Posts In "Talent"


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 . . . »

All in All It’s Just Another Band Selling Out

Over the past several months, my husband and I have been listening, along with our eight-year-old daughter, to the Harry Potter books on audiotape. (By the way, even if you’ve read the books, you owe it to yourselves to buy/download/rent the audiobooks — Jim Dale totally rocks). We are currently in the final stretch and are more than half way through Book 7; we also have a family pact that none of us will cheat and continue ahead unless the whole family is in the car together, collectively slogging through L.A. traffic and ready to listen.

Of course, I’m bouncing off the walls, dying to know how the story ends — who wins, who loses, who lives, who dies. (Okay, stop jeering…yes, I am the only person on the planet who doesn’t know what happened at the end of the series. And thestatute of limitations on spoilers has long since passed. I get it. But pretty please, find it in your hearts not to ruin the ending for me by posting it in our comments section.) [Ed. Note: Instead, please enjoy this collection of unrelated outdated spoilers: Bruce Willis was dead the whole time. Vader is Luke’s father. Dil is actually a dude. It was earth all along. Soylent Green is people. Norman’s mother is dead.] Of course, if I was a cold-hearted mother and wife, I could keep listening or even just fast forward to the end, just to find out what happens. Don’t worry, I won’t — because I promised (and because my commute is less than 5 minutes).

Serendipitously, the recent internet chatter surrounding Pink Floyd’s dispute with EMI coincided with the timing of my Potter predicament, and it got me wondering: are my familial contract and my motherly moral compass the only obstacles precluding me from jumping ahead and listening to the last track of the CD? Could J.K. Rowling herself somehow dictate the order in which I read/listen to the details of her story? Pink Floyd apparently thinks so. Continue reading the full story . . . »

The Tarnished Era of the Golden Globes

With weeks of double-page “For your consideration…” ads in Varietyand The Hollywood Reporter finally culminating in yesterday’s Golden Globes nominations announcement — about which I have nothing to say other than “at least 3, if not 4, of the nominees for Best Comedy or Musical are neither comedies nor musicals…I mean, seriously, The Tourist?” — Hollywood’s awards season has officially kicked into high gear. As a fan of TV, movies, pop culture, and pointy-headed overanalyzation in general, I’ve always enjoyed awards season (minus the extra traffic congestion that comes from living down the street from Grauman’s Chinese and the Kodak Theater).

Sure, maybe us entertainment lawyers seldom make it into the acceptance speeches (damn agents get all the credit). And certainly no one has ever memorably crowed “you like me! you really like me!” to a studio director of business and legal affairs. (If Spielberg would have won for Jaws in ’76, maybe he’d have thanked his lawyer, Bruce Ramer — after whom Spielberg supposedly named “Bruce,” the mechanical shark featured in the film — but unfortunately for the entertainment legal community, Spielberg never made it to the podium. I guess Spielberg himself might have been a little bummed about it as well.) As it turns out, though, the apparently legally-cursed Globes represent the one awards show whose recent history has provided several opportunities for us entertainment lawyers to get in on the awards season fun.

(Given the economy, I suspect lawyer voodooists trying to drum up business. J’accuse.) Continue reading the full story . . . »

Happy 18th Birthday Miley! Time to Get High?

Driving to work on Friday morning, I happened to be tuned to KROQ and heard a story about a video of Miley Cyrus going to town on her favorite piece of smoking paraphernalia. Although Kevin, Bean, Ralph and company were reveling in what seems to be the rapid downward spiral of another teenage superstar, it occurred to me that, ever since Seth Rogen and James Franco’s daring “did-they-or-didn’t-they” promotion for stoner action-comedy Pineapple Express during the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, celebrities have become increasingly open about their use of a certain medicinal/recreational herb.

First, Olympic hero Michael Phelps was photographically compelled to admit to “engag[ing] in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment” (but which made for greatjokes about Phelps’ Olympian lung capacity and munchie-induced 12,000-calorie-a-day diet). Then Zach Galifianakis memorably — and hilariously — illustrated the subject matter of the California Proposition 19 debate on Real Time With Bill Maher. Now Miley and her “tobacco water pipe” — full of what her reps say was merely the California-legal hallucinogen salvia(and our eyes roll now) — has prompted one blogger to agonize over whether she or Phelps is “the bigger idiot” (spoiler alert: Miley wins).

Perhaps neither Miley nor Zach realize that Proposition 19 failed, but marijuana use remains illegal in California. In fact, depending on the quantity of cannabis in a person’s possession, it can still be prosecuted as a felony. So the obvious legal question is: could a celebrity caught smoking dope on camera be prosecuted? The short answer is, theoretically, yes…but don’t bet on it actually happening. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Divorce Used To Be So Softcore

Congress is set to vote on middle-class tax cuts. President Obama is pushing to extend a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. And yet, stories about a wave of recent celebrity divorces continue to take a lion’s share of the headlines. After all, who can think about nuclear arms treaties when it’s over for Eva and Tony? Yes, you heard it here last: Desperate (Ex-)Housewife Eva Longoria Parker and her Spurs star husband Tony Parker are getting divorced. They join the ranks ofChristina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman, Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva, and Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes, in what can only be considered a dark time for Hollywood and a boon for Hollywood divorce lawyers. Personally, I don’t really care. Although divorce is generally sad (or happy depending on how bad the marriage is), I don’t know these people. I seem to be in the minority, though, as many spectators seem to get as emotionally involved as the divorcing couple itself. Newspapers and websites everywhere are filled with stories of how Longoria filed for divorce amidst rumors of Tony’s infidelity.

Longoria’s divorce papers cited “irreconcilable differences.” This is a common ground for divorce nowadays, serving as a generalized “this just ain’t working” reason for ending a marriage. It wasn’t always so easy to call it quits. In the old days, you had to resort tobeheadings or breaking away with your own new religion in order to part ways. Even in the United States, it was fairly difficult to get a divorce for many decades. The modern concept of “no-fault” divorce — the notion that there doesn’t need to be a “wrong” by either the husband or the wife in order for the marriage to dissolve — took some time to develop. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Lessons From the Legal Saga of Dora the Explo(rer/iter/ited)

Your average litigator has a standard checklist of issues to ponder before filing a lawsuit. Considerations such as whether the defendant has had enough minimum contacts within the judicial forum, whether one has alleged sufficient facts to state a claim on which relief can be granted, and what to get for lunch at the courthouse coffee shop when dropping off the complaint usually predominate the lawyer’s thought process. But because being a good entertainment lawyer sometimes means being a public relations guru, any litigator who is preparing to file a lawsuit touching on the entertainment industry — or on any topic likely to capture the public’s attention, and thus media interest — must take into account an entirely separate list of considerations if the lawyer is going to do his or her job properly. Continue reading the full story . . . »