July 29, 2005
Ex Miami Herald Columnist Talks to Investigators About Conversation With Teele
Ex Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede has spoken with investigators about the talk he had with Arthur Teele before Teele killed himself on July 27. The Miami Herald terminated DeFede after the journalist admitted he taped Teele's conversation without Teele's consent. Teele, a former city and county commissioner, was under federal indictment when he shot himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building on Wednesday. Read more here in the Miami Herald here and here.
California Appeals Court Upholds Ruling to Keep Documents Sealed in Jackson Civil Case
Using the independent review standard, the 2nd Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling to keep sealed several documents in the 1997 civil case, Abdool v. Jackson. In this action, NBC Universal had wanted the court to unseal documents filed in the case, which concerned a lawsuit brought by singer Michael Jackson's former employees. A jury returned a verdict in Jackson's favor. While the parties did not oppose unsealing most of the documents, the judge in the case "ordered that 25 documents were to remain under seal. These included the judge's and research staff's notes. The trial court made the following findings: `[T]hat with regard to the specific documents listed below, there exists an overriding interest that overcomes the right of public access to said records based on the fair trial rights of Michael J. Jackson...the privacy rights of witnesses and other third parties....[T]hat there is a substantial probability that the overriding interests set forth above would be prejudiced if the records were not sealed; [and] and that the proposed sealing...is narrowly tailored..." NBC Universal claimed that the denial of the motion violated the 1st Amendment as well as the California Rules of Court. Among other things, it alleged that "the trial court placed undue emphasis on Jackson's celebrity status". However, the appellate court found that "the combination of celebrity status and the type of crimes alleged justifie[d] sealing. The disclosure of the accusations made in the civil case prior to selection of the jury in the criminal case could only lead to a public condemnation of the defendant before he can defend himself in court."
Read the unpublished ruling here.
Investigation Into Alleged Fraternization on "American Idol" Continues
Continuing with its investigation of an alleged affair between fomer "American Idol" contestant Corey Clark and current judge Paula Abdul, Fox TV has now hired an unnamed "independent counsel" to check into the situation. Fox Entertainment head Peter Liguori told a meeting of the Television Critics Association that the network takes allegations of improprieties "seriously." Read more here. Visit the American Idol website here (warning: may load with a lot of sound). Meanwhile, ABC faces a controversy of its own with its summer hit reality show, "Dancing with the Stars." The winner, Kelly Monaco, was the only celebrity contestant who is an ABC star. Many viewers thought she was the weaker of the two celebrity finalists, and conspiracy theorists have opined that the vote was fixed. See a story here. See the Dancing with the Stars website here.
July 28, 2005
Australian Journalists Face Jail for Failing to Reveal Source
In a case somewhat parallel to the Miller/Cooper case in the U.S., two journalists for the Herald Sun face contempt charges for refusing to reveal the name of a source for a story in which they detail a plan, since abandoned, not to provide military veterans and survivors of veterans with benefits. An individual suspected of being the source will stand trial soon on criminal charges. Read more here. An investigation into the plan resulted in a report. Read the results here.
Libelous (10 letters)
When Abraham Saffron saw the answer given to the clue in an Australian newspaper "Sydney underword figure nicknamed Mr. Sin" given as his own name, he believed he had been defamed. So he sued. On July 28, a four person New South Wales jury agreed with him, to the extent that it found that calling him "a Sydney underworld figure" was unacceptable. The nickname "Mr. Sin" seems to have been all right. Another jury will determine whether Mr. Saffron should receive damages. Read an article in The Australian about the case.
First Lawsuit Filed in "Grand Theft Auto" "Hot Coffee" Video Game Flap
Florence Cohen, an 85-year-old New York grandmother, has filed a class action lawsuit over the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" video game, the one with the hidden sex scene, which she purchased when it was rated M (for players 17 and older). She bought the game in late 2004, for her 14-year-old grandson. She is now seeking damages for herself and others similarly situated. The FTC has also instituted an investigation. Read more about Cohen's lawsuit here. Read more about the FTC's investigation here. Read more about video game ratings here.
July 27, 2005
Some Papers Refuse to Run "Doonesbury" Strip; Trudeau Defends Reference to Rove
Saying that one of the President's nicknames for Karl Rove is "illuminating", Garry Trudeau defended his own use of it in the cartoon strip "Doonesbury" and objected to the editorial decision of those newspapers that decided to edit out the nickname on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trudeau said a decision not to run the strip would have been all right, but editing out the "objectionable" nickname, said to be the unlovely (but one assumes companionable?) "Turd Blossom," was not. Read Editor & Publisher's interview with Trudeau here. Read CNN's account of the "Doonesbury" flap here. See the July 26, 2005 "Doonesbury" strip here.
British Ads for U. S. Drama "The L Word" Not In Breach
The Advertising Standards Authority, the UK regulator for television advertising, has ruled that posters for the US series "The L Word", broadcast on Living TV, were not in breach of UK guidelines, in spite of more than 600 complaints that the ads were "offensive, degrading to women and unsuitable to be seen by children." The ASA "noted that Living TV had sought Copy Advice and taken care in the siting of the posters. It acknowledged that the posters had offended some people, nevertheless, the Authority considered that the images were not sexually explicit and accurately reflected the contents of the TV programme. It concluded that the posters were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, be seen as degrading to women or unsuitable to be seen by children." See an article about the complaints in the Media Guardian here. Read the ASA's adjudication here. See "The L Word"'s website here.
The Law Firm Debuts Thursday Night
David E. Kelley's new show The Law Firm debuts Thursday, July 28, at 9 p.m. (8 Central time) on NBC. A mix of reality show and legal drama, it features twelve young lawyers competing for a prize of $250,000. See the official website here.
July 26, 2005
Photographer Convicted in Diaz Case; Across the Pond, One Lawyer's View
In the wake of John Rutter's conviction in the Cameron Diaz case, a British lawyer suggests that "misappropriation could be treated as theft" in the U.K. as well. See Edgar Forbes' Media Guardian article here. See an L. A. Times story about the Rutter conviction here.
Sony Reaches Settlement in Pay for Play Scandal
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Sony BMG has reached a settlement amounting to about $10 million with New York A.G. Eliot Spitzer over charges that it arranged for radio stations to boost play of Sony artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion. Spitzer continues to investigate other industry players such as Universal. Read the story here.