Blog – Pay or Play

Authored by the attorneys in the firm’s Entertainment Department, this blog provides a legal perspective on the latest issues and trends affecting the entertainment industry, including digital content, multichannel networks, celebrity branding and artist and performer management as well as commentary on music law and media distribution law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Three Takeaways from the Disney/Netflix Split The media community has been buzzing with the news that Disney plans to launch its own digital subscription channel for movies and series content. Its current license deal with Netflix expires at the end of 2018, after which new Disney and Pixar titles will move to the new channel. Disney will also be launching a standalone ESPN channel. This is a big move in itself, but also foreshadows changes to come in the rapid evolution of the media landscape. Here... More
  • Discovery a Defendant in Facebook Flame War Copyright: <a href=’′>pasta77 / 123RF Stock Photo</a> An ugly dispute between two reality stars has the potential to create precedent on the responsibility of television networks for posts by its talent on social media sites. The protagonists are Mykel Hawke and Joseph Teti, both veterans of Special Forces. The seeds were sown when Teti, who was Hawke’s former employee, was given a show by Discovery Network called Dual Survival. Hawke already had a similar show on Discovery, entitled Man, Woman, Wild. Things only got worse after... More
  • First Plea Deal Reached in LA Casting Workshop Prosecutions Copyright: ratru / 123RF Stock Photo We reported previously that LA City Attorney Mike Feuer had brought misdemeanor criminal charges against five casting workshops and 25 individuals under the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. Feuer alleged that the workshops–purportedly for training actors in audition techniques–were actually pay-to-play schemes in which aspiring thespians would pay for the opportunity to be seen by casting directors. On June 5, one of the accused, Bradley Sachs, pleaded no contest to the charges. He was placed on 36... More
  • 2017 Upfronts: Broadcasters Take Digital Head On The upfront selling season is when broadcast networks sell the majority of their advertising inventory. That season kicks off this week as the networks present their fall schedules to advertisers in lavishly staged events. The networks have been losing viewers to online platforms steadily for years, particularly younger viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic. Ad revenues have been slower to decline, but there is understandable concern that the loss will accelerate in response to increasingly dramatic ratings erosion. The buzz this... More
  • Netflix Commits to Los Angeles. Don’t Expect a Trend. Netflix handed a pleasant surprise to Hollywood when in announced that it is committing to spend its $6 billion annual budget for original productions in California rather than chasing tax incentives in other states and countries. Ted Sarandos, Nexflix’s chief content officer, explained the decision this way.  “[It’s] very Copyright: scanrail / 123RF Stock Photo tough on families and eventually it grinds on the talent,” he said. “Shooting in LA is an investment in the quality of the show.” Encouraging as this may... More
  • The 3 Big Issues in the WGA Negotiations   Hollywood is on pins and needles at the prospect of a Writers Guild of America (WGA) walkout, which could occur as early as May 2. On April 24, the Guild announced that a strike authorization vote had passed with 96% support. Although the vote is largely symbolic–a second vote would be required to begin an actual strike–it succeeded in sending the message that writers are ready and willing to take that next step. The last writers’ strike, in 2007-08, lasted 100... More
  • Update: Casting Society Reverses Position, Supports Members Charged in Pay-to-Play Scheme We reported recently that Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer brought misdemeanor charges against five casting workshops, alleging that they were in effect charging actors for auditions in violation of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. At the time, the Casting Society of America supported Feuer’s action, even though at least some of the individuals charged were CSA members. When the indictments were announced, CSA then-president Richard Hicks was quoted saying “the CSA fully supports the work of the city attorney’s office.” Copyright:... More
  • City Files Criminal Charges Against Casting Workshops   Copyright: ratru / 123RF Stock Photo Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed criminal charges last month against five casting workshops, their owners and employees, alleging violations of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. Under the Act, it is a crime to charge a performer money for the right to audition. The workshops bill themselves as opportunities for performers to read in front of professional casting directors for the purpose of receiving notes and guidance on their auditioning skills. But Feuer expressed the... More
  • Privacy Wars: FTC Reaches $2.2M Settlement with Vizio over Data Collection The TV manufacturer Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of New Jersey over its data collection practices. Copyright: scanrail / 123RF Stock Photo The lawsuit alleged that the company’s internet-connected smart TVs were recording exactly what consumers were watching second by second. The sets were able to collect this data for shows from all sources, whether from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, or... More
  • Disney Payment Concludes Animators’ Anti-Poaching Lawsuit We reported previously on DreamWorks Animation’s payment of  $50 million to settle a class action antitrust suit. The class represented animators who claimed they were denied employment opportunities due to a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the studios not to poach each other’s employees. The other defendants in addition to DreamWorks–Blue Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks–had also settled, leaving only Disney and its subsidiaries left in litigation. Pending judicial approval, the Disney parties The Walt Disney Company, Pixar, Lucasfilm... More