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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California • Page 21

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21
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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2013 B3 LATIMES.COMBUSINESS os Angeles (Times COMPANY TOWN Tesla's lofty stock drops 6 after car fire, downgrade Universal puts Schlessel at helm of Focus Features and other equipment, out of concern that the lithium-ion battery systems might be fire-prone. This year, federal regulators grounded Boeing 787 planes for four months after batteries on two planes overheated, with one catching fire. Boeing later ordered modifications to the jets to increase ventilation and insulation near the batteries, but the company and investigators never determined the root cause of the overheating. Last year, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid came under increased scrutiny when fires ignited after test crashes of the vehicle. General Motors Co.

said the fires were caused by a coolant leak and short circuit that occurred when the car's battery pack was punctured during severe side test crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM has subsequently modified the vehicles to prevent the problem. Tesla, which is amongthe best-performing stocks this year, also ran into head winds Wednesday from a report issued by Robert W. Baird Co. It said the carmaker could have trouble expanding production and developing new models.

Baird Co. downgraded Tesla to a neutral expectation from its previous assessment that the stock would outperform the market. jerry.hirschlatimes.com Twitter: latimesjerry By Jerry Hirsch Shares of Wall Street darling Tesla Motors Inc. fell 6 Wednesday after the highflying stock was downgraded by an investment house and pictures and video of a mysterious Tesla Model fire circulated on the Internet. The shares dropped $12.05 to close at $180.95.

Tesla has seen a huge run-up in its stock this year as it has ramped up sales of its luxury electric cars. The stock traded at just above $35 on Jan. 2. On Wednesday, auto enthusiast website Jalopnik posted a reader-submitted video that shows the front of a Tesla engulfed in flames on a rainy street in the Seattle area. Tesla confirmed that one of its cars caught fire after the driver struck unidentified metal debris on the roadway.

The incident caused "significant damage to the vehicle," Tesla said, and the car's alert system instructed the driver to pull over safely. No one was injured. A fire then caused "substantial damage" to the front of the vehicle. Tesla said the design and construction of the vehicle and battery pack limited the spread of the fire, which was extinguished by the local fire department. Normally, car fires are not significant events that influence investors.

However, safety officials have been tracking blazes in electric cars, as well as computers The FilmDistrict CEO is to replace James Schamus, who will leave the company. By Daniel Miller and John Horn In an overhaul of its Focus Features imprint, Universal Pictures is installing Film-District founder Peter Schlessel as the new head of the specialty movie label. James Schamus, Focus' current chief executive, will leave the company. Schlessel, FilmDistrict's chief executive, will assume the CEO role at Focus in January, Universal said Wednesday. Focus is best known for such films as "Brokeback Mountain," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Atonement" and "The Kids Are All Right." The company will release "Dallas Buyers Club" on Nov.

1 and is producing the "Fifty Shades of Grey" film adaptation, which will come out next year. As part of the shake-up, movies from FilmDistrict will be released by Focus starting in January. FilmDistrict, which recently released "Insidious: Chapter 2, "has a distribution arrangement with Sony Pictures Entertain- ANNE MARIE Fox Focus Features MATTHEW McConaughey and Jennifer Garner star in Focus Features' upcoming "Dallas Buyers Club." New York-based Focus will relocate to Los Angeles. versal, said Schlessel would broaden the types of movies Focus puts out and release as many as 10 films annually. In previous years, Universal had entertained selling or closing Focus.

Also, Schlessel will build a new executive team that will include people from both Focus and FilmDistrict. Focus, based in New York, will relocate its headquarters to the Universal lot. AMC to open a plusher theater Arguments in lawsuit against Toyota end By Richard Verrier In the latest push toward premium cinema, AMC Theatres on Friday will debut a newly remodeled multiplex in West Hills. AMC took over the lease of the Laemmle Fallbrook 7 complex at the Fallbrook Center mall in February and said it was working with the shopping center, owned and managed by General Growth Properties, to upgrade the theater with improved seating, new sound and digital equipment, and an expanded concession menu. The theater has been closed for renovations since midsummer.

AMC Fallbrook 7 will have plush power recliners with more legroom than traditional movie theater "It is a great honor to be joining Donna and the other talented executives at Universal Pictures," Schlessel said in a statement. "The Focus brand is respected throughout the industry, and we intend to build on this while expanding the perception of what constitutes a Focus Features film." The art-house-oriented Focus was created in 2002 by a merger of USA Films, Universal Focus and Good Machine. Among its recent movies were "The Place Beyond the Pines," "Anna Karenina" and "Promised Land." Focus will release the Matthew McConaughey picture "Dallas Buyers Club" on Nov. 1 Universal said Schamus, co-founder of Focus, was departing to produce an Ang Lee project that the studio would release. The director's boxing saga will examine some of the biggest prize fights of the 1960s and 1970s.

Lee won the directing Oscar this year for "Life of Pi." In addition to running Focus, Schamus has been a filmmaker and an academic. He has a long collaboration with Lee that spans 11 films, having produced the director's "Brokeback Mountain" and co-written the screenplay for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Schamus also produced and wrote the screenplay for Lee's "Taking Woodstock," "Hulk" and "The Ice Storm," and was an executive producer and a writer on the director's "Lust, Caution." He is a professor at Columbia University's School of the Arts and author of the book "Carl Theodor Dreyer's "It's been an amazing and joyous run at Focus, where our love of film has always been matched by our love and respect for our filmmakers and for each other," Schamus said in a statement. "I wish Peter all the best with the next chapter, and look forward to working with my great colleagues at Universal on Ang's movie and many more to come." daniel.millerlatimes.com john.hornlatimes.com By Jerry Hirsch Attorneys wrapped up arguments Wednesday in a $20-million lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corp. that arose from a 2 009 wreck that killed an Upland woman. The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury will decide whether Toyota was negligent by not including a particular safety device on Noriko Uno's 2006 Camry, or whether the crash resulted from her poor driving.

Uno's car accelerated unexpectedly, heading the wrong way down a street before hitting a telephone pole and a tree. In the trial, Garo Mardi-rossian, the attorney for Uno's heirs, contended that design flaws, including the lack of a brake override system, in the Camry led to Uno's death. However, Vincent Galvin an auto product liability attorney representing Toyota, argued that an override system would not have prevented the crash. He said it was most likely caused by Uno mistaking the gas pedal forthe car's brakes. The case is expected to set the direction for hundreds of similar lawsuits against the automaker in Amazon develops more shows ment that includes ancillary markets.

A spokesperson for that studio said its deal with FilmDistrict would continue until its expiration in March. The move is the first significant change at Universal since Donna Langley was elevated to chairman of the company and former head Adam Fogelson was forced out last month. Universal, a unit of Comcast NBCUni- seats, as well as reserved seating. "The best possible guest experience is at the heart of everything we do," said Mark McDonald, executive vice president of development at AMC. He said the theater would play mainstream and independent films.

AMC, the nation's second-largest theater chain, has been beefing up its presence in the Los Angeles market, where it already has about 30 theaters. AMC opened its first Southern California dine-in movie theater in Marina del Rey in November and renovated more than 25 theaters nationwide with amenities like those at the West Hills venue. A similar remodel is underway at an AMC theater in Montebello. The renovations typically into full series, due out this fall. "We were thrilled by the performance of Pilot Season 1.0," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios.

"We got millions of views and pieces of feedback, so customers really responded to the opportunity to check out the new shows and share their opinions of them." Now, Amazon is financing new half-hour pilots. Customers will again be invited to offer reactions. Director Coppola joins with actor and musician Jason Schwartzman Mr. Banks" and "Moonrise and Tony-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers and the in developing "Mozart in the Jungle." The project is based on oboist Blair TindalPs memoir, which explores the world of sex, drugs and classical music behind the curtains at a symphony. "The Outlaws," written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Wein-bach for explores the ins and outs of a professional football team from the perspectives of the players and coaches.

The creative team also includes producers Matt Alvarez and Michael Strahan, a former New York Giants defensive end and current co-host of "Live With Kelly and Michael." "We're looking for shows that are going to bring something interesting and new to people's TV and entertainment choices," Price said. "In this case, we're excited to be working with a group of really talented creators who have a passionate vision for their shows and are trying to do something interesting." Soloway said she pitched the idea for "Transparent" to several networks, includ cost more than $4 million and are designed to boost attendance by giving patrons an improved experience at the multiplex and a reason to come back. Although ticket prices at Fallbrook 7 will remain the same $8 before 6 p.m. and $11 after for now, AMC indicated that they could increase after several months to offset the reduction in seating capacity because of the large recliners. Leawood, Kan.

-based AMC, acquired last year by China's Dalian Wanda Group for $2.6 billion, operates more than 340 theaters, mostly in the U.S. The company recently announced that it would seek to raise $400 million from an initial public stock offering. richard.verrier latimes.com ing HBO and Showtime. She said she selected Amazon because of its promise of creative freedom for her pilot, which is set in motion when a father (played by Jeffrey Tambor) reveals a secret to his adult children. "Coming from 'Six Feet Under' and watching a series start off with a father dying, the patriarch dying, how cool would it be to start off a series where a new family member is being born?" Soloway said.

"Where the patriarch is actually being reborn as a matriarch." Soloway said other television shows had sought to mine comedy from cross-dressing ABC's canceled series "Work It" being the most recent example. She was intrigued by the idea of "genderqueerness," in which people fall outside of the narrow definitions of male and female. The pilot explores family secrets and parents who aren't aging as gracefully as their adult children might want, she said. "It's about a dad who feels like he wants to experiment with his gender," Soloway said. "I hope that everyone who watches it can see it as a metaphor for all the different ways that parents don't fit exactly where they're put." Tambor, who has made a career out of playing memorable comedic characters, said he was drawn immediately to the role.

"It's unlike anything I've ever seen before," Tambor said during a recent break in production. "And yet it's so Everybody can relate to this. It's about families. It's about boundaries. It's about love.

And it's really funny." dawn.chmielewski latimes.com connection with incidents of unintended acceleration. Last week, Ford Motor Co. won a Torrance Superior Court lawsuit that also alleged the automaker was obligated to include a safety device that wasn't sold with a vehicle. A jury ruled in favor of the automaker after deliberating for an hour, rejecting a claim that Ford's F-150 pickup truck should have been equipped with an inflatable seat belt. The case brought by Isaura Garcia and Celia Mo-rando arose from a Compton wreck nearly three years ago.

In that crash, Garcia pressed down on the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal while exiting a freeway, causing the truck to hit a guard rail, a Honda Civic, a Lexus LS400 and a utility pole. The occupants of the truck survived but sustained multiple injuries. Attorneys Steven Smel-ser and Raymond Hua of the Yukevich, Cavanaugh law firm successfully argued that the crash was caused by the driver and that the vehicle had adequate safety systems that protected the plaintiffs. jerry.hirschlatimes.com Twitter latimesjerry Maturing 51538 Maturity 5.20 SOUTHWEST SECURITIES. Amazon, from Bl Eric Overmyer, co-creator of the acclaimed HBO drama "Treme." The pedigree of the creative talent recruited for the new round of original TV productions and those still in discussions sends a signal to the entertainment industry about Amazon's seriousness in creating shows.

It needs to match the high bar set by rival Netflix which earned considerable prestige when David Finch-er won the best director Emmy Award for the streaming service's drama "House of Cards." "Seeing what Netflix has done early on has redefined the brand, in the consumers' eyes," BTIG media analyst Richard Greenfield said. "In order to really differentiate what Amazon has done, they need to have some unique and creatively impactful programming." The Internet retailer has been spending significant sums to bring exclusive movies and TV shows to the Prime Instant Video service. Indeed, the Seattle company posted a second-quarter loss its second such loss in the year after nine straight years of profitable operations as it invested in a range of initiatives, including expanding its streaming service and developing its line of Kindle tablet computers and e-readers. This year, Amazon green-lighted 14 television pilots, including "Betas," a comedy about a Silicon Valley quest for nerd fame, and "Alpha House," in which actor John Goodman portrays one of four senators who live together in Washington. The company asked viewers to critique the pilots and, based on the response, opted to develop two pilots Temecula, California CA Statewide U.C.

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