Entertainment Law News 12.2.09
- Comcast is inching closer to finally announcing the worst-kept secret in showbiz — the company has acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal. The legal work won’t end there, however. The takeover is expected to draw intense regulatory scrutiny from the FCC, FTC, Justice Department, and Congress. Lawyers for Comcast will likely need to show that the new company won’t undermine competition with other pay-TV services by withholding programming or by shaking up deals with NBC affiliates. Some are even beginning to question what the deal means for the future of online video as NBCU holds a significant stake in Hulu.
- A Massachusetts judge has handed media mogul Summer Redstone a legal victory against his nephew, Michael, who claimed he was unfairly deprived of shares worth millions of dollars in National Amusements, a holding company through which Summer owns controlling stakes in CBS and Viacom. Judge Hinkle ruled that the plaintiff had not met the burden of proving the creation of an oral trust in 1959.
- The Smashing Pumpkins have settled a pair of lawsuits filed against Virgin Records over use of the band’s songs in promotions. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.
- The National Association of Broadcast Employees is threatening to pull the plug on NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special over an impasse negotiating a new labor contract. The union accuses the network of unfair bargaining practices.
- The FTC is examining how government might support journalism, from making news-gathering companies exempt from antitrust laws to granting them special tax treatment to making changes in copyright law.
- A mixed martial arts promoter is suing DMX and his management team for $1 million after the rapper backed out of a planned fight. The promoter says he gave DMX a $6,000 advance to prove his “tough guy” persona, but that the rapper wanted him to “fix” the fight.
- Dean Martin’s ex-wife is suing to regain agency commissions held by the family trust. Jeanne Martin says that obligations to pay agency fees ended after Martin’s agent, Mort Viner, died in 2003, but that the trust has held onto $130,000 in commissions.
- The Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology law is poking holes in the lawsuit we reported on yesterday concerning a New Jersey man suing Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey for exploitation. The author points out that the movie in question was shot in 1964 as a “short anti-drug film,” years before the first federal laws aimed at child pornography were enacted.
- At a legal conference in the U.K. yesterday, a High Court judge knocked the concept of “libel tourism,” saying that the press has invented the so-called phenomenon of plaintiffs rushing to British court to try defamation claims. Um, we beg to differ.