Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, February 19, 2021

Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C.

StanLeeTape recordings caught the late Stan Lee arguing with his daughter JC, and they are not pleasant.. 

“I think you’re the dumbest white woman I’ve ever known!” Lee is screaming, apparently at his adult daughter, J.C. 

“F–k you, Stan!” she fires back. 

In another recording, Lee is told that J.C. has phoned to tell him she loves him. “F–k, she doesn’t know what love is,” Lee responds. “I don’t need to be upset every f–king time she calls.” 

The recordings were made by Stan Lee's ex-manager during the last years of Stan Lee's life. 

"The tapes are revealed in the new book “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee” (Crown) by Abraham Riesman, out Tuesday. The gloves-off biography goes behind Lee’s jovial, public face to reveal a man who was distant, troubled and at times unscrupulous. " 

Riesman claimed that the book is not about tearing Stan Lee down, but instead the point is to spread the message that "there are not superheroes." 

The book highlights what appears to be a disturbing relationship between Lee and his daughter JC. 

See Reed Tucker, Tapes reveal Marvel icon Stan Lee’s bitter battle with daughter J.C. , N.Y. Post, February 13, 2021.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  

February 19, 2021 in Books, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2020

John Waters, Droll Bard of Baltimore, Promises Art to Hometown Museum

John WatersJohn Waters is a filmmaker, known for his 1988 movie "Pecker." Fitting for a steward of the arts, the movie portrays the life of a young photographer. 

This week, John Waters announced that he will bequest 372 works by 125 artists, which is a great deal of his collection. The gift will go to the Baltimore Museum of Art following his death.

The collection includes pieces by Thomas Demand, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Christian Marclay, Catherine Opie, Gary Simmons, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Christopher Wool.

Mr. Waters amusingly stated in a Zoom call, "I've always said you have to have good taste to have good bad taste." This type of statement is characteristic of Waters who was coined the nickname "the Pope of Trash" earned from his scene in the cult classic "Pink Flamingos." 

Christopher Bedford, the Baltimore Museum's Director stated, “Though outrageously vulgar in his work, John is himself a man of extraordinary refinement.”

See Ted Loos, John Waters, Droll Bard of Baltimore, Promises Art to Hometown Museum, N.Y. Times, November 11, 2020. 

Special thanks to Deborah Matthews (Virginia Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 16, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 9, 2020

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' follow-up plans now the subject of a legal dispute with Paramount and Truman Capote estate

Breakfast-at-tiffanys1The initial plans to provide a follow up of Breakfast at Tiffany's have come under scrutiny as the studio will not green light a new project. Apparently, the right to create a sequel, prequel, or tv series has brought on a tense legal battle. 

"According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, the issue comes down to ownership of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella that the movie was based on. Before he died, Capote reportedly set up a charitable trust that named Alan Schwartz as the trustee."

When Capote died in 1984, his estate entered into an agreement with Paramount Pictures that allowed the studio "to motion a new project based on the book." However, the agreement placed a time limit on the studio's right to develop a project. The expiration of the time limit would restore the right back to Schwartz. 

The plaintiff in the case claims that the studio no longer has a right over the property other than the profit of the original movie, asserting that the studio missed its window to develop any project related to Breakfast at Tiffany's. Paramount responded by claiming that it still has the rights to the movie because it was under "no obligation to produce a film and spent $300,000 for the right to have that option." 

"Apparently the charity and Paramount have been in negotiations as the former is fielding numerous, potentially lucrative bids to produce something. However, the studio has raised its objections and allegedly will settle for nothing short of a motion picture. As a result of that and the legal dispute, all negotiations are reportedly stalled." 

See Tyler McCarthy, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' follow-up plans now the subject of a legal dispute with Paramount and Truman Capote estate, Fox Business, November 5, 2020. 

November 9, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, New Cases, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Carol Burnett seeks to be guardian of teen grandson

CarolThe 87-year-old comedy legend Carol Burnett and her husband, Brian Miller, are seeking to become legal guardians of Carol's teen grandson. Carol's daughter, Erin, struggles with substance abuse.

Carol stated, “Due to addiction issues and other circumstances that my daughter, Erin Hamilton, has been struggling with impacting her immediate family dynamic, my husband and I have petitioned the court to be appointed legal guardian of my 14-year-old grandson,” 

"Hamilton, a singer, is the youngest of Burnett’s three children, all of them daughters with Burnett’s second husband, TV producer Joe Hamilton."

Carrie Hamilton, another of Burnett's daughters, spoke publicly about her struggles with addiction and her road to her eventual sobriety before her death of cancer in 2002. Carrie Hamilton was 38 when she passed away. 

Burnett and Miller have filed documents in Los Angeles Superior Court to take custody of Dylan, Erin Hamilton's son.

See Carol Burnett seeks to be guardian of teen grandson, AP News, August 20, 2020.

September 1, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Guardianship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

'I bequeath all my beauty to my sister... since she has none': That acid quip, aged 9, helped trigger the lifelong feud between Olivia De Havilland - who has died aged 104 - and her sibling Joan Fontaine... a saga greater than Gone With The Wind

OliviaUntil her death, Olivia de Havilland was convinced that she was the greatest star Hollywood ever produced. You may remember De Havilland from her spectacular performance in "the most glorious movie ever made," Gone with The Wind. 

Olivia was known for challenging the "stranglehold that studios had on their stars," which brought on the end of the 'Hollywood System'.

Olivia was very driven. When she was nominated for an Oscar but lost to Hattie McDaniel, she claimed that she "was convinced that there was no God." However, she had great self-confidence and kept on moving forward. She went on to win two Oscars for Best Actress in 1946 and 1949. 

In 1942, Olivia was nominated for the award, but lost to her sister Joan Fontaine, which only fueled the rivalry which had started when the girls were young. In fact, Joan once told a reporter, "I remember not one act of kindness from Olivia all through my childhood. She so hated the idea of having a sibling she wouldn't go near my crib."

One frequently reported story was that at age nine, Olivia was told to compose an imaginary last will and testament as an assignment and wrote, "I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister, Joan, since she has none." 

When their mother died in 1975, Olivia tried to exclude her sibling from the memorial service. 

Olivia had a life-long competition with her sister, but of course, to her it was no competition. 

See, Christopher Stevens, 'I bequeath all my beauty to my sister... since she has none': That acid quip, aged 9, helped trigger the lifelong feud between Olivia De Havilland - who has died aged 104 - and her sibling Joan Fontaine... a saga greater than Gone With The Wind, Daily Mail (U.K.), July 26, 2020. 

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 29, 2020 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Humor, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Netflix sued over 'Enola Holmes' movie for copyright infringement by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate

UnknownThe family estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator and author of all the Sherlock Holmes stories, is suing Netflix over copyright and trademark infringement for its upcoming movie "Enola Holmes."

The author, writer, and director of the Millie Bobby Brown-led film are also being sued as well as Nancy Springer, the author of "The Enola Holmes Mysteries" book series, on which the move is based. 

In the film, Brown plays Sherlock and Mycroft's younger sister, Enola, who is also a skill detective. The movie is set to premiere in September. 

According to Deadline, the family of the iconic author claims that the "copyright infringement arises from defendants unauthorized copying of original creative expression by [Conan Doyle] in copyrighted  Sherlock Holmes stories."

The suit is claiming that after Conan Doyle's eldest son was killed in WWI, he returned to writing Sherlock Holmes stories but realized "it was no longer enough that the Holmes character was the most brilliant rational and analytical mind. Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy."

After creating the character in 1887, Conan Foyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson. 

See Jessica Napoli, Netflix sued over 'Enola Holmes' movie for copyright infringement by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate, Fox News, June 25, 2020.

July 9, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Carl Reiner Dead At 98, Rob Likely Financial As Well As Creative Heir

UnknownCarl Reiner, the versatile writer, actor, and director has died at the age of 98. Reiner was the creator of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and was straight man to Mel Brooks' "200 Year Old Man. In recent years, Reiner was part of the gang in the "Ocean's Eleven" movies starring George Clooney.

Reiner's assistant Judy Nagy said he died on Monday night of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Tributes have poured in from Steve Martin, Josh Gadd, Sarah Silverman, Alan Alda, and many more. 

Reiner is the father of actor-director Rob Reiner who starred on "All in the Family" and directed "When Harry Met Sally..." and "The Princess Bride." Besides Rob, Reiner had another son, Lucas, who is also a film director, and a daughter named Sylvia, who is an author. It is safe to say that the Reiners are an extremely talented family. 

It is likely that Rob Reiner will be the financial and creative heir as his father was his "guiding light." 

The creative world, especially the entertainment industry, will miss Carl Reiner dearly. 

See Carl Reiner Dead At 98, Rob Likely Financial As Well As Creative Heir, Wealth Advisor, June 30, 2020. 

July 1, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Rockford Peaches Pitcher Mary Pratt of 'A League of Their Own' Fame Dies at 101

MPMary Pratt, a south paw pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and possibly the last living member of the original Rockford Peaches, passed away at the age of 101. The league, formed during World War II, was immortalized in the beloved film A League of Their Own.

Born November 30, 1918, Pratt graduated in 1936 from Boston University with a degree in physical education and started teaching. In 1943, she joined the inaugural season of the AAGPBL. She played five seasons in the league with Rockford and the Kenosha Comets. After her departure from the league, Pratt remained active in sports, officiating basketball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse games, and even served on the league's board of directors.

See Rockford Peaches Pitcher Mary Pratt of 'A League of Their Own' Fame Dies at 101, ESPN, May 9, 2020.

May 9, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Daniel Craig Says he Doesn't Plan to Leave his Fortune to his Kids: 'Get Rid of it or Give it Away Before you Go'

CraigDaniel Craig, the actor currently portraying the popular fictional character James Bond, recently said in an interview that he is not planning any of his $100 million to his children. He has an infant daughter, born in 2018, with actress wife Rachel Weisz, as well as older daughter Ella, who is in her 20s, from his previous marriage. He is also stepfather to Weisz’s 13-year-old son Henry.

Craig is far from the first celebrity to announce that he does not want to raise his children to depend on their parents for money. Elton John, along with his husband David Furnish, said in 2016 that they would be giving the bulk of their estates to charity rather than to their two sons. Simon Cowell, told the Mirror back in 2013 that he’s “going to leave my money to somebody. A charity, probably — kids and dogs. I don’t believe in passing on from one generation to another."

The next James Bond movie, No Time to Die, originally scheduled for release in April, but now delayed until November.

See Daniel Craig Says he Doesn't Plan to Leave his Fortune to his Kids: 'Get Rid of it or Give it Away Before you Go', Wealth Advisor, March 24, 2020.

March 25, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Kirk Douglas Leaves the Majority of his Fortune to Charity

KirkKirk Douglas, arguably the last member of Hollywood's Golden Age, passed away on February 5, 2020 at the age of 103. He is survived by his second wife Anne, who he married in 1954, and three of his sons - Michael, Joel and Peter. Kirk had suffered a stroke in 1996 and his health had declined, but he still occasionally appeared in movies and television productions.

In addition to being a three time Oscar nominee, he received a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, the Jefferson Award for public service in 1983 and was named to the French Legion of Honor in 1985. He was born in Amsterdam, New York to Jewish immigrant parents and was lucky enough to have an illustrious Hollywood career that spanned seven decades.

Kirk and Anne founded the Douglas Foundation 1964 and opted to bequeath the majority of his estate to the charity. The Foundation benefits the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, The Kirk and Anne Douglas Childhood Center, a St. Lawrence University scholarship for underprivileged students, Westwood’s Sinai Temple and Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theater, a restored venue. Anne Douglas remains as the nonprofit's managing trustee.

Though at first glance it might seem harsh that Kirk did not leave anything to his beloved son Michael, who followed in his father's footsteps and became an actor. But the well-known Wall Street is worth over $300 million in his own right so he most likely was not expecting anything from his father.

See Nate Day, Kirk Douglas' $61M Fortune Given Mostly to Charity, None Went to Son Michael Douglas, Fox News, February 23, 2020; see also Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, Kirk Douglas Leaves Most of his $80 Million Fortune to Charity, Page Six, February 22, 2020; see also Will Twigger & Susan Knox, Kirk Douglas Leaves Entire £61m Fortune to Charity - and Son Michael Douglas Doesn't get a Penny, Mirror, February 23, 2020.

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) and Jay Brinker (Cincinnati Estate Planning Attorney) for bringing these articles to my attention.

February 25, 2020 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Television, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)