape. He mastered postmodern shopping and entertainment spaces complete with bridges, arches, vast patios, towers, digitally controlled fountains and huge multimedia screens. His name may not be recognizable, but his designs sure are. Jerde was the architect responsible for 1984 Olympics designs as well as Universal CityWalk and Horton Plaza in San Diego. Jerde died Monday at 75. “How we got into this in the first place is I really love crowds,” he said of his work in 2002.

Money in L.A. election: Should it matter where political candidates get their money when they’re campaigning for office? Some folks think so, and they’re making it an issue in the L.A. City Council’s 4th District race. Candidates who get the lion’s share of their donations from residents of the district say it’s a sign of their connection to an unwieldy area that includes Sherman Oaks and Miracle Mile. “It’s a data point that you can’t ignore,” one political consultant said.

A bagel with that pan dulce: If you needed another sign of Highland Park’s rapid and debated gentrification, artisanal “hand-rolled” bagels are now being sold there. But in a twist, they are being sold at a traditional panaderia on Figueroa Street.

NFL plays hard to get: Will the NFL ever move a football team to Los Angeles? Yes. No. Maybe. On Monday, an internal memo showed that the league formed a committee to look at whether a team should move to L.A. “Although the memo does not specifically name the Rams, San Diego Chargers or Oakland Raiders — all three on year-to-year leases and mulling a relocation — it is clearly a reminder to them that the league has no intention of straying from protocol and allowing a club to unilaterally decide to move and begin construction of a stadium in the L.A. area,” a Times sports report says.

Getting to work: Zocalo Public Square is following Angelenos on their commutes with #myLAcommute. The website focuses on commuters who use Metro to get from one end of town to the other.

And finally ...

What are Southern California’s worst freeway bottlenecks? Times transportation reporter Dan Weikel has the list:

1. Southbound Interstate 5 between the 710 and 605 freeways.

2. Northbound Interstate 405 through Fountain Valley and Costa Mesa.

3. Southbound State Route 170 through Valley Village and North Hollywood.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.

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