Good News for Gawkers

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

As if greater Los Angeles needed another reason for a traffic jam, consider the redevelopment of the old Uniroyal tire plant in City of Commerce, with its distinctive Assyrian-style facade.

Owner Trammell Crow is turning the landmark property into a huge commercial center--with offices, shops and a hotel--but all the construction activity is causing regular rush-hour gawker slowdowns.

Now, the developers are advertising an 800 number (1-800-CITADEL) on a 40-foot billboard out front that will provide car-phone users with instant background material on what all the fuss is about.

The good news: A Los Angeles-area landmark is not being torn down, at least not completely. The bad news: The redevelopment will take 18 months.


Big Show but Little Biz

Each year at this time, hundreds of studio executives, producers and agents flock to New York beseeching the networks to pick up their pilots for new fall television series.

The odds are slim: Each network usually picks six to 10 new shows out of a combined pool of 80 or more pilots. But in a business where deals are routinely done at the flick of a speed dialer, anxious producers think that being close at hand to the networks’ inner sanctum during screenings will give them an edge over their competitors.

The popular hangout has become the Regency Hotel, which for two weeks becomes a kind of Hollywood-on-the-Hudson where producers, agents and network executives schmooze at breakfast and swap rumors every evening in the bar or basement gym.

But despite the thousands of dollars rung up in bar bills and fax lines, producers find it often is more for show than business.

“Most of the program decisions are made before the grand arrival,” admits CBS President Howard Stringer. “The whole thing is like one of those old European resorts where everybody falls into everybody else’s arms and says how wonderful it is to see each other.”

Can’t Please Everyone

Some say California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp, a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, had political motives for filing the suit that blocked the merger of Lucky and Alpha Beta supermarkets.

But now that Van de Kamp has won that battle, and most of Alpha Beta’s Southern California stores are going up for sale, how do consumers feel? It depends on which consumer you talk to.

Murray Turner, a customer at Alpha Beta on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills, sided with Van de Kamp. “I don’t believe in monopolies,” Turner said. “I think that monopolies mean higher prices.”

But Miriam Leider, another customer, was skeptical. “How can they (a new owner) reduce prices?” Leider asked. “They have to make money, too.”