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Welcome back to a pumpkin spice flavored edition of the "Spotlight." With the summer coming to an unofficial end, it’s time to put away your white clothing, dust off your flannels and settle into the crisp, cozy season that is autumn. And that can mean only one thing: football is back. And the powers that be are banking on yours, mine and hundreds of millions of others’ eyeballs taking in games on Saturdays and Sundays…and Mondays. And Thursdays. Oh, and sometimes on Fridays. After all, what else could explain the billions of dollars spent by major television networks to secure media rights for televising college football and National Football League games, and advertisers buying millions of dollars of airtime for a Superbowl spotlight.

    • With the help of high-profile placements during the NFL season, sports drink brand Gatorade is rolling out a new sugar-free, caffeine-packed energy drink called “Fast Twitch,” which is incidentally exactly what you’ll be doing if you drink too many.
    • NBA Superstar Steph Curry makes a splash in publishing, hoping to fill shopping baskets as ably as he does arena baskets.
    • The Estates of two music icons – David Bowie and Elvis Presley appear poised to take their legacies to the blockchain with a series of NFT projects. Or at least, I think it’s Elvis.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" After over two and a half years, COVID-19 has finally made its way past my doorstep and throughout my home. It’s Wednesday night and I am physically and emotionally drained, I feel like I swallowed a mace and I sound like Barry White, so I will be brief. That, and I’m watching Serena in her Center Court Spotlight.

    • A non-fungible token (NFT) entitling the bearer to a beer with Bill Murray fetched the equivalent of $185,000 in Ethereum cryptocurrency for charity. At that price point for a beer, you would expect to also see a Yankees game.
    • Grocery delivery company Instacart makes a splish-splash with an ad campaign featuring recording artist Lizzo in a bathtub, creating her own plant-based shopping cart. This being the first high-profile celebrity endorsement, I guess Instacart figured that it was “About Damn Time.”
    • Pink Floyd’s song catalog is up for bidding at approximately $500 million. A gargantuan sum, that is, of course unless you play it backwards.

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.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight." Rest assured that I have leveraged perhaps one of the greatest inventions in human history–central air-conditioning–to make it through last week’s heat wave in New York. So I feel the pain of my colleagues out in the Pacific Northwest, where the air typically requires no conditioning. Seattle clouds and rain probably sound pretty good right about now. At any rate, for those looking to hole-up inside, I have a shameless, unabashedly nepotistic plug for all nine of you readers out there: my cousin Nina Bloomgarden stars in the Peacock series, “The Resort” debuting tonight. If that’s not enough, my other cousin (Nina’s sister) Gabriela is due to be a featured performer in Walker: Independence. All of which is to say, Bloomgardens’ entertainment industry garden is well, blooming. So to paraphrase Chief Brody from Jaws, “you’re gonna need a bigger Spotlight.”

    • No sooner does Kobalt Music Publishing pull its catalog of 700,000 songs from Facebook and Instagram’s services, but Meta Platforms announces that it is finally adopting an ad revenue sharing model for musicians whose songs are used in user generated content (UGC)–the first of its kind among social media platforms. Assuming this is a negotiating tactic by Kobalt, this is the B2B equivalent of unfriending a person in hopes that they will start paying attention to them. Now would be a great time to queue up “Bye, Bye, Bye” by ‘NSYNC if not for the fact that the rights to that song are administered by Kobalt.
    • It’s not often that a law firm inks an endorsement deal with a professional athlete. [Redacted]’s decision to sever ties with a professional golfer joining the Saudi-backed organization LIV Golf highlights precisely why it’s so rare. Even rarer? A law firm endorsing another law firm.
    • U.S. sprinter Fred Kerley joins forces with a startup sports underwear company CXP. Fingers and toes crossed that CXP unveils a tagline “the underwear that makes you go.”

Welcome back to the "Spotlight," where you can come in for the week’s thought provoking Sports & Entertainment stories and stay for the air conditioning. Yes, there’s a heat wave in progress here in New York (joining the countless other places in peril on this planet), that I would say feels like a sauna, but that would be an insult to saunas. Happily, as perhaps a vestige of the normal past, my New York Yankees have been bringing the heat (in a non-civilization threatening way) and in so doing, driving viewership to heights not seen in over a decade. Elsewhere in the world of Major League Baseball, player agent Casey Close and his agency Excel Sports Management have dialed up the temperature on radio host Doug Gottlieb, alleging Gottlieb defamed them in reporting via tweet that Close withheld information from (now) Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman in his contract negotiations with his former team, the Atlanta Braves. Certainly, for the Yankees’ competition’s, Gottlieb’s and the world’s sake, a cooling off would be welcome. But none of which seem all that likely at this point in time. The intense, yet witty heat of a "Spotlight" probably won’t help either, but here goes…

    • Celebrities’ latest bread and butter investment play seems to be homed-in on the restaurant industry, which begs the question: what do they do with their rotten tomatoes?
    • Texas Tech University’s NIL collective announced it will provide $25K to each of 100 football players. That’s just about the best participation trophy I could dream of.
    • Rapper Cardi B is being called to testify in a trial related to sexually suggestive cover art for one of her mixtapes, for which she allegedly photoshopped the plaintiff’s distinctive tattoo onto someone else’s body. The testimony is sure to generate ink of its own.
    • Coinbase seems to be banking on a "Groundhog Day"-like reset for its NFT Marketplace, with the help of beloved actor and comedian (and not someone you would think of when it comes to NFTs) Bill Murray, with new “drops.” If all else fails, Coinbase will have someone to handle their ghosts and gophers.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight," where no receipt is required for your return. By contrast, Elon Musk will need to show a little more than a receipt to get out of his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. That sure puts in perspective, well pretty much all cases of buyer’s remorse that I have experienced in my day. In Hollywood, there’s certainly no buyer’s remorse to be had for Apple+, whose European football comedy series “Ted Lasso” tallied twenty Emmy Award nominations, matching last year’s total. Time (and an arbitrator in the NFL’s disciplinary hearings) will soon tell, though, how much regret the other football’s Cleveland Browns may have in giving Quarterback Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed $230 million contract this offseason notwithstanding scores of sexual assault accusations. My hope and promise is that you will never rue a visit to the "Spotlight," including this one below.

    • The stadium naming rights for the Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer held by condiment mavens Heinz, as those rights now belong to Acrisure insurance company. Though that news might leave French fry-loving fans with a bad taste, the Steelers can quickly make amends by offering spilled beer insurance—no deductible.
    • The company behind Bang energy drinks was found to have infringed Universal Music Group’s copyrights by including snippets of songs in TikTok advertisements for the brand. For its part, Bang maintains that it thought that TikTok’s non-commercial blanket licenses from Universal Music Group allowed for commercial use of the songs. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s a pretty important detail one might think you would be able to spot while hopped-up on enough caffeine to give your jitters the jitters.
    • Keeping up with the times U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and The U.S. Copyright Office announced that they are undertaking studies to better understand the interplay of NFT’s and intellectual property rights. Meanwhile, an untold number of people are undertaking studies to better understand, “What’s an NFT”?

Welcome back to the "Spotlight," and as a University of Wisconsin alum, allow me to be among the first to welcome the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins to the preposterously named Big Ten conference (it hasn’t had 10 member universities since the first Gulf War) in what appears to be part of a massive realignment in college athletics, wrought in part by the weakening of the NCAA. From the USC and UCLA perspective, the move makes a lot of (dollars and) sense. These schools will not only have greater exposure through the Central and Eastern time zones, allowing them to cast a wider net for recruiting, but they will also stand to be the beneficiaries of a Big Ten media rights pot that could approach $1 billion. From my perspective, I love the idea of having visiting football players accustomed to the cushy climate of Southern California visiting my Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium in subzero temperatures (On, Wisconsin!). What could it mean more broadly for college athletics? it appears more and more as if the “powerhouse” schools in college athletics are coming together in two or three self-sufficient mega conferences, pushing the floundering NCAA further out of the spotlight. More on that as the situation unfolds, but until then, take a gander on what’s in the "Spotlight."

    • Songwriters notch a big win against music streaming services as the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to increase streaming royalties from 10.5 percent and 15.1 percent was upheld. Seems fair, given that multi-streaming services make disproportionate profits from the use of the songwriters’ works. But don’t worry about the multi-billion dollar streaming services, they will be fine (and presumably pass the additional costs onto consumers). “Inflation,” am I right?!?! 
    • With the planet under constant strain (in the environmental sense and so many other ways), celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Nicole Kidman are increasingly looking to launch sustainably focused, plant-based brands. And as it turns out, the phrase “vegan beauty” does not refer to the application of lipstick and mascara to a block of tofu.
    • Snoop Dogg, who has been an early adopter of NFTs, cryptocurrency and all things the metaverse can be for the entertainment industry, views the recent crypto plunge as a healthy development that “weeded out the bad apples.” Seems credible since if there’s one thing Snoop knows about, it’s getting weeded out.

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