Settlement News in the Entertainment Business

Spin me round

The entertainment world has recently reached a few settlements, and brought some old ones back up for new litigation.

  • A settlement has finally been reached in the Michael Jackson secret recording case. In 2003, as Michael Jackson flew to Santa Barbara, California to turn himself in on child molestation charges, the jet company he hired conspired to record the pop singer and his lawyers.  Shortly thereafter, Jeffrey Borer of XtraJet attempted to sell the video to media outlets in the ensuing media frenzy of that particular trial.  Not exactly the machinations of a smooth criminal, here.  Now, nearly a decade later, Jackson’s attorneys have reached a $750,000 settlement with the now-defunct company, meaning Borer will never have to go to trial for invasion of privacy.

  • The CAA (Creative Artists Agency) has settled with older TV writers over allegations of age discrimination.  The talent agency was accused of refusing to represent or refer older writers for jobs writing for major studios.  Today, despite strongly denying that the company discriminates, they agreed to make a $150,000 donation to Fund for the Future and provide some consulting services for the charity.  They got off pretty easy — the previous 22 cases settled over the past six years for a combined $74.5 million.  It would be tough to prove age discrimination in court, but I think maybe the plaintiffs are just a little peeved that they’re too old to write teen paranormal romance dramas anymore, which are basically all that’s on TV nowadays.  A good rule of thumb:  if you can’t hear the Mosquito Tone, you shouldn’t be writing about teenagers.
  • Finally, the music publishing company EMI has dredged up a case from 2009 in an effort to collect some past-due royalties.  Back then, EMI won a settlement against Cash Money records over copyright infringements on samples they used for Lil Wayne’s album Tha Carter III.  Cash Money paid $1.5 million back then, with a second payment of about $400,000 due within 180 days.  EMI claims Cash Money never made this payment and now owes $491,176.16 total.  On the whole, this represents a missed opportunity to claim in the court documents that they are owed “A MILLI A MILLI A MILLI” etc., but I guess EMI’s lawyers take this more seriously than I do.