Hollywood Docket: Jon Lovitz's Dispute With Comedy Club Manager Ends

Halle Berry scores an injunction in a conflict over advertising and a judge is skeptical of copyright claims against Jay Z
Jon Lovitz

Jon Lovitz’s legal battle with the manager of his eponymous Los Angeles comedy club has come to an end.

The Saturday Night Live alum filed suit last year against Frank Kelley, who partnered with him in 2009 to launch the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club on Universal’s CityWalk in Universal City. Lovitz alleged that he had invested $1.5 million in the club and left the day-to-day operations to Kelley.

In his complaint, which was filed by Marty Singer and David Jonelis of L.A.'s Lavely & Singer, the comic claimed that Kelley had left the club in "financial disarray." He alleged his partner had made personal purchases of over $100,000 with the company’s credit card and had mismanaged the club’s finances, including pocketing money he was supposed to pay performers.

Kelley responded with counterclaims against the comic. "In this lawsuit, [Lovitz] appears to be channeling one of his most recognizable characters, 'Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar,'" read the countersuit, filed by attorney Alexander Polyachenko at Bash & Polyachenko.

The club’s financial difficulties were Lovitz's fault, Kelley alleged. He claimed the comedian had agreed to financially back the club, but quickly became unable or unwilling to provide the needed funding. The comic meanwhile made “irresponsible” expenses like a $210,000 TV sign promoting the club and a $20,000 advertising campaigning that didn’t actually refer to the club, Kelley claimed.

Lovitz had defamed him by accusing him of keeping money he owed to performers, he alleged further. Lovitz had falsely told comedians Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman they hadn’t been paid because Kelley had taken their money and embezzled from the club, Kelley claimed, and he'd defamed Kelley to others by calling him a poor manager and blaming him for the club’s financial problems.

The partners have now “amicably resolved” their differences, according to a joint statement from their attorneys on Wednesday. They have mutually dismissed the case.

In other entertainment law news…

  • Halle Berry won't be featured in any more marketing for watchmaker ToyWatch S.p.A. The Extant star sued the Italian designer and its brand agents alleging they violated her publicity and privacy rights, trademark and slogan by using her in advertisements for their watches without her permission. ToyWatch then pursued the unusual defense of subpoenaing the actress’s "trade-out agreements," agreements she might have made with designers to gift her products, which the defense claimed could constitute implicit consent to appear in the designers' marketing materials. But the parties' attorneys announced last month that they were close to a settlement, and they submitted a permanent injunction and joint dismissal of the case to California federal judge John Kronstadt on Monday. ToyWatch denies wrongdoing, but agrees not to use Berry in its advertisements. The injunction comes months after Sandra Bullock settled a similar dispute with the same company.
  • Condé Nast has agreed to pay $5.85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by two former interns. The publisher was sued in June 2013 by Lauren Ballinger and Matthew Leib, who had interned at W Magazine and The New Yorker respectively, on behalf of about 7500 similarly situated former interns on claims that it had violated New York and federal labor laws by not paying them minimum wage. The settlement, if approved by the court, would comprise payments of $700 to $1900 to each plaintiff depending on the kind of internship the plaintiff had and if he or she received any pay. It follows NBCUniversal’s payoff of $6.4 million several weeks ago to end its own internship lawsuit, which was led by a former Saturday Night Live intern. Elite Model Management settled its internship lawsuit in January, while an array of similar lawsuits remain in play against Fox, Sony, Viacom, ICM and others. Condé Nast shuttered its internship program this year.
  • The judge who will hear Jay Z and Warner Music’s motion to dismiss a copyright infringement suit against the rapper has stated his skepticism toward plaintiff TufAmerica's claims. The litigious label sued Hova in November 2013 for allegedly sampling a single syllable — the word “oh”— in his 2009 hit "Run This Town." The label contends that the "oh" is ripped without permission from a song for which it has the copyright, Eddie Bo’s "Hook & Sling Part One." Jay Z moved to dismiss this September, and New York federal judge Lewis Kaplan will hear the motion argued on Nov. 19. But in his announcement of the hearing, Kaplan added, "As the Court has listened to the audio of the accused works a number of times without once discerning the alleged sample of the word 'oh,' plaintiff should be prepared to demonstrate its presence in appropriate, perceptible ways." If the rapper dodges this lawsuit, he’ll still have to deal with a more complicated infringement lawsuit over his sampling of an Egyptian tune in his early hit "Big Pimpin'," and he's fighting his sound engineer’s claims for recognition as a co-author on hits including "Big Pimpin'" and "Things That U Do."
  • The lawsuit from a bit-part actor in Titanic over back pay from the blockbuster is officially sunk. Vijay, professionally known as Abrax Lorini, has dropped his suit against the film’s production companies and distributors — including Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron's Lightstorm — weeks after a California federal judge threw overboard his claims of right of publicity and misappropriation of likeness. The actor claimed in his lawsuit that he’d been hired as an extra, but had been cast on the spot as the "Spindly Porter," which involved spending an additional 90 days on set, carrying luggage in a scene with Kathy Bates and reciting some dialogue. He should then have been given the opportunity to join the Screen Actors Guild, he alleged, which would have entitled him to foreign royalties, residuals from televised airings of the film and other back pay. He’s now dropped his remaining claims of concealment, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment.

Email: Austin.Siegemund-Broka@THR.com
Twitter: @Asiegemundbroka