FBI crackdown on porn makers

first_imgAn FBI agent warned a roomful of pornographers Wednesday that the government will be checking up on them – and they vigorously applauded. Last summer, the FBI sent letters to a handful of porn producers asking them to come to Washington, D.C., to talk about more stringent enforcement of industry record-keeping. Known as “2257 compliance,” the laws require the adult entertainment business to keep detailed records on the names and ages of its performers. Though the porn industry, through its trade group and prominent figures, supports the spirit of the laws – keeping out performers under age 18 and penalizing companies that break the rule – it has vigorously fought them in court. The industry had dispatched lawyers and spokespeople to the nation’s capital to engage the bureau in conversation. And that discussion continued Wednesday, as Special Agent Chuck Joyner took the stage at the XBiz Hollywood annual conference. Dressed in a conservative suit, with his hair neatly cut to government regulations, Joyner told the assembled crowd of moviemakers, actors, Web masters and lawyers that they have nothing to fear if they keep accurate records. “We would be delighted if every company went through this without a violation,” he said. Prior to meeting with Joyner, that was not the impression received by the largely San Fernando Valley-based industry. When producers began getting word that the federal government wanted closer inspections – and was threatening prison terms for noncompliance – “delight” was not the first word that came to mind. “This created a level of anxiety in the industry that I had not seen for some time,” said lawyer Greg Piccionelli, who moderated the discussion with Joyner. “There was a great, collective gnashing of teeth.” He described “a rich tradition of hostility from the federal government” that created the previous distrust but said he hoped the industry could normalize relations with law enforcement and regulators. No problem, Joyner said. Just keep accurate records of performers’ names, identification and dates of birth. Joyner, a partner and a team of eight retired agents hired as contractors randomly select companies from a list of more than 1,200 producers. The contractors arrive during normal business hours, ask to inspect the records and prepare a report showing any violations. Then, before the report goes to Washington, the producer has a week to address any violations and show a good-faith effort to remain within the confines of the law. “We’re not trying to play gotcha. We’re not trying to hammer you,” Joyner said. “We’re trying to prevent the exploitation of minors.” Of the 10 inspections his teams have conducted thus far, only two companies have come out without violations, but Joyner stressed that he’s not in the business of conducting raids to shut producers down. As long as they show they’re trying to comply with the law, he said, they have nothing to worry about. Joyner’s presentation drew a warm reception in the packed ballroom, but Tom Hymes, XBiz publisher and a longtime industry activist, said companies remain guarded about the government’s newfound interest. “We hope all pornographers using children get caught and thrown in jail,” he said. “I don’t know anyone in the industry who has a problem with that. But the regulations go far beyond that. … As positive and hopeful as this seminar was, obviously the message is: If you’re not in compliance, you’d better get things together right away.” brent.hopkins@dailynews.com (818) 713-3738 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Astronomers find absence of water on distant planets

first_imgThe astronomers’ unexpected results, they said Wednesday, underlined the need for more observations with Spitzer and future generations of telescopes. “We all have competing proposals in for the next round of Spitzer observations, so we’ll be watching our backs,” joked Grillmair. elise.kleeman@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, EXT. 4451 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LA CA?ADA FLINTRIDGE – For the first time, astronomers have unraveled the information contained in light from two distant planets, and “what we found was nothing like what we expected to find,” said Jeremy Richardson, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Though theorists had previously predicted these distant gaseous worlds should be hot and steamy, observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed no traces of water, he said. “The weather today on 209458b is hot, dry, probably cloudy with a chance of wind,” said Mark Swain, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about one of the two planets astronomers studied. The findings, announced at a Wednesday press conference, were made by three independent research groups. Despite the lack of any sign of liquid in Spitzer’s data, though, astronomers doubt the planets could be waterless worlds. “That, most people agree, is pretty unlikely,” said Carl Grillmair, a Caltech astronomer. Instead, the scientists suggest, the manner in which the planets are heated by their suns could mask the chemical signatures of water. Alternatively, the steam could be hidden beneath a thick layer of opaque clouds. As well as noting the absence of water, Richardson’s research group noted the presence of silicate dust in the atmosphere of one of the planets, a possible source of dark clouds. About 200 such distant planets have been discovered, known as “hot Jupiters” because they are larger and gaseous like Jupiter, but orbit much more closely around their stars. last_img read more

Champions berth on the line

first_imgCash On Corona was impressive in winning his division, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front and posting the fastest qualifying time of 19.60 seconds. His victory followed disappointing 10th- and eighth-place finishes in his previous two starts. Before that, the Oklahoma-bred Corona Cartel gelding had won five races in a row. Other contenders include Like Frankie And Me and Dicey Dee, second- and third-place finishers in back of Volcom. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Starting in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship, in position order, are Marshals Law (jockey Juan Andrade aboard), Dutch Schultz (Eddie Garcia), Dicey Dee (Rodrigo Vallejo), Volcom (Cody Jensen), Corona Crystal (Ramon Sanchez), Gulfstream Five (Raul Ramirez, Jr.), Jumpn Chic (Saul Ramirez, Jr.), Spike It And Fly (Alejandro Luna), Cash On Corona (Rodrigo Aceves) and Like Frankie And Me (J.R. Ramirez). center_img The first of 10 berths for the $600,000 Champion Of Champions to be run in December is on the line tonight at Los Alamitos Race Course when 10 4-year and older quarter horses clash in the grade 1 $235,800 Los Alamitos Winter Championship. Trainer Paul Jones has four entrants in the 400-yard event, with his best bets for a victory riding with Volcom and Spike It And Fly. The other two are Corona Crystal and Dutch Schultz. Both Volcom and Corona Crystal were winners of their divisions during the qualifying trials two weeks ago. last_img read more

If she wins during Oscars, she’ll be in the bathroom

first_imgDove saved lots of money by not hiring pricey professionals and has received widespread publicity for championing the no-budget spots. But going the amateur route is not a sure thing, according to Jonathan Taplin, who produced “To Die For” and “Mean Streets.” He is a communications professor at the University of Southern California. Last year Chevrolet asked fans to write an ad to accompany music and pictures for a Tahoe SUV ad. “The environmentalists took over and completely trashed the car,” Taplin said. Some of those ads are still floating around YouTube. Doritos had more success during the Super Bowl with an amateur ad showing a driver distracted by a woman eating a bag of, you guessed it, Doritos. In the case of Dove, the soap maker has reaffirmed its message that “real beauty” comes in all shapes and sizes by singling out videos made by its customers. “Dove has already used real women in their campaign, so this is really the next step for Dove,” said spokeswoman Kathy O’Brien. The three finalists each won $4,000 and are being treated to a stay at the W Hotel in Westwood this weekend, a trip to a spa and a private Oscar-viewing party. The top prize is $8,500 and an invitation to a “high profile” Oscar after party. Miller’s competition for grand prize is an ad about skydiving made by Karen Blanchette of Lake Elsinore and an ad about dry skin made by Jannette Bloom of Boston. The winning ad may be aired during the awards show. Whether a shot at winning will gain Miller lasting fame is unclear, but she seems content with the attention she’s received so far. “The paparazzi have not staked out my house,” she said, “but I think it’s only a matter of time.” julia.scott@dailynews.com (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SHERMAN OAKS – Movie stars will hold their breath Sunday night as Oscar envelopes are unsealed, but for Lindsay Miller, the suspense will come during the commercials. Miller, a 22-year-old Sherman Oaks resident, hopes to hear her name announced during a telecast break as the winner of an amateur soap commercial contest. Her 15-second ad for Dove Cream Oil Body Wash is one of three finalists. Miller’s bit celebrates women who can recognize their own beauty. To make her point, she filmed herself singing in the shower. “`Cause what’s better than knowing you’re beautiful, even when no one is looking?” Miller says as images flash of her belting out a song into a pink hairbrush. Before she came up with the idea, Miller, whose job as a production assistant ends Friday, asked herself when she feels most beautiful. “It really is not when someone honks at me on the street,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s when I’m dancing alone in my room like a lunatic.” She adapted the idea to the shower, a setting more natural for liquid soap than is a dance floor, and taped her one-woman a cappella show – suds and all. She shot the scene with her $400 Canon ZR 200 and edited it on her home computer using Final Cut Pro software. The contest, which drew 1.7 million viewers to Dove’s Web site and more than 1,000 entries, is something of a coup for the soap maker. Following in the footsteps of other national brands, Dove tapped into millions of people’s desire to become famous. These days, outside of being selected for “American Idol,” the quickest path to fame is YouTube. So enticing amateurs to make homemade videos promoting a product, called yoummercials, was not a stretch. last_img

Rocker, others linked to probe

first_imgALBANY, N.Y. – Two more people linked to a nationwide investigation into the illegal sale of steroids were arraigned Tuesday on drug-related charges as published reports implicated more athletes, including former relief pitcher John Rocker. Steven and Karen Lampert of Anti-Aging Centers in Nanuet pleaded not guilty in an Albany County, N.Y., courtroom and were released without bail. They are charged with submitting prescriptions to a Florida pharmacy – some “obviously forged” according to the district attorney – for drugs totaling more than $50,000 for people without a medical need. Prosecutors describe the Lamperts as “criminal associates” of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Fla. Albany County District Attorney David Soares says Signature was at the center of a web of businesses and doctors that illegally wrote prescriptions for steroids. The arraignments come a day after not guilty pleas were entered in Albany by 11 other defendants, including four Signature Pharmacy officials. Also Tuesday, SI.com reported Rocker, 1996 Olympic wrestling gold-medalist Kurt Angle and former major leaguer David Bell all showed up on a client list of Applied Pharmacy, a Mobile, Ala. company raided in connection with the investigation. Through his spokeswoman, Rocker, who pitched for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, denied any knowledge of the prescription and denied ever receiving a banned substance, SI.com reported. Bell told SI.com he received the shipment of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) last April, but said the drug was prescribed “for a medical condition,” which he declined to disclose. Soares also acknowledged that bodybuilder Victor Martinez was an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case and is linked to the Lamperts’ Anti-Aging Centers. Martinez won the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition Saturday in Ohio. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Steven Lampert is charged with 20 counts, his wife with two. “It seems as though our clients have much less involvement than the others,” said Jay Golland, a lawyer for Karen Lampert. last_img read more

Team Tuttle looking for new crew chief

first_imgJust when it was starting to look as though NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel dragster owner Dexter Tuttle was on to something, a crisis developed. Tuttle, the Yucaipa resident who owns the winning dragster young J.R. Todd drove at the season-opener in Pomona, and who has driven to third in the points race himself, was stunned by the defection of crew chief Jimmy Walsh to the Kenny Bernstein Funny car operation. As a result, Tuttle is scrambling to fill the spot. “I was shocked when it came down; I just didn’t see it coming,” Tuttle said. “We’ll just keep moving along and pick up somebody, hopefully in the next two or three races, or it might be three or four races.” As a stop-gap measure, Tuttle will be aided by veterans Jim Head and Johnny West. Head, who is campaigning his own Funny Car, will help tune the dragster and West will oversee daily race-car preparations at Tuttle Motorsports. “I want to thank Jim and Johnny for moving so quickly to help our team,” Tuttle said. “We have been fortunate because there is a two-week break in the schedule right now. That gives us time to reorganize and be ready for Gainesville (Fla., March 16-18). “I can’t hire anybody away (from another team), nor do I want to. The other thing is I am not going to start calling crew chiefs. That’s just not my style. “I’m not going to panic. We’re not in bad shape. Do I think we’re going to go to Gainesville and win? No, but I think they are going to know we are there.” ORANGE SHOW SPEEDWAY Racing resumes Saturday night on the quarter-mile oval with the premier Super Late Models, Pro 4s, Factory Fours and Mini StocKars on the card. center_img In the season-opener last week, Tom Smith won the Outtlaw Figure8 main event. More than 2,700 were on hand for the return of the class. Jim Edmiston of Highland defeated Stock Pony defending champion Jim Mardis of Riverside after top qualifier Matt Goodwin ran afoul of lapped traffic while leading the 18-car contest. In Late Model acction, Brian Malone of Grand Terrace dominated the 15-car feature, with defending class champion Jim Conklin of Big Bear second. Darren Amidon of Santee dominated the Legends Cars main, with Trophy Dash winner Albert Flores of La Quinta second and Chad Schug of Oak Hills third. Dan Pacheca of Long Beach won the Demolition Derby. DRAGWAY HONORED For the second consecutive year, the dragstrip at California Speedway has been selected as the NHRA Pacific Division Summit Racing Series Track of Year. “We were thrilled to win back to back track of the year awards,” said dragway manager Dave Danish. “Our staff works very hard to put on safe but fun events and we are looking forward to a great 2007 season.” Track president Gillian Zucker credits Danish for the track’s reputation. “Auto Club Dragway has flourished under the guidance of Dave Danish,” Zucker . “Since joining the track in 2004, Dave has invested his passion and love for drag racing to make Auto Club Dragway the best sportsman track on the West Coast.” In addition to the Street Legal programs, the dragstrip has been awarded an NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Divisional event May 4-6 and the NHRA SportNationals Oct. 5-7. The Super Chevy Show will move to Fontana on March 23-25. LOCAL TRACKS The PASSCAR Modified Class will make its second appearance Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway, part of the card that will also feature Extreme Late Models, Street Stocks and Cruisers. Racing will start at 6:30 p.m. “We were very happy with the turnout in the Modified class for their season opener,” said promoter Don Kazarian. “We have a lot of local interest and there were a lot of cars from out of town as well. We expect to see more new cars debuting on Saturday.” Glen Helen Raceway manager Lori Bryant has released the dates of the 2007 HYR Endurance Race Series, beginning with the 6-Hour race March 18. Other dates include June 30, the sixth 12-Hour Endurance Race; and Oct. 13-14, the ninth 24-Hour Endurance Race. In 2006, the Six-Hour attracted 113 teams and 38 Ironman. David Pearson and Matt Gosnall took top honors in the 251 open Expert class. The course, designed by Ron Lawson and Gary Jones, features all various types of terrain, including washes, hills, asphalt, MX section, ridges and trees. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

USC faces a pack of agitated ‘Hogs

first_img“Arkansas is one of those teams I took strong exception to,” his colleague, Fran Frischilla, added. Gary Walters, chairman of the NCAA selection committee, was forced to defend the Razorbacks’ inclusion. So the good news for USC is the team it faces Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was perhaps the final at-large team chosen. On the other hand, Arkansas is a team hungry to prove it belongs. “I think they’re tired of hearing from Syracuse, Kansas State and Drexel that they should be in and Arkansas shouldn’t be,” USC coach Tim Floyd said. “They’re going to come to play because of that.” The Razorbacks (21-13, 7-9) were the only team to make the tournament with a losing record in conference play. However, Arkansas had a better RPI than USC (No. 35 to No. 40 for the Trojans). The Razorbacks had four victories over top-25 teams, including an 88-61 pounding of then-No. 8 Alabama on Jan. 6. Arkansas got in by winning five of its final six games, advancing to the SEC Tournament final before falling to No. 6 Florida. “We do have a little chip on our shoulder,” Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. “We’ll use that to our advantage. I haven’t seen any of the kids whining or crying. We’re focused on USC. We can’t get caught up in that.” The Razorbacks remind USC of a Pacific-10 Conference team it faced three times this season. “They remind me a lot of Stanford,” Floyd said. “They have the ability to score. They make it difficult for you to get second-chance points off offensive rebounds because they are a great defensive rebounding team. It’s difficult to keep them off the offensive glass. They are tremendous in that area.” Like the Cardinal, Arkansas has a 7-foot shot-blocker patrolling the middle in junior Steven Hill. Hill averages 2.9 blocks per game but isn’t much of an offensive threat, averaging 6.2points. The Razorbacks have an abundance of size in addition to Hill. Three 6-10 players split time in Darian Townes, Michael Washington and Vincent Hunter. Charles Thomas, who is 6-8, is recovering from a sprained ankle but the Trojans have to expect he will play. “They usually have two big guys in there at all times and they’re a good defensive rebounding team, so we’ll have to find a way to combat that,” USC forward Keith Wilkinson said. USC lost to Stanford 65-50 in Palo Alto, a game in which the Trojans had 19 shots blocked against the Cardinal’s 7-foot Lopez twins. However, the Trojans made adjustments to deal with the size difference and beat Stanford 69-65 at Galen Center and 83-79 in overtime at the Pac-10 Tournament. “Playing against the Lopez twins, who are really good shot-blockers, now we know how to play against guys like that,” USC guard Gabe Pruitt said. “That should help us out.” Arkansas gets better guard play than Stanford. Freshman Patrick Beverly and junior Gary Ervin are both small, quick guards. Beverly leads the team with 13.8 points per game, and Wilkinson compares him to Aaron Brooks, the Pac-10’s leading scorer at Oregon. Sonny Weems, a junior-college transfer who is averaging 11.7 points in his first year at Arkansas, was recruited to USC and offered a scholarship by Floyd. Floyd said he had two coaches and two NBA scouts tell him that Arkansas is the second-most talented team in the SEC behind Florida. “I had one NBA scout tell us they’re as talented as Kansas,” Floyd said. “They have enough talent to make a long run in this tournament.” Floyd said that Arkansas’ inconsistency can be explained by youth, and that the improvement of first-year players such as Beverly, Weems and Washington is what led the Razorbacks to finish the season strong. “They have really been the X-factor in our games,” Heath said of his freshmen. “Their jump up a notch has helped our team.” matthew.kredell@dailynews.com (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Arkansas players were on a plane on the way back from the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta on Sunday when the pilot told them they had made the NCAA Tournament. A hog call broke out in the sky. By the time the players landed, the celebration was tempered when they saw what the rest of the world thought about their selection. “An outrage,” ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale called it. last_img read more

City to step up housing inspections

first_imgRussell said if the property is not up to code the owner will be responsible for making the necessary corrections to the property before its approved by the city, or buyers can choose to take responsibility if corrections are needed. Bill Ruh, a strong advocate for affordable housing and the director of government affairs at Citrus Valley Association of Realtors, said initially he was concerned about the new law’s effect on low-income families. “I think the fact that the buyers now have the option to pay for the work will really help low-income families who otherwise would not be able to afford it,” Ruh said. “The city has also agreed to meet with some of us Realtors on a quarterly basis in case any problems arise in that community.” Russell said the goal of the new code is intended to increase safety not to place undue hardships on residents. El Monte officials said last year the city had a violation caseload of about 160 cases per month, which included converted garages and unpermitted room additions. They hope the new ordinance will cut that number down. EL MONTE – There’s a new rule for sellers and buyers of properties in the city that cracks down on illegal conversions and additions. As of today, the city is requiring an inspection to be made by city staff on all residential and commercial properties at the point of sale. City officials said high prices for homes has left residents finding cheaper ways to upgrade their homes and have resulted in more than one family living in a single-family home. “So many people bring family members or friends in to help offset the hefty mortgage payments,” said Charles Russell, the city’s chief building official. “We are just trying to make sure everyone knows the rules.” “The problems with conversions is many of them are generally not done to code. They are bootlegged in because they are cheaper that way,” Russell said. The Occupancy Inspection/Real Estate Inspection Program carries a $195.50 fee for residential properties and $252.50 for commercial properties, which may increase as the size of the structure grows, city officials said. City spokesman Matt Weintraub said the new ordinance helps both the buyer and owner of properties. “One of the problems is we have people buying property thinking the existing uses are permitted and a lot of times they find out they are not,” Weintraub said. Applications are available online at www.ci.el-monte.ca.us. Questions about the new ordinance should be directed to the city of El Monte Building Division at (626) 850-2050. nisha.gutierrez@sgvn.com (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2109 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Grocery talks to go ahead

first_imgIt was extended twice and is now being renewed daily. Three years ago talks broke down, leading to a 139-day strike that cost the chains an estimated $2 billion. Union leaders plan to meet with stewards of each shop this week for input on negotiations. julia.scott@dailynews.com (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The two sides will meet next week but declined to provide details because of a news blackout. Tuesday’s breakdown was the second time the union has walked away from negotiations in five weeks. It was prompted by a proposal that would reduce employer contributions to a fund that purchases employee health insurance from $3.80 per hour per eligible employee to $2 an hour, said union spokesman Mike Shimpock. The chains would use fund reserves of $500 million to cover their hourly contribution, he added. New employees pay between $7 and $15 a week after the 12- to 18-month waiting period, while veteran workers do not have a weekly contribution to their health care. The two sides have been negotiating since before March 5, when the original three-year contract covering almost 70,000 workers in Southern California expired. Grocery union leaders agreed Wednesday to resume bargaining with three major markets a day after the union walked out of talks because of a proposal that would cut employer contributions to health care. “We are going to attempt to avoid a strike and go back in good faith to try to iron out an agreement,” said Rick Icaza, head of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the largest of seven unions. “There’s too much at stake here.” The decision was made after a dozen top organizers met Tuesday night and Wednesday to discuss how to proceed. Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons “reaffirmed their commitment” to talk with the union starting Monday, said Adena Tessler in a prepared statement released Wednesday. last_img read more

Confident stock market bulls ahead

first_img“The M&A activity and earnings seem to be holding up better than expected. I think you’re going to see more of this,” said Bill Dwyer, chief investment officer at MTB Investment Advisors, referring to merger and acquisition deals as well as surprisingly strong profits. The Dow rose 79.81, or 0.59 percent, to 13,556.53. The blue chips set a new trading high of 13,558.48, having crossed 13,500 for the first time Thursday. The Dow has risen in 30 of the past 36 sessions. Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.00, or 0.66 percent, to 1,522.75, its highest level in more than six years. The index came within fewer than 5 points of its record close of 1,527.46, set in March 2000. The Nasdaq composite index rose 19.07, or 0.75 percent, to 2,558.45. While the week saw a number of mixed finishes for the major indexes, investors seemed unfazed by the mostly modest pullbacks. Bigger consolidations aren’t unusual given the string of gains seen in the past month in particular. For the week, the Dow rose 1.73 percent, its seventh straight week of gains. The recent weekly gains mark the longest streak of wins since an eight-week gain that ended in January 2004. NEW YORK – Stocks surged higher Friday as another round of corporate takeovers prodded investors to continue a largely uninterrupted months-long buying streak. The Dow Jones industrial average registered its 24th record close this year and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index came within striking distance of its record high. Beyond the buyout news, which has lent buoyancy to the markets for months, a stronger-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment helped investors set aside some concern that consumers unnerved by higher gas prices would pull back on spending and upend the economy’s smooth slowdown. The latest takeover news, including deals involving such marquee names as General Electric Co. and Microsoft Corp., signaled that the enormous amount of liquidity that has lubricated global stock markets in recent months doesn’t appear on the verge of evaporating. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more