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Hollywood Docket: Oksana Baiul v. NBC; 'Deer Hunter' Oscar; Joe Pesci's Lawsuit

Famous figure skater sues over an event that never happened. Plus, four new settlements in Hollywood.

Oksana Baiul Headshot - P 2013

Figure skater Oksana Baiul has filed a $5 million lawsuit against NBCUniversal.

In a complaint filed in New York State Court last week, the skater says that her appearance was promised to the public for two skating events even though she never agreed to them.

One event was to have taken place in December 2011, featuring the music of STYX. The other event was to have taken place the following month, featuring the music of Kenny G.

In the months leading up to the events, Baiul says her likeness, persona, and image were used illicitly in marketing. She says that co-defendant Disson Skating made an offer to her potential agent about appearing, but that the agent informed the defendants that she would not be appearing. (Baiul is in the midst of another lawsuit against William Morris Endeavor.)

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She says marketing materials continued to promote her appearance, as did a press release from NBC.

"In the entertainment industry, when a figure skater, actress or entertainer does not show up for a scheduled, promoted and/or advertised show where they are a headliner or star, it can have a devastating effect on her career," says the lawsuit. (Read here.)

NBC hasn't commented on that matter.

Lawsuits make noise. Settlements often happen quietly with few details about the resolution. Here's a roundup of some disputes we've covered in the past that we can now report have been retired:

  • The case of the Deer Hunter Oscar: Last October, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences sued a man who sold an Oscar statuette that he advertised as genuine. The Film Academy believed it to be the one earned in 1979 by Aaron Rochin for his sound work on Deer Hunter, which went missing after it was taken in for repairs. The defendant subsequently defended himself as not knowing it was stolen. On January 31, the parties stipulated that the case be dismissed.
  • The case of the eco-terrorist film adaptation: Last September, in the midst of the Toronto Film Festival, as producers of Night Moves looked for buyers for a film to star Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard, a lawsuit was filed that alleged the yet-to-be-developed work was an infringement of the popular Edward Abbey novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. The book also concerned eco-terrorism, and Edward R. Pressman Film owned adaptation rights, prompting them to go to court to seek an injunction against Night Moves. Negotiations behind the scenes have resolved the matter. On February 1, the parties stipulated that the case be dismissed.
  • The case of Joe Pesci's role in a John Gotti biopic: In July, 2011, Pesci sued Fiore Films for $3 million and punitive damages, alleging that they had cut his role and salary after he was announced for the part of Gotti pal Angelo Ruggiero and gained 30 pounds in preparation. Last week, the dispute was settled and the lawsuit was dropped. The film still awaits production.
  • The case of seized MTV products: Last September, Sam Panama Trading Co. filed a $30 million lawsuit against Viacom. The plaintiff alleged that it had a licensing deal and invested millions of dollars to sell clothing and luggage products featuring the MTV brand, but that Viacom's alleged failure to register logos in Latin American countries prompted authorities in those countries to seize the items as counterfeit. On January 29, the parties stipulated that the case be dismissed.

And one piece of staffing news:

  • Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs has announced that Barbara M. Rubin is joining the firm as a partner. She was previously a co-founding partner of the firm of Peter Rubin & Simon and also served as head of business and legal affairs for Spelling Television, A&E Television Network and Rysher Entertainment. She has also worked at CBS and Disney.