The year in Hollywood law


2010 Power Lawyers list
Q&A: Raising the Bar recipient Leah Weil
How to end disputes before they spill into court

Jan. 1
Take that, "Avatar": "Star Trek" is named the most-pirated film of 2009, with nearly 11 million illegal downloads on

Jan. 18
He probably just saw an early redline: As the Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno battle rages, NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker tells Charlie Rose that there is "no guarantee of time slot for 'The Tonight Show' " in O'Brien's contract. But THR later reports that O'Brien's deal did define "Tonight" as "the series that airs at 11:35."

March 3
Next year, lawsuits will be built into Oscar campaigns: Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver sues the producers of "The Hurt Locker," claiming writer Mark Boal stole his life story. Four days later, the film wins best picture.

March 9
At least the kid wasn't wearing a SCRAM bracelet: Lindsay Lohan sues E-Trade for $100 million, claiming that a "milkaholic" baby in an ad was modeled after her. Lohan says she deserves the same single-name recognition as Oprah or Madonna.

March 18

He probably wasn't clear enough: Documents in the $1 billion Viacom/Google lawsuit reveal that YouTube co-founder Steve Chen wasn't shy about uploading copyrighted content. "Steal it!" he wrote. "We need to attract traffic." Viacom loses on summary judgment in June.

April 5
Maybe it was just Method acting: Fired "Desperate Housewives" co-star Nicollette Sheridan slaps creator Marc Cherry and ABC with a $20 million lawsuit, claiming Cherry assaulted her on the set.

April 12

They certainly weren't acting coaches: Production on Steven Seagal's A&E reality show is stopped when a former model sues for sexual harassment, claiming she applied for a job with Seagal before learning he "had been keeping two young female Russian 'attendants' on staff who were available for his sexual needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week." The case was later dismissed.

May 27
Couldn't it at least have been Fred or Barney? Hulk Hogan files a right-of-publicity lawsuit over an animated commercial for Cocoa Pebbles that depicts him suffering a humiliating defeat to Bam-Bam of "The Flintstones."

June 2

He should have phoned a joke-writer friend: In opening statements during the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" trial, Disney lawyer Marty Katz tells the jury it's up to them to deliver a "final answer." Three weeks later they do: Disney loses.

June 25
Every Hollywood lawyer is now working on a Michael Jackson case: On the anniversary of Jackson's death, father Joe Jackson files a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Conrad Murray.