The yearlong Dumb And Dumber To legal battle between Red Granite Pictures and producers Steve Stabler and Brad Krevoy is over. The producers today requested their racketeering allegations against the financiers be dismissed. This filing (read it here) means, I’ve learned, that the two sides have reached a confidential settlement to the lawsuit that Red Granite launched last July 15 to get the franchise’s original producers off the sequel. RGP said at the time that Stabler and Krevoy had no right to be a part of the Universal-distributed follow-up to the 1994 hit. No right translated into no credits or fees for the producers on the $35 million budget-project. While details were not disclosed, settlements in cases like this mean it’s very likely you’ll see Stabler and Krevoy in the Dumb And Dumber To credits now.
This wasn’t exactly down to the wire but it was getting close. A hearing on the claims of racketeering and other illegal activity was set for August 19. Even with today’s filing, the case itself is still formally scheduled to go to trial October 9, or just more than a month before the Jim Carrey- and Jeff Daniels-starring comedy sequel opens November 15, 20 years after the original. However, expect that to disappear from the docket soon.
Things in the case ever took an underworld turn this year when the defendants alleged that The Wolf Of Wall Street financier RGP was fueled … Read More »
I can tell you that DirecTV today filed a breach of contract complaint against Al Jazeera America. I can tell you that the civil case complaint demands a 10-day jury trial and seeks more than $25,000 but also is looking for declaratory relief. Finally, I can tell you that the 17-page filing by the satellite service provider has something to do with the Affiliation Agreement that DirecTV entered into with AJAM predecessor Current TV back on July 13, 2005, just over two weeks before the channel co-owned by Al Gore debuted. Beyond that, and who the plaintiffs’ lawyers are, virtually everything else in the complaint (read it here) is redacted. DirecTV reps had no comment when I contacted them about the blacked-out filing. Al Jazeera America weren’t saying much either. “We have not reviewed the complaint and therefore have no comment,” an AJAM spokesperson told me today. A non-redacted version also has been filed in LA Superior but is under seal, I’ve learned.
Could this complaint be something similar to when Time Warner Cable dropped Al Jazeera America from its service minutes after the Qatar-owned news channel bought Current TV for $500 million back in January 2013. Saying it didn’t consent to the sale, TWC jettisoned AJAM. The new station launched on August 20 that year, and a few months later the two sides … Read More »
Looks like Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has no patience with waiting in line for a lawsuit claiming it violated the American With Disabilities Act to make its way through the courts. The division of the media giant bluntly hit back against complaint filed in early April by the families of children with developmental disorders over treatment at its parks. “Disney prays for the following relief,” said the 93-page response filed yesterday in federal court (read it here), “that the Plaintiffs take nothing by their Complaint … Plaintiff’s compliant be dismissed with prejudice in its entirety.”
In fact, in their repetitive point-by-point retort, Disney lawyers Rhonda Trotter and Daniel Paluch of LA firm Kaye Scholer LLP basically give short shrift to nearly all the allegations of violations of the ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act from the large group of plaintiffs. The families say the violations occurred because of the introduction in October of a new and cumbersome to say the least Disability Access Service at the company’s theme parks and resorts including Disneyland. Long story short, the DAS left the children disrepected by park employees, stuck in long lines to which their conditions are unsuited and causing “meltdown behaviors.”
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The correspondence pugilism between CAA and AMC over the agency’s lawsuit with former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont against the entertainment company over unpaid fees, self-dealing, gross receipts and other claims just put its brass knuckles on again. “AMC’s document requests clearly exceed the bounds of legitimate discovery, as they go far beyond any issues relevant to the instant litigation. Worse, they are manifestly so burdensome and overbroad that compliance would be all but impossible,” said the agency’s lawyer Jerry Bernstein in letter sent this week to Justice Eileen Bransten of the Supreme Court of New York. The correspondence seeking a conference to find resolution in the matter is in response to a letter AMC sent two weeks ago to Her Honor seeking a wide swath of confidential documents from the agency for the case.
“Such a wholesale disclosure of the confidential information of potentially thousands of clients would be devastating to CAA’s reputation and business, would greatly damage CAA’s relationship with its clients, and would have a chilling effect on its competitive position in the marketplace,” the dense July 1 letter says (read it here). “Although prominent, CAA is certainly not the only talent agency in the entertainment industry. CAA’s clients would be outraged at the disclosure of their private information in litigation they are not parties to,” the Blank Rome attorney added. “Moreover, they would not be satisfied that even a ‘highly confidential’ designation of their documents would protect their privacy and their business interests.”
Related: AMC Slams “Ill-Conceived” ‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit From Frank Darabont & CAA
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To quote heavy metal rock gods Judas Priest, if Universal think they’re going to get the multi-claim copyright infringement Section 6 lawsuit from MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq easily dismissed, the plaintiffs just told them they’ve got another thing coming. “Plaintiffs have alleged past and ongoing conduct by Universal sufficient to constitute direct and secondary copyright infringement,” says the opposition filed this week to Universal’s motion to dismiss late last month the lawsuit over the proposed pic about the WWI creation of the UK’s MI6. The intelligence agency is the same one Bond works for in the Ian Fleming books and their hugely successful big screen adaptations. “Accordingly, this action is not, as Universal claims, “premature,’” the June 25th filing adds with a slap on the Comcast-owned studio’s past attempts to “to trivialize the monetary damages its infringing conduct has thus far inflicted.” And MGM and the Bond producers are more than a little peeved at the legal maneuvers Universal are using to get the matter out of the courts. “Universal’s reliance on the assertion that it did not write or contribute to the Screenplay is inconsequential,” says the filing (read it here) from Robert Schwartz, Cassandra Seto, and Brian Finkelstein of LA’s O’Melveny & Myers and Marc Becker of LA firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
This all started in the federal courts on April 3 when MGM and Danjaq whacked Universal for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced … Read More »
AMC wants CAA to open up its files on a wide range of clients in the latest salvo in the legal battle between the entertainment company and former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and the agency over unpaid fees, self-dealing, gross receipts and other claims. Actually on this occasion Darabont is not really a player as it is his co-plaintiff that AMC is taking a hefty swipe at in a letter sent to this week to NY Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten (read it here). “Plaintiffs cannot have it both ways – to allege that Defendants breached industry custom and practice,but then refuse to produce the documents in their possession that speak directly to and disprove these allegations,” says the June 16 correspondence that asks the judge to order CAA to deliver the docs. AMC claims that CAA are ” insisting that the documents are confidential and the burdens associated with producing them are too high.”
This latest letter to the judge follows a June 5 ruling by the Judge to allow Darabont and CAA’s lawyers to look at licensing agreements AMC had with Sony over Breaking Bad and with Lionsgate over Mad Men, something the plaintiffs had desired and the broadcaster had resisted. Also, among other things, the judge ordered AMC to hand over all pertinent documents related to The Walking Dead’s finances to determine what came in and based on that what Darabont may be owed. With that in mind, this most recent letter follows the dug-in approach that both sides have adopted in the case first filed by Darabont and CAA in a December 17 complaint. The plaintiffs allege that they were tricked out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster series and that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. AMC says that’s not true. Earlier
in the case, when it was resisting handing over documents itself, AMC revealed that Darabont had been paid out nearly $3 million for his work on the first two seasons of WD before the producer was kicked off the show in late July 2011.In the letter of this week they say that both sides referred to additional compensation for Darabont as “Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts” in their agreements and documents – which is why they want these requested documents for their discovery process.
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The $80 million legal battle between Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company and the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien over copyright and digital merchandising just took another turn – this time against some of the lawyers. The studio and its partner in this case this week filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP disqualified from the case. “Warner and Zaentz bring this motion to disqualify Greenberg as counsel of record for the Tolkien/HC Parties in this litigation and for other relief, because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct,” said the motion filed yesterday in federal court. WB and Zaentz have asked for a hearing on July 7 for Judge Audrey Collinsto to rule on their motion (read it here).
The other side says this is all a smokescreen. “There is absolutely no basis for the motion filed by WB and Zaentz yesterday,” said Greenberg attorney Bonnie Eskenazi today. ”Greenberg Glusker acted properly in all respects at all times. The motion was filed for purely and transparently tactical and strategic reasons. We look forward to the Court vindicating our position.” The filing comes just over two weeks after the court denied a motion by Zarntz seeking to get a review of a document it wanted clawbacked. That ruling allowed the third-party business proposal paperwork with its reference to “tangibility” in the margins to be included in the case. It is non-tangible merchandising, such as online slot machines and other digital merchandising, that makes up the heart of the Tolkien estate’s case. While a partner in the firm, heavyweight Hollywood lawyer Bert Fields is not directly involved in this case. Read More »
A longtime Los Angeles Lakers Spanish-language radio announcer today sued the team and Time Warner Cable for “no less than” $1 million in a discrimination and harassment complaint. “The Lakers have treated Plaintiff differently and less favorably than his Anglo-American counterparts in terms of wages, hours and conditions of employment,” claims Fernando Gonzalez in a 28-page filing today in LA Superior Court (read it here). The plaintiff is seeking a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and a variety of damages for “a money judgment representing compensatory damages including lost wages, earnings, income, and other employee benefits, and all other sums of money, together with interest on these amounts; for other special damages; and for general damages for mental pain and anguish and emotional distress.” Besides the Lakers and TWC, Gonzalez has named Tim Harris, the Lakers SVP Business Operations, TWC Programming VP Pablo Urquiza and SVP and General Manager for TWC Sports Regional Networks Mark Shuken as defendants too. Gonzalez also evokes the federal Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
City Of L.A. Suing Time Warner Cable For Millions In Franchise Fees
NYT Opposes Comcast-TWC, A Break From Editorial Pack
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In a case that had as many ups and downs as the tide off the coast of the 50th state, CBS and the estate of Hawaii Five-0 creator Leonard Freeman were handed a victory today in the $100 million lawsuit by talent agent George Litto. “The Court grants judgment in favor of CBS and the Freeman Parties with respect to the Third Amended Complaint,” said LA Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White today in a proposed statement of decision (read it here). The network’s official response today was a simple “Mahalo” to the end of the 2-year case. The LA Superior Court judge’s decision comes after a very short trial earlier this month in the long-festering litigation. Litto was the agent of Freeman, who created the original Hawaii Five-0 that ran from 1968-80, passed away in 1974. His initial May 2012 lawsuit against the estate sought $10 million in punitive damages and a big swell of the shares of the profits from the reboot version of the Hawaii-set cop show, which CBS brought back in 2010. The new Hawaii Five-O wrapped its fourth season on May 9 and will be back for another cycle in the fall, free of this case. Read More »
UPDATE, 10:12 AM: MGM has responded to the ruling: ”While we agreed with the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that laches is an available defense against stale copyright claims, the Supreme Court has spoken,” MGM lawyer Mark Perry of DC-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher told me today. “The decision, however, does not end this matter as we continue to believe that the plaintiff’s case is legally and factually unsupportable. We look forward to vindicating our rights in the film Raging Bull in the lower courts.” What this politely means: this is going to be a no-holds-barred grudge match.
PREVIOUS, 7:44 AM: It’s not a total TKO, but the Supreme Court today gave the green light to Paula Petrella to take her Raging Bull copyright lawsuit against MGM back into the ring. In an opinion from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the SCOTUS said in a 6-3 vote that Petrella, daughter of deceased screenwriter Frank Petrella, could pursue a lawsuit against MGM for infringing the copyright of a 1963 screenplay upon which she says the movie was based. The younger Petrella first launched her $1 million suit in 2009 after the release of the latest DVD of the 1980 Martin Scorsese film on the life of boxer Jake LaMotta. MGM claimed that the doctrine of laches barred any such legal action. Separate from the statue of limitations, the doctrine is meant to prevent lawsuits being filed after long delays. Read More »
It’s not quite the blood and gore of the zombie apocalypse, but today the legal battle between AMC and original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA got more a lot more biting. “Doubling down on their ill-conceived theory of the case, Plaintiffs now seek to use discovery to conduct a fishing expedition through the files of Defendants, a television network, two television studios, and a parent company, to obtain access to highly sensitive proprietary and confidential information that bears no relevance to Plaintiffs’ claims, including highly confidential and proprietary information relating to television shows other than the one at issue, The Walking Dead,” said AMC today in a scathing letter (read it here) to a NY Supreme Court judge. The letter is the latest salvo in the on-going case first filed by Darabont and CAA in a December 17 complaint. The plaintiffs allege that they were scammed out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster series and that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. AMC, of course, says that’s not the case.
Related: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5: First-Look Photo
Of course, all that could become irrelevant or at least secondary very soon. “Contracts are not screenplays,” said AMC’s attorney Marc E. Kasowitz with some rhetorical flourish in this most recent letter. “The law does not permit them to be unilaterally rewritten simply because one party dislikes the ending. Yet, that is precisely what Plaintiffs seek in this action.” Once again rejecting Darabont and CAA’s contentions of self-dealing and low license fees in their original complaint last year, the cable station also revealed to no great surprise that they plan to file a motion for summary judgment for liability soon. AMC also let slip that they paid Darabont “close to $3 million” for his work on WD Seasons 1 & 2 before canning him from the show he developed back in late July 2011.
Related: AMC Greenlights Three Unscripted Series, Including Chris Hardwick’s ‘Celebrity Bowling’
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UPDATE, 7:50 AM: No word if the movie is going ahead but the Allman Brothers Band frontman’s lawsuit against Midnight Rider director Randall Miller‘s production company Unclaimed Freight is over. “We have come together and reasoned with one another,” Gregg Allman‘s lawyer David Long-Daniels today told Judge John Morse Jr’s Georgia courtroom. With a motion for dismissal without prejudice being filed, the attorney offered no other details about what settlement the two sides had reached over Allman’s April 28 complaint over the big screen option to his life. The musician’s lawsuit was also an effort to stop the Miller-helmed film from starting up again after the February 20 death of camera assistant Sarah Jones and the suspension of filming. While this dispute centered on allegedly missed payments and production schedule on the controversial pic, Allman had already advocated Miller drop the project.
Related: William Hurt Pulls Out Of ‘Midnight Rider’ Movie
During a hearing on Monday, one of Miller’s lawyers insinuated that Allman was just using the rights issues to shut the movie down because of the tragedy of Jones’ death. “Just because the going gets rough, just because it gets inconvenient, that doesn’t mean Mr. Allman can pick up his marbles and go home,” attorney Donnie Dixon told the court.
“I was in the middle of the track and I almost died,” said Miller himself about that … Read More »
What a difference a week makes. On May 1, Quentin Tarantino was back in the legal ring to take another swing at Gawker with an amended complaint in his The Hateful Eight copyright infringement lawsuit. Now, he’s walked away from his $1 million rumble with the site over their posting of his previously leaked screenplay. “NOTICE is hereby given that… plaintiff Quentin Tarantino (“Plaintiff”) voluntarily dismisses the above-captioned action, in its entirety, without prejudice,” said a filing made in federal court by the Oscar-winning director’s lawyers Marty Singer, Evan Spiegel and Harry Self III late Wednesday (read it here). Of course, being smart attorneys, the trio hasn’t entirely lowered its client’s gloves. “This dismissal is made without prejudice, whereby Plaintiff may later advance an action and refile a complaint after further investigations to ascertain and plead the identities of additional infringers resulting from Gawker Media’s contributory copyright infringement, by its promotion, aiding and abetting and materially contributing to the dissemination to third-parties of unauthorized copies of Plaintiff’s copyrighted work,” adds the 2-page filing.
Related: Tarantino’s Staged ‘Hateful Eight’ Reading Reveals Pic Not Dead
It is a sudden end to what was shaping up to be a potentially epic drama. After his Hateful Eight script leaked and then showed up online, an angry Tarantino had sued … Read More »
Spring break is over, but the party hasn’t stopped for Spring Breakers. No, I’m not talking about the proposed sequel of sorts that Wild Bunch reportedly is bringing to Cannes this year. Instead, today an early investor in the Harmony Korine-directed 2013 bacchanalia has sued the producers for at least $1.39 million in damages over profits and monies due from the pic. “On or about February 16, 2012, Walker entered into a written contract with SBLLC (Spring Breakers LLC) whereby Walker put up $700,000.00 in financing for Spring Breakers in exchange for certain rights, including without limitation certain repayment and credit rights,” claims the 26-page Breach of Written Contract complaint (read it here) from Wicks Walker and his Division Films. The complaint names as defendants producers Chris Hanley and Jordan Gertner and their Muse Productions from the movie starring James Franco and Selena Gomez.
Related: James Franco’s Former Biz Management’s Countersuit “Will Be Shut Down Quickly”, Says Plaintiffs’ Attorney
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Just eight days before X-Men: Days Of Future Past opens everywhere on May 23, the mutant team’s co-creator Jack Kirby will be getting some marquee attention from the Justices of the Supreme Court. Attention that could lead to Marvel and Disney arguing in front of the High Court against the Kirby heirs over the rights to the numerous characters from the X-Men to The Avengers and the Fantastic Four and many more that the comic legend co-created.
Related: Marvel & Disney Rights Case For Supreme Court To Decide Says Kirby Estate
On May 15, the nine Justices will debate in private Conference whether or not to get involved in the Kirby heir’s 5-year attempt to gain back the rights from the media giant. If the High Court agrees to the March 21 filed petition from Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby, an oral argument date will be scheduled later this month for the SOCTUS’ next term.
Marvel and Disney are probably shocked that after their successive victories in lower courts this case is even been discussed in Conference. They certainly didn’t seem to take the initial petition very seriously. On April 24, the media giant’s attorney R. Bruce Rich filed a waiver (read it here) with the Supreme Court. The lawyer from NYC firm Weil … Read More »
It won’t silence tonight’s inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards on NBC, but a new lawsuit aims to make the newest music awards show a very short-lived affair. A trial date of April 6, 2015, already has been set for the multi-claim trademark infringement and unfair competition complaint filed in federal court earlier this week against Clear Channel and Premiere Radio Networks (read it here). While the live show will go on tonight, plaintiffs Radio Dogs claim that the new show, executive produced by Ryan Seacrest Prods, is far too close to their Radio Music Awards brand. They want an injunction against the show, its online presence shut down, materials destroyed and unspecified monetary damages “including all of Defendants’ profits or gains of any kind resulting from the actions complained of herein.” Radio Dogs registered the trademark Radio Music Awards with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on February 4, 2003.
Sounds pretty strong, especially when you consider that Radio Dogs produced the trademarked Radio Music Awards on the WB in 1999, then on ABC from 2000-01 and on — surprise, surprise — NBC from 2003-05. Add that American Idol frontman Seacrest was the host of those shows and Clear Channel was the major sponsor. And the fact is the two logos do share some characteristics. Read More »
UPDATE, 1:19 PM: Turns out Tess Gerritsen has strongly believed for a few months that her 1999 Gravity novel and the 2013 Alfonso Cuaron-directed film of the same name might have a lot more in common than she first assumed. Shifting from her previous stance that all the two shared was a title, the best selling author yesterday sued Warner Bros for more than $10 million and breach of contract over the Gravity movie. Here’s perhaps why. “In February 2014, Ms. Gerritsen received startling new information from a reliable source,” said a statement posted on the author’s blog late last night. “She was told that at least one individual who was key to the development of the film Gravity had also been connected to her project while it was in development, and would have been familiar with her novel.” No names are given nor what the individual in question’s role was.
In yesterday’s filing in federal court, Gerritsen, upon whose books TNT‘s flagship drama series Rizzoli & Isles is based, never provided a true smoking gun as to how her novel about a female astronaut trapped in space ended up as a 2013 movie with a similar main character with seemingly nothing to do with her. The hugely successful writer did claim in her court filing that recently … Read More »
The Peacock’s search for new comedy talent might have to find itself a new name. NBCUniversal was hit with a trademark infringement compliant (read it here) this week by a L.A. group trains people in the art of the funny under the name Comedy Playground. Earlier this month, NBC’s Entertainment President Jennifer Salke announced the national NBC Comedy Playground campaign that would offer up-and-coming comedy writers a chance to pitch ideas to the network. The two winners would get a half-hour show each on NBC for next summer. Not so fast, says the other Comedy Playground in its suit filed April 23 in federal court. “The harm caused by NBC’s actions to Comedy Playground and its reputation is devastating and irreversible,” says the 13-page filing of the network’s contest set to start May 1. “Even though NBC’s contest has not yet formally begun, Comedy Playground has already experienced multiple instances of actual confusion. If permitted to continue, NBC’s use of the COMEDY PLAYGROUND name and mark will deceive the public about the relationship of the parties and effectively obliterate Comedy Playground’s hard earned reputation and goodwill.” Read More »