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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Turning From Reality to La-La Land...

we scan The Hollwood Reporter in search of stories to divert us from momentous issues of war and peace, and drown out today's ominous economic political and military echoes of the 1930's in hot jazz, or a reasonable facsimile thereof,  and accordingly,  find the following.

Eriq Gardner asks, Do Celebrities Control the Rights to their Own Halloween Costumes? 
Only ten months to Halloween. Still a lot of time for consumers to figure out which celebrities make the scariest, funniest, or coolest Halloween costumes this year. But in the meantime, a case is about to go before the New York District Court that might help determine when costume manufacturers need to explicitly license a celebrity's image.
On December 17, Forum Novelties filed a lawsuit against the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the rights to Albert Einstein's image and reportedly earned about $10 million last year in licensing revenue. Forum seeks a declaratory judgment that it can sell an Einstein disguise kit without violating the publicity rights now owned by Hebrew University.
According to the complaint, Forum has been hounded by co-defendant GreenLight, a licensee of Einstein's image, since November 2008. The two parties have been going back and forth since then about necessary rights and money allegedly owed for possible infringement.
 Matthew Belloni reports that Man Who Says DreamWorks Stole 'Kung Fu Panda' Wins Round in Court
EXCLUSIVE: The man who is suing DreamWorks Animation claiming it stole his idea for Kung Fu Panda has won a small victory in his multi-million dollar lawsuit against the company.
Terence Dunn, a self-described "writer-producer-teacher-philosopher," filed suit in June claiming that he pitched the story of a "spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear" to DWA execs during a series of phone conversations in Nov. 2001 but the studio passed. Months later, DWA announced it was working with Jack Black to develop Kung Fu Panda, which in 2008 grossed $632 million worldwide, launched a merchandise bonanza and spawned a sequel, due next summer.
Lawyers for both sides were in court on Thursday arguing a small but key issue. One of the challenges from the plainitiff's perspective in these idea submission cases is that you don't really know how much the damages are until you look at the studio's books. The studios, obviously, don't want that to happen, or at least they want to make you jump through hoops and spend a lot of money on lawyers to make that happen. So, like many corporate defendants in Hollywood lawsuits, DWA lawyers at Loeb & Loeb filed a motion to split (or "bifurcate") the case into separate phases of liability and damages. That would have forced Dunn to prove he was owed money before he even got to delve into the books to figure out how much that might be.
But Judge Joanne O'Donnell has issued a tentative ruling shutting down the DWA strategy and denying the motion. Now the case moves to the discovery phase, where Dunn and attorney Glen Kulik will attempt to gather internal DWA documents about boxoffice gross, DVD and merchandise revenue to help support their claims that the studio made millions from Dunn's ideas. They're also trying to prove the studio had access to Dunn's ideas (he claims he created "Zen-Bear" years before Panda) in advance of developing the movie.
Depositions, including those of Lance Young and Michael Lachance, the DWA execs who were allegedly communicating with Dunn, are expected to take place in January. A trial date is scheduled for next year.
 And wouldn't you know, as the Golden Globes were about to be handed out,  Matthew Belloni tells us, Former Golden Globes Publicist Sues Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Claiming 'Payola'
 Michael Russell, who for years represented the Golden Globes as its lead publicist, has filed a $2 million lawsuit accusing the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. of "payola" in connection with the show.
The suit -- filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court on the eve of Sunday's Globes telecast by Russell, Stephen Locascio, Cinepoint Prods and the Michael Russell Group -- accuses the journalist organization of terminating a deal for Russell and his company to rep the show after he asked that the association stop accepting "payola" in connection with the Globes awards.
The lawsuit says Russell and Locascio attempted to convince HFPA president Philip Berk(also a defendant) to end the alleged "unethical and potentially unlawful deals" that many of the 90-odd HFPA members allegedly engage in, conduct the plaintiffs say amounts to "payola" and violates California law.
Meantime, Eriq Gardner reports, a Class Action Lawsuit Claims Film School Overstates Job Opportunities .
A new proposed class action targets the Los Angeles Film School and Los Angeles Recording School for alleged deceptive practices in attracting students by over-promising jobs in the entertainment industry.
According to a lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior Court, students pay $18,000 to $23,000 in tuition to receive 900 hours of instruction from an accredited school. The two schools, which offer students training in the technical aspects of content development, are said to maintain career development departments that manage "a curriculum designed to prepare students for the pursuit of internships and entry level employment."
The plaintiffs claim, however, that they didn't receive 900 hours of instruction and that the schools only attained accreditation by manipulating their job placement rates. Specifically, the schools are alleged to have offered students gift cards to Target and Best Buy if students signed self-employment forms and misrepresented sales clerk positions at Apple and Guitar Center stores as "creative positions." These efforts were allegedly made to fool ACCET, which handles accreditation for continuing education schools, into thinking that these film students had job opportunities.

Matthew Belloni and Eriq Gardner run down the Top 10 Hollywood Lawsuits of 2010, featuring the likes of Don Johnson, Casey Affleck, Nicollette Sheridan !