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Zell Watch

The Zell Lawsuit in Full

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ERS has the suit in it’s entirety for your viewing pleasure. It’s the perfect thing for those of you with some time to kill…or a bad case of morbid curiosity like us. Wow do we need a hobby…

Zell Getting Sued by Staffers

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From Variety:

Current and former Los Angeles Times staffers have sued Sam Zell and the Tribune Co. over allegedly illegal and irresponsible actions since Zell’s leveraged buyout of Tribune Co. last year.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges the structure of the buyout — executed through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan – and Zell’s conduct have diminished the value of Tribune Co. in order to benefit himself and fellow board members.

Developing…

Will Zell Buy the San Diego Tribune?

fistfulofzell.jpgOh, we hope so! You know, for comedy’s sake.

As L.A. Observed points out, it’s not likely, but the Wall Street Journal makes the speculation:

Might Sam Zell double down in the Southern California newspaper market? The buzz is that Mr. Zell’s Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, is looking at the San Diego Union-Tribune, now being sold. Given the debt load hanging over his own media group, Mr. Zell is a more obvious seller. But predictable is one thing that Mr. Zell is not.

Stay tuned…

New L.A. Times Magazine Gets People Made… Er, Mud. Um, Mad

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Apparently we really are the literate coast. Our sister site, FBNY received this letter of complaint by someone (a New Yorker, we’re assuming) who really hates the new L.A. Times magazine:

New LA los angeles times magazine wastes great talent. The cover shoot by photographer Jeff Burton and Style Setter Lori Goldstien model Angela wearing Victor & Rolf, Dream On outfit was wrongly sent to Sunday subscribers only. They could have gained a whole new subscriber base with Soo many new natives in the city. I guess they should dream on.

You, um, tell em? In case you’re wondering why we haven’t weighed in much about the new pub, it’s simple: It’s not online. The only thing we could find online was the old publication. And we never read that either.

(We totally stole this photo from Taco.)

Zell’s Mad As Hell Over BusinessWeek Story

The Inkstained Retch today reports that Zellots are still fuming over a July BusinessWeek story that portrays Sam Zell as horribly misguided.

Gary Weitman, Senior VP of flakdom for the Tribune Co. wrote a letter to BusinessWeek to “set the record straight” … a setting that the anonymous insider Retch takes apart point by point in its posting today.

Ah. If only the ugliness were confined to redesign prototypes.

LAT: Pressroom Teamsters’ Progress

gse_multipart11736.jpgTeamsters in the L.A. Times pressroom report some progress in their contract negotiations. Still, they’re not popping the champagne corks just yet:

This progress will enable us to get closer to the economics of our contract which will be understandably more difficult to negotiate considering the industry as a whole.

–Via TellZell

TellZell: Average Age of Laid Off L.A. Times Staffer Is 50

TellZell is reporting that departing L.A. Times staffers were given a weird going away present: The ages and job titles of every one of the 137 employees who were given the heave-ho. The average age? 50. And there’s more:

Among those reporters, more than 80% were classified as “Level III” — generally the most experienced, best-sourced journalists.

In other words, if you’re rubbing up on 50, know your beat inside and out but don’t know how to use TypePad, get thee to a Learning Annex.

Will the Zell Book Sell?

zell2020.jpgFrom Publisher’s Weekly:

Inside Zell

Jeffrey Krames at Portfolio bought world rights to Ben Johnson‘s Sam I Am: The Inside Story of How Deal-Maven Sam Zell Is Reshaping the World’s Two Largest Industries via Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord. The book will track the life of Zell, known as “the Grave Dancer,” from law school to his recent takeover and makeover of the Tribune Company, and analyze his dealmaking and his personal and business philosophies in order to provide a glimpse into the inner world of the mogul. Pub date is fall 2009.

It’ll be the perfect gift for all those journalists in your life whose schedules’ just (ahem) cleared out.

More Tribune Insanity: Randy Michaels

2313681.jpgTellZell has a few telling stories about Tribune Chief Operating Officer Randy Michaels. Not only is he an insensitive rube who mocks copy editors while they work (and makes exaggerated “sad faces” at them when reminded that 100 of them will soon be laid off), but he’s apparently the kind of guy who will lead those fired employees out of the building with his hand on their asses.

Zell-otry at the L.A. Times

Theddd.JPGThe InkStained Retch sends us this press release:

Merry pranksters scaled a Los Angeles Times building Thursday to unfurl a three-story high banner protesting news cuts by the paper’s owner, real estate billionaire Sam Zell.

The banner was hanging from the historic Times building in downtown Los Angeles. It read: “Zell Hell: Take back the Los Angeles Times.” A website address on the bottom directed the curious to the mysterious protest site by an anonymous Times employee: www.tellzell.com

“Like many of us, he got in over his head in the mortgage crisis,” said one Times employee who participated in the banner drop. “He can’t afford what he bought. But instead of selling his house, he’s chopping it into pieces.”

The banner was the most dramatic in a series of protests that have broken out at the LA Times and across other newspapers owned by Zell, who took over the Tribune Co. at the beginning of this year.

Since then, Zell has ordered the firings of more than 300 reporters and other workers at the LA Times and slashed the space available to run stories.

The cutbacks have reduced the amount of news, analysis and in-depth reporting available to readers—especially important information during an election year. And it has deprived Southern California of a voice.

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