Hollywood Docket: John McTiernan Liquidation; Wilt Chamberlain Film; Bill Cosby Case File

Some new developments in entertainment and media law including Twitter's plea to save its users from spam.
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On Tuesday, it was made official that the assets of John McTiernan, the director of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, will be liquidated.

McTiernan got out of jail in February 2014 after serving 10 months for lying to law enforcement officers investigating him for hiring private eye Anthony Pellicano to spy on a colleague. Upon his release, and in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the filmmaker began fighting with First Interstate Bank, which provided the mortgage on his 3,254-acre Wyoming ranch and is owed more than $6.4 million.

The bank wanted to liquidate him, but he spoke about a Hollywood comeback, saying how he would soon be earning money for a Top Gun-type film starring John Travolta and possibly a sequel to the Thomas Crown Affair. The bank wasn't satisfied, and while a dispute over votes on the liquidation erupted, a bankruptcy judge ultimately decided that the bank had carried its burden and that its liquidation plan should be confirmed.

As a result, McTiernan's ranch will likely be sold — not necessarily for the many millions the helmer thinks it's worth. Additionally, the plan administrator will take charge of collecting all royalty payments that McTiernan still enjoys for his films. The bank and others, including his ex-wife, will need to be paid the debts they are owed, but he is being allowed up to $8,500 per month in living expenses.

In other entertainment law news:

>> Cecil Mosenson, who was 22 years old when he became legendary NBA player Wilt Chamberlain's high school basketball coach, is now suing over money from a film that was based on his book, It All Began With Wilt. The lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania federal court on Tuesday against Celebrity Home Entertainment, Eye Film Releasing and Robert Feinstein. Mosenson alleges that he came to a deal with defendants for a film, The Greatest Player Ever, which was released in digital and VOD outlets, and that the contract entitled him to net profits. He further alleges that some deals, such as one with Hulu, have been concealed from him and that he's been cheated out of money owed. Here's the complaint. Feinstein didn't return a request for comment.

>> Bill Cosby is looking to quash a subpoena served on the lawyer who represented Andrea Constand, a rape accuser who settled with the comedian in 2006. The subpoena comes from the women who are currently suing the comedian for defamation in Massachusetts and seeks the "entire case file" (excluding stuff protected by attorney-client privilege). The materials are likely to include a copy of Cosby's full deposition in the Constand case and the settlement agreement. In a motion on Wednesday, Cosby's attorneys argued that the material are protected by the confidentiality terms of the settlement. This past July, a Pennsylvania judge agreed to unseal motion papers from the Constand case, which included deposition excerpts revealing Cosby admitting giving women drugs for the purpose of sex. The judge did so after concluding Cosby "has donned the mantle of public moralist." Cosby is appealing, and for those who wonder what he has to gain from the appeal, look no further than his latest motion (read here) attempting to quash a subpoena.

>> On Wednesday, Twitter told a judge that if the plaintiff in a proposed class action gets his way, the social-media service would be in danger of a spam avalanche. The lawsuit alleges that Twitter violates privacy laws by surreptitiously eavesdropping on users' direct messages and changing links for commercial purposes. Twitter denies this, arguing it's done automatically without human review, and doesn't violate the law. The plaintiff is looking for an injunction, which has led Twitter to argue that the link processing is done to counter spam and that under an injunction, Twitter users "would face greatly increased risks from these links, including becoming the victim of phishing attacks that can lead to identity theft, or having their computers commandeered by malware to commit cybercrimes." Here's the motion opposing injunction, plus a declaration from the company's senior staff software engineer who discusses Twitter's ongoing battle with spam. According to the declaration, last month Twitter's anti-spam efforts "stopped anywhere from approximately half a million to upwards of one million unique spammy and/or malicious DMs each day." 

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