- - Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Summer dollars rise, movie attendance dips

LOS ANGELES | Hollywood is finishing its summer with record revenue but the lowest actual movie attendance in five years.

Domestic receipts from the first weekend in May through the upcoming Labor Day weekend should come in at about $4.35 billion, $100 million more than the record set last year, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.

Attendance is down because of a steep rise in ticket prices, heavily due to a surge in 3-D screenings, which cost a few dollars more than regular movie admissions.

Through Labor Day, the actual number of tickets sold during the summer season is expected to come in at 552 million, the lowest since 563.2 million tickets were sold in summer 2005, Mr. Dergarabedian estimated.


Flu vaccine supply ready for consumers

It’s flu-shot season already, and for the first time health authorities are urging nearly everyone to get vaccinated. There is even a new high-dose version for people 65 or older.

This year, a record vaccine supply is expected — an all-in-one inoculation that now promises protection against that swine flu strain plus two other kinds of influenza.

Shipments began so early that drugstores are offering vaccinations amid their back-to-school sales.

But without last year’s scare factor, the question is how many people will heed the new policy for near-universal vaccination. No more stopping to check if you’re on a high-risk list: A yearly dose is recommended for virtually everyone except babies younger than 6 months — the shot isn’t approved for tots that young — and people with severe allergies to the eggs used to brew it.


Lawyer: Soldier was on strict diet

FORT McPHERSON | An attorney said a soldier was fasting to meet strict military weight guidelines and nearly catatonic when he fatally shot a supervisor.

Attorney William Cassara said Army Reserve Sgt. Rashad Valmont, 29, was dehydrated, exhausted and delirious when he burst into Master Sgt. Pedro Mercado’s office in Fort Gillem in June.

Sgt. Valmont faces a premeditated murder charge. The details of the shooting were revealed for the first time Monday at a military hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial. No immediate recommendation was issued.


Dead soldiers’ parents sue insurer over benefits

SPRINGFIELD | The parents of six deceased U.S. soldiers accuse Prudential Financial of paying paltry interest on military life insurance benefits and keeping more generous interest earnings for itself.

Five plaintiffs joined the original plaintiff Monday in a lawsuit that was filed in July in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

They say Prudential paid them 0.5 to 1.5 percent interest on payouts it held if the beneficiaries did not cash them out after the soldiers’ deaths. But they said the company made 5 percent to 6 percent interest on that money.

The Newark, N.J.-based insurer defends its handling of the money.


Mosque developers form a nonprofit

NEW YORK | The developers behind a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near ground zero have formed a nonprofit organization, an important step as they move forward with their fundraising efforts.

Meanwhile, New York City officials confirmed Monday the developers owe more than $200,000 in back taxes on the Manhattan building where the Park51 center is slated to open.

The developers say they’re challenging the real estate assessment to reduce the property taxes.

The nonprofit Park51 Inc. was incorporated in Delaware on Aug. 23. The papers were then submitted to New York state’s Charities Bureau.

The papers name as directors Sharif El-Gamal, his brother Sammy El-Gamal and Nour Mousa.

Their real estate company owns the proposed development site. Also listed as a director is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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