A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 5:23 p.m.
GE said today it will outsource work at a warehouse and distribution operation at Appliance Park and also close a water-heater manufacturing line, displacing about 300 good-paying union jobs and another 20 salaried ones. Officials said they expect all the affected workers will be absorbed into current operations, a prediction union leaders worry still could cost jobs (Courier-Journal).
KFC: An Ashland KFC franchise owner is offering uniformed law enforcement officers free meals 24/7 at his restaurants in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, and a photo of a sign announcing the deal on the front door of one outlet is spreading across Facebook like wildfire. Doug Knipp’s KFCs in Kentucky include outlets in Pikeville, Ashland, Grayson, Hazard, Jackson, Prestonsburg, Morehead, Paintsville, and Louisa (WKYT). It’s unclear how long Knipp’s been making the offer, but it follows several high-profile cases where law enforcement officers have been treated poorly at Yum restaurants, most recently at a Taco Bell in Louisville last week; news of that incident continues to spread.
YUM: The activist investor and Yum director who drove last October’s agreement to spin off the China Division is at it again, this time at the Williams Cos. Keith Meister of Corvex Management, which holds a 4% stake in the energy giant, is using an unusual approach to run his own 10-member slate of nominees for the board of directors. Trying to meet a sudden deadline, he’s nominated 10 who will merely serve as placeholders until after the election. At that point, if he’s victorious, they would resign in favor of permanent ones. Meister favors a merger deal with a Williams competitor, but he’s been thwarted by the CEO and some board members (New York Times).
PAPA JOHN’S: A Memphis couple has been sentenced to a combined 30-plus years in federal prison for robbing a Papa John’s and multiple other businesses across Memphis in May and June last year (Fox 13 Memphis).
AMAZON: Three years after it started opening distribution centers in Texas as part of a settlement with the state over the collection of sales taxes, Amazon says it will open its eighth major shipping facility in the state. It will be in Coppell, 22 miles northwest of Dallas; an existing center there employs about 1,000 workers. Two more are under construction in San Marcos and Houston (Dallas Morning News and press release). The retailer employs 6,000 in the Louisville area at centers in Jeffersonville and Shepardsville; more about the company here.
Amazon is expanding its bricks-and-mortar footprint across the United States, undeterred by the fact many physical bookstores have been struggling for years. It’s adding stores in Chicago, San Diego, and Portland, Ore., after opening its first last year in its Seattle hometown. The Chicago store is to open next year (Financial Times).
Boulevard reviews the latest media coverage of the Oscar-winning Louisville native in our exclusive Jennifer Lawrence Diary™. Today’s news, rated on a scale of 1-5 stars:
Jennifer Lawrence earned more than any other female actress in the entire world Forbes says in a new list of the top-paid actors and actresses.
But Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was No. 1 overall, which makes sense, given the ginormous physique of the former football player/professional wrestler/action-adventure hero/HBO comedy-drama series star. With a $64.5 million takedown, Johnson, 44, vanquished reigning champ Robert Downey Jr. to grab the top spot.
Lawrence, 26, came in at No. 6 overall with just $46 million. The second highest-paid actress was Melissa McCarthy, at $33 million; she starred in this summer’s all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters.”
“Lawrence,” Forbes says, “took a pay cut from the big box office gross of her final ‘Hunger Games,’ installment and plumped her checkbook with soaring upfront fees.”
The Oscar-winner got $20 million for “Passengers” with Chris Pratt. Scheduled for a Dec. 21 release, the sci-fi adventure flick is about a 5,000-passenger luxury spaceship on a 120-year journey to an interstellar colony. Still photos have begun to dribble out in the inevitable public-relations buildup.
Speaking of hype!
Today, Boulevard reveals its exclusive Jennifer Lawrence “Passengers” Countdown Clock™. There are now 116 days, 12 hours, and 19 minutes until that love spaceship launches. (Confidential to Columbia Pictures: You know where to send free tickets to the premiere.)
And don’t miss Johnson…
. . . in the incredibly entertaining HBO series “Ballers,” where he plays a Miami financial advisor to NFL players; that’s him in the photo, top, in front of an orange McLaren sports car with gulf-wing doors. New episodes air Sundays at 10 p.m. Here’s the season one trailer:
KFC’s corporate parent has insisted once more that a Chicago newspaper story last week purportedly revealing founder Colonel Harland Sanders‘ closely-guarded recipe of 11 herbs and spices got it wrong.
But Yum’s latest pushback raises new and vital questions about what it really knows!
The story gained renewed traction when The New York Times picked it up yesterday, prompting Yum to issue a statement to the nation’s newspaper of record and its 77 million readers:
“Many people have made these claims over the years and no one has been accurate — this one isn’t either.” That was essentially the same thing Louisville-based Yum told the Chicago Tribune.
Last week, a Tribune freelance writer said Sanders’ nephew had revealed the recipe after discovering it in his aunt’s scrapbook; she was Sanders’ second wife. In a follow-up interview, the nephew, Joe Ledington, a 67-year-old retired school teacher outside Corbin, Ky., tried to walk back his claim, apparently worried he’d let the chicken out of the bag.
But Yum’s insistence raises so many questions, including:
- How far off is the Tribune recipe — a grain or two of salt, or a whole lot more? A merely teeny-tiny variation in the published recipe and the one held in a Yum vault may be a distinction without a difference.
- How does Yum’s public relations department verify these recurring claims, given how difficult it must be to access the original recipe, said to be on a yellowing piece of paper moved to a more secure location with great fanfare eight years ago? Must Yum CEO Greg Creed personally unearth the company’s version of a launch code to open the vault, then make the comparison himself? Does accessing the vault require two — or more! — executives to combine codes they carry separately? Is Creed followed around by an aide bearing Yum’s own gold codes football?
- Is it true the promotional KFC-scented suntan lotion released this week can be reverse-engineered to uncover the real recipe’s ingredients?
- What was really buried in Sanders’s grave in Cave Hill Cemetery after he died at Jewish Hospital in 1980 at age 90? Is that where the recipe is actually stored?!
By Jim Hopkins
When Tom Jurich chases the money John Schnatter gives to charity every year, it’s the ever-prowling cats that pose competition.
No — not those ones. I’m referring to the snow leopard and other big cats at Louisville Zoo, just five miles from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the University of Louisville colossus about to undergo a $55 million renovation that athletics director Jurich wants done in just two years.
Schnatter, 54, loves U of L. He’s donated more than $20 million to the 22,000-student school over the past decade, winning naming rights for his Louisville-based pizza chain for decades to come. (And Schnatter’s a Ball State graduate, to boot.)
But he also likes other charities — especially the zoo, according to the most recent IRS tax returns for his John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, which filed its 2015 return only last week. The returns show the foundation gave $111,000 to the zoo in 2012-2015; only one other recipient — U of L — got more, among the dozens of charities Schnatter and his wife Annette support. And that was on top of $1.1 million they donated to the zoo in 2008. To be sure, the zoo was just barely ahead of No. 3 on the foundation’s gift list (keep reading).
The returns offer an inside look at how one of the city’s richest couples — we’re talking $800 million — positions themselves in a pecking order where the right kind of philanthropy is the ticket to top-drawer society. This much is clear: the Schnatters don’t give a flying fig about old-money Louisville. They’re passing on virtually all the usual suspects: the Speed Museum, Actors Theatre, Kentucky Opera, the Fund for the Arts — cultural war horses favored by more established families like the Browns and their 150-year-old whiskey fortune, or the Binghams and their faded media empire from 1918.
Instead, the Schnatters devoted their relatively modest $1.9 million to 86 charities over the four years I examined, focused heavily on helping children and veterans; animal welfare and — crucially, for anxious development officers — advancing John Schnatter’s growing interest in free enterprise and limited government.
But he’s never been old money, anyway.
1980s: bustin’ out
After graduating from Ball State University in 1983, Schnatter started Papa John’s in a broom closet at his father’s tavern, Mike’s Lounge, which he famously saved from ruin with $2,800 he got selling his prized 1972 Camaro. Nearly 32 years and many millions of pies later, he stars in his own TV commercials blanketing the air, proving he’s not above getting dirty to make a sale — literally. In a Sony Pictures marketing tie-in this summer, he played a slimed Ghostbuster pizza delivery guy; that’s a still photo, top of page. (Can you imagine Brown-Forman Chairman George Garvin Brown IV dressed as a dancing mint julep for an Old Forester spot? Neither can I.)
No matter. Schnatter’s laughing all the way to the bank. Today, Papa John’s has more than 4,700 restaurants in 38 countries and territories. Its 22,000 employees include 750 in Louisville. And his stake in the $2.8 billion behemoth just soared past $800 million for the first time. That’s a lot of loot that’s arrived relatively fast. On a split-adjusted basis, Papa John’s stock has increased six-fold in the past five years alone. The question over at U of L: How much of that will Jurich wrangle for his $55 million stadium project? Continue reading “Slime time: In the genteel world of old-money philanthropy, pizza king Schnatter is busting loose”