Monthly Archives: June 2009

Critic / Play-doctor John Lahr sues Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch
Elaine Stritch
John Lahr
John Lahr

When Elaine Stritch opened her Tony award winning “Elaine Stritch At Liberty” in 2000, she did so with help from theatre critic and author John Lahr, best known for his essays, reviews and reportage at The New Yorker magazine.   Lahr received a “reconstructed by” credit in the Playbill for Stritch's show when it opened on Broadway after an initial run at the Public Theater.

According to the complaint filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court, Lahr is entitled to a royalty from each production of the show, including special engagements, but Ms. Stritch has allegedly failed to make payments in accordance with their agreement.

John Lahr is the son of actor Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in the 1938 MGM motion picture, The Wizard of Oz

(Hat tip to Susan Grace's Gracenotes blog)

Talent Agent’s chilling "State of the Industry" message sends shivers through Hollywood.

hollywoodsignTalent agent James J. Jones of Premiere Talent, issued a gloomy “State of the Industry” message last March, which has been circulating around town among established actors and hopefuls alike.

The message paints a bleak picture for an industry following two major labor disturbances in the past two years, and suggests that work for actors is less plentiful than ever before, with film actors taking the few television starring jobs available, and top-tier TV actors taking co-star, guest star and less prestigious roles.

What that leaves for aspiring actors, and the thousands of established actors who've worked only occasionally Jones warns, is even fewer opportunities.

Sadly, this situation “trickles down” to all entertainment industry workers, including writers, directors, crew, and even professionals like accountants, lawyers and the like.

The glimmer of good news is that this presents terrific opportunities for independent filmmakers, provided they've got courageous investors on board. Today's indie has a better-than-ever chance of getting name talent to work for affordable fees, given a good script and an attractive role.

In my view, if our industry is to rebound from the WGA strike, the SAG almost-strike, and the troubled economy, we'll all need to tighten our belts a bit… but the time jump into new production. Let's get folks back to work!

Reflections on the fate of the music business as we know it.

A panel I attended recently at the Recording Academy addressed digital music, particularly the problems songwriters (and record labels, artists, etc.) have getting paid for their music, particularly in the face of file-sharers obtaining copies for free.

A vocal majority on the panel, and in the audience seemed to take the position that the only solution is to require Internet Service Providers to charge their users a monthly digital media consumption fee of some sort. This, it seems, part of the idea behind CHORUSS, a pilot program at a few universities, which requires students to opt-in by paying a monthly fee, that the University will then pass along to content owners.

For me, this solution is plagued with problems. First, in all likelihood, if implemented on a broad scale, it will be an automatic charge we all pay. Those who never file-share or download media content will be subsidizing the users who DO download, especially those who take more than their fair share. Second, this looks to the wrong party for payment. Isn’t asking ISPs to pay music royalties when songs pass through their networks similar to asking UPS to pay book authors’ royalties when they deliver books bought via Amazon.com?

Now, of course no solution to this problem is perfect, but it’s my sincere hope that the content community and the tech communities can find a better solution. Unfortunately, other solutions discussed involved asking ISPs to log every bit of data passing through every user’s IP address… which raises tremendous privacy concerns.

One interesting view was that espoused by a manager/consultant on the panel who seemed to suggest that we just need to accept that file-sharing is here, and that many (but not all) consumers are getting (music) for free… so we’d better find something else to sell them. (Sounds like a ‘loss-leader’ approach). ‘Give away the recordings of your songs… develop a fan base, then sell ‘em concert tickets and T-shirts’… seemed to be his notion.

Clearly, there’s no good solution, but the prevailing view of the panel is that something must be done. If artists such as songwriters can no longer receive fair compensation for their efforts.. they’ll find something else to do… and society will be the worse for it.

Entertainment Law Update Podcast – Episode 2

[audio:EntertainmentLawUpdateEpisode2.mp3] Episode 2 of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, hosted by yours truly, along with Tamera Bennett is now online . In this episode, Tamera and I round up the latest entertainment law news, including: Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Pres. Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court Copyright Office Backlogs Constitutional issues… Continue Reading

Entertainment Law Update Podcast – Episode 2

[audio:EntertainmentLawUpdateEpisode2.mp3] Episode 2 of the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, hosted by yours truly, along with Tamera Bennett is now online . In this episode, Tamera and I round up the latest entertainment law news, including: Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Entertainment Lawyer of the Year Pres. Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court Copyright Office Backlogs Constitutional issues… Continue Reading

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