Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aereo to Face Uphill Battle in Supreme Court Next Week, Experts Say (analysis)



Next week’s Supreme Court argument will be difficult for cable-competitor Aereo, legal experts agree, as the company faces off against not just broadcasters but also the influential U.S. Solicitor General’s office and the Copyright Office. While it will be a tough fight for the company, the case is so complex and the copyright and communications statutes so intricate that one advocate said the decision could end up as lopsided as 7-1 – in either direction.

The only expert willing to offer a prediction, Akin Gump’s Pratik Shah, said “I think a majority of the Court will be skeptical of Aereo’s position and thus likely to rule in favor of the broadcast-petitioners,” while another – who spoke on background and supports Aereo – put the odds in the broadcasters’ favor at 60-40 or 70-30.

And yet, only two Justices’ votes – those of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer – are predictable with any confidence (“this is not a conventionally political case,” noted Georgetown’s Rebecca Tushnet), and even an awkward 4-4 tie is possible, because one Justice, Samuel Alito, is recused from the case for unknown reasons. That uncomfortable outcome would leave in place a welter of conflicting lower-court decisions, which ratify Aereo and similar services in some parts of the country and outlaw them in others.

Aereo, you’ll recall, is an $8-$12 per month Internet service that lets users watch or record broadcast TV using a PC or cellphone.

For a detailed analysis, see more at The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets

Monday, July 15, 2013

Joan Rivers Faces Potential Fine, Expulsion in WGA East Trial (Analysis)



The penalties could be severe – but Rivers may have some unexpected defenses.

With the WGA East sending Joan Rivers off to a trial board for alleged violations related to Fashion Police, the star will be facing what’s likely to be a tough tribunal – and a fine that could be as high as all the money she’s made on the hit show in the last year, plus expulsion from the union.


What’s more, she may have to face her accusers without an attorney present. The WGAE rules say that a member at a trial board “may be represented by a Current member in good standing,” but there’s no provision for counsel.

And yet, as tough a jam as it may seem, Rivers may have some defenses – and might even be able to prevent a hearing from taking place at all. Let’s take a look at the accusations against Rivers, the procedure that comes next and her possible arguments.

Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets -->

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How Talent Loses if Aereo Wins

Follow the money and discover an unstated reason the Hollywood unions weighed in with briefs opposing the new service.

Several weeks ago, Fox, PBS and several other companies were hit with a 2-1 federal court of appeals ruling rebuffing their attempt to shut down Aereo, a new service backed by Barry Diller. Last week, they filed a petition for a rehearing en banc, in which all thirteen judges of the New York based court would rehear the case and potentially reverse the ruling, resulting in the preliminary injunction that the networks seek while the matter goes to trial.

Interestingly the Hollywood unions – DGA, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA and WGA – signed on to an amicus brief supporting that petition, as they had also done when the original appeal was heard. But why do the guilds care?

As a reminder, Aereo is a service that allows users to watch and record local TV for $8/month without a cable subscription. The service is available in New York and, soon, in Boston. It’s drawn the ire of broadcast networks because it would facilitate cord-cutting, reducing revenue to networks.

As a result, News Corp. president and COO Chase Carey has threatened to make Fox cable-only if Aereo prevails in court. There are potential downsides to this, and some analysts are skeptical that Fox would make the move, but the threat can’t be dismissed out of hand.

One reason the guilds are concerned ...


Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets -->

Monday, April 1, 2013

New book - Entertainment Labor: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography



A must-have for academics, union staff and attorneys working in entertainment labor, ENTERTAINMENT LABOR: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography is a 345 page annotated bibliography of over 1,500 books, articles, dissertations, legal cases and other resources dealing with entertainment unions and guilds and various other aspects of entertainment labor.

The book is the product of hundreds of hours of research and of compilation of search results from almost twenty databases.

Also included are:
 * Annotations (where necessary to explain the relevance of the book or article)
* Capsule descriptions of legal cases
* Page references (where only a portion of the book or article is relevant)
* URLs (for those full-text articles that are available online at no charge)
* A detailed chapter on materials available from the unions and guilds themselves
* A 90-page index

Email me (jhandel99 at gmail dot com) for sample pages, or just click here to purchase.


Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

VFX Town Hall Meeting Urges Trade Association and Union


However, panelists also acknowledged the difficulty of achieving either goal.



Pi Day – a multi-city international meeting of VFX artists – took place Thursday evening amid rising concern about the state of the industry.

VFX vet Scott Ross and others outlined a plan that involves the formation of a VFX union for VFX artists and of a trade association for visual effects facilities, all aimed at addressing the troubled VFX business model.

“Fear has stopped us because we have six clients [the studios],” Ross told them. “We are fearful of losing our jobs; [but] we are losing our jobs. … It’s going to get worse until we do something.”

Ross – a co-founder and ex-CEO of Digital Domain, a former GM of Industrial Light & Magic and a senior vp at LucasArts – also stated that through outreach “almost all” of the major facilities in North America  “have agreed to investigate the possibilities of a trade association. … They seemingly want to effect change.”

Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Canadian Talent Consultant Charged in Alleged Actor Visa Scam


Actor Andrew Boryski was charged with multiple criminal counts for cheating aspiring actors out of thousands of dollars in an immigration visa scam, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said Thursday in a press release.


Boryski is charged with 32 counts; “this suspect, who’s an aspiring actor himself, has landed a role in a real life crime drama” says a federal agent.


The Saskatchewan native allegedly operated a Los Angeles-area immigration consulting business that sought O-1 visas on behalf of aspiring foreign actors.The O-1 visa is intended for established entertainment professionals with work pending in the United States – not for newcomers to the business without actual employment, as was the case with Boryski’s alleged victims.


Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



New! Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Hobbit' Affair Still Rankles NZ Unions


As fans of The Hobbit scanned the red carpet at the film’s premiere in Wellington last night, some New Zealand activists are still bitter about the outcome of a failed unionization attempt in 2010, even as NZ Actors Equity is finally making progress in negotiations with the country’s producers association.

Meanwhile, the government continues to resist publicly disclosing a key legal report, despite having apparently provided copies to Warner Bros. and producer/director Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films. That stance may change, as government officials are meeting on the matter December 5, according to a local press report.

“I’m bloody angry,” said NZAE vice president Phil Darkins at a conference last week at Victoria University. Referring to New Zealand’s uniquely non-unionized film industry, he said caustically “New Zealand is the only English speaking nation on the planet where professional performers ply their trade at the mercy of their lords and masters. And they are supposed to do this feeling nothing but enormous gratitude for the fact that there is even work available.”

In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, a NZAE organizer struck a different note. “We're having productive discussions with SPADA,” said Anna Majavu, referring to the country’s Screen Production and Development Association, “and look forward to reaching a mutually-agreeable conclusion.”

Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



New! Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

new book - The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis




My new book, The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis, is out on Amazon in paper (http://amzn.to/SiHUX2) and Kindle (http://amzn.to/UG7q7F). Check it out. Here's the description:

Essential reading for Hobbit fans and labor/globalization academics alike, THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS looks back at an attempt to unionize actors on The Hobbit that blew up into a national crisis, driving down the NZ dollar and leading the Prime Minister and Parliament to dance to a Hollywood tune.

All was not well in Middle-earth . . .
After the third Lord of the Rings movie premiered in 2003, fans of the series eagerly anticipated production and release of its prequel, The Hobbit. It turned out they had a while to wait, as a series of troubles delayed production for years: lawsuits, studio bankruptcy, and ejection of producer/director Peter Jackson.

Then, in September 2010, when almost everything seemed resolved, U.S. and international actors unions issued a public alert advising their members “not to accept work on this non-union production.” 

In THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS (Hollywood Analytics; Nov. 22, 2012; paper USD $7.99; Kindle USD $4.99), entertainment attorney and Hollywood Reporter journalist Jonathan Handel shows how the two-month affair that began with local actors attempting to organize The Hobbit ended with a smackdown from U.S.-based Warner Bros. The studio managed to . . . well, let’s not spoil what for many will be a surprise. Suffice it to say that by the end, one member of Parliament said that Warners had “reduced New Zealand to a client state of a U.S. movie studio” while another said the country had become victim of a “shakedown.”

But how did an American multinational company all but subjugate a sovereign nation? THE NEW ZEALAND HOBBIT CRISIS tells the tale. Warner Bros. threatened to rip the troubled production from the country and events quickly spiraled out of control. New Zealand plunged into crisis. Saving the Hobbit was do or die for the local film industry, and the government scrambled to avoid disaster.

Protests and rallies erupted and the island nation’s currency fell on the possibility of losing the half-billion dollar project. Director Peter Jackson vowed to “fight like hell” to keep the shoot in New Zealand. But then studio executives flew in from Los Angeles like colonial masters ready to bring down the hammer.
 
What happened next was almost unbelievable – and proved, if nothing else, that not all Hollywood drama is on the screen.




Also check out “Hollywood on Strike!,” available on Amazon in pb and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets -->

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lucasfilm Faces New Accusation of Pregnancy Discrimination

 
VFX artist Luis Pages says Lucasfilm Singapore promised inaccurately that he’d have broad medical insurance if he relocated to Singapore for a job with the company – but then fired him without explanation after his wife’s pregnancy turned medically difficult, and withheld salary.

“I think they fired me because of my wife's pregnancy and because of how upset sending her away made me and my co workers feel,” Pages told The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s not the first time Lucasfilm has faced an accusation involving pregnancy: in 2010, the company lost a pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit in Marin County. A company spokesman told THR the case is currently being appealed.

In addition, Pages says he’s heard even worse experiences than his own, of Lucasfilm Singapore employees going bankrupt due to pregnancy-related complications that ignite multi-hundred thousand dollar medical bills.

Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “Hollywood on Strike!,” available on Amazon in pb and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets -->

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hollywood Sign Owner Cries Foul Over Ad Agency 'Infringement'



Visit the website for The Brooklyn Brothers, a New York ad agency, and you’ll find a splash page announcing their new Hollywood venture, called BB Hollywood. It’s a snazzy looking page – a photo of the Hollywood sign with “BB” photoshopped in, to form “BBHOLLYWOOD” in the iconic white staggered, blocky typeface.

But it turns out the splash page has already made more of a splash in Hollywood than the agency intended. When it showed up in a New York Times story identified as the new venture’s logo, at least one person in LA took notice.

“I’ve already sent it over to our attorney for a cease and desist (letter),” Jeff Lotman told The Hollywood Reporter. Lotman is the CEO of Global Icons, a licensing agency that represents the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The non-profit Chamber, as much of Hollywood knows, owns a trademark in the Hollywood sign – and they police it vigilantly.

Details: The Hollywood Reporter.



Check out “Hollywood on Strike!,” available on Amazon in pb and Kindle. Subscribe to my blog (jhandel.com) for more about entertainment labor. You can also follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets.