The summer movie season is not exactly off to a strong start. The Memorial Day weekend box-office take was one of the lowest in years.
Disney’s lackluster “Tomorrowland” was partly to blame. It cost a couple hundred million dollars and brought in just over $40 million. But it wasn’t the only disappointment, and this weekend could bring more pain with the opening of Sony’s $40 million movie, “Aloha,” starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. Early reviews have ranged between scathing and, well, scathing. According to emails leaked when Sony was hacked late last year, there were signs that the studio knew the picture was in trouble.
But movies aren’t like other products. You can’t test market them the same way as hamburgers and toothpaste. They can be very expensive to tweak. And at some point, you just have to turn out the lights and hope for the best.
For more, listen to the audio player above.
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County has grown 12 percent in the last two years. New encampments have sprouted on sidewalks across the city, including a dozen or so tents just across the 110 Freeway from Los Angeles' downtown — in plain-sight of commuters passing on their way to work.
"People go by us and think we're invisible," Dennis Epping, 44, says. "It's frustrating and degrading."
Epping shares a tent with Christine Boyer, 52. The couple has been together for more than a decade. In the past, when they fell on hard times, they could rely on family.
"See, we could always go home," Boyer says. "But my mom died. So I don't have any parents left, or grandparents, or anything. So we just took to the road."
They have issues that keep them from holding down regular jobs. He has a felony record for burglary, and she has a spinal disability that makes it hard to stand or sit in the same position for long.
"I go panhandle everyday to make money because I'm not going to just sit here and rot," Boyer said. "I have to get up every day and go hustle at least $20 to $50. Otherwise, I don't feel like I've done anything."
They spend some of that money on laundry, which for Boyer, is a way to maintain some dignity. "There's a lot of clothes in the trash and all over the streets, because they give them away for free," she said. "You don't have to do your laundry."
Epping and Boyer say they could sleep inside at a shelter, but that would require them to separate and give away their 4-year-old dog. "It doesn't matter what we go through so long as we don't get pulled apart," Boyer said. "We're all we have. We don't have anything else."
The lack of a social safety net is a constant theme. At a neighboring tent, Anthony Colebar, 48, said he and his wife were pushed out of their low-income apartment so the new owner could raise the rent. They don't have friends or family to put them up, so they've been on the streets for about three weeks.
"I'm from Illinois," Colebar says. "I'm a journeyman. My dad was a journeyman. His dad was a journeyman. Can't find any work out here."
All his job prospects require a car, so he's saving up to buy wheels and looking for another cheap apartment.
"It's hard to save money when you're out here," he says. "There's no refrigerator to go to Food 4 Less and stock up on food. There's no way to heat water to eat noodles – ramen noodles – and stuff. So we eat a lot of lunch meat, a lot of sandwiches."
Colebar says he and his wife receive about $1,200 a month from government aid.
Even though he doesn't get paid for it, Colebar does some work every day, cleaning the sidewalk and gutters with a broom. He says his neighbors don't see any reason to help.
"They don't realize how good we have it right here," he says. "We don't have to take our tents down. There's businesses. People walk by here every day. You gotta keep it clean – they'll leave us alone. Because, until we find another place, this is where we're at."
The encampments aren't just downtown. Eight miles northeast, one tent after another lines the freeway along the Arroyo Seco riverbank.
Under a bridge, several dogs are guarding three tents. One belongs to Eddie Hanson, 23, who shares it with his 18-year-old girlfriend, Hope Hunter.
They been living under the bridge for three months. Eddie says he picked the spot for "the coverage. It's out of the rain. I'm able to get electricity and a few things I need as far as survival."
Many homeless campers pick sites under bridges and on property not patrolled by city police. Eddie Hanson, 23, and Hope Hunter, 18, have a tent, sofa and firepit under a bridge between the Arroyo Seco Parkway and the Arroyo Seco’s channel.Jeff Tyler/Marketplace
They get electricity by splicing into the line connected to a street light. Hanson collects about $700 a month in government assistance, and he makes a little extra from scavenging.
"I usually collect cans or scrap," he says. "Scrap metal. Copper. Whatever I can find laying on the side of the road out here. People throw out amazing trash."
He found a beat-up sofa that now sits in front of the fire-pit used for cooking.
"They expect homeless people to provide for themselves, as far as work," Hanson says. "But records or drug inabilities disallow them to get a job."
Hanson says he's been living on the street since he was 12. He has a record for assault and stealing cars. Hope Hunter says she's been homeless since she was 14. She was addicted to speed, but says she's sober now .
"I go to N.A. meetings regularly now just so I can stay clean," she says. "Just because I'm homeless doesn't mean I have to look homeless or act homeless. It's good not to live up to a stereotype that everyone already thinks. It's good to prove people wrong."
Hunter says she got her GED certificate at a homeless shelter when she was 17. "I've been looking for a job," she says. "But if you're homeless, a lot of them will be, like, 'Oh, you're homeless? We don't want you working here. How are you going to take a shower? How are you going to do all that?' "
They have plans to move off the street. Hunter has been in contact with her grandparents, who she expects will help her with $500 to buy a camper.
"I just found out I'm pregnant," she says, letting out a long sigh. "It's really stressful for me, because I can't take my baby home without having an address."
Talk about a bad week for the “beautiful game.” The corruption charges against FIFA officials are off-putting, yet there is no other live global event that provides the marketing reach that an event like FIFA's World Cup offers.
Some sponsors have left in the past, but current ones, like Visa and Coca-Cola, have big investments to think about as they consider their responses.
Rob Prazmark is the CEO of 21 Sports and Entertainment Marketing Group. “You could put the World Cup on the moon, and the amount of eyeballs watching it would not change," he says.
With a global audience of over 3 billion — remember, there are around 7 billion people on the entire planet — an advertising deal with the World Cup carries an enormous upside. And, FIFA still has three years until the next World Cup in Russia to repair its image.
“And if they don't,” Prazmark says, “the sponsors will either walk away, find a way to sue them or just let their contracts expire.
But don’t hold your breath on that happening says Jonathan Lee, managing director of marketing and strategy at Huge.
"Brands aren't going to walk away or bail on FIFA, unless the fans actually bail on football," Lee says.
That’s not going to happen, but with some much money and prestige on the line, corporate sponsors might exert pressure on Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s newly re-elected president, in other ways.
“Will they force him to reconsider proceedings going forward and the awarding of that 2022 World Cup?” asks Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Rishe says awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup was highly suspect to begin with, and advertisers like Coca Cola or Adidas won’t want their names dragged through the mud over and over again for the next seven years.
What's Gross Domestic Product? It’s like if Westeros from "Game of Thrones" had a Facebook page. Get it? You will.
Produced by Preditorial
Design and Animation by Fatdroid
Script: Paddy Hirsch
Director: Rick Kent
Producer: Mimi Kent
This news is of primary interest to Californians and anybody who eats any of the fruits and vegetables that are grown here.
A chart out from the California snow survey showed that the California snowpack — you know, the source of a huge chunk of the water supply in this state — is at zero.
California Department of Water Resources
Zero percent of normal.
There's no water left up there.
"There has been enough rain across Texas during May to cover the entire state nearly 8 inches deep," says the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
The concern follows reports that China has placed mobile artillery on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands chain, where Beijing is in the midst of unilateral land reclamation and construction.
Texas has turned down federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals and some business owners want the money, but it's a tough sell in Republican-dominated state politics.
Ulbricht had faced at least 20 years in prison, but federal prosecutors had sought a "substantially" longer sentence for the creator of the shadowy online marketplace.
Implanting cows with the embryos of genetically superior heifers is big business these days. It's helping elite cattle breeders and beef and dairy producers spread U.S. cow genetics around the globe.
At Leo Burnett, the Chicago-based ad agency ranked 9th in the world, most meetings mention millennials. Mick McCabe, chief strategy officer at Leo Burnett, says that Millennials are "the topic du jour," and it shows in the agency's ads.
Leo Burnett works with McDonald's, Coke, Allstate, Nintendo, Samsung and esurance. In recent years, their ads have introduced themes and characters meant to appeal to a younger audience, building status for newer brands that already skew young and revitalizing advertising for legacy brands.
McCabe says that Millennials are a crucial audience for all kinds of brands. This group of roughly 80 million 18-34 year-olds spends billions of dollars. And it's a unique group, too: "It is the most diverse generation ever, very tolerant, very open," McCabe says.
"For marketers, the reason they're such a profound part of the conversation is that they represent what the future looks like," McCabe says, "and so companies can either succeed or fail as they succeed and fail with Millennials."
McCabe says there's an obsession with having conversations with Millennials, and with "what technology they're using ... what's imporant to them, how to connect with them, how to, frankly, develop them as customers for long periods of time."
Research has shown that Millennials like to make purchases that make them feel good about themselves and want to be spoken with, not to. McCabe says these qualities are very human, and so "the things that they want, to connect with people, to have their voice heard, to be authentic, to laugh, to change the world for better, are very indigenous to this group as they are to all human beings."
"What's different [about Millennials]," McCabe says, "is their embrace of technology allows them to, in a much more intense way, access those emotions, access their voice being heard."
Leo Burnett tries to tap into this mentality with multi-platform ads that involve social — or social network — interaction. One particular ad, a campaign for Always called #LikeAGirl, had millions of views on YouTube and sparked conversations on Twitter before it aired as a Super Bowl commercial.
Another notable ad for Allstate used its "Mayhem" character in an interactive ad — Allstate found a real couple who was oversharing on public social media and sold replicas of their belongings at MayhemSale.com while they were out of the house.
McCabe says that when marketing to Millennials, timing is key. This is a generation that wants to be spoken to authentically. McCabe says that it's crucial to "speak with the right note, with the right subject, at the right time ... they want it when they want it."
Part of this has to do with mobile advertising — Millennials, and anyone else with a smartphone and other internet-connected devices, are innundated with ads. So what sticks out are things that have a more personal or contextual touch.
If it sounds a little mushy and emotional, maybe that's because it is. But McCabe says the emotional outreach isn't just about money. "The health of a company ... depends on them having real connections with Millennials. If they have a fake connection with them, they won't grow."
His announcement is quintessentially Baltimore with a venue well known to area residents and the addition of a well-known local group, the Kelly Bell Band, booked as entertainment.
What's the most important community you've been a part of?
And how did it affect your life? Have you paid to be a member of a club?
What's the most important community you've been a part of?
And how did it affect your life? Have you paid to be a member of a club?
The case was brought by Jennie McCormack and Dr. Richard Hearn. In 2011, McCormack was arrested and faced criminal charges after she ended her pregnancy.
Retirement. How does it feel? And how do you pay for it?
Lizzie O'Leary talks about the psychology of retirement with Nancy Schlossberg, the author of Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose.
"Especially for men and women who are highly invested in their work, who love what they're doing, the thought of retirement creates some anxiety," Schlossberg says.
For financial advice, Lizzie turns to Rhonda Schaffler, the editor-at-large at TheStreet and anchor of TheStreet TV.
"You should have about 70 percent of the income that you had while you were working, so that means your expenses have to come down because you will have less money," Schaffler says. "And that, by the way, is assuming you have saved enough money. So it's a very delicate balance, and we've seen in study after study that most people aren't getting it right."
Generation Z is starting college. The oldest members the group born after Millennials are graduating from high school or wrapping up their freshman year of college.
Gen Z members, born in the late '90s to early '00s, are just beginning to grasp the economy, their finances and their future. At John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, Tia Reid, Emmanuel Reyes, Diego Jimenez and Beja Wolf are getting ready to graduate — all four are headed to college next year.
For this cohort, who experienced a recession while they were in middle and elementary school, the economy has been unpredictable. Reid, Reyes, Jiminez and Wolf are navigating complicated methods of paying for school and juggling their personal finances.
Reyes says that even though he has a significant scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, he's already saving for next year. "I don't want to put this burden on [my parents]," Reyes says. "I know that my dad would work harder to pay for college, but I don't want to do that to him. I'm growing up, so I want to take care of things myself. I want to work, and save that little money that I do get just to get this out of the way, and eventually, I'll be the one that helps him."
Reyes works part time as a caterer to help support his family during the school year, and he's opening a bank account for the first time to manage his finances during school next year. "One of my biggest fears is going through college and investing all this money on my education and coming out without a job," Reyes says. "I want to believe that I will find a job, and I hope that's the case, that when I come out of college, there's a job waiting for me."
Reyes shares his skepticism about the job market with his classmates. Beja Wolf, who will be heading to Louis and Clark College next year, says, "I don't think I've really trusted the economy because I've been indoctrinated with this kind of cynical viewpoint of 'you're not going to get a job,' especially because in middle school and early high school we were going through a recession.... Unless you go into science or math, you're not going to get a steady paycheck out of college."
Wolf has some hope — she's seen others "find jobs out of the strangest majors that you wouldn't expect to coalesce with what they ended up doing," but says she doesn't think she'll get a good job out of college. To get her footing in an artistic career, Wolf says, "I think I'll probably have to work awhile."
Tia Reid, who will attend Occidental College in the fall, says that she's aiming for education beyond college – she wants to be a lawyer. But she says even though "the economy is getting better ... we were in a recession, so I'm not quite sure how trustworthy [the economy] is right now."
Reid is saving money from summer jobs. "Whenever I get money, I always put it in my bank account," she says. "For next year, I've somewhat started saving. My parents are also contributing, but the school's also helping with financial aid, so it's not that big of a burden."
Limiting the financial burden of college can be a huge relief, especially for a generation whose members recognize the unpredictable job market that may await them. Diego Jiminez chose between Brown University and UC Berkeley based on their financial offers. "I've been pretty fortunate growing up, so there's always been money," Jiminez says. "It holds a certain importance, but it's not always the top priority in my life." Jiminez says his dad started saving for college "the day I was born." He picked Berkeley because its aid package will, with some help from his parents, make it possible for him to graduate debt free.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that I trust the economy so much as I trust myself," Jiminez says. He acknowledges that finding a job in recent years has been difficult, but thinks "those days are kind of past us ... if you work hard, there's definitely a spot for you."
A harsh winter and burgeoning trade deficit forced the economy to contract by 0.7 percent in the January-March period.
The State Department removed Havana from the list following a thawing of relations with the United States.
It was perhaps the only issue that could compete with wide-ranging accusations of corruption and bribery that have dominated the international gathering of soccer's governing body.