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Posts from April 2023.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! If there ever was a story that blends the magic and romanticism of Hollywood with the unbridled enthusiasm and competition of sports, it’s that of Welsh football club, Wrexham A.F.C. Acquired by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney for the relatively low price of $2.5 million in 2021, the duo quickly won over Wrexham supporters (indeed it was a prerequisite to the bidding process) and an American audience that until recently thought “football in Wales” was something better dealt with by a marine biologist. That Reynolds and McElhenney have had success is an understatement. Using their celebrity profile, they launched the docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham,” which has been picked up for multiple seasons. Nothing short of marketing genius and we should expect no less than that from Reynolds, as pretty much everything he touches-from gin to mobile phone service—turns to gold (“Green Lantern” is the outlier). This is of course to say nothing of the fact that the club has backed up their newfound attention with victories on the pitch, ascending to League Two (one rung up from where the team had been when acquired in 2021, and three promotions removed from the English Premier League. Reaching those heights will be a daunting process, but, with the marketing opportunities the club could provide, by no means a white W(h)ale.

Without further ado, here’s what else is making waves:

    • The Ottawa Senators are on the market for a price tag that could reach an NHL record setting $1 billion, with bidders including a group backed by Ryan Reynolds. An overpayment if you ask me—there are plenty of Senators that have been bought for less. 

    • University of Texas’ five star recruit Quarterback Arch Manning has made it known (through his coach Steve Sarkisian) that he intends to keep his name, image and likeness (NIL) earnings at nil until he earns the starting Quarterback position, despite having one of the highest projected values for college athletes. Whether influenced by the fact he’s not hurting for money (you may have heard of his grandfather and uncles), being a good teammate or enjoying wordplay as much as I do, it’s a notable stance. 
    • Pop recording artist Ed Sheeran is in the midst of a trial facing allegations that his ballad “Thinking Out Loud” infringes the copyrights to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Jurors’ deliberation room will undoubtedly be equipped with an assortment scented candles.

    • A week after Fake Drake and The Weeknd popped up on streaming services through the help of A.I., recording artist Grimes has voiced (at least I think it’s her voice) her intent to embrace the disruptive technology for her own songs.  On the one hand, this is shocking given the potential threat of A.I. to the music industry. On the other hand, it is not all that surprising for someone who named her and Elon Musk’s firstborn, “X Æ A-Xii.”

Welcome to the Spotlight! It seems that talk of being at an inflection point in the adoption of artificial intelligence (hat tip to Haley Joel Osment) is ubiquitous. First, there came the lawsuit by Getty Images against an AI software company for scraping data from its image repository.

Last month, we heard several stories about college athletes using artificial intelligence software to write essays and LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne vaulting her name, image and likeness toward the endorsement of one of the companies behind such software, sending academics, ethicists and talking heads alike into an uproar. The latest saga involves a Drake and The Weeknd collaboration called “Heart on My Sleeve.” Only it’s not really Drake and The Weeknd, but rather AI language models mimicking their voices to create something new and eerily mistakable for the real thing. To say that this will keep record label executives up at night is an understatement. Never mind (hat tip to Nirvana) the whole existential-threat-to-humanity shtick that comes along with A.I., but the music industry may have a big problem on its hands if these A.I. creations continue to wind up on streaming services and legislation. Talk about virtual insanity (hat tip to Jamiroquai).

For now, here to boost your natural intelligence are some other stories in this week’s Spotlight:

    • 7-foot 1-inch, 325 pound NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was finally served with legal process in the FTX crypto-investor class action after nearly three months of failed attempts. What changed this time around? The process server opened their eyes.

    • Jungkook of K-Pop heartthrob group BTS makes a sizable donation to a Children’s Hospital in South Korea, and in so doing, proves he has a Seoul.

    • Poster women of the NIL era in college athletics, Haley and Hanna Cavinder are moving on from college but only getting started in the sports and entertainment industry, taking their podcast to Betr Media and announcing their intent to be professional wrestlers with World Wrestling Entertainment. A Doublemint Gum endorsement cannot be far off.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! With the Spring holidays in swing and many on Spring Break, I will be brief as I realize reading sports and entertainment business and legal stories may be the lEaster your worries. But I couldn’t Passover an opportunity to check-in. Yikes, those were pretty bad – even for my standards. In any event, I will be off on vacation next week, during which time I can perhaps come up with better material. But for now, your Easter egg/Afikomen prize is below: 

    • Angel Reese has been the topic of much discussion with regard to sportsmanship and implicit bias following her LSU Tigers’ Basketball National Championship victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes. Over all the noise, she has become a household name and the “Bayou Barbie” has positioned herself to buy that dream home.
    • IT and Security Management firm Kaseya secures naming rights to the Miami Heat’s NBA Arena, becoming a successor to cryptocurrency exchange turned criminal enterprise FTX.  But the heat still remains on Miami shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who is facing legal action over his ties to crypto exchange Binance.

    • Artificial Intelligence may hold the power to keep celebrities entertaining long beyond their natural lives. In a related story, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2024 will be hosted by Dick Clark with musical performances by Elvis Presley and Ludwig von Beethoven. 

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