Posts In "Talent"

Talent




Are Death and Taxes All That’s Left for Francis Ford Coppola After Winning the Lifetime Achievement Award?

[Ed. Note: Law Law Land’s concludes its calendar-be-damned Oscar week with new contributor Stefanie Lipson, who takes on the plight of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner and his progeny.]

There is perhaps no greater culmination to a Hollywood film career than being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars (even if, these days, it doesn’t even come with a lousy on-air acceptance speech…maybe that Robert De Niro episode at the Golden Globes scared off the Academy once and for all). Just ask this year’s recipient, Francis Ford Coppola. But after all that hard work in Hollywood, all the false starts (One From the Heart, anyone?) as well as the successes (too many to name, but I’d have to go with Captain EO), the accolades and the press, and adaughter following in her father’s large footsteps, turns out Francis Ford Coppola might have been better off making his fortune another way — at least when it comes to paying estate taxes (good thing he has that winery).

As an estate planning lawyer, I can confirm that Benjamin Franklin was right about the only things certain in life being death and taxes. Inevitably, I must inform clients who start sentences with the phrase “if I die…” that it really ought to be “when I die.” (Apologies to those readers who are offended by my morbidity. You may replace the word “die” in the sentence above with the death-related euphemism of your choice. For celebrities, I suggest “go to that great Starwagon in the sky.”) And taxes are no less inevitable: as the law stands, even those lucky authors who come up with an immensely successful creative work (screenplay, television series, book, song, etc.) and have the good sense to transfer ownership of it during their lifetimes can still get hit with an estate tax bill on their copyrights when they die.

How does that make sense, and what can successful creative types do about it? Let’s discuss. Continue reading the full story . . . »

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And the Oscar Goes to…the Highest Bidder!

[Ed. Note: Law Law Land’s non-calendar-compliant Oscar week continues, as Brian Berman returns to explore the fates of all of those little Oscar statuettes that were handed out during last night’s show.]

Los Angeles was lively over the weekend as Hollywood’s finest took the stage at the 83rd Academy Awards. Hollywood’s best, brightest, and most recognizable are always out in force for Oscar weekend. But perhaps no figure shines brighter than Oscar himself (although it’s not actually fair fight, as he is gold-plated).

Standing tall at 13 ½ inches and weighing in at 8 ½ pounds (that’s just over 0.6 stones for our British friends), Oscar’s gold-plated metal figure is recognized the world over. As with any Hollywood star, “Oscar” is just a stage name. Oscar’s real name is the “Academy Award of Merit.” Also, Oscar is technically a “statuette,” not a statue. And for last night’s winners, he might also be their new best friend.

But what if a winner wanted to get rid of his or her Oscar? Maybe he or she needs to raise a little extra money to pay those Ferrari lease payments and Dom Perignon bar tabs. Maybe he or she wants to give a friend or family member a token of his or her love. Or maybe he or she is just weirded out by a naked knight staring at him or her.

It is hard to imagine anyone getting rid of an Oscar, but, for argument’s sake, let’s say that someone wanted to. Could he or she do that? Continue reading the full story . . . »


Hailee Steinfeld Owns Hollywood…But Who Owns Hailee Steinfeld?

[Ed. Note: Today’s post opens up our week of Oscar coverage. On a Friday. Who are you to judge our calendar-related choices? Drop by next week for more posts addressing all the burning, tangentially Oscar-related questions you probably never thought to ask!]

At 14 years of age, Hailee Steinfeld is this year’s youngest Oscar nominee, receiving the nod for Best Supporting Actress for her role asMattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of True Grit. With her huge role and Oscar recognition, it appears as if young Hailee owns Hollywood at the moment. But who owns Hailee?

Child celebrities have long taken the world by storm, and while their personalities (and, sometimes, their egos) can seem larger than life, we often forget that they are still just children. As such, they are not masters of their own domain. Justin Bieber may be able to make young girls the world over cry on command, but just like every other child in America, the Biebster needed his mom’s permission before cutting off his iconic mop.

The age of majority in most U.S. states is 18. Until then, kiddies, mommy and daddy functionally own you. They control where you live, where you go to school, who you can hang out with and pretty much every other aspect of your life. On rare occasions, children become “emancipated minors,” meaning they break hold from parental bondage, usually by getting married, joining the armed forces, or going to court to ask for their freedom. Until you turn 18 or emancipate yourself, however, your parents control whether or not you can work, including acting and singing. And that has significant implications for child stars like Hailee Steinfeld. Continue reading the full story . . . »


Step-By-Step…Through the Legal (Non-)Consequences of Publicly Outing a Celebrity

Supermarket tabloids compete with each other in a lot of ways. Who can attract the most readers/eyeballs? Who can come up with the most misleading headline? Who can stretch the definition of “news” to the most absurd degree? But one of the strangest and most downright disturbing areas of competition among tabloids has to be, who can be first to out a celebrity?

In many instances, well-known entertainers have been driven into public revelations about deeply private aspects of their lives after relentless speculation and intrusion from aggressive tabloids and their dubious “sources.” In 2006, ‘N Sync alum Lance Bass finally came out of the closet after years spent hiding his sexuality to appease his female fans and strategic handlers (and the world was duly shocked). Clay Aiken, who rose to fame after placing second on that little show called American Idol, waited until becoming a father to publicly disclose his sexual orientation in 2008. And last year, Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin ended years of public scrutiny and speculation by announcing to the world that he is “a fortunate homosexual man,” forcing an immediate public reevaluation of the lyrics to such modern classics as “Shake Your Bon-Bon” and “She Bangs.”

Lance, Ricky, and Clay decided to come out on their own terms (notwithstanding the slight nudge [read: “very, very forceful shove”] from the Hollywood gossipmongers). But as Law Law Land superfan/mother to our very own Rachel Wilkes recently asked us, what would happen if someone in the know publicly outed a celebrity before that celebrity was ready to do so themselves? Could the furor over that celebrity’s sexual preferences move from the gossip rags to the courthouse docket? Let’s take a look at a recent example. Continue reading the full story . . . »


Q&A: I Need to Attach Myself to a Project Someone Else Wrote…What Do I Do?

Q: How do I create a document to attach myself as a producer/actor to the writer of a pilot/show that I am going to present to a big time TV producer?

A: My two-year old has just turned two, my one-month old has just turned one month, and I’ve just turned grey. Before you attach yourself to this show, think twice about having kids. Think three times. I can change a diaper literally in my sleep in the dark with both hands tied behind my back. Here is what I want you to do: take off your shoes and socks and as if kicking a 50 yard field goal stub your pinky toe against a brick, twice. It has little to do with your question, but I haven’t slept since the BP oil spill started and I just want someone to pay. [Ed. Note: This post was originally written in June 2010. The jokes are dated. But the wisdom is timeless.] Continue reading the full story . . . »


Online Impersonation Law: Cyber-Bullies Beware?

In a recent episode of CBS’ The Good Wife (which this blogger will go ahead and admit she loves, particularly for its disciplined realism — because obviously, all fresh-out-of-law-school first year associates get to try murder cases by themselves), Zachary Florrick (the teenage son of the title character) was pressured by ne’er-do-well vixen Becca into setting up a fake Facebook page in the name of a classmate. (Another reason I love this show: gives me an excuse to use the phrase “ne’er-do-well”.) Not coincidentally, this classmate was the teenage son of Zach’s dad’s opponent in the race for State’s Attorney, Glenn Childs. Zach also created a video mocking the third candidate in the State’s Attorney race, while making it look like the video came from Childs.

In the show, hapless Zach’s actions resulted in harm to his father’s campaign: what he thought was a harmless prank was taken by the Childs campaign as a declaration of war from the Florrick campaign. But thanks to a new law on the books in California, the real-life ramifications of such actions may now be even more serious — to the tune of monetary fines and prison time.

Effective January 1, 2011, California Penal Code section 528.5 makes it a crime to impersonate another person online. Specifically, “any person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense.” Violation can result in a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000 — plus a civil lawsuit from the aggrieved party. Of course, because our readers are all fine, responsible, upstanding citizens, I’m confident that none of you need to fear this new law. But let’s say you, too, were a dastardly ne’er-do-well (twice in one post!) embarking on a campaign of Internet impersonation. What would you need to know? Continue reading the full story . . . »