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Hollywood Docket: J.Lo Extortion Lawsuit; Travolta's High-Seas Defense; More

A roundup of entertainment and media law news including media access to the Colorado shooting trial, another band name dispute, and two game giants fighting over allegedly stolen work.

TELEVISION: Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez has filed a $20 million countersuit against her former driver for allegedly attempting to exort her out of money in exchange for not revealing personal secrets.

Ex-driver Hakob Manoukian, who began working for J.Lo around 2004, actually sued the pop singer/actress first, claiming he was forced to resign from his job as driver/bodyguard.

Now in a countersuit filed by Lopez attorney Alex Weingarten, Manoukianhe is alleged to have become "hostile and angry" when he was informed that he wouldn't be in charge of security on the set of a music video. It was following this dispute that Manoukian "plotted to retaliate against Ms. Lopez and her management," the suit claims.

Read the Full Countersuit Here

In other entertainment law news:

  • John Travolta responded in court on Friday to the cruise ship employee who claims to have been a victim of sexual misconduct on a Royal Caribbean cruise. The actor admits being on the cruise, but denies any wrongdoing. Travolta is demanding the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice and be allowed to recover all court costs. Fabian Zanzi filed the lawsuit in June, a couple of weeks after other masseurs filed claims against Travolta for sexual misconduct. Zanzi alleged that Travolta had once exposed himself and forced the plaintiff to embrace him. Travolta's attorney Marty Singer responded that the lawsuit was contradicted by Zanzi's own report to the cruise employer back in 2009. In the court filing on Friday, Travolta repeats that Zanzi had "provided a written statement which contradicts his pleading."

  • A hearing is set for Thursday in the criminal case against accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to address the question of whether the media will have access to sealed documents in the case. Among the outlets demanding access are The Associated Press, ABC, Bloomberg, The Denver Post and The New York Times. The judge is weighing the defendant's right to a fair trial versus the public's right to know, and has asked prosecutors and Holmes' lawyers to weigh in.
  • Band name disputes are currently quite hot on the docket. Following recent litigation over One Direction, New Boyz and Live, comes a new lawsuit from John Geils who claims that other members of the J.Geils Band are using the trademarked band name without him in live shows. One thing of note in this dispute: According to the complaint, Geils is also objecting to the band using the J. Geils Band trademark in the upcoming Adam Sandler film, Grown Ups 2. The producers of the film aren't a defendant, but it will be worth watching whether the band makes final cut on the film or if there's any follow-up litigation on that front.
  • Electronic Arts is suing Zynga for copyright infringement, claiming that the game, The Ville, is an "unmistakable copy" of EA's The Sims Social. The alleged copying includes the design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions. In reaction, Zynga says the claims are "ironic" because SimCity Social allegedly bears an alleged "uncanny resemblance" to Zynga's CityVille game.
  • Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has resolved a $1 million lawsuit brought by his former managers. Gotham NYC Entertainment sued last year after being fired after purportedly helping the reality star "transform his career from relative obscurity to become an international celebrity." A few weeks ago, the parties quietly settled on undisclosed terms.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner