Hollywood Docket: Pixar, Lucasfilm Settlement; Zimmerman v. NBC; 'Madden Football' Trial

A roundup of entertainment law news, including Katy Perry's settlement with a sponsor and actress Sally Kirkland suing over a tumble at an award show.
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Pixar and Lucasfilm have agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit that alleges the Walt Disney Co. units participated in a Silicon Valley conspiracy to not poach each others' employees.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of employees of the two companies, as well as Google, Apple, Adobe Systems and Intuit. In early 2012, a judge refused to dismiss the claims, but the litigation took a knock when in April, that judge refused to immediately certify a class action seeking damages for lost wages.

The companies have already settled with the Department of Justice over similar allegations not to place “cold calls” to try and recruit competitors' employees. The acts allegedly were intended to keep salaries low in the  animation market.

Terms of the settlement haven't yet been revealed.

In other entertainment law news...

  • Following the verdict of not guilty in the George Zimmerman trial, his lawyers say they will be moving "ASAP" in an ongoing defamation case against NBC. The network is accused in the lawsuit of editing the infamous 911 call and distorting facts to make it seem as though his killing of Trayvon Martin was racially motivated. The civil lawsuit was put on hold until the resolution of the criminal case. In legal papers, NBC has pointed to ways that other networks and news outlets played up the race factor.
  • Robin Antonick, the game designer pursuing Electronic Arts for hundreds of millions of dollars for allegedly cutting him out of the Madden NFL franchise is now onto the second phase of a trial. Antonick developed an early prototype for the football game in the 1980s and had a contract that entitled him to royalties on derivative versions of his work. In round one of the trial, Antonick was able to fend off EA's defense that he hadn't brought his claims soon enough. In the next phase of the cutting edge dispute, a judge has set a high standard for Antonick. According to a judge's pre-trial order, "The jury in this case will be asked whether an ordinary reasonable observer would consider Antonick's work and the later Madden versions virtually identical when viewed as a whole." (emphasis ours).
  • Katy Perry has settled a legal dispute with a hair product company that paid the star singer to become its brand ambassador and then allegedly stiffed her of $6.5 million. Jemella Group Limited said it canceled the relationship after research had shown she had become polarizing. Perry said an oral agreement had been reached and that the company went into damage control in the midst of a corporate sale. The dispute is over, with Perry reportedly getting money in the resolution.
  • Consider this to be Hollywood's version of a slip-and-fall case: Sally Kirkland is suing after she suffered injuries while accepting an award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Short at a Los Angeles film festival. As she was walking away from the stage, she fell, and blames inadequate lighting and poor construction, saying that the defendants who maintained the premises "should have known that the property had unsafe conditions."