Posts Tagged The Hollywood Reporter

Collective Bargaining Hollywood Style: Entourage stars Get $2mil each negotiating as one

Collective Bargaining Hollywood Style: Entourage stars Get $2mil each negotiating as one

After years of speculation and anticipation the HBO hit series Entourage will finally make it to the silver screen. Its long journey to the world’s movie theaters, as with most Hollywood big budget productions, was not without controversy and delay. In a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter, Kevin Dillon, who co-stars in the film said that discussion about a potential film had begun as early as 2008, the same year that HBO’s Sex and the City made its film debut.  Much of the delay was due to writer and director, Doug Ellin’s inability to come up with a script and storyline for the feature. However, once the script was completed the film would be further delayed by marathon salary negotiations.

One of the project’s main stars, Jeremy Piven, who was the only established celebrity prior to the original show’s conception, received a salary that left the other actors feeling like they deserved more than originally offered. After negotiations were finally completed Piven walked away with a cool $5 million, and the film’s other stars, Adrian Gernier, Jerry Ferrera, and Kevin Dillon, each signed deals worth $2 million.

In his interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Grenier discusses how he, Ferrera, and Dillon negotiated as a single unit to get their final deal, “We recognized that we had more leverage when we were aligned.” The utilization of collective bargaining between the project’s stars and the studio is very interesting and could start a new trend in contract negotiations. Rather than negotiate separate deals and contracts it seems as though Gerneir, Ferrera, and Dillon opted to negotiate as a single unit. This allowed them to secure the same uniform deal of $2 million each, rather than have their agents and attorney’s negotiate several different deals for each star. This technique can prove to be a rather effective one for ensemble cast projects, where all the stars can work together to secure a favorable payout.

Stay tuned for more on What’s The Verdict!

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“Dumb Starbucks” akin to Weird Al Yankovic’s use of parody under the Fair Use Doctrine?????

“Dumb Starbucks” akin to Weird Al Yankovic’s use of parody under the Fair Use Doctrine?????

By now, we’ve all heard of “Dumb Starbucks,” the pop up, so called “parody” coffee shop that opened in Los Feliz, claiming to have the right to use the Starbucks trademark to sell coffee.  A Viacom spokesperson (parent company to Comedy Central, the network behind Nathan Fielder’s show responsible for the stunt) is quoted as saying “[t]he episode relating to ‘Dumb Starbucks’ constitutes protected free
expression,” apparently referring to the fair use exception to US Copyright Law.  We can rest assured that there is no way, no how any lawyer would ignore the trademark issue at hand, instead focusing on the copyright issue (which alone is a tenuous argument–that the stunt is a social commentary allowable under copyright law).  Apparently, there is a FAQ issued by ‘Dumb Starbucks’ that reads:

“By adding the word ‘dumb,’ we are technically “making fun” of Starbucks, which allows us to use their trademarks under a law known as ‘fair use.’  Fair use is a doctrine that permits use of copyrighted material in a parodical work without permission from the rights holder.  It’s the same law that allows Weird Al Yankovic to use the music from Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in his parody song “Eat it.”” 

Hmm.  So it’s ok to use another company’s trademark under a law that permits use of copyrighted material? Are you sure it’s Starbucks you want to call dumb?  Please tell me this isn’t real.

(P.S., even Weird Al gets permission–though he probably doesn’t have to).

The FAQ then goes on to admit it is an actual business:  “Although we are a fully functioning coffee shop, Dumb Starbucks needs to be categorized as a work of parody art.  So, in the eyes of the law, our “coffee shop” is actually an art gallery and the “coffee” you’re buying is considered the art.”  Oh my gosh I LOVE THIS!  But even better, “…that’s for our lawyers to worry about.  All you need to do is enjoy our delicious coffee.”  Anyone else worried? ( I say with a gleeful chuckle :-))

Starbucks, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE sue so I can read about what happens in court.  This is awesome.  The coffee may or may not be art, but the arguments made here are certainly creative.  That creativity is one of my favorite parts of practicing law.  Us lawyers are just as creative as the artists we represent.

It may not even matter because Dumb Starbucks has been shut down for operating without a license (See http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dumb-starbucks-shut-down-by-679155).  Apparently the store was selling pastries bought at Vons (another lawsuit on the horizon?).

Thoughts?

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Tarantino Sues Gawker Over Leaked Script

Famed director Quentin Tarantino has filed a copyright infringement suit against Gawker Media for its alleged involvement in the dissemination of copies of his script, ‘The Hateful Eight’. The complaint contends that Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself as the first source to read the entire  screenplay illegally. The article contains multiple direct links for downloading the entire screenplay through an anonymous URL with a caption that says “Enjoy!”. After several demands for removal which Gawker has reportedly chosen to ignore, Tarantino has commenced a lawsuit that is seemingly designed to counter Gawker’s potential “safe harbor” defense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  John Cook, the editor for Gawker, has responded to the lawsuit by asserting the website did not leak the script. Cook claims that Tarantino deliberately turned the leak into a story and wanted the script published online and Gawker published the link because it was newsworthy. 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/quentin-tarantino-suing-gawker-leaked-674424

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Courtney Love Triumphs in Twitter Defamation Suit

After eight days of testimony, a California jury decided on Friday that Courtney Love should not be held liable for a tweet directed at her former attorney, Rhonda Holmes. The lawsuit is considered to be a trailblazing case as it is believed to be the first trial in a U.S. courtroom involving allegations of defamation on the Twitter platform. Love retained Holmes in 2009 to handle fraud allegations against the executors of Kurt Cobain’s estate. After the relationship between Love and Holmes deteriorated, the rockstar tweeted about Holmes who in turn sued for defamation claiming the tweet hurt her reputation.

The court found that the attorney was a limited-purpose public figure because of her involvement with a celebrity client and thus Holmes was burdened with demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that the statement was made with actual malice. Actual malice, sometimes referred to a Constitutional malice, was defined in the the landmark 1964 lawsuit New York Times Co. v. Sullivan,  as knowledge that the statement was false or reckless disregard for the truth. Love contended that the tweet as intended to be sent as a direct message and when she learned it was tweeted to the public, she quickly deleted the comment. Love further testified that she believed the tweet to be true when she sent it. The jury ultimately concluded that Holmes did not meet her burden of proof in this case. 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/courtney-love-wins-twitter-defamation-673972

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Lil’ Kim Attacked Over Zombie Makeup Photo

After posting an image on instagram, rap star Lil’ Kim was sued over a photo of zombie makeup by a Vancouver artist. Samantha Ravndahl is claiming that self proclaimed Queen Bee “splashed” a photo of Ravndahl modeling zombie-style makeup across the internet, including on the rapper’s social media pages, and is prepared to go to court to protect the image and stake some claim in her “original makeup design”. The Ravndahl allegedly posted the image on instagram and other social media outlets as part of a step by step “how to” tutorial. The artist alleges that Lil’ Kim put her name and copyright notice on the artist’s face and makeup design prior to distributing it on the internet. The lawsuit claims that Lil’ Kim’s alleged exploitation of the image is unfair and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/lil-kim-sued-zombie-makeup-673437

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Disney Successfully Ices Phase 4 Films

Disney has emerged victorious in their trademark infringement suit against Phase 4 Films. The studio successfully thwarted Phase 4 Films’ alleged attempt to take advantage of the success of ‘Frozen’. Only one month after the lawsuit commenced, Phase 4 has thrown in the towel, settling the case with a stipulated judgment that includes a $100,000 payout and requires the movie to go back to its original name, ‘The Legend of Sarila’.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/disney-lawsuit-ices-frozen-land-673259

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Judge Rejects Writer’s Billion-Dollar ‘Avatar’ Theft Claim

James Cameron can truly attest to the saying “more money, more problems”. Following the enormous and record breaking success of ‘Avatar’, Cameron’s production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, was sued not once but three times within a 10-day period in 2011. The plethora of allegations included that he used the works of various writers to create the 3-D phenomenon which earned over $2.7 billion at the box office.  Last Friday, Cameron successfully defended against the third suit, brought by writer Bryant Moore for over a billion dollars in damages. Although Moore’s claim survived longer than the other lawsuits, it ultimately gave way to a summary judgment ruling that not enough similarity existed between Moore’s work and the box office hit.  

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/james-cameron-wins-avatar-theft-672473

 

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