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The legal dispute between Sean Penn and Empire co-creator Lee Daniels is turning on tactics quickly.
In September, Penn filed a $10 million lawsuit over a comment that Daniels had made to The Hollywood Reporter. In an interview, Daniels defended Empire star Terrence Howard over media reports of domestic trouble. "[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some f—in' demon," Danielstold THR. "That's a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America."
In his lawsuit, Penn alleges that "Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest."
Daniels plans to raise some sort of First Amendment defense for his comments, and apparently he sees procedural advantage in fighting the lawsuit in federal court rather than a New York state court. So Daniels' attorneys submitted a notice of removal of the case, citing diversity jurisdiction — Penn lives in California, Daniels in New York.
Removals to federal court are fairly routine and usually don't spark fireworks, but not this time.
In a letter from Penn's team to a federal judge today, filed in court, the move is called "improper and legally defective" because under the forum defendant rule, a civil action can't be removed to federal court if the defendant is a citizen of the state where the action is brought. In other words, because Daniels is a New Yorker, he has to face the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court.
Penn's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, says in his letter that the case must be remanded to state court and that Penn is entitled to his costs and attorneys' fees.
Daniels is being represented by James Sammataro at Stroock, who wasn't immediately available for comment.
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Jay Z’s got 99 problems, but an unfavorable verdict in the trial over his hit “Big Pimpin’” ain’t one.
In court Wednesday, judge Christina Snyder found the nephew of Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi did not have standing to pursue the claim Jay Z and producer Tim “Timbaland” Mosley illicitly sampled his uncle’s song “Khosara Khosara” in the iconic hook of “Big Pimpin’.”
The verdict ended a week-long trial in which the plaintiff, Osama Fahmy, argued the Egyptian concept of “moral rights” applied to Jay Z’s license for “Khosara Khosara” and required the rapper, Timbaland and their record label to get Hamdi’s family’s permission to sample “Khosara Khosara.”
Jay Z and Timbaland responded Fahmy could not invoke Egyptian moral rights over the American license for the song, and when Fahmy signed all rights to “Khosara Khosara” to the Middle Eastern record label Sout El Phan over a decade ago, he lost the standing to pursue the lawsuit.
Snyder told the court yesterday she would decide whether Egyptian law applied and whether Timbaland’s license from EMI was valid. If she decided it did, the question of whether Jay Z and Timbaland infringed would go to the jury.
“Fahmy lacked standing to pursue his claim,” said Snyder in court Wednesday. “In light of that decision, it will not be necessary to submit to the jury whether ‘Big Pimpin’’ infringed ‘Khosara Khosara.” C-MURDER SPARKS INVESTIGATION
“I had to hear the testimony of Egyptian law experts in order to reach that decision, she added. She dismissed the jury at about 10:30 a.m.
“We and our clients obviously are very pleased with this decision. The court correctly ruled that the plaintiff had no right to bring this case and cannot pursue any claim of infringement in connection with Big Pimpin’ whatsoever,” said the defendants’ attorney Christine Lepera in a statement.
“After a lengthy litigation, Defendants have been vindicated in their position that they have every right to exploit "Big Pimpin'" wherever they choose, including in records, films and concerts,” added her co-counsel David Steinberg, who represented defendants including Universal Music and Warner Music.
The multi-Grammy winning singer will release her third studio album '25' on Nov. 20.
Adele is back with her first single in three years. "Hello," a soaring new ballad that offers the first taste of the British singer's highly anticipated third album, 25, debuted in the early hours of Oct. 23.
The chorus features Adele's signature soaring vocals as she sings, "Hello from the other side / I must have called a thousand times / To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done." Accompanied by a piano and drums for most of the track, which was produced by Greg Kurstin (Sia, Beyonce) and recorded in Los Angeles, orchestral bells and big, ambient synths fill out the sound during the song's last act.
The title is apt for a comeback song with such excitement behind it. Adele has been in something of a career hibernation since the birth of her first child in 2012. "Hello" is the Grammy winner's first release since her 2012 recording "Skyfall" from the James Bond film of the same name reached No. 8 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the U.K. Though "Skyfall" was a one-off, a bridge between a four-year wait between albums.
That wait will officially come to an end Nov. 20 when Adele's album 25 arrives. Adele announced the big news on Wednesday, Oct. 21, just days after publishing a Twitter letter in which she told her fans, "I'm sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.” The singer has described 25 as a "make-up record," more adult in theme and tone.