Welcome back to the "Spotlight," welcome back to allergy season and welcome back, Kotter (I swear I’m younger than that reference would indicate). At any rate, this weekend, I am looking forward to welcoming Broadway back to my life, as my wife and I are slated to see the revival of “The Music Man,” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Normally, I would be less than thrilled for my wife to be in the same room as Hugh Jackman, but this particular musical holds a special place in my heart and in Bloomgarden family lore. Indeed, it was my grandfather Kermit Bloomgarden who produced the original Tony Award winning production of back in 1957 (by the way, he also produced and won Tony Awards for the original Broadway productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and Equus). Unfortunately, I had met Kermit only through my dad’s stories of childhood around show business – one of the most noted in my mind being Kermit in the living room of his apartment discussing business with Arthur Miller, while Miller’s wife at the time, Marilyn Monroe (yes, that Marilyn Monroe) and my dad played. Pretty amazing stuff, and a large part of why I chose to break into the entertainment industry, that and because I never had the stomach to get into my dad’s chosen field of medicine. What can I say? I guess I’m drawn to the spotlight as I hope you are to this week’s "Spotlight…"
- While the NCAA plods along through the NIL era, boosters in NIL collectives are taking full advantage of using NIL as a recruiting tool, while tiptoeing around “pay-for-play.” But if the NCAA thinks its name is its favorite four-letter word, just wait. California is moving ever closer toward passing legislation requiring its universities’ football and basketball programs to share 50 percent of their revenues with their collegiate athletes.
- No sooner do we bid adieu to the Apple iPod, but LimeWire, one of the 2000s peer-to-peer filesharing services that enabled iPods to be loaded with “free” music (much to the dismay of the record industry) appears to be older, wiser and aiming to break back into the mainstream, entering into a content licensing deal with Universal Music Group for LimeWire’s NFT-licensing platform. If a major record company can mend fences with a filesharing service after over twenty years, it gives me hope that my Tamagotchi might forgive me for the years of neglect through that same period.
- In the wake of several high-profile arrests and indictments of hip-hop artists in which song lyrics were used as evidence against them, New York passed the first-of-its-kind legislation, prohibiting that practice. Shaggy need no longer hide behind the denials of “It Wasn’t Me.” With any luck, the use of law blogs as evidence will similarly be prohibited so that I can feel free to reveal my darkest secrets. Just kidding….or am I…? I am.
Welcome back to the "Sports & Entertainment Spotlight," your 30,000 foot view of the various goings-on in the sports and entertainment industries. This week, I am writing from, well, 30,000 feet flying cross country to soak up all that Seattle has to offer (not the least of which being raindrops) for our firm’s retreat. Amidst that backdrop comes news of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors’ seemingly returning from its retreat and offering “guidance” about the name, image and likeness (NIL) collectives popping up throughout the country. Seeking to address the concern that these collectives are being used to skirt NCAA rules against providing financial benefits in return for committing to play sports at the collectives’ preferred universities, the NCAA has, for the first time in nearly 10 months since its interim NIL rules came down, spoken — rather ambiguously, on the topic. They claim that past instances may be enforced depending on severity, but in characteristic fashion, have remained vague on what exactly that means. What’s more, were the NCAA to take action, it is like that it would find itself right back in the court system litigating antitrust issues. Again, it did not all have to be like this, but after years of inaction, the NCAA is sleeping in the bed that it made for itself. It is looking more likely that Congress will have to take up the mantle to provide definitive direction, but in an election year, we may have to wait until next term for any legislation to come up for vote. Fortunately, the Spotlight moves quicker (and is much less dysfunctional) than Congress:
- Nickelodeon is set to broadcast a National Football League game on Christmas Day. My humble suggestion is that they brand it as the “Most Wonderful Slime of the Year.” My not so humble suggestion is that if Nickelodeon uses that, they should provide me with four tickets to that game.
- Those of you concerned about Tom Brady’s financial security when (if?) he eventually retires from the NFL can cancel your plans for fundraising bake (unlikely to have been TB12-approved anyway) breathe a sigh of relief, as he stands to make $375 million over 10 seasons as Fox Sports’ NFL broadcaster. About time that guy caught a break.
- Formula 1 racing continues its rise to popularity, bringing out celebrities en masse to the Inaugural Miami Grand Prix on par with the number of celebrities in attendance at the Kentucky Derby – though the latter lacked significantly less horsepower than the former.
Live from New York it’s…wait, that’s not right. Two weeks off, and I’ve forgotten how I open these…ah, yes…
Welcome back (both to me and to you) to the “Spotlight.” I would love to be able to say that my batteries are fully charged having been on family “vacation” on a beach, but I did not get as much rest and relaxation as I was hoping for. I will have to chalk it up as a learning experience, but traveling (let alone parenting) with two young children — in the midst of a pandemic, no less — is really hard. That this vacation was actually a trip is something I should have seen coming.
Something we regrettably all should have seen coming following “The Slap” at this year’s Academy Awards, was more on-stage violence directed at a stand-up comedian. This time, it was Dave Chappelle on the receiving end of an audience member’s attempted tackle in the middle of Chappelle’s set at The Hollywood Bowl during the “Netflix is a Joke” comedy festival. The motives of the assailant are unknown at this time, but it would not be farfetched to wonder whether the attacker was someone offended by Chappelle’s jokes. Call me old fashioned, but I remember a time when people would respond with words — not violence —when someone did not like a comedian’s jokes. Indeed, there is even a special title reserved for such a person in stand-up comedy: “a heckler.” Here’s hoping that for comedy’s (and safety’s) sake, these are mere blips.
Another thing we all could have seen coming?
Endorsement Deals, Sponsorships & Investments
Kevin Hart Signs $100 Million Investment Agreement To Create HARTBEAT, Which Will Be Led By An All Black Leadership Team
April 27, 2022 via Forbes (subscription may be required)
Kevin Hart, trailblazing entrepreneur, executive, and entertainer, has now combined Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions to create the #1 source of comedic storytelling and experiences with HARTBEAT, after more than a decade of leveraging his individual success to build the two high-growth companies.
TiiCKER, the world's first verified investor and shareholder rewards platform, has announced an endorsement deal
April 27, 2022 via PR Newswire
TiiCKER, the world's first verified investor and shareholder rewards platform, has announced an endorsement deal and influencer sponsorship of high-rising and fast-climbing Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) athlete, Logan Webber. Seain Cook, left, and Logan Webber after winning Panama City: AVP America.
New Us Weekly e-commerce site features products from the stars
April 26, 2022 via Biz Journal
Celebrity magazine Us Weekly has launched an e-commerce site where fans can shop for products endorsed by the stars. UsNow.com features 35 brands led by celebrities, including exclusive bundles from singer, songwriter and television personality Toni Braxton's Nude Sugar and reality TV star Lala Kent's Give Them Lala Beauty.
Summer Water named official wine of the Hollywood Bowl and the Governors Ball Music Festival; continues to scale nationally
April 26, 2022 via WILX-TV (Lansing, Michigan)
Winc, Inc. ("Winc" or the "Company"), a differentiated platform for growing alcoholic beverage brands, announced Summer Water as the official wine of the Hollywood Bowl.
Samuel L. Jackson's Chicken Restaurant Opening Soon
April 23, 2022 via News Break
Celebrities are known to endorse a product or two. Just about every commercial on television has some kind of celebrity hawking one item or another. However, these celebs are not putting their own money behind the products.
New Shill Leak Reveals Prices for Celebrity-Endorsed Social Media Posts; Many Fail to Provide FTC Disclosures
April 22, 2022 via Crypto News Australia
A recent shill leak revealed the cost that celebrities such as Zuby and Lindsay Lohan offer for promotional social media posts for marketing cryptocurrency projects.
Football Coach Supreme Court Case Pits Religious Freedom vs. Coercion
April 26, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
On Monday, April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. The case centers on whether a public high school football coach has a First Amendment right to pray with his players after games.
Why Brittney Griner was in Russia, and what it says about women's sports in the U.S.
April 26, 2022 via Los Angeles Times
Brittney Griner, who had spent several WNBA off-seasons starring for UMMC Ekaterinburg, an elite Russian basketball club team, had been traveling back to Ekaterinburg from the U.S., connecting in Moscow when she was detained. She was now in the custody of Russian officials at the airport.
Indian Premier League Valuations: Cricket Now Has A Place Among World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams
April 26, 2022 via Forbes (subscription may be required)
Franchise values in the world’s top cricket league are surging, outpacing the growth in even the NFL and the NBA. The Indian Premier League has been a gold mine for investors.
NFL Draft in Las Vegas to Eclipse the Event’s $132 Million Spending Record
April 26, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
Tracie Rodburg remembers looking out at the masses attending the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville. The NFL’s SVP for sponsor management, Rodburg stood alongside her counterparts from Caesars Entertainment, who were at the time preparing to host the 2020 draft.
US Supreme Court hears case about praying Washington state football coach
April 25, 2022 via WFAA Dallas - Fort Worth News
Six years after losing his job and repeatedly losing in court, a former Washington state coach took his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.
Yankees Lose Appeal to Suppress Manfred Letter to Cashman on Cheating
April 25, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
The New York Yankees have failed to convince the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reconsider an order that will force the team to unseal a sensitive letter on electronic sign stealing.
F1 trying to keep up with demand as popularity soars
April 22, 2022 via Sports Business Journal
F1's popularity has "now soared to such an extent" that there is "more interest from new venues than there are available dates on the calendar," according to Ian Parkes of the N.Y. TIMES.
NFL Argues Flores Claims of ‘Tanking’ Derail Civil Rights Suit
April 22, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
Attorneys for Brian Flores and the NFL revealed key legal arguments in a scheduling briefing sent to the presiding judge, Valerie Caproni, on Thursday. It marked the first time the NFL has explained its defenses.
MLB’s marriage with analytics ruining baseball for the extreme worse
April 22, 2022 via New York Post - NYPD Blotter
Remember a 1966 hit by the Statler Brothers, “Flowers on the Wall”? It was a clever, sarcastic song about tedium: “Countin’ flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all.
Report: Kanye West’s King Crimson Sample In ‘Power’ Sparks Lawsuit Against Universal Music
April 26, 2022 via AllAccess
"Variety" is reporting that Kanye West’s 2010 track “Power” has sparked a lawsuit against Universal Music Group over its sampling of prog rock band King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
Warner Music Group Launches In-House Podcast Network, Interval Presents
April 26, 2022 via WILX-TV (Lansing, Michigan)
Company will produce multi-format audio content at the intersection of music, pop culture, and social impact First slate of shows includes celebrity headliners such as Lupita Nyong'o and Jason Derulo as well as productions from Snap.
SiriusXM and Audio Up Inc. Announce Launch of Two New Original Scripted Podcasts Under Creative and Strategic Agreement
April 26, 2022 via WILX-TV (Lansing, Michigan)
SiriusXMand innovative podcast content studio Audio Up announced the forthcoming launches of two new original scripted musical podcasts, the first co-branded productions under the creative and strategic agreement between the two companies.
"Do the royalties go on?" asks judge in Sonny & Cher copyright case
April 26, 2022 via News Break
A judge said the result of a dispute between Cher and Sonny Bono's estate over Sonny & Cher royalties likely hinges on interpreting a narrow provision of federal copyright law, and asked the parties for more information on the issue following a hearing in California federal court.
Jimi Hendrix's personally owned and played guitar is headlining Iconic Auctions' Amazing Music Auction, closing April 30
April 25, 2022 via MENAFN
Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix's personally owned and played 1967 Fender Sunburst Stratocaster guitar. Hendrix played the guitar on the song Devil's Children, recorded in 1967.
Taylor Swift Celebrates Record Store Day 2022, Shouts Out ‘Taylor's Version' Mural at Nashville Retailer
April 23, 2022 via Billboard
The 32-year-old pop superstar, who was announced earlier this year as the first-ever global ambassador for Record Store Day, took to social media on Saturday, April 23, to acknowledge the annual event and give a special shout-out to Nashville-based indie music retailer Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music.
Film & TV
RIL, Lupa Systems prepare for IPL rights auction with new joint venture
April 27, 2022 via Business Standard Key Stories
Lupa Systems, promoted by media veterans Uday Shankar and James Murdoch, and Reliance Industries (RIL) have announced a new partnership for investment in sports and entertainment broadcasting four months after the two began exploring options for the same.
ONE Championship, Amazon Prime Video link up for MMA fights
April 27, 2022 via Sports Business Journal
Singapore-based MMA series ONE Championship today will announce a new U.S. media-rights deal with Prime Video, as the fighting property again attempts to make inroads in America.
ESPN Digs In on Softball, Lacrosse via 2-Year Athletes Unlimited Deal
April 27, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
ESPN is deepening its lacrosse and softball coverage and expanding its summer broadcast slate through a two-year deal with Athletes Unlimited— the league’s first multi-year media rights agreement and one that gives fans a single destination for two of its flagship sports.
The Netflix Bubble Is Finally Bursting
April 26, 2022 via The Atlantic
Ten years ago, Netflix started offering its subscribers exclusive TV shows (we all, of course, remember the hit series Lilyhammer).
NAB President Curtis LeGeyt On Why Congress Needs To Help Save Local Media And How Stations Plan To Ensure Free TV's Future – QA
April 26, 2022 via News Break
The National Association of Broadcasters has returned its annual show to Las Vegas after a two-year absence due to Covid, again bringing together tens of thousands of station and technology executives to the sprawling convention center.
Fremantle Strikes TV Deal With James & Elisabeth Murdoch-Backed Graphic Fiction Company AWA
April 25, 2022 via Deadline - Hollywood Breaking News
American Gods producer Fremantle has struck a strategic development deal with the film and TV arm of graphic fiction company AWA, whose backers include James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems and his sibling Elisabeth’s production firm Sister. AWA (Artists, Writers & Artisans) launched its content division last year with Hollywood veteran Zach.
Netflix Mulls Ad-Supported Tier as Sports TV Execs Cheer
April 22, 2022 via Sportico (subscription may be required)
As Netflix shares continue to get hammered in the wake of the company’s first reported subscriber losses since 2011, investors looking to grab a piece of the streaming giant on the cheap should be encouraged by Ted Sarandos’ disinterest in live sports.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
Music artists are making what they'd earn from 1 million streams in ‘2 minutes' with NFTs. Now they're turning toward Web3 — right alongside Snoop Dogg
April 27, 2022 via Yahoo Finance
Snopp Dogg said he was bringing his music to the metaverse. He wasn't lying. On 4/20, the rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur dropped Death Row Session: Vol. 2 as an NFT, on platform Sound.xyz. All 1,000 copies quickly sold out for a total of 100 Ether.
Fellaz, a Web3 Entertainment NFT Solution Platform, Signed a Strategic Partnership With Hype Labs as an Investor, Accelerator, and Core Partner in the Fellaz Ecosystem
April 27, 2022 via GlobeNewswire
Fellaz, a web3 NFT solution platform for the entertainment industry, announced a strategic partnership with Hype Labs on the 27th of April.
Pop Culture Kids Featured on Several NFT Calendars And Endorsed By Famous Actor, Writer, and Activist – Tommy Chong
April 25, 2022 via AB Newswire
Tommy Chong sent us his reaction on his NFT card called Tommy Bong. Thomas B. Kin Chong is a Canadian-American actor, comedian, musician, and activist.
Are NFTs and celebrities a match made in heaven?
April 22, 2022 via E27 News
Celebrities, from Hollywood actors to top musicians are embracing NFTs right now as the next big thing to connect with fans and take back control from industry moguls.
Hoskinsea Aims to Revolutionize The Music Industry and Pioneer NFT Music Sales on Cardano
April 21, 2022 via Cryptopolitan
The music industry may have finally started taking NFTs more seriously. A number of artists have launched music NFT projects that have increased fans' attention and generated millions of dollars in revenue.
CIRKAY announces the UK's first ever chart compliant album to include an NFT for Fiction Records' act 'The Amazons' on Eluvio
April 21, 2022 via WILX-TV (Lansing, Michigan)
CIRKAY, the social commerce platform used by creators and brands to deliver content and experiences to their followers and fans, today announced in conjunction with Virgin Records the release of its chart compliant album to include an NFT.
Endorsement Deals, Sponsorships & Investments
Second NIL collective supporting Ohio State football launches
April 20, 2022 via Chillicothe Gazette
Gary Marcinick has spent decades around Ohio State football. He was a walk-on wide receiver for the Buckeyes in the mid-1980s before becoming a loyal donor to the athletic department.
Olivia Rodrigo teams up with Glossier as first-ever celebrity partner
April 20, 2022 via Inquirer
Glossier has officially partnered with their first celebrity endorser – Olivia Rodrigo. This is a first since the brand's launch in 2014.
Serena Williams’ New VC Fund Invests Seven Figures in Endorsement Firm
April 18, 2022 via Sportico – Business (subscription may be required)
Tennis star Serena Williams’ tech investment firm Serena Ventures, which launched its inaugural $111 million early-stage venture capital fund last month, is getting into sports sponsorships with a seven-figure investment in digital endorsement deals marketplace OpenSponsorship.
With NIL Money Comes an Inescapable Fact: Taxes Are Owed
April 18, 2022 via Sportico – Business (subscription may be required)
College athletes last July finally got the right to make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL). They also won something else: the headache of filing and paying taxes.
Women's CiCLE Classic has 'numerous' sponsorship offers as main benefactor withdraws
April 13, 2022 via BBC – Front Page
The organizer of a women's cycling race says he has had "numerous" offers of financial support after its main benefactor withdrew funding in reaction to British Cycling's suspension of its transgender policy.
Skechers Named Official Footwear Sponsor of the DIO Implant LA Open
April 13, 2022 via Derrick News, The
Skechers, The Comfort Technology Company™, is announcing a partnership with the DIO Implant LA Open on the LPGA Tour as the tournament’s Official Footwear Sponsor.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight," and to those of you who celebrate, (a) Ramadan Mubarak and/or (b) Happy: (i) Passover, (ii) Good Friday and/or (iii) Easter. (What can I say? You can take the transactional lawyer out of contract drafting but you can’t take the contract drafting out of the transactional lawyer). In the spirit of the holidays and springtime, let’s take some time to reflect on new beginnings – or rather – some folks who could desperately use them. Now, by “new beginnings” I don’t mean the Jennifer Lopez remarrying Ben Affleck type (my source/wife confirms that Jenny from the block even got a new rock…) but rather the moral kind.
First, speaking of a rock, in the fallout from slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, Will Smith was officially banned from attending the next 10 Academy Awards ceremonies. Certainly a lighter “punishment” than that of battery (or forcing him to watch “After Earth”), and perhaps more symbolic than anything, but perhaps the Academy thinks that 10 years in the tuxedo-free penalty box will give Smith a chance to regroup what has been an otherwise impressive acting career — or at least give additional time for development of the memory-erasing flash device from “Men In Black.”
Another man looking for a new start is National Football League Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who recently sought a change of scenery from Houston home of the Texans, and 22(!) civil complaints and nine recently dismissed criminal complaints against Watson alleging sexual misconduct and assault, to Cleveland, where he struck a fully-guaranteed, five-year, $230 million deal. Certainly, his contract could go a long way to settling the civil suits and offsetting the loss of endorsement opportunities but after sustaining the (self-inflicted?) damage to his reputation, he will need to have his on-field and off-field activities be beyond reproach — that is, if the NFL actually lets him take the field.
Sticking with the NFL, already under investigation for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder finds himself in increasingly dire straits with revelations this past week that Congress referred to the Federal Trade Commission an investigation into the team’s financial improprieties dating back to when Snyder bought the team. Specifically, the Commanders ownership is alleged to have withheld refunds from on customers’ seat deposits, while underreporting ticket revenue. Both of which seemingly pretty difficult to accomplish with the Washington’s historically poor performances. In any event, should the NFL (let alone the Federal Government) see to removing Snyder from his position of power, it is hard to think of any redemption story for Snyder.
At any rate, if you or someone you know needs help looking for colored eggs or brittle crackers, might I suggest using this "Spotlight:"
- Gone are the days of “dumb money,” for celebrities, as many are increasingly taking high-profile founder or consulting roles for consumer brands in exchange for sweat equity compensation. If any celebrities are interested in signing on as co-founder of the "Spotlight," let’s do lunch. I can’t offer equity, but I can offer legal advice (prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome) and a dry, deadpan sense of humor (prior jokes do not guarantee a similar outcome).
- The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams have unveiled a virtual platform at which season ticket holders and executives can “gather” – potentially year round. Opportunities for metaverse integrations and sponsorships abound, but to me the biggest selling point would be not having to wait in line to use the restroom.
- Sports media rights are as hot a commodity as ever, as Warner Bros. Discovery seeks to become a prominent player in that field, while Formula One racing speeds past its current media rights deal with ESPN with a tenfold increase (from $7.5 million to $75 million) on its annual asking price. Meanwhile, I am still figuring out a way to get paid for watching.
Brief programming note: I am taking a very long overdue vacation (another reset), so I will not be up to my usual shenanigans. The next two weeks will be just the stories and summaries. (I know…I’ll miss you, too)
Welcome back and please come on in, lest you catch a cold. This past Sunday’s Grammy Awards dialed up the heat, taking place in the Las Vegas desert, having been bumped from its usual Los Angeles stage due to COVID restrictions. To the relief of many, no cringeworthy, front-and-center battery took place at this awards show (evidently the Nevada Gaming Commission put the kibosh on that). Indeed, the show seemingly went on without a ‘hitch’ — though I would have liked to have seen our ridiculously talented, Grammy-nominated clients leave with trophies. Another uber-talented nominee, singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran (sadly, not a client) is celebrating a big victory this week but it was not at the Grammys. Rather, he prevailed in his defense in his court case alleging that his hit song, “Shape of You” had infringed upon another musician’s copyrights. The “Bad Habits” singer went on the offensive, blasting baseless copyright infringement claims such as the one he faced as being, well…bad habits.
Elsewhere this week, March Madness gave way to April Adulation as two new NCAA Division I College Basketball champions were crowned, with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and University of Kansas Jayhawks taking home the women’s and men’s top prizes (respectively). Notably, Kansas overcame a substantial deficit and was the beneficiary of a late injury to University of North Carolina star forward Armando Bacot caused by what many have theorized was a loose floorboard in the basketball court. For its part, the court’s manufacturer denied there being any issues with the court (which is incidentally what I would have advised it to do had I been its lawyer…). In any event, I hope that the winners from the past week enjoy their time in the spotlight as you enjoy this week’s Spotlight.
- Having nearly a one-year sample size that includes the NCAA’s most marketable event (March Madness), one encouraging development in the name, image and likeness era is that female athletes have largely been outpacing their male counterparts on endorsements. Meanwhile, it is clear that NCAA and Commissioner Mark Emmert are no closer in efforts to have Congress establish uniformity in NIL rules, but having let Pandora out of the box without any meaningful guidance, should we even be surprised?
- Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford, California girl and ex-wife of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson sues Wilson over his $50 million song catalog sale. This should be an interesting case to watch — if for nothing else, to see whether Wilson is represented by counsel named “Rhonda” or “Barbara Ann,” or whether Wilson updates the famous Beach Boys chorus to “I wish they all could be California (other than the ones that sue me for millions) Girls.”
- Riding intrigue fueled by the popularity of Netflix docuseries (but regrettably, non-renewable resources), Formula 1: Drive to Survive is making U.S. media rights a hot commodity.
- For those, like me, who have felt at times powerless to help the Ukrainian people, Ukraine’s government has created a website through which users can donate cryptocurrency and fiat directly to the government to aid in its war effort and provide humanitarian aid. Soon, the website will be set up with an NFT marketplace to raise additional funds from the sale of hundreds of donated NFTs. So you’ll be able to buy a CryptoPunk from Kyiv while sticking it to a real punk in Moscow.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight." I don’t know whether any of you have heard, but something pretty shocking took place this past Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. I hope you’re sitting down while you read this (those of you with standing desks may want to bring it down to its lowest level—your chiropractor will forgive you). But apparently there was an awards ceremony at which…get this: gold statuette trophies were given to some of the most talented and accomplished people in the motion picture industry for their work from the past year! Who knew?! Remarkable that all this could have happened around Will Smith’s violent demonstration of how paper beats (Chris) Rock. As for the awards themselves, the deaf family drama, CODA notably won the Best Picture category representing a watershed moment that many saw coming for years—that a streaming service could take home Hollywood’s most coveted prize, while Ariana DeBose became the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award for her role in the film adaptation of West Side Story. Still, those firsts seemed overshadowed by the ugly incident of Smith storming on stage and assaulting Rock with a slap across the face for making a joke (albeit one in poor taste) about Smith’s wife. In turn, we subsequently learned, Smith was asked to leave, he refused and then to punish him, he was given the Best Actor award (the horror!) and subjected to a standing ovation in the process (talk about best actors…). The weeks and months ahead are sure to have further dissection of the incident and reactionary measures at future award shows (the Grammys are just around the corner) and regrettably, at comedy clubs around the country (I’m even wearing a helmet as I write this). Whatever the result, I can only hope that what takes place around the stage does not detract from what is presented on the stage. For now, my best supporting readers in an entertainment and sports law blog, this week’s Spotlight goes to…you.
- Mamba forever: months after letting Kobe Bryant’s endorsement deal with Nike expire, his estate and Nike have forged a new partnership to help carry on Bryant’s legacy.
- Dua Lipa is hit with yet another copyright infringement lawsuit over her mega-hit song, “Levitating.” If it were me from all this litigating, my heart would be palpitating.
- Musician and creatives’ social networking app, Vampr reaches new heights, adding users and taking on money hungry (err…blood thirsty?) investors. A surprising development for an app that only works in the dark.
- Madonna vogues into the metaverse, becoming the latest celebrity to acquire a Bored Ape NFT, while fellow musical acts Diplo and Nas sell NFTs of their own through tokenized royalty platform, Royal. Clearly, we are liv-ing in an ethereal world…
Welcome back to the "Sports & Entertainment Spotlight." We’re just one week into March Madness, and already my predictions from last week are coming to fruition (if only I had the same luck picking winners of the games themselves). Specifically, news of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals have been popping up all over—even in some unexpected places. For instance, a memorable moment for the Indiana University Cheerleading Squad (during a forgettable game for the Hoosiers’ Men’s Basketball team) in which Cassidy Cerny was hoisted up to snag a basketball hopelessly stuck behind the hoop, led to her securing a NIL deal with a sports apparel company. Previously unknown players rise to fame, as Saint Peter’s University (amidst an unlikely Cinderella tournament run) guard Doug Edert and his distinctive mustache propelled his Peacocks into the Sweet 16, picking up NIL deals with Buffalo Wild Wings and Barstool Sports along the way. On a grander scale, Adidas announced that it would be setting up an NIL network, making affiliate commissions available to any of the more than 50,000 college athletes at schools whose sports programs it sponsors. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next this weekend – both on and off the court. In the meantime, you need not wait any further for your weekly Spotlight fix:
- Usually Speedo-dropping is in and of itself a scandalous and embarrassing occurrence. Russian Olympian swimmer Evgeny Rylov found out it’s that much more scandalous and embarrassing when Speedo is dropping his sponsorship for his having attended a rally in support of war criminal/President Vladimir Putin.
- Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios officially closed, with many speculating whether the deal was primarily for the MGM name, history and its intellectual property including the James Bond franchise. For all we know, it may just be that some higher-up at the company wanted to introduce himself as “Bezos…Jeff Bezos.”
- With its latest trademark filings, American Express shows it may be just the latest example of an institutional brand looking to expand into the metaverse. Don’t leave your pixelated home without it.
This past week, I have realized my place is still on the blogosphere and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now.
I love my readers, and I love my supportive family. Without them, none of this is possible.
I’m coming back for my second year of the “Sports & Entertainment Spotlight.” We have unfinished business.
LFG (as in Law: Foster Garvey—what else?!)
That’s right folks, like Tom Brady, I’m back for another year (and that’s pretty much where all Josh Bloomgarden/Tom Brady commonalities end). In any event, I’m feeling especially excited this time of year with Spring right around the corner, and March Madness in full swing. This year, I have a vested interest not only in the theatrics of the games (my brackets are probably being busted as you read this), but also in seeing how, for the first time, the name, image and likeness (NIL) rights of basketball players participating in the Women’s and Men’s basketball tournaments are leveraged in advertising and marketing opportunities throughout the tournaments. Undoubtedly, we will see buzzer beating highlights minted as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and tournament heroes not only becoming household names and but collecting checks in the process.
Speaking of “madness,” I would be remiss not to mention what seems like a daily march of plaintiffs to the courts to claim copyright ownership in chart-topping songs. (Bonus points to you if you found all the word play in that last sentence). Indeed, ever since the Marvin Gaye Estate’s controversial “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement victory against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (that many viewed as a misapplication of legal analysis that should have been focused on whether a melody was copied, rather than copying of a harmonic feel or rhythm of a song), songwriters and artists have been emboldened to try to get their share of the pie (and some publicity in the process). Just this past week, no sooner did Katy Perry prevail in her copyright suit, but Dua Lipa now finds herself in the middle of a copyright brouhaha, joining Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and other top singers/songwriters – all for the most part against lesser-known artists or songwriters whose songs become publicized through their litigation. Perhaps out of these cases, there will come either judicial or legislative guidance that makes songwriters a little more self-assured that their contributions will not land them in court. Until then, these plaintiffs will continue to rack up streams (and legal fees) while spending a few minutes in the “Spotlight.”
Which reminds me, here’s what else made this week’s "Spotlight."
- Just in time to celebrate Women’s History Month, Rihanna continues to assert herself as an entrepreneurial force, with her Savage X Fenty lingerie brand reportedly on the verge of a $3 billion IPO. Go ahead and “Take a Bow.”
- Social media platform (and unrelenting reminder that I am aging) TikTok debuts its streaming service SoundOn, enabling artists to upload and monetize music through the service.
- Not to be outdone, Instagram will soon debut NFTs on its platform — potentially enabling users to mint their own NFTs. So if anyone is in the market for NFTs featuring a darling Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, please contact me for details.
The Sports, Arts & Entertainment group at Foster Garvey provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.