Author: Michae J. "Mikey" Glazer

Q-and-A: Michael Spindler, forensic CPA

  Rapper Notorious B.I.G. famously rapped “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” When success strikes and brings its own financial concerns, Michael Spindler is a specialist who can help. With a career in profit participation audits, royalty inspections, most-favored-nation inspections, reviews of business managers and more forays in forensic accounting, Spindler talked with the Biederman Blog about his field: Q: Who are your typical clients? Do you typically represent studios? Production companies? Distributors? Individual profit participants? A: My clients range from the major film studios to independent film, talent, producers, writers and studio heads. Our services include (profit) participation audits, royalty and most-favored-nations inspections, internal investigations, litigation support, expert witness testimony and reviews of business managers, so our clients can determine if their  funds are being handled appropriately. Q: Without naming names, what projects are on your to-do list? A: Our current projects include performing a review of a business manager on behalf of a television show producer, looking at FCPA issues related to film production, investigating an internal embezzlement, investigating alleged thefts of trade secrets and assisting a studio executive in determining amounts due from a prior employer under an earn-out provision. Q: What’s your philosophy on exercising audit rights? In a clubby business where relationships are everything, how does actually exercising audit rights change the dynamics of a relationship? A: Some people have a fear that an audit will have a negative...

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Q-and-A: Jason Beckerman, attorney for TMZ

You’ve seen him on TV and on the web as “the lawyer” on TMZ. No, not the one with the graphic at the end of the show that says, “I’m a lawyer” (Harvey Levin), but the on-camera, in-office, actual lawyer. Jason Beckerman is the head of Legal and Business Affairs for TMZ, where he is lucky enough to work alongside “the hardest working and funniest group of people in the entertainment industry,” he says.  “The days are long and the pressure is intense, but it’s never not interesting.” He sat down at the request of the Biederman Blog to discuss his work: Question — What projects are on your to-do list right now and how typical is this of your typical workload? Answer — I wear two hats at TMZ – legal affairs and business affairs.  My legal affairs work is pretty much the same every day: I vet the TV show and the web site content. The business affairs portion of my job varies day to day largely depending on the nature and status of the various deals we’re negotiating.   Today, for example, I’m working on negotiations with two companies that provide photos and videos to TMZ, and a third company we’re thinking about doing a joint venture with.  TMZ is expanding incredibly quickly, which means we’re either contemplating doing business or actively negotiating deals with a host...

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What impact in $1M fine on fan sites for kids?

  Five days to come up with $1 million? It’s not the log line for a movie. Those are the terms of the settlement agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the operator  of fan websites for artists such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Selena Gomez. It’s a penalty for improperly collecting information from children younger than 13 in violation of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Just to be clear, the complaint was not against the artists like Rihanna or Bieber.  A few words are merited about what led to the stiff penalty against Artist Arena, the digital service provider to pop-stars. COPPA, enacted in 1998 and now under review, requires children-focused websites, general websites with a kid area or general audience websites that have actual knowledge that a visitor is younger than 13 to get parental consent before collecting or sharing information from children younger than 13. “Marketers need to know that even a bad case of Bieber Fever doesn’t excuse their legal obligation to get parental consent before collecting personal information from children,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement the day after the decree. As an exercise in morally neutral arithmetic, the price for acquiring the offending information to Artist Arena appears to have been $10 per child. How so? The FTC notes that the firm knowingly registered more than 25,000 children younger than 13...

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Q-&-A: Dixon Dern, Emmys’ legal shield

Showtime’s terrorist thriller Homeland and ABC’s comedy Modern Family walked off with the top Emmy prizes recently, capping another busy year for the television industry. Dixon Q. Dern, Esq., the Academy’s counsel for 35 years, (left), chatted with the Biederman Blog recently to explain how he protects the Emmys brand during awards season and throughout the year. Fun fact: He’s not just their lawyer, he’s also a winner. Question — What are the intellectual property pillars of the Emmy? Answer — We have the Emmy mark and we have the Emmy statuette. Those are copyrighted, but copyright of a...

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Will superstars’ raps rap them in court?

Rappers Chris Brown and Drake may suddenly have more in common than just their rumored romantic rivalry over Rihanna and a lucrative career-enhancing beef: In a new essay, Professor Caleb Mason predicts that now that the bottles have stopped flying,  both have evidence boomerangs still flying in their direction as a result of their own song lyrics. A sample: There’s times when I might blow like 50k on a vacation /For all my soldiers just to see the looks on all they faces… I got a lot of friends to come up off the strip for me/The same ones that’ll come up off the hip for me” [Drake, “Crew Love”] Lyrics like these propelled hit songs, paid for a top-shelf nightclub outing that ended in a bloody face-off between the two stars — and now they may now be coming back to haunt them. “How many people call their friends ‘my soldiers?’ ” Mason argues. “And doesn’t ‘come up off the hip’ mean ‘pull a gun?’ ” Back on June 14, some combination of Brown (who was in court on Monday in Los Angeles for a probation hearing), Drake and their entourages got in to a bottle-throwing melee at Club W.i.P. in New York City with expensive and immediate fallout including:  The NYPD immediately shut down the club. New York authorities began considering new regulation of the the multimillion-dollar...

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