An advertisement for an unpaid internship that came through the Casting Society of America seems to go against federal labor laws, especially against the backdrop of a class action lawsuit winding its way through the court system over the case of two former interns that were treated as employees during their work on Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan. Here is the advertisement, confirmed by the CSA, that came through its website via the Sheila Jaffe casting agency:
Busy casting office in Los Angeles looking for a very organized intern to start immediately. Basic administrative duties such as heavy phones, scheduling appointments, running errands and typing. Reading / breakdown of scripts. Assisting department with sessions. Must be MAC efficient and able multi task with ease. Previous experience, knowledge of iMovie and editing video is ideal. UNPAID internship. WHEN APPLYING PLEASE INCLUDE “INTERN” IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL. Please send resume and cover letter to email@example.com.
Federal and state labor laws specifically state that “If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled to compensation under the FLSA.” FLSA is the Fair Labor Standards Act. When the Sheila Jaffe office was called by Deadline about the advertisement, one of the casting agents said, “Yeah, I know about that.” When I told them that this might run afoul of labor laws, she said, “The thing is, once we bring them in … hold on just a moment … uh, we can’t make a comment on this. We’re probably not going to look for them. So it’s probably not going to go any further.” Oops! Read More »
Over six months after the potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan were really employees, Fox Searchlight today were handed an opportunity to turn things around. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted the label and the Fox Entertainment Group their request to appeal vital aspects of District Judge William Paley III’s ruling from earlier this summer (read it here). The Appeal court gave Fox Searchlight the right to appeal the class certification of former interns Alex Footman and Eric Glatt’s case. The court also granted the Foxes an appeal on the summary judgment in the former interns’ favor that they were treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. Needless to say, even with a couple of other legal wins under its belt in this case since June, Fox Searchlight felt Thanksgiving came a little early this year. “We believe the District Court’s rulings are erroneous. We are pleased that the Second Circuit has granted our petitions to review those rulings at this time,” a studio spokesperson told me today. Fox first sought the Second Circuit’s involvement in Judge Paley’s order back in late August. Today’s ruling also links the appeals with an intern case moving through the courts involving the Hearst Corporation. Fox opposed consolidating the Hearst case with their appeal and were granted that too but both appeals will proceed in tandem.
Related: Fox Searchlight Scores Partial Win In ‘Black Swan’ Interns Lawsuit
Read More »
Fox Searchlight and the Fox Entertainment Group got some speedy justice today in the ongoing Black Swan intern case. Less than two weeks after requesting formal permission from a federal judge for an “immediate appeal” to his potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky-directed film were really employees, Fox got the green light Wednesday. Judge William Paley III made the certification decision in a case conference in federal court in NYC today. The matter now heads to the Second Circuit for “much-needed guidance”, as Fox said in its August 23 filing, on what the legal standard for determining if an intern is actually an employee and entitled to wages under the Federal Labor Standards Act. What the Appeals Court decides could potentially dampen the bubbling class action. Having said that, today’s decision is the second incremental win for Fox in as many weeks. On August 26, Judge Paley granted the Fox companies’ June 25 request to limit the time period in which potential class action participants can be considered qualified to join the suit.
Related: Searchlight Scores Partial Win In ‘Black Swan’ Intern Suit
Read More »
Days after yet another round of filings in the Black Swan interns’ class action, Fox Searchlight and Fox Entertainment Group got some traction and some status quo out of the overseeing federal judge. The traction this week came out of Judge William Paley III granting (read the order here) the Fox companies’ June 25th request to limit the time period in which potential class action participants can be considered qualified to join the suit. Instead of stretching from September 28, 2008 to September 1, 2010 as originally granted on June 11, the qualifying period will now be from a much tighter January 18 to September 1, 2010. The case was modified down to less than nine months in range due to the three year statute of limitations and the fact that plaintiff Eden Antalik, didn’t join the initial September 2011 action by Black Swan interns Alex Footman and Eric Glatt until an amended complaint was filed in late 2012. While Glatt and Footman worked on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky-directed film, Antalik was an unpaid intern in Fox Searchlight’s NYC corporate office. This order on August 26 could now see the number of people who can actually join the class action cut quite severely – which is a carving up the case that works for Fox.
Related: Fox Searchlight Requests Fast Appeal In ‘Black Swan’ Lawsuit
Read More »
Just under two months after they took their first swipe at getting the judgment against them and a class action in the Black Swan interns’ case reversed, Fox Searchlight and the Fox Entertainment Group have hit back again. In filings late last week, Fox asked a federal judge for formal permission for an “immediate appeal” to his potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky-directed film were really employees. “The Order meets all of the statutory requirements for certification, and the circumstances of this case are very much in keeping with other cases in which courts — including this Court — have granted certification for immediate, interlocutory appeal. The Court should therefore grant Defendants’ motion and allow the Second Circuit to provide much-needed guidance on the issues raised in the Order,” said the memo (read it here) filed on August 23 in U.S. District Court in New York. If certified by Judge William Paley III, the appeal would head to the Second Circuit. Primary plaintiffs Alex Footman and Eric Glatt first launched their civil action case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns. Read More »
Fox Searchlight said it was going to try to get the June 11 judgment against it and for a class action in the Black Swan Interns case reversed, and today it started that effort. Aiming to carve up the order, the company filed a motion of partial reconsideration (read it here) Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York. A motion that said the court didn’t really know what it was talking about. “The Court’s Order adopted plaintiff’s proposed class and collective definitions, without apparent consideration of the undisputed facts that Fox Group and Fox Interactive Media (‘FIM’) are not and never have been subsidiaries or divisions of FEG or Searchlight,” said the memorandum of support accompanying the motion. Primary plaintiffs Alex Footman and Eric Glatt first launched their civil action case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns.
With this procedural move, Fox Searchlight and Fox Entertainment Group took a strategic swipe at Judge William Paley III’s order earlier this month granting Footman and Glatt a summary judgment that they were treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. At the time, the judge also certified a class action that will look at the way the intern programs at Fox really work and whether they actually provide educational experience. The Fox entities today also want to limit the time period in which potential class action participants can be considered qualified to join the suit. Read More »
Two former Black Swan interns today got a big legal boost in their favor against Fox Searchlight. In a dense order issued Tuesday, a federal judge in New York granted Alex Footman and Eric Glatt a summary judgment (read it here) saying they were in fact treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. Perhaps more importantly for Hollywood at large, Judge William Pauley III also certified a class action that will look at the way the intern programs at Fox really work and whether they actually provide educational experience. Fox obviously does not like either decision. “We believe they are erroneous, and will seek to have them reversed by the 2nd Circuit as quickly as possible,” it said in a statement Tuesday.
Fox may disagree with what he ordered, but the judge was clear in his definitions. In Pauley’s view what Footman and Glatt were actually doing while on director Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film wasn’t particularly educational. “The benefits they may have received — such as knowledge of how a production or accounting office functions or references for future jobs — are the results of simply having worked as any other employee works, not of internships designed to be uniquely educational to the interns and of little utility to the employer. They received nothing approximating the education they would receive in an academic setting or vocational school,” Pauley wrote in the 36-page order.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Heeeeeeere’s a feature film project that has potential. John McLaughlin and producer Tom Thayer have teamed up with the estate of Johnny Carson on a feature film about the life of the venerable Tonight Show host. The film will be scripted by McLaughlin, who wrote the Darren Aronofsky-directed Natalie Portman-starrer Black Swan and most recently adapted the Sacha Gervasi-directed Hitchcock from Steve Rebello’s book. Thayer produced that movie, which stars Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, and he will produce the Carson project. They’ll shop McLaughlin’s script to buyers right after the holidays. Read More »
‘Black Swan’ Unpaid Interns File Lawsuit
Fox Filmed Entertainment today finally gave its side of that lawsuit filed by two interns against Fox Searchlight over their work on the hit indie Black Swan. The studio maintains that the interns were working for director Darren Aronofsky’s production company well before Fox Searchlight ever became the distributor.
Now that we have had a chance to review this suit, it is clear that these are completely meritless claims aimed solely at getting press coverage for the litigants and their attorneys. These interns were not even retained by Fox Searchlight and, in fact, were working for the production company that made Black Swan well before Fox Searchlight even acquired its rights in the film. These individuals were never employed as interns or retained in any capacity by Fox Searchlight, which has a proud history of supporting and fostering productive internships. We look forward to aggressively fighting these groundless, opportunistic accusations.
The two former interns who worked on Black Swan are looking to end what they say is the studio’s improper use of unpaid interns. The plaintiffs, Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, claim the studio violated federal and state wage laws and are seeking back pay for work that they say should have been done by paid Searchlight employees. The U.S. Department of Labor requires companies that use unpaid interns … Read More »
Two former interns who worked on Black Swan are suing Fox Searchlight and are looking to end what they say is the studio’s improper use of unpaid interns, according to The New York Times. The plaintiffs, Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, claim the studio violated federal and state wage laws and are seeking back pay for work that they say should have been done by paid Searchlight employees. The U.S. Department of Labor requires companies that use unpaid interns to provide training similar to that of an educational institution, among other criteria. Footman said that as a production intern, he made coffee, cleaned, and took lunch orders for the staff. He said he learned only “how to be more picky in choosing employment opportunities,” according to The Times. The plaintiffs are far from the only college graduates who took an unpaid internship to try to get a foot in the door in the film industry. Their lawsuit is seeking class action status on behalf of more than 100 unpaid interns on Searchlight film productions.
Actor Wes DeSoto has agreed to plead guilty to copyright infringement for leaking an awards screener of Black Swan and other films to file-sharer BitTorrent. DeSoto’s L.A. apartment was raided by FBI agents in April after a MPAA piracy officer tipped the feds that several high-quality copies of feature films had shown up on the site. The bootlegs were review screeners provided through the iTunes store to members of the Screen Actors Guild. The authorities pinpointed DeSoto as the culprit through digital watermarks in the movies, according to an FBI affidavit. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence between 10 to 16 months, but the government is seeking three years of probation and restitution. DeSoto is expected to appear in federal court for sentencing next month.
UPDATE, 3:40 PM: Although the drama in today’s analyst call involved the News Of The World hacking scandal, News Corp execs made a few interesting points about the company’s less sensational business activities. COO Chase Carey says that the Hulu auction is “progressing largely according to plan.” But he left open the possibility that it won’t result in a sale, rhetorically asking “does it make sense to pursue that path or for us to stay in an ownership position?” He and Rupert Murdoch also said that they support the Fox Business Network, claiming it was just an oversight that they didn’t mention it when listing cable channels that are poised to grow. “The ratings are in fact improving,” Murdoch said, adding that “we need more distribution, it’s true.” Still he says Fox Business is breaking even on a cash flow basis. Carey also says that FX has the potential to become a bigger revenue generator. All told, Murdoch says that News Corp operations were “exceptional” in the last quarter providing the company with the “most robust balance sheet in our history.”
PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM: The media giant says that it did well in its fiscal fourth quarter — as long as you don’t count the $245M earnings hit from the MySpace sale. The company had net profits of $683M, down 22% from the period last year, on revenues of $8.96B, up 10.5%. Net earnings came in at 26 cents a share — but if you factor out MySpace they hit 35 cents. Analysts expected 30 cents. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount is moving closer to signing on for Noah, the big-ticket re-telling of the Noah’s Ark story that will be the next film from Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky. Deadline told you early this month that CAA was shopping the picture. Bidding came down to 20th Century Fox and Paramount, both of which were vying to partner with New Regency, which has been involved all the way through the process. Aronofsky wrote a script that is being rewritten by Gladiator scribe John Logan. Noah might only have gotten got a few pages in the Bible, but Aronofsky has turned it into a sprawling fantasy epic that will cost north of $100 million. Aronofsky dropped out of The Wolverine after his long-gestating Black Swan finally came together and grossed $315 million worldwide on a $12 million budget. What a time to mount a dream project, when you’ve just generated one of the most profitable movies in recent memory. This will take a few days to crystallize, but I’m convinced that Paramount will emerge as the partner on the picture. New Regency is closely aligned with Fox, but I believe the company will still play a role in the funding of the picture. More to come on this one.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that town is tantalized by a package circulating with Darren Aronofsky directing Noah, an edgy re-telling of the Noah’s Ark story. Aronofsky wrote a script that is getting a rewrite by John Logan. I’ve heard he wants $130 million to make it and that New Regency is eyeing a co-financing role. Suitors considering stepping up for the other half include Paramount and Fox, as well as Summit, I’ve heard. It was described to me as a big fantasy epic, and an opportunity for Aronofsky to create a world. He’s very passionate about it and wants to make it next film, after dropping out of The Wolverine. Aronofsky’s got more heat on him than ever after directing the spectacularly profitable Black Swan, which grossed $315 million worldwide on a $12 million budget. His move toward Noah comes after Aronofsky recently flirted with Exodus, the 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment-produced telling of the story of Moses, his defiance of the Pharoah and delivery of the Hebrews from enslavement. That script was written by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. Beyond an ill-advised morphing of the Noah’s Ark story into the Universal spinoff comedy Evan Almighty, nobody has tried to tell the Noah’s Ark story in as ambitious a manner as Aronofsky intends. Will a studio step up to help Aronofsky build this boat on as grand a scale as he desires? Stayed tuned. Aronofsky and Logan are repped by … Read More »
Fox just told me that Black Swan just debuted in Japan and earned $6.1M including previews for the biggest Fox Searchlight film opening ever there. The $12M-budgeted film is now on the verge of crossing $200M internationally, but its worldwide cume has now passed $305M. Darren Aronofsky’s drama helped Fox International cross $1 billion box office at the start of this month for calendar 2011 for the eight year in a row and the third straight year it reached that mark first. Fox’s Blue Sky Studios toon Rio also passed $300M international cume this week and $413M global.
There’s no question this was Hollywood’s biggest week of the year. But now it’s all coming to a close tonight — and not a moment too soon for a lot of nominees at the end of a looooong campaign trail. “Thank God,” said The King’s Speech’s 73-year-old screenwriter David Seidler when I asked him Saturday night at The Weinstein Co bash at Soho House how he felt about nearing the end. After tonight, he plans to spend a month fishing. At the same party I caught up with the ultimate class act, Colin Firth, who between last year’s A Single Man and this year’s The King’s Speech has been on the awards circuit for the better part of two seasons. I asked him about being heavily favored to take Best Actor, and he replied, “I’m told I am”. He’s next making lighter fare: a Coen Brothers-penned version of the 1966 movie Gambit that starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. He said the film, to be directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), is not a remake and that there’s barely a line of dialogue in common between the two films. Cameron Diaz will co-star. The Weinstein party filled up fast and brought out the entire King’s Speech crowd except for Geoffrey Rush who was on stage in New York for Diary Of A Madman but will be at tonight’s Oscars.
At a Society Of Lyricists And Composers reception Saturday afternoon, many-times nominated and Inception Best Music Score nominee Hans Zimmer told me he’s been too … Read More »
SANTA MONICA UPDATED: The always loose Film Independent Spirit Award winners were presented this afternoon by the non-profit arts organization that produces the Los Angeles Film Festival. Comedian Joel McHale served as host of the 26th annual event and was very funny. He did a taped bit fretting about hosting in his dressing room with appearances first by John Waters and then Banksy (in a hoodie) who was then revealed to be Alex Trebek. Then during his monologue which was, frankly, as filthy as it was truthful), he said to a huge laugh, “2010 in independent cinema will go down in cinematic history as The Year Of Cunnilingus. Blue Valentine, Greenberg, Black Swan, Kids Are All Right – what do they have in common? They are all about eating lunch down at the ‘Y’. Blow jobs are the domain of major studio films.” He also made fun of the filmmakers and their films, like congratulating Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours director Danny Boyle for “going from making the most harrowing infomercial ever for India tourism to the most harrowing Mountain Dew commercial ever.” Like predicting that Jesse Eisenberg would be “Murdered by Michael Cera”. And referring to Best Feature presenters Don Cheadle and Uma Thurman as “the Fart Police” (whatever that means).
Best Feature included many Academy Award nominees like 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone. Announced ahead of time was … Read More »
The Deadline Team of Nikki Finke, Pete Hammond, and Mike Fleming have spent recent days interviewing the studio moguls to gauge their perspective on this very close Oscar race:
12 Nominations: 5 Black Swan, 6 127 Hours, 1 Unstoppable
DEADLINE’s Nikki Finke: How would you characterize this Oscar season?
TOM ROTHMAN: I think it’s been a really good season, actually. Between Black Swan and 127 Hours we’re doing great. So I feel actually pretty ecstatic about it. But we’ll see what happens. If I have a disappointment, I would say it’s one that’s common and consistent in almost every awards season in the modern era. That often times in the technical category, some of the master craftsmanship in a lot of big, commercial pictures tends to be overlooked, even though it’s the highest level of work — the editorial work, the cinematography, the sound in particular. It’s as if it’s not fashionable, that commerciality is inconsistent with the craft. But I would say this season is a really good representation of a number of high quality films. And I happen to be a person who still very much wishes that there were only five slots for Best Picture.
DEADLINE: I agree.
ROTHMAN: I regret that change. Because I believe that, in the orgy of self-congratulations that is the Hollywood awards system, when everything else in our world is common, what made the Academy Award nomination for Best Picture so special was exactly how … Read More »