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Posts from August 2023.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! As we approach Labor Day Weekend here in the US, I became curious as to the origins of the federal holiday.  Gather round, class – Mr. Bloomgarden has a history lesson to share. (Clears throat…) In 1894, President Grover Cleveland (my second favorite Grover to the blue Muppet and second favorite Cleveland to the city) signed into law a bill to make Labor Day a federal holiday to celebrate (traditionally via barbecues and parades) the contributions of American workers to the economy and society. Fast-forward some 129 years and—far from a celebration--we continue to have labor strikes by actors and writers that have ground new film and television production to a screeching halt. So, it is with rather conspicuous timing that five of the most prominent late night television hosts (Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver) have banded together to create a podcast “Strike Force Five” in solidarity with their respective writers’ rooms to comedically discuss (amongst other things) the strikes plaguing their industry. Commendably, the proceeds from the podcast will be distributed amongst each of the five talk shows’ writing staff to provide relief while the impasse continues.  Hopefully, one of the most courageous acts we see post-Labor Day (close runner-up to wearing white) is that the writers, actors, networks and studios return to their sides of the negotiating table to iron out deals once and for all. Regardless, it is refreshing to see the Strike Force Five using their outsized platforms to support their workers.

    • Brad Pitt’s Production Company Plan B Entertainment named a new President of Television – presumably because its first choice did not pan out.

    • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) continues to make substantial investments in sports – most recently investing $100 million in the mixed martial arts league, Professional Fighters League – in its push to become a sports mecca.  I guess it is not enough to have the Mecca of meccas.

    • Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls are in talks to sell naming rights to its stadium from Red Bull Arena. If anyone in the marketing department at The Toro Company or at Matador Travel Equipment is reading this, you’re welcome.

    • Rapper Eminem puts the kibosh on Republican Primary candidate Vivek Ramaswany’s performance of his musical compositions at campaign events. Will be interesting to see if it is enough of a deterrent to one of his debate competitors saying, “nowadays Ramaswany wanna talk like he got somethin’ to say, but nothin’ comes out, when he moves his lips, just a bunch of gibberish…”

We here at the Spotlight are a family-oriented program committed to giving you sports and entertainment industry business and legal news and insights interspersed with dad jokes (though sometimes I wonder whether it is the other way around…). In any event, I feel it is important to address a story that blends familial (or maybe pseudo-familial) elements with the subject matter of the Spotlight. Nowhere is that more apparent than with that of news of the legal dispute between former NFL Offensive Tackle, Michael Oher and his (supposed/alleged) adoptive parents, Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy.  Oher has filed an action to dissolve his conservatorship with the Tuohys, alleging that they had tricked Oher into signing conservatorship documents allowing the Tuohys to represent Oher’s business interests was the same as being adopted and concocted the (once) heart-warming story of a white Tennessee family adopting a black football player out of abject poverty that served the basis for the film, “The Blind Side” (for which Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2009), allegedly to enrich themselves at his expense. On the other hand, the Tuohys’ lawyer fired back with allegations that Oher had sought to extort $15 million from the family to prevent him from going public with his side of the story. The whole saga is troubling, because you tend to hope that neither side is true, though that would mean that the only ones being bamboozled are you and I. if there is a winner to emerge from the fray, it might well be Sandra Bullock, who might yet break her streak of awful sequels (i.e., Speed 2 and Miss Congeniality 2) with her being positioned to reprise her role of Leigh Ann Tuohy in the yet-to-be-created, The Blind Side 2: Blind Justice. That is, if Hollywood movies are ever made again.  Before we jump into the rest of this week’s Spotlight, a brief programming note that I will be on vacation with my family next week, so the Spotlight will be recharging in my absence.

  1. Fantasy Football guru, Matthew Berry raises $2 million for his startup fantasy sports media company, Fantasy Life. My fantasy football team can only hope to bring in a fraction of that amount this year.
  2. McDonald’s launches a collectible, but non-transferable Grimace NFT. Just another way for McDonald’s (and a grimace) to stay with you long after your meal.
  3. Just as Netflix renews its series, “The King of Collectibles” a Michael Jordan rookie card goes up for auction with a starting bid of $500,000. On that note, I am going to head out to go through my wife’s grandfather’s sports card collection gathering dust in my basement.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! While the tumbleweed continues to blow across studio lots in Hollywood as a result of the impasse with SAG-AFTRA and WGA, the sports world continues to experience kinetic, disruptive activity. In the college sports landscape, time honored college conferences such as the PAC-12 are crumbling like a dry shortbread cookie as their member schools reconsolidate (like wet shortbread cookie dough) around mega conferences such as the Big Ten that enjoy multibillion dollar TV rights deals. Where the chips fall from here—particularly in relation to the role (if any) of the NCAA—is anyone’s guess. Two things are for certain: 1) with at least sixteen (not ten) colleges, maybe it is now time to think of a rebrand for the Big Ten conference); and 2) with apologies to many of my Foster Garvey colleagues, the true UW in the Big Ten remains Wisconsin (not University of Washington, despite its impending move to the Big Ten). Additionally, through a tie-up with Penn Entertainment, ESPN finally jumps into the sports gaming business. Now ESPN, whose parent company Disney is famous for the letters M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, can add three more letters to its portfolio: B-E-T. As part of the deal, Penn Entertainment is paying Disney approximately 2X its market capitalization. Regardless of whether this turns out to be a moneymaking bet for Penn or Disney, rest assured your odds to make money are slimmer than—well, an over-rolled shortbread cookie.

While I excuse myself for a snack, here are some other knowledge morsels on which to nibble:

    • Fan memorabilia company Fanatics and trading card company Panini America are in dueling lawsuits alleging unfair competition. To take on Panini, Fanatics’ legal strategy will undoubtedly involve a full court “press.”
    • YouTube personality MrBeast filed a lawsuit against Virtual Dining Concepts alleging that the food quality at the virtual kitchens created for his MrBeast Burger brand injured his reputation. The court will decide whether the suit is a fry in the sky or whether he has a legitimate beef.

    • Universal Music and Google are said to be in talks related to the development of an AI-generated music tool. Japanese users will be advised not to thank the AI so as not to inadvertently infringe Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.”

Welcome back to the Spotlight! The time that you invest in reading my weekly streams of consciousness newsletter/post is very much appreciated, and I hope that the little time investment yields a sizable return in one way or another.  By the same token, in the sports world nowadays, it has become a remarkable trend to see a who’s who of athletes, entertainers and other entrepreneurs putting “some” money into and appearing on the cap tables of  upstart sports leagues or teams with a low valuation to later reap the exponential returns that far exceed that which would be expected for an investment in an incumbent sports league/team. Case in point: the millions of dollars being poured into women’s athletics, pickleball, under-the-radar soccer clubs (Wrexham AFC), and even (in the latest investment round led by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35 Ventures) the National Cycling League. Quite an exciting time to have capital to throw onto the fire in hopes of spinning straw into gold. And while I can’t guarantee that you’ll make money from reading this piece, I can guarantee that if you do make money from reading this piece, I may ask you for some—or at least a shoutout for an astute Rumpelstiltskin reference. So without further ado, let’s dive into what will enrich your mind, and maybe (but probably not) your bank account.

  1. Super Bowl LVIII will have a slime-filled alternate telecast this year (a slime-ulcast, if you will). Viewers are encouraged to confirm that their dip is in fact guacamole.
  2. A disturbing trend in this summer’s concert scene has been showgoers throwing objects at performers.  Bronx native Cardi B struck back, tossing her microphone at a member of the audience. The good news for Cardi was that she was cleared of wrongdoing as a battery charge against her was dropped. Even better news is that she received a 10 day minor league contract from the Yankees – they need all the help they can get.
  3. A new bill designed to revamp the college sports landscape, by, amongst other things, creating a federal standard for name, image and likeness (NIL) was proposed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. As compared to the other bills floating around Congress, the bill’s biggest downside is that it was proposed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
  4. With a new naming rights deal struck with Mountain America Credit Union, Arizona State University’s Stadium is no longer known as “Sun Devil Stadium.” Unfortunately, that will have no effect on the temperature.

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