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Hollywood Docket: '16 and Pregnant' Star; Teri Hatcher Lawsuit; Mark Cuban Trial

Monday's roundup of entertainment law news includes an MTV reality star paying legal costs to blogger Perez Hilton and a lawsuit against actress Teri Hatcher being dropped.

Kristina Head, who appeared on the fourth season of MTV's 16 and Pregnant, must pay legal costs and sanctions after losing her court battle with blogger Perez Hilton.

Head appeared on the MTV show in the aftermath of the death of her fiance Todd Hight Jr. and filed a libel lawsuit after Perezitos (Hilton's site that covers celebrity families) picked up Facebook comments made by Tina Hight, her late fiance's mother.

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The mother insinuated that there was foul play that led to her son's death. "They killed him" she wrote. "I wonder if she cared @ all," she added.

Hilton's post was headlined, "16 and Pregnant Murder Mystery!"

The defamation lawsuit that followed went nowhere after the blogger's attorneys argued that Head "thrust herself into the public eye and brought public attention to Todd Hight's death" as a result of participating on the MTV show and publicizing it.

In late August, a Texas judge granted Hilton's anti-SLAPP motion.

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Having succeeded in convincing the judge that the gossip blog's report was a matter of public concern and that Head was unlikely to win her lawsuit, Hilton has gotten the judge to make Head pay $60,000 in attorney fees. In addition, the judge ordered $20,000 more in sanctions, and if she appeals and loses, Head could be facing up to an additional $55,000 in penalties.

In other entertainment law news:

  • A lawsuit against Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has been dropped. She was sued by Jennifer Glassman, who allegedly left her top PR job to run Hatcher’s production company, ISBE Prods., which sold shows to ABC and Lifetime. Glassman said she had to respond to Hatcher’s capricious demands, from scheduling doctor appointments to hiring a dog trainer, and was eventually terminated after being treated as an at-will employee. Hatcher responded to the lawsuit with a counterclaim, accusing her  former associate of breaking into ISBE’s computer network, using Hatcher's identity, reading the star's e-mail and more. A judge has granted a request by the parties to dismiss the case.
  • A dispute has broken out among partners on the popular NatGeo reality series Dog Whisperer. Emery Sumner Productions is suing MPH Entertainment and its principals, claiming financial irregularities in a joint venture. Among the allegations are that MPH diverted revenue from previous "Dog Whisperer" seasons to fund subsequent episodes of the show and made distribution agreements with National Geographic for its "own benefit and to the detriment of the joint venture." This appears to be one of several lawsuits to hit the show, and MPH told one legal news site that it was disappointed "that our joint venture partners of 10 years have chosen to file this meritless claim against us."
  • Mark Cuban, who made his fortune selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo and who has his hand in a number of media ventures including HDNet and Landmark Theatres, is headed to trial on SEC charges that he acted on confidential information when he sold 600,000 shares of Mama.com six years ago and avoided $750,000 in losses. Cuban argues there was nothing confidential about the information he received from the company, and that the SEC lacks proof. Before the trial begins, a jury needs to be selected. The Dallas Morning News spotlights some of the considerations for each of the sides, with the SEC said to be wanting jurors without a high level of financial sophistication and not impressed by the fact that Cuban is presented as a self-made billionaire on ABC's Shark Tank.