Box Office Brawn
Will Smith set an opening-weekend record for films released in December with his latest flick, I Am Legend, which raked in $77.2 million in its first days. But he's not the box office champ—Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, is. Post-Potter, the title is up for grabs. Smith remains a big draw among top male stars, as do the two Toms: Cruise and Hanks.
See graphic at right.
My Lamborghini—Today, Anyway
The rich in America can afford to buy super-luxury autos—and many do. But car connoisseurs increasingly are purchasing time shares in fancy cars. Over the past year, George Johnson, owner of a New Jersey construction company, has spent about $30,000 for a total of 90 days' drive time in a Lamborghini (VLKAY) Murcielago and a Bentley Continental GT, among other pricey rides. "It's not worth it to buy one of these cars when you have to fix them," says Johnson, a customer of Gotham Dream Cars, which sells fractional shares in trophy cars in New York and Miami (minimum package: 20 days, about $9,000). Gotham President Noah Lehmann-Haupt says the costs and hassles of insuring and garaging exotic cars driven just now and then, and the rise in U.S. millionaires since 2000, are feeding his business. Similar car agencies have popped up to meet demand, such as San Francisco's Club Sportiva. Gotham's newest target market: companies that reward good managers with time at the ultra-luxe wheel of, say, a $350,000 Lambo.
How CEOs Lead with Their Chins
A strong chin, that Hollywood staple, may also be a plus for aspiring CEOs. That's the conclusion of New York plastic surgeon Darrick Antell, who presented his highly anecdotal evidence at the recent 2007 World Congress on Liposuction Surgery and Advances in Cosmetic Surgery in Dubai. Antell drew a line from the nose tip to the chin on photos of 42 CEOs from 2005's top 50 Fortune 500 companies. Some 90% (including Carly Fiorina, then Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) CEO) showed nonreceding-to-prominent chins, vs. 40% of the U.S. population. People equate such jawlines with confidence and character, says Antell, who performed 20 chin augmentations in 2007. (Topping out at $7,500, the surgery's a bargain compared with, say, a $92,000 MBA from Harvard.) Some dynamos have "deficient" chins, Antell admits. But most are entrepreneurs. When it's time to pick a top manager, the one with the Superman jaw gets the job.
Dial 'F' for Footprint
The European Commission has come up with something for the eco-warrior on the go: a cell phone application that tracks one's own carbon footprint. After downloading the free program (at mobgas.jrc.it), consumers can use their mobiles as an eco-diary, recording, say, time spent driving and watching TV. The program calculates how much greenhouse gas their activities are creating. If they upload the data to the site, users can see their footprints ranked against national and global averages. The mobGAS software was launched to coincide with the round of U.N.-led climate talks that just concluded in Bali. It's available in 21 languages and is accessible to anyone with cell-phone Internet access.
Where Subprime Jobs Are Growing
The subprime mortgage crisis, responsible for lots of lost jobs, is creating an employment miniboom at nonprofits that try to help people keep their homes.
Chicago's Acorn Housing plans to hire 20 people for a new call center. The cash needed will come from local banks paying Acorn a fee for each reworked mortgage. "If we come up with a workable plan, we save them time and money," explains Acorn head Michael Shea.
Homeownership Preservation Foundation in Minneapolis, which runs a national help hot-line, recently hired 60 people, increasing its ranks by a third, to 250. And Operation Hope, a Los Angeles advocacy group for the poor, added five people to its staff of 97. It's also asking for part-time volunteers from the banking industry. "There are a lot of good guys out there who want to bring back honor to their industry," says director John Bryant. Even more jobs are in the offing: Congress has passed legislation providing $180 million for counseling services to help families avoid foreclosure. Washington's NeighborWorks America will dole out the funds when the bill is signed into law.