Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" As some of you may have noticed, smartphones are everywhere. They have the power to entertain insomniac authors (who shall remain nameless) suffering from writer’s block. They have the power to bring the eyes of the whole world (or close to it), to the vantage point of the person holding the device with a few taps of the finger. The results of that capability have been mixed. They have exposed injustice and sparked global movements for change (the George Floyd murder being a prime example). They have captured humorous and bizarre moments — this week, an unsuspecting spectator at a Yankees-Mets Subway Series game (that the Yankees swept, by the way) showed millions that a hot dog could be hollowed out and used as a straw for drinking beer. But they have also been used for nefarious and callous purposes – including by law enforcement officials in Los Angeles to share photos of Kobe Bryant’s and other victims’ corpses in the rubble of a tragic January 26, 2020 helicopter crash that killed all passengers on board. Yesterday, ironically on Kobe Bryant Day (8/24), a Los Angeles jury awarded $31 million in damages for violation of the right to privacy and infliction of emotional distress to the victims’ families (including Bryant’s), as if to send a message to all smartphone users that such behavior should not be tolerated. The subjects of their videos and photos are people with families and dignities that take precedent over sharing tasteless photos to impress drinking buddies. So the next time you raise your smartphone to record or photograph, think about your motivations for doing so, and that the people in front of the lens are just that. People with families and dignities who may deserve not to have that content in the Spotlight.
- Earlier this summer, Capitol Records made headlines by signing virtual recording artist, “FN Meka” to its label. Now, Capitol Records is making headlines for terminating the FN Meka project due to blowback at the racially-charged stereotypes that FN Meka embodied. Hopefully those at Sony Music Japan are taking notes on what not to do for its newly launched virtual talent development and management project. The lesson?: Even virtual reality bytes.
- In an effort to engage a broader audience, while battling the competition from LIV Golf, the PGA Tour announced enhanced prizes, more star participation and most notably a partnership with Tiger Woods’ and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Sports in the creation of the TGL golf league that will feature teams of players competing on a virtual golf course in front of a live audience. Time will tell whether this is the right approach for hitting the “green.”
- A new drama called “The Good Lawyer” is in development at ABC. These television show titles just keep getting more and more outlandish…
Welcome back to the "Spotlight." Hard to believe we’re over halfway through August and that football season and fall (my favorite) is right around the corner, but that is looking more and more like an attractive proposition with my Yankees swooning of late. Still, for the time being, off-field issues continue to carry the day. In the NFL, there is a possibility that accused serial sexual abuser Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson may learn his definitive fate before the NFL-appointed arbitrator has a chance to weigh-in. In college football, there is new talk that the College Football Playoff (CFP) system would break off from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and become its own organizing body of sorts for college football. And on my couch, there will be obsessive studying of “sleeper” players and breakout performers for my fantasy football draft. With any luck, I will be among the first chosen for your fantasy lawyer draft, leading you to the Spotlight.
- Snack company Rap Snacks finds itself in hot oil with Mattel over the use of the name “Barbie” in its Barbie-Que Honey Truffle potato chip collaboration with rapper Nicki Minaj. That sure throws a wrench (or curling iron) in a prospective Rap Snacks collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest for “Ken I dip it? tortilla chips.
- Apparel brand Nobull charges into high visibility sports marketing with its NFL combine sponsorship deal. Here’s hoping the sponsorship works, otherwise Nobull might find itself in the realm of professional rodeo sponsorship, resulting in some very confused, and badly maimed rodeo clowns.
- University of Nebraska Decoldest Crawford strikes cool a deal with (what else?) an HVAC company, pushing the merits of being the coldest.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" Two of the biggest stories in sports right now are if and/or when professional athletes will themselves be welcomed back. First, is a case (unofficially captioned “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”) in which several professional golfers who bolted the PGA Tour for a king’s ransom from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund-backed LIV Golf are seeking a ruling reinstating them for competition in the PGA Tour’s playoff series. If that sounded to you like a longer shot than a hole-in-one on a par 5, you would be right. After all, as the judge reasoned, the golfers were already making more money on the LIV Tour than they could reasonably expect to make in PGA Tour competition.
Elsewhere, Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson is awaiting word on how long he will be suspended due to the dozens of sexual assault allegations against him during his tenure with the Houston Texans. Initially, Judge Sue L. Robinson ruled that Watson would miss the first six games of the season. That ruling has since been appealed by the NFL, with Commissioner Roger Goodell now seeking a season-long ban for Watson. Regardless, the Cleveland Browns have Deshaun Watson slated to start the team’s first preseason game. So, either the Cleveland Browns know something we all don’t know or they’re the Cleveland Browns. In any event, the controversies surrounding the LIV Golfers and Watson have made them all untouchable in the eyes of brands seeking endorsement partners. Suffice it to say, this is not quite the spotlight they are looking for. For you, however, here’s the "Spotlight" that you are looking for:
- The consumer watchdog Truth in Advertising sent warning letters to numerous celebrities who have been peddling NFT projects, notifying them that they may be in violation of Federal Trade Commission regulations for failure to disclose financial interests in the projects. Still needed for many in the public is a disclosure of what NFTs are.
- Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ recent revelations about improvement in his game after drinking ayahuasca tea may have moved psychedelics closer into the mainstream. And who could argue with that? After all, Rodgers became the first player in NFL history to win 32 Super Bowl championships in a single season.
- Perhaps looking to further leverage his recent acquisition of Welsh Football (Soccer) Club Wrexham A.F.C., Ryan Reynolds and his production company Maximum Effort entered into an unscripted first-look development deal with sports streaming service FuboTV. Reynolds continues to add to the winning streak that started when he decided not to be Green Lantern anymore.
Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" Many may recall perhaps, one of the most ‘gutsy’ performances in NBA Finals history was Michael Jordan’s 1997 ‘Flu Game’ in which he heroically willed himself through the doldrums of food poisoning, scoring 38 points and leading the Chicago Bulls to a Game Five victory against the Utah Jazz. Little did Jordan know that 25 years later, his mental and intestinal fortitude would inspire a sports and entertainment lawyer battling the same foe – food poisoning, not the Utah Jazz – to proceed with writing his weekly S&E digest for the masses (three is a crowd, so I am assuming “masses” is four or more). With any luck, this installment will beget yet another legendary showing 25 years from now on par with the likes of ‘His Airness’ and ‘His Lack-of-Self-Awareness.” So, to whoever out there it may be, let this be a message to you that the next time you are feeling Pepto-abysmal, don’t let that keep you from basketball immortality, writing a modestly-successful newsletter or otherwise seizing the Spotlight.
- Although Mixed Martial Artist Conor McGregor has been kept out of competition due to a fractured broken leg, it sounds like the leg may be healthy enough for him to appear alongside star Jake Gyllenhaal in the reboot of the 1989 Patrick Swayze cult film “Road House.” Remakes being a tricky proposition, the film itself might not have a leg to stand on.
- Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson and nine other LIV Golf players filed an Antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in response to having been barred from participating in PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments. Ironic given that ‘anti-trust’ is precisely how many feel towards Mickelson after conflicting statements about LIV Golf.
- Pop singer Shakira faces up to eight years in prison for alleged tax fraud in Spain. On the bright side, she has the presumption of honesty on account of her hips don’t lie.
- NIL platform Opendorse takes endorsement and sponsorship deals for collegiate athletes’ to fans. Greek row might have just found a new recruitment tool.
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.