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Prudential plays Devils' advocate with new arena

The New Jersey Devils soon will have a piece of the rock.

Prudential Financial Inc. last week said it will pay $105.3 million over 20 years for the naming rights to the NHL team's downtown Newark, N.J., arena to be called Prudential Center.

The $375 million arena, which is under construction, is expected to open this fall and seat 17,625 people for hockey games, 18,500 for basketball games and 19,500 for concerts. Other amenities include a 4,800-square-foot high-definition TV monitor, two high-end club lounges, a bar and terrace area, a 350-seat restaurant, 2,200 club seats and 78 luxury suites.

In addition to the three-time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center also will be home to a new Major Indoor Soccer League franchise as well as collegiate and other professional sports, the Newark, N.J.-based financial services giant said in a statement.

"Prudential Center will be a beautiful, new arena that will help bring economic growth, excitement and a championship team to Prudential's hometown of Newark. We look forward to all the benefits it will bring to our community," said Art Ryan, Prudential's chairman and chief executive officer, in the statement.

At a news conference announcing the deal, Mr. Ryan reportedly said he suspects that before long the Prudential Center would be referred to as "The Rock," based on the company's longstanding icon the Rock of Gibraltar.

"That's been our icon for over 100 years and we're not uncomfortable with that," Mr. Ryan reportedly said.

Google perks make it No. 1 place to work

Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch--breakfast, dinner, shuttle service to work, or $500 worth of takeout meals when little junior arrives--never worked at Google.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet giant snagged the No. 1 one spot on Fortune magazine's 100 best places to work for 2007.

A company spokesman said Google is honored to be selected and that Fortune's ratings are mostly based on employee surveys. "We have never forgotten since our startup days that great things happen more frequently within the right culture and environment," the spokesman said.

Google offers employees, affectionately referred to as "Googlers," a variety of retirement plans, stock options and comprehensive health care packages that include onsite physicians, nutritionists, gyms and exercise classes.

But wait, there's more. Google perks that make a job hunter salivate include: unlimited sick days, three free meals a day, free shuttle transportation to and from surrounding cities, onsite dry-cleaning and free laundry rooms, game rooms, maternity and parental leave, access to a childcare center, and up to $500 in reimbursed takeout meals for new parents within a month after they have a child.

Several insurance industry-related companies also made Fortune's list, including: Vision Service Plan, at No. 23; Ernst & Young L.L.P., No. 25; American Fidelity Assurance Co., No. 47; PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P., No. 58; AFLAC, No. 73; Deloitte & Touche USA L.L.P., No. 76; Principal Financial Group, No. 77; Bright Horizons Family Solutions, No. 92; and KPMG L.L.P., No. 97.

'Apprentice' reject to Trump: You're sued

Reality TV isn't getting old--at least for some.

After getting turned down for a spot on NBC's "The Apprentice," in which contestants

compete to win a senior-level job with real estate mogul Donald Trump at a salary of $250,000, R. Joseph Hewett of New Hampshire has leveled charges of age discrimination against Mr. Trump, producers of the show and others.

Over six cycles of the show that began in September 2004, only two of 106 finalists plucked to appear on the show were older than 40, states the lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston.

Mr. Hewett was 49 at the time he was rejected in July 2005, according to the suit filed earlier this month that contends the reality show must live up to the real requirement under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

"If it's a reality show where real-life job applicants win a real-life job, then Mr. Trump...must obey the law," says a statement at Web site started by Mr. Hewett.

The Web site seeks other rejected contestants 40 and older to join the lawsuit that seeks class action status.

"We have had very few people over a certain age apply to be on the show. If they did and we liked them, we would love to cast them on the show," Mr. Trump said in a statement.

The suit also challenges "illegal questions" such as health history that "Apprentice" wannabes must answer.

Allstate dips into the world of forgiveness

Nothing says forgiveness like a plunge into the Chicago River; or so Allstate Corp. would like people to think.

As part of a new advertising campaign, the Northbrook, Ill.-based auto insurer dangled an automobile off the 17th floor of one of the famed corn cob-shaped Marina City Towers overlooking the river in downtown Chicago from Dec. 29, 2006, through Jan. 10.

The move was an effort to "highlight the realities of the road and the need for accident forgiveness" an Allstate spokeswoman said, explaining that "accident forgiveness" is a new insurance feature offered by Allstate that hold rates in place after policyholders get in accidents.

The suspended car, which was held in place by cables, coincides with 30- and 60-second TV commercials that debuted last week during college football's Sugar Bowl, of which Allstate was a first-time sponsor.

The 60-second spot features a car chase scripted to suspenseful music through the Windy City that ends with one of the cars plunging into the Chicago River from one of the cylindrical towers.

"Now would be a good time to have accident forgiveness," longtime Allstate spokesman and actor Dennis Haysbert says in a voice-over after the plunge. "Are you in good hands?"

Allstate's Web site at has a link featuring a behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the TV spot, including a link to view the plunge from seven different camera angles.

According to Allstate, one car accident occurs every five seconds in the United States.