Hollywood Docket: Errol Morris; Steven Tyler Lawyer; National Enquirer's Cosby Deal

A roundup of entertainment news including a new lawsuit against an NBC affiliate for showing a boy's private part on air.
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Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris has put a lawsuit over his 2011 film Tabloid behind him.

The film covers the circumstances behind former American beauty queen Joyce McKinney's reunion in the United Kingdom with fiance Kirk Anderson, a Mormon missionary. The worst version of what happened is that she kidnapped him, chained him to a bed and raped him. Morris' film took another look at what happened — and especially the U.K. press reaction — with interviews with McKinney and others.

McKinney sued Morris and others associated with the film for allegedly tricking her into an interview, stealing her personal photographs and home videos and hurting her reputa­tion. There was also allegations that she was told to sign a release under the threat that her dog would be killed if she didn't.

Some of the claims were trimmed by the trial judge and upheld on appeal, but until recently, a Feb. 29 trial date was on the calendar.

McKinney, however, split from her attorney, and under some personal hardships, had trouble getting her affairs in order during some of the pre-trial events. On Feb. 1, a judge dismissed the case for lack of prosecution.

In other entertainment and media law news:

- A bitter legal war has ended between Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's lawyer Dina LaPolt and ex-management firm, Kovac Media Group. In 2012, after it was announced that Tyler would not be returning as a judge on American Idol, Allen Kovac blamed LaPolt for botching negotiations and bad mouthing, disparaging and undercutting him. The $8 million lawsuit alleged breach of fiduciary duty and intentional interference with contract, with the dispute later exploring a tug-of-war over Motley Crue as well. A judge applied California's SLAPP statute to curtail part of the lawsuit, but that was reversed by an appeals court. The case was headed to a trial this spring, but the two sides have come to a private deal and the lawsuit has now been dismissed.

Dance Fever host Deney Terrio, who taught John Travolta his moves for Saturday Night Fever, has settled his lawsuit against Hasbro over a gekko character named "Vinnie Terrio" in the cartoon Littlest Pet Shop. The case never got particularly far. Terrio's complaint, filed in Florida about a year ago, noted similarities ranging from "signature dance moves" to "hairstyle" and claimed false endorsement under the Lanham Act and a violation of his publicity rights. A notice of settlement was filed in court on Feb. 3. No word on the terms.

- There's been a lot written about Andrea Constand's civil lawsuit against Bill Cosby a decade ago. The case was settled, and after Cosby's deposition came to light last year, he was charged criminally. In 2006, Constand also sued the National Enquirer for defamation in connection with its Cosby story at the time. This past week, American Media Inc., parent company of National Enquirer, looked to interject itself in one of the newer disputes and keep private its deal with Constand. The company's general counsel gave a declaration in Pennsylvania that stated, "Even in settlement agreements in which there is no admission of fault, the disclosure of a settlement figure can be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing, which may undermine AMI’s credibility as a news organization."

- How many causes of action for a penis being shown on television? Comcast and an NBC affiliate in Colorado are now contending with a 14-year-old boy for allegedly showing his private part during a story about him being blackmailed. The story was apparently suggested by the boy's father, who thought he had an agreement with the station to keep his son's name confidential. But according to the lawsuit, "KOAA aired the thumbnail image of the Youtube video depicting Plaintiff’s erect penis and his name as a part of the story shown on February 24th 2014." Here's the complaint with Comcast now being accused of sexual exploitation of children, invasion of privacy, negligence, extreme conduct, civil conspiracy and other claims.

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