December 24, 2008
Warner Brothers Sues CBS Over Two and a Half Men
Warner Brothers TV is suing CBS over "Two and a Half Men," alleging that the network hasn't paid WB additional fees it agreed to for the latest two seasons of the hit comedy, to cover WB's losses in producing the series. Read more in this Hollywood Reporter story. [Also at TMZ.com].
SAG Board Calls Off January 2 Strike Vote
The SAG strike vote is off temporarily, because of increasing opposition. Instead, the leadership is meeting to consider its next move. The studios are pressing their suggestion that SAG members reconsider AMPTP's last offer. A strike is still a possibility; ballots could go out in mid-January.
Yahoo Decides To Limit Retention of Personally Identifiable Search Data
A New York Times editorial applauds Yahoo's decision to destroy personally identifiable search data after ninety days, concluding, "Internet users should be able to control how much of their personal data companies keep. Yahoo’s announcement is a welcome step in the direction of giving consumers more of that control."
December 23, 2008
Lillo Brancato Acquitted of Murder, Convicted of Attempted Burglary
Actor Lillo Brancato, Jr. was acquitted of both murder and weapons charges, but convicted of attempted burglary yesterday. Mr. Brancato appeared on the Sopranos some years ago. He was accused of murder in the death of off-duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui. Another man, Steven Armento, was convicted in that murder earlier this year. He received a sentence of life in prison. Read more here in a New York Times article.
Illinois Court Rules That Plaintiff Must Disclose Name When Suing Newspaper For Defamation
An Illinois trial court has ruled that a defamation plaintiff may not sue anonymously unless he shows "good cause" to do so, as provided for under the statute. The plaintiff had alleged that the newspaper had defamed him by alleging that he failed to pay his taxes and contributed to the bankruptcy of a company.
The court finds that the alleged defamatory statement do not rise to the level of “exceptional”, involving a highly personal nature such as abortion, adoption, sexual orientation, or religion. Additionally, nothing has been presented to the court showing that disclosure of the Plaintiff's identify poses real danger or potential physical harm. If Plaintiff's allegations prove true, the greatest weigh of his damages for harm to reputation by Defendant's publishing have already accrued. The future risk that Plaintiff may suffer some harm to reputation or personal embarrassment is not enough to outweigh the public's interest in open judicial proceedings.
Strictly Come Hat in Hand
News of the World has apologized to Nicole Cutler, a dancer on the popular British show Strictly Come Dancing (which inspired Dancing With the Stars), for alleging that she said nasty things about the show's hosts. The apology appeared in print and online after Ms. Cutler complained to the Press Complaints Commission.
MSNBC.com reports that Tom Cruise's publicity folks tried to get some good reviews for Mr. Cruise's latest film Valkyrie by offering a private screening to employees at the radio station K-Earth 101 if they'd only say "nice things" about the flick.
December 22, 2008
"We're Sorry....So Sorry...."
Today, the New York Times apologized for printing what it thought was an email from the Mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoë, critizing Caroline Kennedy for seeking Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. As it turns out. Mr. Delanoë sent no such email. Said the Times, "This letter was a fake. It should not have been published. Doing so violated both our standards and our procedures in publishing signed letters from our readers. We have already expressed our regrets to Mr. Delanoë's office and we are now doing the same to you, our readers." Read the fake missive, and the apology, here.
The Digital Transition Looms
The New York Times' Eric Taub discusses what's gone right--and wrong--with the transition to digital television. Says Mr. Taub, most commentators think the transition has gone mostly wrong. Some consumers still don't quite understand that the transition is coming soon, and that when the fateful day is here, their faithful rabbit-eared tv, that has worked for decades, won't work any longer. Some consumers are angry that the coupons they sent for to purchase converter boxes expired before converter boxes were available for purchase and they aren't allowed to get more coupons. (Whose idea was that?) The educational campaign hasn't gone well. Read more here.
December 21, 2008
Robert Gibbs, Front and Center
In today's New York Times, Mark Leibovich discusses what kind of relationship President Obama might have with the press. The key, he says, is Mr. Obama's newly named spokesperson Robert Gibbs.
Warner Tells YouTube To Take Down Video Clips
Negotiations between YouTube and Warner Music over royalties have broken down, and consequently Warner has told YouTube to take down all clips by Warner Music artists, reports Reuters. Read more here.
French Appeals Court: "Les Miserables" Sequels OK; Original Work Now in Public Domain
A French appeals court has ruled that Francois Ceresa's novels, which he wrote as a kind of sequel to Les Miserables while they may not exhibit Victor Hugo's talent, may nonetheless continue to be sold. The famed author's heirs had tried to obtain an injunction and damages on the grounds that the books, which used Hugo's characters, were an "insult" to Les Miserables. But the judge ruled that Les Miserables is in the public domain and Mr. Ceresa may therefore use it. Read more here in a BBC article and here in a story from Agence France Presse. This Reuters story has interviews with the lawyers who represented the parties.
RIAA Trying New Tactics Against Those Suspected Of Illegal Downloading
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Recording Industry Association of America is abandoning its policy of suing those individuals it believes have downloaded songs illegally and is instead entering into agreements with ISPs to try to shut off suspected piraters' access to the Internet. Suing suspected downloaders has resulted in very bad press for the RIAA, and lately, countersuits. In one case, a district judge ordered a new trial for a woman against whom the RIAA had won such a suit. Here's more from Information Week.