Southern California -- this just in

Category: Hollywood

L.A. votes: Next mayor's big challenges, questions about union influence

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Jan Perry, Kevin James, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Emanuel Pleitez stand at a debate at UCLA's Royce Hall.

The nation’s eyes were fixed this weekend on the Oscar race unfolding in Hollywood. But with just days to go before the citywide March 5 election, local political contests were getting just as hot and heavy.Election Memo

The Times took a wide-angle look at the challenges facing the city as voters pick a successor to termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. City leaders have already cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of everyday services and ongoing maintenance to stay afloat, but the next chief executive will have to make hard decisions, especially in light of costly, ill-timed spending commitments made at City Hall and a failure to adjust to the region's weakening economic foundation.

That hard fact has prompted some to question two city unions’ heavy financial backing of Wendy Greuel in the race. Greuel defended her record, saying as controller she has scrutinized many city agencies and has worked on behalf of taxpayers.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Greuel is not the only one receiving outside aid in her bid. Kevin James, who has received nearly a half-million dollars of support from an independent committee, issued a plea for new funding from the Texas billionaire who has thus far bankrolled much of the effort. Meanwhile, James continued to attack Greuel for her ties to the union representing  many workers from the city’s Department of Water and Power.

The first in a series of profiles of the mayoral candidates examines the past and present statements of James.

The mayoral candidates made their Oscar picks for best movie, and tried to use the focus on Hollywood bonanza to woo voters. James highlighted his endorsement by the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation in a fund-raising appeal that warned, “Imagine a Hollywood with no Oscars because the industry was run out of town by our city's bad policies.” Greuel put out a mailer featuring the head of her rival, Councilman Eric Garcetti, superimposed on an Oscar statue with the headline, “And the award goes to... ERIC GARCETTI. Worst Performance By A Politician In A Leading Role.”

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Oscars 2013: Man arrested after sneaking onto red carpet

Oscars 2013: Best & worst moments

Two men who found their way onto the red carpet at the 85th Academy Awards were detained and one was arrested, police said Monday.

Using a fake press pass, one man without credentials sneaked into an area Sunday where celebrities were walking and posing for photos in front of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, said Norma Eisenman, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Oscars 2013: Best & worst moments  

“He was on the red carpet, taking photos or something like that,” Eisenman said.

The suspect was taken to the Hollywood division of the LAPD for booking, Eisenman said. Information on charges was not yet available.

A second man who found his way onto the red carpet was interviewed and released, Eisenman said.

Last year, 10 people were arrested at the Academy Awards. Most of the arrests, which include misdemeanors and felonies, were for fraudulent, lapsed or non-existent credentials.


Oscars 2013: Top nominees and winners

Man killed in hit-and-run in Hacienda Heights

Low achievement imperils black students in L.A., report says

-- Laura J. Nelson (twitter.com/laura_nelson)

Photo: Fans wave to celebrities on the red carpet at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood on Sunday. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

'Swatting' call to Clint Eastwood home doesn't make LAPD's day

ClintIt didn't make the LAPD's day when officers dispatched to a home owned by Clint Eastwood in Bel-Air quickly found out the legendary actor was apparently the latest victim of a "swatting" incident.

Police had been told there were men with assault weapons at the residence.

But officers quickly determined no one was in danger at the home, avoiding the full-scale tactical response that has arrived at "swatting' incidents at the home of other celebrities, Lt. Andrew Neiman said.

Officers said that, as in earlier cases, the 911 call was likely the work of pranksters seeking to unleash a large police presence at the home of a celebrity.

The call to Eastwood's residence occurred Tuesday; it was unclear if anyone was actually staying there at the time.

On Thursday, a "swatting" call was made in an effort to bring a large police response to the Playboy mansion. Again, police were quickly able to confirm nothing dangerous was occurring at the Holmby Hills mansion.

This week's incidents are the latest in a recent rash of hoax 911 calls reporting fake crimes at celebrities' homes. What began as a prank among party-line callers and gamers in recent months has spread to target celebrities, authorities say.

Victims in recent months include Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, Tom Cruise and Simon Cowell. Earlier this month, a 12-year-old was charged with making 911 calls and reporting fake crimes to police, sending them to Kutcher's home and a Wells Fargo Bank branch.

Law enforcement officials have said that swatting is a problem because it diverts resources from real emergencies.


Tuberculosis outbreak: Health workers ID 4,650 at risk in L.A.

Oakland rapper 'Kenny Clutch' killed in Las Vegas Strip shooting

Christopher Dorner's former training officer still receiving threats

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Clint Eastwood. Credit: Joe Klamarjoe/Getty Images

Hollywood residents decry Millennium skyscraper plans

More than 50 people packed a small hearing chamber at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday to speak out about a proposed multimillion-dollar development in Hollywood.

The Millennium Hollywood project, if approved, will cost an estimated $664 million to build. The mixed-use development would include two skyscrapers and a series of smaller buildings near the iconic Capitol Records building at Hollywood and Vine.

Support came from business associations, including the Hollywood and Los Angeles Area Chambers of Commerce.

Opponents, many of them Hollywood residents, decried the height of the planned skyscrapers, the additional traffic and the noise and light pollution they said the development would create.

"Do we want Hollywood to be like New York City?" said Robert Adjemian, who lives near the proposed development site. "I certainly hope not."

After the hearing, the Planning Department will submit a report to the Planning Commission with their recommendations for the development's zoning and density.


Four dead in O.C.: No motive yet in slaying, deadly carjackings

O.C. shootings: Ladera Ranch neighbor heard a 'bunch of ruckus'

Four dead, including suspect, in series of Orange County shootings

-- Laura J. Nelson at Los Angeles City Hall


Video: A scene from the hearing room at Los Angeles City Hall as the Planning Department listened to comments about the Millennium Hollywood plan. Credit: Laura J. Nelson / Los Angeles Times


Public to speak out on $664-million Millennium Hollywood plan

The Los Angeles Planning Department will hear public comments starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday about a controversial, multimillion-dollar development planned near the Capitol Records Tower at Hollywood and Vine.

The owners of the Capitol Records building have plans for two skyscrapers and a cluster of smaller buildings, about 1 million square feet in total. The complex of apartments, offices and shops would surround the famous cylindrical building that resembles a stack of vinyl records.

The developers want to change the zoning code. The Planning Department will also consider adopting the city’s environmental and traffic report about the project.

Proponents of the $664-million Millennium Hollywood project, including developers Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures, say the construction would be a boon to the area. The project is the most ambitious to date in a series of revitalization projects in Hollywood. Other major projects included the completion of the Hollywood and Highland Center in 2001 and the opening of the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine in 2010.

The skyscrapers would be more than three times taller than most buildings in the area, according to a report on environmental and traffic impact written by the city.

The buildings would block views of the Hollywood sign and Capitol Records building, create light pollution and generation construction dust, opponents said. Others fear that the neighborhood will lose its character.

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Hollywood street closures begin in preparation for Oscars

A series of major road closures has begun in Hollywood to accommodate the Academy Awards.

The Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood & Highland Center. On Sunday, Hollywood Boulevard was closed between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive. Public buses will be rerouted, according to the Oscars' website.

On the day of the show, this coming Sunday, road closures will spread throughout the area, including the north and south 101 Freeway offramps at Highland Avenue as well as Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard.


Riverside officer wounded in Dorner manhunt is identified

Dorner manhunt: Incendiary tear gas reportedly used on cabin

Dorner's alleged victim Monica Quan remembered at private funeral

— Garrett Therolf

L.A. Votes: Hollywood, Texas billionaire weigh in on mayor's race

Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Jan Perry, Kevin James, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Emanuel Pleitez during a debate sponsored by the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs at UCLA's Royce Hall in January.

Los Angeles' election day is rapidly approaching. That's clear from the candidates' frenzied schedules, the money pouring into increasingly ubiquitous television campaign ads and the glossy pitches and hit pieces piling into mailboxes. Election Memo

Spending by independent groups not controlled by the candidates just topped $1.5 million. And another fundraising reporting period ended Saturday, after potential donors were bombarded with last-minute pleas for cash. The latest financial numbers will be available later this week.

The candidates also are touting their most recent endorsements. Eric Garcetti got the nod from the L.A. Times' editorial board. Kevin James has the backing of former Mayor Richard Riordan. And Wendy Greuel received the backing of a young Latino Democrats group in the Valley, a local Teamsters union and a Realtors' coalition.

L.A. ELECTIONS 2013: Sign up for our email newsletter

With just over two weeks before the March 5 election day, the candidates hopscotched across the city all weekend, opening new field offices, speaking at an education event at a downtown middle school, marching in a Chinese New Year parade and attending Sunday services at an African American church.

Here are other developments in the mayoral race as reported by The Times:

Texas billionaire Harold Simmons has no obvious business in the city of Los Angeles but is bankrolling the Super PAC that just began airing TV ads for James, an attorney and former talk show host. The sole Republican in the race, James is considered a long shot in heavily Democratic L.A. But backing from Simmons -- a major GOP donor who has helped fund some controversial campaigns in the past -- could boost James' profile.

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City Beat: What's Irish about a Hollywood mini-mall?


There are no green rolling hills here, no thatched cottages or bogs. But the spirit of Ireland is alive and well in a Hollywood mini-mall.

The Irish Import Shop has been around for 50 years. In a little brown shopping center on Vine Street, it's wedged between a nail salon and a dry cleaner.  Other neighbors include check cashing business, a Subway, a tattoo parlor and a pawn shop.

But step inside the shop and you might just feel transported elsewhere.


Often, the owner, Anne Colburn, burns little dabs of peat -- so the shop smells like being home by the fire in Ireland. She's stocked the place with many Irish classics, kitschy and otherwise: hand-carved Celtic crosses, Claddagh rings, egg cups shaped like leprechaun hats, Aran sweaters, tweed caps from Donegal and heathery capes woven in Kerry. 

It's obviously the place to come for all things shamrocks on St. Paddy's Day.

But the biggest draw, Colburn says, is the northernmost aisle -- and not just for homesick Irish people. Brits, Australians, South Africans and people from the Caribbean visit this aisle, full of Irish and British sweets, biscuits and drinks. A freezer holds Irish sausage and rashers (bacon), as well as black and white pudding and frozen rounds of soda bread. 

People come for the favorite foods from home. But they stay to chat and reminisce, Colburn says. 

Read more about the Irish Import Shop as a home away from home here in my latest City Beat story.

And scroll down here to check out my photos of the shop in the visual reporter's notebook I sent out on Twitter:

 -- Nita Lelyveld

Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to nita.lelyveld@latimes.com.

Photo: Andrew MacNamara, originally from Dublin, Ireland, shops in the food aisle at the Irish Import Shop in Hollywood. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times / January 30, 2013)

Southern California heating up for Valentine's Day

Palms sway and a flag flutters in gusty winds in Fontana. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

With a little help from Mother Nature, it’s going to be a warm, cozy weekend for Southern Californians starting on Valentine’s Day.

The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures rising to the low to mid-70s Thursday and peak in the 80s Friday as Santa Ana winds blow across Los Angeles.

Forecasters expect 10 mph winds through the region, with areas between Malibu and the Hollywood Hills getting stronger gusts up to 35 mph, the weather service predicted.

Wind advisories will go into effect Thursday at 6 p.m. in the mountains and 10 p.m. along the coast and will last through Saturday.

Temperatures will drop to the 40s or 50s overnight, said weather service meteorologist Curt Kaplan.

“Through Saturday it’s going to be nice and warm,” Kaplan said.

Then, a trough of cold air from Alaska is supposed to roll through the region by the end of the weekend, bringing in cold air and rain.

Forecasters predict a 40% chance of rain Tuesday night and 30% chance of rain on Wednesday.


Dorner manhunt: A sigh of relief and anguish in Big Bear

Owner of stolen truck says Dorner didn't want to hurt him

Dorner case: Slain deputy's wife speaks of losing 'perfect' mate

-- Joseph Serna

Photo: Palms sway and a flag flutters in gusty winds in Fontana. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Wrong-way driver on 170 Freeway injures two

Approximate location of incident shown in red.

At least two people were injured early Tuesday after colliding with a driver traveling in the wrong direction on the 170 Freeway near Valley Glen, authorities said.

A preliminary investigation suggests the driver was heading north on the south lanes of the freeway about 3 a.m., said California Highway Patrol Officer Cheyenne Quesada.

“Obviously, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Quesada said.

Authorities received numerous reports about the driver, he said. The driver was reported to be swerving to avoid traffic and to be driving about 70 mph, he said.

At least four vehicles were involved in collisions with the driver, and at least two people were injured, he said.

Southbound lanes of the freeway were closed at Laurel Canyon Boulevard early Tuesday as officers cleared debris, but they were reopened by 5:59 a.m., Quesada said.


 Your commute: Live L.A. traffic conditions

Dorner manhunt extends from Mexico to California

Dorner's truck found near associate's property, court records show

—Hailey Branson-Potts


Map: Approximate location of incident shown in red. Credit: Google Maps


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