Newsletter: Essential California: An escalating war in Hollywood

The Writers Guild of America said it is suing the four main Hollywood talent agencies over a practice the union says is harmful to the interests of its members.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 18, and here’s what’s happening across California:


The Writers Guild of America is suing the four main talent agencies over a practice the union says is harmful to the interests of its members. At a news conference Wednesday, the union said it has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the agencies — CAA, WME, ICM Partners and UTA — alleging that the widespread use of packaging fees violates state and federal laws. At the heart of the dispute is the money agencies extract from TV shows and movies for pulling together talent for projects. Los Angeles Times

Cooperating witnesses


Two parents — Bruce and Davina Isackson — could now play a key role in the sprawling college admissions case that has shaken American higher education. The Isacksons, whose children were admitted to UCLA and USC as ersatz athletes, are the only ones who have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. A source familiar with the case said prosecutors want to learn more about who at UCLA and USC knew of an alleged recruiting scheme the Isacksons used to slip their two daughters into the universities. Los Angeles Times

Plus: For Lori Loughlin, “parenting on steroids” could be a defense in the college admissions scandal. Los Angeles Times

The first 100 days

Three months after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an ambitious plan to lower prescription drug costs by creating a large state-run program of millions of public and private purchasers, few details have been made public about how the proposal will work. Despite that, Los Angeles County says it wants in. “I don’t want to overstate this, but I don’t want to understate this. This is a big deal,” Newsom said Wednesday, marking his 100th day in office, at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey. Los Angeles Times


Get the Essential California newsletter »


Interesting move: Facing pressure to deliver the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics on budget, local organizers have signed an unusual deal they hope will guarantee crucial revenue. LA 2028 announced that it will partner with NBCUniversal to sell media and sponsorship deals in tandem. Normally, organizers and broadcasters work separately, sometimes at odds with each other. Los Angeles Times

The Coliseum, framed by a plexiglass sign after the city was officially awarded the rights to host the 2028 Olympic Games, in 2017.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Nice: The L.A. vintage shop that has the fashion world knocking on its door. Los Angeles Times

Back pay, big problem: In the largest wage-theft case ever brought by the state of California against a carwash company, Beverly Hills auto dealership mogul Hooman Nissani has been ordered to pay $2.4 million in back pay and penalties. Los Angeles Times

From the Malaise era: “This L.A. band made a music video tribute to the city’s not-so-classic car culture.” LAist



New focus: Under Trump, immigration enforcement dominates Homeland Security mission. Washington Post

Opinion: “The unlawful ambitions of Donald Trump’s immigration policy.” The New Yorker


Extending protections: The Los Angeles City Council moved forward with a law that would bar landlords from refusing to consider tenants with Section 8 vouchers. Los Angeles Times

Red, white and blue: The Laguna Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to keep an American flag design on city police cars. Los Angeles Times

Time 100: Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, is on the Time 100 list, and her entry was written by Sen. Kamala Harris. Time

Ferry, please: “Officials in San Francisco have a new transit solution to pipe thousands of Warriors fans to the Chase Center arena when it opens this fall: a temporary ferry terminal at Mission Rock.” San Francisco Chronicle

Impact: After Vox stories, Zuckerberg Hospital is overhauling its aggressive billing tactics. Vox



Pushing back: Attorneys for City Councilman Jose Huizar plan to ask a judge to postpone a lawsuit filed against him by an ex-staffer amid an ongoing FBI investigation into City Hall. Los Angeles Times

Long sentence: A gang member who shot and killed a homeless man on the Venice boardwalk four years ago was sentenced to 93 years to life in prison Wednesday. Los Angeles Times

The pot crackdown continues: The city of Los Angeles is seeking millions in civil penalties from an unlicensed South L.A. cannabis dispensary accused of selling marijuana contaminated with a fungicide. Los Angeles Times


Wow: Lost sea creatures wash up on California shores as ocean climate shifts. Washington Post

LAX’s neighbor is upset: “The Los Angeles International Airport is looking at adding new terminals to improve efficiency, but officials from the neighboring city of El Segundo say the project would bring more noise, traffic and air pollution. ” ABC 7

Problematic alerts: “During the past three months, Palm Springs police and city personnel have sent out incorrect, contradictory or delayed information in response to emergencies and road conditions related to flooding and a brush fire north of downtown.” Desert Sun


Podcast: Yasiel Puig’s return to L.A.; Tiger Woods’ comeback at the Masters. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Steve Lopez on the Dodgers’ longest-running, greed-driven, let’s-take-fans-for-granted debacle in sports history. Los Angeles Times

FB follies: Facebook shareholders are getting fed up with Mark Zuckerberg but can’t do anything about him. Los Angeles Times

Plus: “Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends.” NBC News

YouTube under the microscope: “The most measured person in tech is running the most chaotic place on the internet.” New York Times

Do the math: Rising rents in coastal California outpace teacher pay. EdSource


Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 80, thursday; sunny, 81, Friday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 75, Thursday; sunny, 73, Friday. San Francisco area: sunny, 71, Thursday; partly cloudy, 63, Friday. San Jose: partly cloudy, 83, Thursday; partly cloudy, 78, Friday. Sacramento: sunny, 82, Thursday; cloudy, 84, Friday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Erikc S Monjaras:

“I was born and raised in El Salvador. War broke out in 1980, and I ended up in California as a young man of 19 years old. I was instantly in love with California, but life had other plans for me, and I left for New York. California was always on my mind, especially on those cold, wintry days. I longed for the warmth of Southern California. In 2002 I was working for an auto insurance company and jokingly I asked my supervisor for a transfer to the California office. My request was granted! I was coming back to Southern California! My family and I drove across the country for five days, it was a beautiful drive knowing that we finally were coming home to California.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.