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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interns Win Key Ruling Against Fox Searchlight In ‘Black Swan’ Lawsuit; Studio Says It Will Seek Reversal
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.
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.
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 …
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 …
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.
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 …