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Posts from November 2023.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, the Spotlight will be on a one-week hiatus. But lest you worry, it’s all gravy. I will do my best to load up your plate with all the fixings, squashed into a format easier to digest than your aunt’s dry Thanksgiving turkey. As you’ll find if you take a pecan-side, the cavity below is stuffed with all that’s bean cooking in the sports and entertainment kitchen. Although I am on a roll (I really know how to butter myself up), I will not yam-mer on with my corny puns and wordplay any longer. But on a serious note, despite all the really terrible things going on in the world these days, I challenge you all to set that aside in favor of something or someone for which to be thankful.    

    • Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are adding another World War II project (an AppleTV+ Series called “Masters of the Air”) to go along with “Band of Brothers,” “The Pacific” and “Saving Private Ryan” to their production credits that include “Saving Private Ryan.” A sequel (to the war--not to the series) may well be in development.

    • Entertainment and sports agency, Creative Artists Agency launches a better-for-you snack company called Myna Snacks with the help of a popular digital media streamer and consumer packaged goods (CPG) expert. The products have zero percent dairy, soy, gluten and grains, zero percent artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and fifteen percent commission. 

    • Major League Baseball’s owners unanimously approved the plans to have the Oakland Athletics viva in Las Vegas. Next item up for voting is whether to give the Vegas team 162 home games.

Welcome back to the Spotlight! It seems the spotlights on film and television sets across the country are primed to be turned back on, as actors’ union SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) finally reached a tentative agreement to extend and modify the expired collective bargaining agreement. That the strike lasted for over six months – the longest of its kind in history is notable and raises questions about why the parties waited so long for this breakthrough.  Perhaps the AMPTP thought they could win the war of attrition, but ultimately underestimated the actors’ skill at being waiters (many of whom will remain as such notwithstanding the strike ending). Perhaps SAG-AFTRA was satisfied that the wage and pension benefit increases and accompanying restrictions around the use of artificial intelligence in productions under the final proposal were indeed the “best and final” offer from the AMPTP. Or perhaps both sides felt that there were more compelling stories to tell and portray than that of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce (blasphemy, I know). Whatever the reason, it sounds as if we will be assured at least three years of a détente between actors and studios. Until then, let the champagne (and popcorn) pop and revel in that and other news in this installment of the spotlight.       

    • Death, taxes and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” invading the airwaves during the holiday season – those things are certain.  Another possible entrant might soon be copyright litigation around the lattermost.  Clearly, plaintiffs are misinterpreting the lyrics.

    • As the dust settles from FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried being convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, additional pressure is put on the various athletes and entertainers (Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal, Larry David) facing lawsuits for their roles in having endorsed the platform. Short of settlement of the lawsuits for pennies on the dollar, the best outcome might be an appeal that renders Sam Bankman, freed.

    • Hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is leading the charge on an $8 billion bid to bring a casino to Flushing Meadows, Queens right across from the Mets’ CitiField ballpark. If the move encourages wagers on the Mets to win, it might be the ultimate hedge.

While many of you come down from your Halloween sugar high, Taylor Swift remains in another stratosphere. Not because of sweets (although I hear Donna Kelce’s pre-game chocolate chip cookies are not to be missed), but rather because of domination of the music industry en route to recently having her net worth eclipse $1 billion.  In that regard, Swift is something of a unicorn (incidentally, her fanbase’s second most beloved animal behind Swift’s cat, Olivia Benson), because while other recording artists have spun off CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands – whether in fashion, apparel, beauty or liquor – the lion’s (not Olivia Benson’s) share of Swift’s fortune has been built almost exclusively on her music. Swift’s decision to re-record her back catalog of albums and monetize them on her own terms, through record sales, touring and her film chronicling her touring has been nothing short of genius. This gives me hope that perhaps someday, I’ll be able to recycle some of my best hits from prior Spotlights, such as this one from February 17, 2022

Actor Stanley Tucci inks a multiyear endorsement deal with Italian sparkling mineral water company, San Pellegrino, in which bottles will be branded “Stan Pellegrino.” An infinitely better proposition than a diaper rash ointment deal pitched to him for “Tucci Cream.”

I mean…that’s a billion dollar joke right there. For now, I’ll continue to build my own catalog through this week’s installment of the Spotlight: 

    • Kim Kardashian’s Skims brand flexes its sports marketing chops in becoming the official underwear partner of the WNBA, NBA and USA Basketball.  Here’s hoping they don’t take that too far and create a “nothing but net” product.
    • The University of Houston Cougars Football program received a cease and desist letter from the NFL for the Cougars’ wearing confusingly similar uniforms to those of the NFL’s legacy franchise the Houston Oilers (the rights to which are owned by Oilers’ successor franchise, the Tennessee Titans). In its letter, NFL asserted that the colorway and trade dress of Cougars’ “H-Town Pride” tribute uniforms were confusingly similar to those of the Oilers’ “Luv Ya Blue” uniforms. Were the Cougars to wear the uniforms again, they might need to call them the “We have a problem” uniforms.  
    • Flag Football is enjoying something of a Pickleball moment, seeing an influx of tens of millions of dollars as the sport rises in popularity (and will soon be an event at the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles), though it is unlikely to be a hip replacement for those who have hip replacements.

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