Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Suit Brought against WGA

Writer-director William Richert has sued the Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles Superior Court over its practice of collecting foreign levies for writers who aren't WGA members. Richert claims that the WGA has been accepting foreign collections in 1991 on monies due copyright holders such as taxes on video rentals and purchases of blank videocassettes.

The suit alleges that the WGA has no authority to collect the funds for non-members, hasn't communicated that information to the affected writers and hasn't paid them.

Richert is seeking class-action status for the suit. WGA West president Daniel Petrie Jr. told Daily Variety that the guild's authority to collect the funds for non-members stems from the initial agreements it struck in the late 1980s with the collection agencies.

According to Daily Variety, the WGA currently has $19 million in foreign levies in its accounts and another $4 million of undeliverable funds from the levies.

Hampton’s Film Festival Award Winner

Congratulations to our clients’ producers Jon Stern and Ben Odell and writer/director Stefan C. Shafer whose film, Confess, premiered at the Hampton’s Film Festival in New York October 21. Confess won the Zicherman Family Foundation Award for Best Screenplay.

Risky Business Seminar at UCLA Oct. 29-30

Mark will present his "Risky Business: Financing & Distributing Independent Films" seminar at at UCLA on Oct. 29-30. Those who attend this comprehensive two-day seminar will learn how independent films are financed and distributed. Topics include organizing your company, raising financing via pre-sales, debt and limited partnerships, negotiating tactics, principal terms of the acquisition/distribution agreement, cross-collateralization and creative accounting. Particular attention is paid to how producers and filmmakers can protect their interests by watering down warranties, getting added to the E& O policy, using lab access letter to retain possession of the negative, and utilizing termination and arbitration clauses.

Women in Film Summit October 29- November 1.

Women in Film & Television International Summit October 29 to November 1, 2005.
Mark will speak at the 9 AM panel on Intellectual Property and Copyright issues at WIF Summit. Women In Film Los Angeles will host the 2005 The Summit provides a forum for filmmakers from all over the world to network, greet old friends and forge new relationships. There will be four days of panels, lunches, cocktail parties, screenings and special events with all activities being held at the Park Hyatt Hotel on Avenue of the Stars in Century City.

Women In Film & Television International (WIFTI) is a global network comprised of some 36 Women In Film Chapters worldwide and over 10,000 members dedicated to advancing professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, video, and other screen based media.

Additional info at:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Confess to premiere at the Hampton's Festival

Congratulations to our clients, director Stefan Schaefer, and producers Jonathan Stern and Benjamin Odell.

Their film, CONFESS, will premiere as part of the narrative competition at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

CONFESS charts the exploits of disillusioned ex-hacker Terell Lessor (Eugene Byrd). Employing strategically placed spy-cams, he captures compromising footage of those who slighted him in the past, broadcasting edits via the internet. Recognizing the power of this model, and working in tandem with accomplice Olivia (Ali Larter), he targets CEO's, politicians, and members of the power elite. Soon Terell's every action is front-page news, law enforcement has labeled him a new breed of terrorist, and the movement he spawned is spiraling out of control.

CONFESS will be screening at:

1) 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2005 at the UA 4 Theater in East Hampton.

2) 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at the UA 6 Theater in East Hampton.

3) 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at the Panasonic VIP screening room at the South Hampton Inn.

For more information click on


CRAZY LOVE will premier at ArcLight Cinemas at 6360 West Sunset Boulevard at the Hollywood Film festival on October 22, 2005, at 2 p.m. (Parking entrance on Ivar).

Tickets for CRAZY LOVE are now available through the ArcLight web site.


Mark Litwak's book "Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, 2nd Edition" has been republished in Korea by Easy Books.

Dealmaking is the first self-defense book for everyone working in the film and television industry, addressing a general, non-attorney readership, it is a fascinating, highly accessible and practical guide to current entertainment law peculiarities and "creative" practices. Armed with this book, filmmakers can save themselves thousands of dollars in legal fees as they navigate the entertainment business's shark-infested waters. Whether you are a professional or wannabe producer, writer, director, or actor, this book can help you make the most of your business dealings while steering you clear of contractual traps. The second edition of this popular book contains hundreds of updates and revisions of the first edition and includes two new chapters: Legal Remedies and Retaining Attorneys, Agents, and Managers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Elizabeth Taylor Wins Lawsuit

Elizabeth Taylor’s Van Gogh painting “Vue de l’Asile et de la Chapelle de Saint Remy” was the subject of a recent suit by the heirs of a prior owner seeking to recover the painting. Margarete Mauthner’s heirs sued Taylor in federal court, 41 years after she purchased the painting from Sotheby’s in 1963. Mauthner owned the painting from 1914 until 1939, when she fled Nazi Germany. Her painting was seized by the Nazis and ended up in Sotheby’s Auction House in London in 1963, which sold it to Taylor.

The heirs claimed that Sotheby’s gave Taylor inconsistent and conflicting information about the history of the picture, which should have alerted Taylor that the validity of the painting’s ownership was in question. This issue was never decided, however, because the Judge dismissed both legal theories the heirs brought forth. The first theory was based on traditional state law based claims for conversion and restitution methods California state law for regaining possession. These claims were barred by the statute of limitations with regards to recovering stolen property, which starts when the purchaser, in this case Taylor, takes possession of the property. She bought the painting in 1963, and therefore the deadline in California to file suit was 1966.

The second theory the heirs relied on was based on the the federal Holocaust Victims Redress Act, the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, and the “findings and declarations of the California legislature.” The Judge reasoned that none of these sources created a basis on which to sue. Courts are reluctant to create a new cause of action Congress has not explicitly created through legislative action. Here, the legislature intended the government to help victims recover their property under current laws.