Hollywood Docket: Fox News Sticks Up for Judge Jeanine Pirro

A roundup of entertainment law news including victories for Drake and Jimmy Kimmel.
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Judges are sensitive creatures.

Recently, Fox News played a bit of hardball to get its host Jeanine Pirro extricated from a lawsuit that alleges that a 9/11 photograph of three firefighters raising the American flag was illicitly posted to the Facebook page of Fox News' television program Justice With Judge Jeanine.

The photo was put there by a Fox News staffer, but not Pirro personally, and so Fox News told the plaintiff that the "overwhelming and undisputed evidence that she was not a proper party was sanctionable."

In August, Fox News followed up with notice it would be seeking sanctions, which led the photo owner to agree to dismiss the case against Pirro with prejudice. When that didn't happen right away, Fox News' lawyer went to the judge to complain that Pirro, a former Westchester County District Attorney and sitting judge in her own right, "should not have to wait a single additional day to have this meritless case dismissed."

Fox News also demanded that Pirro's name be removed from the caption of this case. "Not only is she entitled to this as a matter of justice and fairness, but the current case caption might confuse any jury that is impaneled to decide the claims between the remaining parties," stated a Sept. 23 letter.

It's unusual to have case captions changed even when parties are dismissed in the proceedings. For example, the copyright lawsuit over "Blurred Lines" is officially known as Pharrell Williams, et al. v. Bridgeport Music, Inc., et al. even though Bridgeport is no longer involved. Similarly, the lawsuit over Hollywood accountants is known as Richard Dreyfuss et al. v. Walt Disney Pictures even though Dreyfuss bowed out.

Here, Pirro was excused from any embarrassment, so the case is now known as North Jersey Media Group Inc. v. Fox News Network, not to be confused with the other case over a 9/11 photo being posted to the Facebook page of Fox News host Bret Baier.

In other entertainment law news:

>> A&E and producers of the show 8 Minutes are being sued by anonymous sex trade workers who say they were recruited to be redeemed by a pastor, paid $200, but denied the housing, medical and job aid promised. The series was canceled in May after news reports about problems with production tactics.

>> Musical star Drake has beat a libel and tortious interference lawsuit over online comments disavowing Drake's Homecoming: The Lost Footage, featuring his 2009 performance at Toronto's Sound Academy. Drake brought an anti-SLAPP motion based on his First Amendment rights and a judge agreed with his attorney over his lack of involvement in the film.

>> Movie investors aren't the only ones upset when they are not properly named in credits. A Utah ranch owner has reportedly filed a $2 million lawsuit with a bid for an injunction over Robert Duvall's Wild Horses. She alleges that her ranch wasn't listed in film credits per a location agreement.

>> Four years after Jimmy Kimmel beat a lawsuit over a Rabbi "made to look foolish" in one of his viral clips, the late-night comedy host got the decision affirmed. A New York appeals court ruled the plaintiff's publicity/privacy rights claim failed "since the video footage in which the plaintiff's voice, picture, and likeness appeared was not used for advertising or trade purposes" and fell within the public interest exception to state law.

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