Week In Review

By Eric Lanter Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, and General News:


Producer Takes Academy to Task in Lawsuit

Producer Michael Shamberg has filed an action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claiming that the Academy "did not adhere to its rules when its 54-member board declined to vote on bylaw amendments" that Shamberg proposed. He ran for a board seat in June, which was unsuccessful, and he then "publicly admonished the organization, a rarity for a member of the Hollywood establishment."

A Rare Look Inside Trump's Immigration Crackdown Draws Legal Threats

A documentary "peers inside the secretive world of immigration enforcement," and filmmakers "faced demands to delete scenes and delay broadcast until after the election." The Trump administration has "fought mightily to keep it from being released until after the 2020 election," including threats of legal action and seeking "to block parts of it from seeing the light of day."

Clint Eastwood Sues, Says He Has Nothing to Do With CBD Products

Clint Eastwood has filed two lawsuits against retailers alleging that "they falsely claimed he had endorsed their goods." In the filing, it states, "Mr. Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview" after it came to light that three CBD manufacturers posted articles "falsely claiming that he endorsed CBD products and 10 online retailers whom he alleged had manipulated search results to make it look like he had done so."

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's Courtroom Face-Off: An Explainer

Johnny Depp sued the owners of The Sun, a British tabloid, and its editor, for libel in relation to an article that deemed Depp a "wife beater" and said that there was "overwhelming evidence" of his assaulting his wife, actress Amber Heard. He has denied all of the claims, and the newspaper has maintained that the statements were "entirely accurate and true." Both actors have testified, and under English law, the burden is placed on the publisher to establish that it was not libelous in its publication.


5Pointz Graffiti Art Case Affords Supreme Court Opportunity to Interpret Rarely Tested Copyright Law

G&M Realty, a real estate development company, has asked the Supreme Court to reverse a $6.75 million damages award that the Eastern District of New York entered in favor of the group of graffiti artists who had turned the 5Pointz warehouse "into an exhibition space for artists." G&M Realty had, "without warning, whitewashed the artists' work, which had been displayed" on the warehouses known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens. The graffiti artists sued under the Visual Artists Rights Act, "a rarely litigated copyright law," to prevent destruction of the site, and that law affords authors "additional rights in the works, regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself or who holds the copyright to the work."

A Rush to Use Black Art Leaves the Artists Feeling Used

With protests around the country creating momentum for hiring people of color in creative professions, many black creative professionals now "say they have been used to lend legitimacy to diversity campaigns while being underpaid and pigeonholed." Many have reported that while "major companies" have publicly supported the protests "against racism and police brutality," those companies' efforts "have rung hollow" as they failed to "live up to principles of diversity and inclusion."

Marciano Foundation Settles Lawsuit Over Layoffs

In Los Angeles, the Marciano Foundation announced that it settled a lawsuit that had alleged that the foundation "broke the law by laying off 70 part-time employees." The dismissals came in November, and the union filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board "seeking to represent docents and visitor services employees at the privately owned museum." The settlement will provide the affected workers with approximately 10 weeks of pay, according to the lawyer that represented them.

Southern District of New York Decides Photographer's Case Against Mashable

The Southern District of New York granted photographer Stephanie Sinclar's motion for reconsideration and reversed its prior grant of the motion to dismiss as to defendant Mashable. The court maintained its dismissal as to Ziff Davis for failure to state a claim and found that its prior decision "did not give full force to the requirement that a license must convey the licensor's 'explicit consent' to use a copyrighted work."

House Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From U.S. Capitol

In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives voted "to banish the statues from display" in the "latest step in a nationwide push to remove historical symbols of racism and oppression from public places." The vote, 305 to 113, came one month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered "that the portraits of four speakers who served the Confederacy be removed from the ornate hall just outside the House chamber."

Opera Foundation Removes Trustee Over Offensive Comments

The Richard Tucker Music Foundation has removed Richard Tucker's son from the board following offensive comments posted on a singer's Facebook page in reference to protestors in Portland: "Good. Get rid of these thugs and I don't care where you send them. They are a Pox on our society." He also wrote, "About time someone tough will try to crush the mob before they destroy and kill more innocent people. Bravo to Trump to send in Federal troops."

Ailey II Drops Director, Citing 'Inappropriate' Communications

Troy Powell, the leader of the Ailey II, the junior troupe of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was fired following "an inquiry by an outside investigator hired by the organization." The inquiry concluded that Powell had "inappropriate communications" with adult students in the company's training program, according to the company's statement.

Michael Cohen Claims in Suit That He Was Imprisoned to Stop Trump Book

A federal judge ruled that "federal officials had returned Michael D. Cohen to prison because he wanted to publish a book this fall about President Trump." When probation officers presented him with paperwork that "would have barred him from publishing a book during the rest of his sentence," he balked and returned to prison as he is planning to release a "tell-all memoir about his former" client, the president.

Demolition of Historic Vietnam Cathedral Is Underway

In Vietnam, demolition is underway on the historic Bui Chu Cathedral, "a 135-year-old church considered by many an architectural gem." Efforts to save the cathedral failed in the weeks leading up to the planned demolition, and it has been announced that following the demolition, which will be completed in early August, there will be a bigger cathedral erected in its place.

Firing of Museum Director Stirs Debate and an Official Inquiry

Quebec's government is investigating the termination of Nathalie Bondil, the head of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for years and its first female director. The debate "over why she was let go has led to such confusion and rancor that the government has stepped in to investigate" as the museum announced it had terminated her contract effective immediately after an investigation.

Erdogan Fulfills Cherished Goal, Opening Hagia Sophia to Prayers

To the dismay of architectural conservators, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has succeeded in transforming the historic Hagia Sophia as a working mosque. The sixth century structure had been the world's largest cathedral, but Friday brought the first Muslim prayer manifesting the president's "long-stated desire to restore the historic" structure "as a working mosque."


Prominent U.S. Figure Skating Coach Accused of Sex Abuse in Lawsuit

A prominent coach, Craig Maurizi, has filed an action in Buffalo against Richard Callaghan, who coached Tara Lipinski to Olympic gold in 1998, and accused him of sexual abuse. He also alleged that the national governing body was liable for knowing of the sexual abuse and not taking sufficient action to stop the abuse. Last August, the U.S. Center for SafeSport barred Callaghan from figure skating, and four male skaters have publicly accused him of improper behavior during the 1990s and early 2000s.

New Women's Soccer Team, Founded by Women, Will Press for Equal Pay

The National Women's Soccer League continues to expand and has gained the support of figures in tech and finance as well as stars Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, and Abby Wambach. The League plans to add a team in Louisville next year and a second team in 2022 that will be based in Los Angeles.

More Resignations but No Sign Yet of a Change in Gaming Culture

A "stream of reports of sexual harassment and assault in the gaming industry" began in June and has continued with women and men coming forward "with accusations of mistreatment." However, despite those reports, "gaming experts say they are hesitant to call the moment an inflection point", as there have been such moments before and those were not followed by systemic change.

Juan Soto's Positive Test Casts Shadow on Yankees-Nationals Opener as Baseball Returns

Baseball is back, and it has looked different as "players and coaches knelt before the national anthem, and teams played a message of unity at the first two games of the 2020 season." Major League Baseball (MLB) had separated itself from other major leagues such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA), and National Football League (NFL), where players had "been demonstrating before and during the national anthem for years."

Senators Say NCAA Needs Broad Reform

The president of the NCAA has said that he doesn't believe the NCAA should be the sole entity enforcing name, image, and likeness rules, and after appealing for a federal policy addressing the issue, senators have criticized "the organization's handling of amateurism rules and the return of sports amid the pandemic." Florida, California, and Colorado have passed laws that touch on allowing college athletes "to make money through sponsorships and by promoting themselves," and similar laws are being considered in 28 other states, but it remains unclear whether there will be a federal policy (rather than a patchwork of state laws) that clarify the issue.

Washington's NFL Team Will Retire Its Logo and Adopt a Temporary New Name

In the short term, Washington's NFL team will bear the name Washington Football Team. The team dropped its mascot, the Redskins, after having used it for nearly 90 years, and the team announced that it will "roll out an aesthetic that would reflect the direction of the new franchise" as it changes.

The WNBA Is Out to Reclaim 'Tremendous Momentum' in New Season

With a "dramatic free agency period, a new collective bargaining agreement, and a leading voice on social justice", the WNBA is set to start its season and have its players "capture the spotlight". The new collective bargaining agreement allows "the average WNBA players to earn six figures for the first time, including base salary and incentives", which may help to alleviate the common practice of players competing "year-round by going overseas in the off-season to make additional money."

Trump's Request of an Ambassador: Get the British Open for Me

Robert Wood Johnson IV, the ambassador to Britain, is facing scrutiny after it emerged that the pharmaceutical heir and NFL team owner had received instruction from President Trump to secure the British Open for the Trump golf course located in Scotland. While President Trump has denied asking Johnson to lobby the British government for the Open, an aide to Johnson has said that Johnson attempted to and may have contacted members in the British government to have the Open moved.


Two Women Sue Fox News, Claiming Misconduct by Ed Henry and Others

Cathy Areu and Jennifer Eckhart have sued Fox News and claimed that an anchor, Ed Henry, and others engaged in misconduct. Areu described exchanges with other anchors, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz, having the nature of being "inappropriate and sexually charged" whereas Eckhart alleged that Henry "had coerced her into a sexual relationship by promising to advance her career."

Disney Cuts Ties With ABC News Executive Over 'Racially Insensitive' Remarks

ABC News executive Barbara Fedida left the company "after an investigation supported complaints about her workplace comments." She held the position of senior vice president of talent relations and business affairs and allegedly made "insensitive statements, including racist comments, at work."

Big Tech Has a Big Climate Problem, and Now It Is Being Forced to Clean Up

Apple announced this week that it would be "carbon-neutral by 2030, making it the latest tech giant to ramp up voluntary climate targets." Microsoft and Amazon have also "announced plans to reduce their climate footprints."

Social Media Grapples with Anti-Asian Harassment and QAnon

A public service announcement premiered last week, informing viewers that "Asian-Americans are facing a surge of harassment linked to fears about the coronavirus pandemic." Twitter has had to grapple with QAnon accounts as the movement has spread its messages and "conspiracy theories," and Twitter has removed thousands of accounts for spreading messages that "lead to harm and violated Twitter policy."

Hearst Employees Say Magazine Boss Led Toxic Culture

Troy Young, the head of Hearst Magazines, resigned following a report that he "had made lewd, sexist remarks at work." He joined Hearst in 2013 as the head of digital media and rose to the president's office in the company, but resigned following the revelation that he emailed pornography and made lewd comments in the office.

Washington Post Settles Lawsuit With Student in Viral Protest Video

The Washington Post settled a defamation lawsuit related to its coverage of a Kentucky teenager's encounter with a Native American protestor in Washington, DC. The terms were not disclosed, but a spokeswoman for the Post said, "We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit."

At Wall Street Journal, News Staff and Opinion Side Clash

A rare moment occurred at the Wall Street Journal: the public caught a glimpse of the "internal strife" between the newspaper's opinion section and its newsroom. The opinion department published "a tersely worded note to readers just days after it found itself on the receiving end of a sharply worded critique signed by hundreds of newsroom employees." The newsroom's criticism consisted of the opinion desk having a "lack of fact-checking and transparency."

Big Tech Funds a Think Tank Pushing for Fewer Rules. For Big Tech.

A George Mason University institute has taught "a hands-off approach to antitrust regulators and judges," and big tech, including Google, Amazon, and Qualcomm have financed the think tank in an effort to preserve their dominance in their respective industries. Regulators have become cozy with the institute's staff and have attended lavish conferences, but critics have said that the "sessions were more about delivering a clear message to international officials that benefited the companies paying for the event: The best way to foster competition is to maintain a hands-off approach to antitrust law."

Hungary's Independent Press Takes Another Blow and Reporters Quit

The Hungarian government is overseeing a "concentration of control of the media" that resembles "a troubling pattern in Central Europe, where Poland's press also faces pressure following a presidential election." The editor in chief of the most popular news site was fired and dozens of journalists have quit in protest of the government's move to have Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ally take over the most popular site's advertising unit as "part of a broader effort to limit dissenting voices and silence critics."

Slack Accuses Microsoft of Illegally Crushing Competition

Slack filed a complaint in Europe and accused Microsoft of illegally using its market power to crush Slack. Slack has claimed that Microsoft "illegally tied its collaboration software, Microsoft Teams, to its dominant suite of productivity programs, Microsoft Office," which, according to Slack, "is part of a pattern of anticompetitive behavior by Microsoft."

General News

The Americans With Disabilities Act After 30 Years

With the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) turning 30, the New York Times, which called the ADA "the most sweeping anti-discrimination measure since the Civil Rights Act of 1964," is exploring "what it means to live with a disability in America" in a series of articles. Below is a link with those articles.

John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80

Memorials and remembrances of John Lewis, a towering figure of the civil rights era, have permeated this week. In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, Senator Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that Lewis was a "monumental figure" who made "huge personal sacrifices to help our nation move past the sin of racism," and that bipartisanship may lead to the renaming of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, "the site of a turning point in the fight for civil rights" that Lewis spearheaded.

Federal Officers Deployed in Portland Didn't Have Proper Training, Said Department of Homeland Security Memo

As President Trump has promised to deploy federal troops to cities throughout the country on the basis that there has been a spike in crime in recent weeks, dramatic scenes have played out in Portland, including federal agents flooding blocks with tear gas. Oregon's attorney general has said that it is "absolutely improper" and "beyond their authority", as the justification for the deployment was to protect federal property, including federal courthouses, and agents were seen moving on protestors at least two blocks from the nearest federal property. Local officials in cities such as Chicago, Albuquerque, and New York have continued to insist that they do not need federal help to control their city's crime rates, and some have said that the deployment of federal troops has itself caused many more protestors to come out into the streets.<