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Newsletter: California Inc.: Disney confab to offer glimpse of new ‘Star Wars’ attraction

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D23, a three-day convention in Anaheim for Disney superfans, is expected to provide details about the new Star Wars Land under construction at Disneyland.
(Disney/Lucasfilm)

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

Trading resumes Monday with a strong tail wind. We learned Friday that U.S. employers added 222,000 net new jobs last month — the best performance since February. The figure was a significant improvement from May’s upwardly revised job growth of 152,000 net new jobs and well above analyst expectations. Job creation for April and May was revised up by a total of 47,000.

LOOKING AHEAD

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Beach access: State legislators are scheduled on Tuesday to consider a plan to buy 6.4 acres of land from Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley billionaire who has blocked the public from a San Mateo County beach. The Assembly Judiciary Committee will discuss legislation, already approved by the Senate, to use the state’s eminent domain power to buy a road that was historically used to get to Martins Beach and an adjacent parking area.

Grab your cape: Six Flags Magic Mountain opens its new ride, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, on Wednesday. The 3-D ride, designed by Florida-based Sally Corp., puts visitors to the Valencia park in vehicles armed with blasters. They score points by helping superheroes defeat villains. In the theme-park industry, interactive gaming attractions are growing in popularity because they entice visitors to come back regularly to improve their score or beat new challengers.

Emmy noms: Hollywood will be tuned in Thursday when nominations are announced for the 69th Emmy Awards. The announcements, to be live-streamed on Emmys.com, will begin at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time from the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center in North Hollywood. Presenting the nominations will be actors Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”) and Shemar Moore (“Criminal Minds”). The Emmy Awards will be presented Sept. 17, with Stephen Colbert hosting.

Sand settlement: On Thursday, the California Coastal Commission will consider a proposed settlement that would end the mining of coastal sand in Monterey County — the last operation of its type on the mainland United States. Instead of facing a court battle with the commission over permits, Mexico-based Cemex has agreed to stop extracting sand from a 400-acre beach in the city of Marina that has been a mine site since the early 1900s.

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Mouse House: Starting Friday, the Anaheim Convention Center will host D23, the three-day convention for Disney superfans. Disney officials are expected to use the event to divulge more details about the new Star Wars Land project under construction at Disneyland. So far, Disney has described one of the attractions as a virtual-reality ride that lets guests pilot the Millennium Falcon through a battle sequence. But it has offered no details on any other attraction in the 14-acre expansion.

THE AGENDA

Monday’s Business section looks at moves by the Federal Reserve to scale back its massive $4.5-trillion portfolio. Those holdings of mostly Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities are more than quadruple what they were before the Great Recession, and reducing them is another risky move that could affect mortgage rates, consumer prices, bank lending, stock values and federal government borrowing.

STORY LINES

Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Hilton del Coronado: The storied Hotel del Coronado in San Diego will soon be run by Hilton, joining the huge hospitality company’s smaller Curio Collection of unique, upscale properties around the world. Don’t expect to see a Hilton marquee suddenly adorn the facade of the 129-year-old, red-roofed Victorian building. Hilton’s physical presence will be understated, but its marketing muscle and its 64 million loyalty-program members will significantly broaden the reach of the hotel.

Hospital takeover: NantWorks, the Culver City company controlled by billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong, has taken over the operator of six California hospitals, including St. Vincent Medical Center near downtown Los Angeles and St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. NantWorks acquired a controlling stake in Integrity Healthcare, which in 2015 took over management of the hospitals from the struggling nonprofit Daughters of Charity Health System.

Start-up central: UCLA isn’t just good at generating new businesses; the Westwood school has become better at it than any of the other 224 universities reviewed in a recent Milken Institute report. UCLA finished ahead of prominent challengers, including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech, when it comes to start-up creation, according to the “Concept to Commercialization” study.

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Legendary trouble: Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin arrived in Los Angeles in October to a reception befitting a true Hollywood mogul. But things have quickly gone sour. Legendary Entertainment, bought by Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group, is trying to recover from a series of box-office misfires, and a deal to buy Dick Clark Productions deal fizzled under heightened scrutiny from Chinese authorities and concern over the price tag

Electrifying: Volvo Cars moved to set itself apart as an aggressive force for electrification of the automobile. The Chinese-owned company said that all new models starting in 2019 will be equipped with an electric motor — some hybrids and others pure electrics. Volvo plans to phase out the conventional powertrain that runs 100% on gasoline or diesel fuel. The announcement, along with production problems, was one reason electric-car pioneer Tesla saw its stock tumble last week.

WHAT WE’RE READING

And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

Trade up: Though some predicted the election of Donald Trump would launch an era of trade wars and economic isolationism, the opposite has happened, reports Bloomberg. “International trade is having its best performance in years as global growth enjoys its strongest synchronized upswing since 2010.” Many countries are creating new trade deals on their own, and multinational companies are finding ways to expand their global supply chains.

Lost luster: Some of America’s most established food brands — such as Kellogg’s cereal, Campbell’s soup and Aunt Jemima pancake mix — are in trouble, reports the Wall Street Journal. High-end consumers are choosing products with fewer processed ingredients, while budget shoppers are choosing cheaper store brands. “The pressure has set off a bout of soul searching in the industry as well as some dramatic restructuring.”

You’re fired: Back in the days of “The Apprentice,” research showed during Donald Trump was more popular with Latinos and blacks than with whites. Then, says Josh Green in his new book, “Devil’s Bargain,” Trump chose to leap into politics and burn his bridges with minorities. “From a raw political standpoint, Trump’s decision to adopt a set of views that offended and alienated minority voters, ugly though it was, turned out well for him.”

Digital money: Bitcoin pioneer Charlie Shrem, having spent a year in prison, is looking to mount a comeback, reports Fortune. He has become an advocate for all manner of digital currencies, not just bitcoin. “Shrem embodied the chaotic, legally questionable early days of cryptocurrency. But he says he’s different now. He claims he’s no longer operating mainly for himself and instead wants to use his talents to strengthen the crypto-community.”

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Song sung blue: As streaming services like Spotify have grown to a dominate position in the music industry, a variety of people are trying to game the system, reports Vulture.com. Spammers, artists and tech companies work hard to trick people into picking their song. “The big loser here is the listener. He’s increasingly having to dodge spammers and impostors to find his favorite artists, and then slogging through endless albums once he does.”

SPARE CHANGE

That last story makes me wonder: Best movie about the music industry? Top 10 has to include “Be Cool” with John Travolta, Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do” and Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous.” But the hands-down winner must be the mockumentary about a certain heavy-metal band that goes to 11.

For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.


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