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Michael Jackson’s Estate Reaches Tax Victory In Court Battle 

Michael Jackson’s estate won a major years-long court battle after a US tax court found that the IRS inflated the value of his assets and image at the time of his death. 

According to reports, “The IRS had put the value of three disputed aspects of Jackson’s worth at the time of his 2009 death at about $482 million. This led to an estate tax bill for his heirs that was far too high given the King of Pop’s financial situation when he died. In his decision issued Monday, Judge Mark Holmes put that figure at $111 million, far closer to the estate’s own estimates.”

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“We’re pleased. We always try to do the right thing. We tried from the beginning to follow the IRS rules and regulations, and relied on the best experts possible. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to litigate to protect ourselves,” co-executor John Branca told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The judge claimed to have mainly disagreed with the IRS over their value of Jackson’s image and likeness, which seemed to dwindle after multiple accusations of child molestation against the singer. The IRS gave an estimate of $161 million while Holmes ruled it was just $4.15 million. 

“Despite Jackson’s acquittal on all counts at his 2005 trial, the allegations continued to dog him, and while Jackson was selling out dates for a planned world tour when he died, he could not find a sponsor or merchandise partner. “The fact that he earned not a penny from his image and likeness in 2006, 2007, or 2008 shows the effect those allegations had, and continued to have, until his death,” Holmes wrote in the 271-page decision.

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After the two lawsuits involved in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” were dismissed this year, however, as well as the pandemic forcing many projects to be delayed, Jackson’s estate leaders feel like it will not be the perfect time to start promoting Jackson’s legacy. 

“We’re at an absolute turning point,” Branca said. “I think people have come to realize that Michael was innocent of any charges and unable to protect himself. We’ve got a wonderful Broadway play coming, we’ll be reopening our Cirque du Soleil show soon and we’ve got some surprises coming.”

The judge noted that the estate has received massive success following Jackson’s death through his shows, concert films and several strategic moves to sell his assets. However, he also claimed that “the IRS appeared to be factoring those successes into its decisions rather than considering only the circumstances at the moment of Jackson’s death, when things were considerably more grim after several years of waning popularity, poor management and reckless spending from Jackson.”

The judge went on to mock the estate’s initial valuing of Jackson’s image and likeness at only $2,000, however, they were also “putting one of the best known celebrities in the world, the King of Pop, at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic.”

Sydney Australia

Australian Politician To Pay Twisted Sister $1.2 Million After Copyright Case

Australian politician Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million Australian dollars (about $1.17 million) in damages to famous rock band Twisted Sister after losing a copyright case involving the classic song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” 

Back in 2019, Palmer used the melody and rhythm of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political advertisements for the United Australia Party. The advertisements featured a vocalist singing along to the song’s melody with the lyrics: “Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more.” 

The lyrics obviously are a reference to the original song, which features lead singer Dee Snider singing: “Oh we’re not gonna take it, no we ain’t gonna take it, oh we’re not gonna take it anymore.” 

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Universal Music acquired the publishing rights to the original song from Snider back in 2015. The music group filed a copyright lawsuit against Palmer back in February 2020. During the trial Palmer accused Twisted Sister of “swindling its hit song from a famous Christmas Carol.” This is in reference to the fact that Snider has spoken out in the past about how “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” was a major influence in the writing of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” 

The opening five words in the lyrics for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” have the same melody as the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and therefore the same melody as the song in the ad, however, the Christmas carol follows a completely different chord progression and is traditionally played in a much different way than the rock classic. 

Palmer’s attorney played a mashup in court of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which was performed by Twisted Sister during a live Christmas concert in Chicago back in 2014. 

Snider said the two songs were “rhythmically different, and that is inspiration not duplication. The songs had to be shoehorned together to create the versions used in his musical and the 2006 cover. It was very difficult.”

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Universal attorney Patrick Flynn explained to the court that Palmer initially balked at paying the original copyright fee of $150,000, which would’ve allowed him to use the song’s melody completely legally. Instead, Palmer offered just $35,000. This week, Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann ruled that Palmer was guilty of “infringing the copyright of both the musical and literary work of the original track.” 

“Mr. Palmer’s use of [the song] was opportunistic. He saw political and personal advantage in both its notoriety or popularity and the message it conveyed and he thought that he could get away with using it merely by altering some of the words. He was wrong,” Justice Katzmann ruled

Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million in Australian dollars, as well as covering all the legal costs to remove all copies of his song and video from the internet. Snider took to Twitter to celebrate the win: 

“HALLELUJAH!! Just found out that the copyright infringement of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ by ‘politician’ Clive Palmer in Australia has been decided MAJORLY in favor of myself as writer and @UMG as publishers! WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ANY MORE!!”

How Choirs Have Kept The Music Alive During The Pandemic

Being in a choir is believed to be one of the most unifying group activities one could participate in, however, during a pandemic where the Covid-19 virus is spread through respiratory droplets in our breath, choirs have had to sacrifice what they love doing the most for the sake of safety.

Justin Bieber Opens Up About Marriage And Past Drug Problems In New Interview 

Justin Bieber was recently interviewed by GQ Magazine in which he candidly spoke about his life in the spotlight, and what it truly looked like to go from teen pop star, to wild rebel child, to reformed married artist. 

The 27-year-old singer spoke about what the past decade has looked like in terms of the development of his relationship with wife Hailey Bieber, Christianity, and his past drug problems. 

“I have a wife who I adore, who I feel comforted by. I feel safe. I feel like my relationship with God is wonderful and I have this outpouring of love that I want to be able to share with people.” 

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In years past, the Candian singer made headlines after gaining a reputation as Hollywood’s biggest rebel bad boy with a serious drug problem that the public didn’t even know the full extent of. Bieber admitted to GQ that his problem with drugs got so bad that his security guards would come into his room at night just to check his pulse and make sure he was still breathing. 

“It was like I had all this success and it was still like: I’m still sad, and I’m still in pain. And I still have these unresolved issues. And I thought all the success was going to make everything good. And so for me, the drugs were a numbing agent to just continue to get through,” Bieber explained. 

Bieber initially gained fame back in 2009 after being discovered on YouTube by singer Usher. His first single, “One Time” went platinum almost immediately when he was just 15-years-old. Within the next few years he quickly became one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and as with most young individuals who grow up in the spotlight, he eventually began acting extremely rebellious. 

Bieber had multiple run-ins with the law and was even arrested at one point. Within the past few years, however, the superstar has seemingly retired his bad boy persona to take on a more normalized domestic life at home. 

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In 2018 he married Hailey Baldwin, now Hailey Bieber, and in March 2019 he announced that he would be taking a break from music to focus on his mental health. Back in June 2020, he also revealed to the public that he was suffering with Lyme Disease, something that he now says is luckily not as much of an issue as it once was. 

“To be honest, I’m a lot healthier, and I did have a lot of things going on. I did have mono, and I do have Lyme disease, but I was also navigating a lot of emotional terrain, which had a lot to do with it. And we like to blame a lot of things on other things, but sometimes, it’s just your own stuff,” Bieber explained, moving on to discuss how his marriage became a huge relief for him after a rocky first year with Hailey. 

“The first year of marriage was really tough, because there was a lot going on in terms of trauma stuff. But now, we’re just creating these moments for us as a couple, as a family, that we’re building these memories and it’s beautiful that we have that to look forward to.” He also discussed how his relationship with God helped him get to a better place. 

“God is grace. Every time we mess up, He’s picking us back up every single time. That’s how I view it. And so it’s like, ‘I made a mistake. I won’t dwell in it. I don’t sit in shame. But it actually makes me want to do better.’ ”

Bieber released his sixth studio album, “Justice,” in March.

Netflix on TV Screen

Netflix Reportedly Spends $450 Million On Two ‘Knives Out’ Sequels 

It’s been reported that Netflix purchased the rights of two “Knives Out” sequels in a deal worth $450 million. Back in February 2020 director Rian Johnson announced that he was officially developing a sequel to his beloved 2019 murder mystery which included an all star cast of Hollywood’s most likeable actors, such as Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis. 

Now, it’s been announced that “Knives Out 2” and “Knives Out 3” will be developed for Netflix. The $450 million price tag on this deal marks the biggest film purchase in history, and doubles the platform’s previous record-holder for most expensive original film; “The Gray Man” cost Netflix around $200 million to create. 

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According to reports from Deadline, “the first picture will begin shooting in Greece on June 28th, and casting will begin immediately.”

The first “Knives Out” movie was released by Lionsgate in November 2019, and immediately became one of the biggest movies of the year, grossing $311 million worldwide. It’s rare for an original production to breakout in the box office in such a major way, but since it did it’s no surprise that a sequel, or two, would be in the works. 

“Knives Out” stars Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, a master detective who investigates the murder of a wealthy crime novelist. The film featured an ensemble cast, including Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette,, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and the late Christopher Plummer. 

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In “Knives Out 2” and “Knives Out 3,” it’s expected that Craig’s Benoit Blanc will investigate new murder mysteries. The first film was nominated for three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for Daniel Craig, and Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for Ana de Armas. Johnson himself was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 2020 Oscars. 

“I’ll tell you, the truth is I had such a great time working with Daniel Craig and I had so much fun doing this on every level, from writing it to making it,” Johnson said last year after the film initially premiered. 

“I’ve never really been interested in doing sequels, but this, the idea of doing more of these with Daniel as his character, is not sequels. It’s just what Agatha Christie did. It’s just coming up with a whole new mystery, a whole new location, all new cast, whole new mechanics of the appeal of a mystery and everything. It’d be a blast.”

Right now it’s unknown when we can expect the first sequel to hit Netflix, but some experts think it’ll be around early 2022.

Britney Spears Star

Britney Spears’ Attorney Files To Have Her Father Removed As Conservator 

The attorney requested that the judge who is overseeing her court ordered conservatorship remove her father, Jamie Spears, as the conservator of her person and permanently replace him with Jodi Montgomery. This request came in from a petition filed by Samuel D. Ingham III in Los Angeles Superior Court. 

Jamie Spears has been Britney’s conservator of both her person and estate since 2008. Montgomery has served as the singer’s temporary conservator ever since Jamie stepped aside due to health issues in 2019. In the filing, Ingham cites an order that was filed in October 2014 that determined Britney Spears “had an incapacity to consent to any form of medical treatment,” and that was the cause for Montgomery to take over. 

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The filing asked that “along with overseeing Spears’ medical decisions, Montgomery be able to restrict and limit visitors by any means, except from meeting with Ingham. It also asks that Montgomery be able to retain caretakers and security guards for Spears.”

After a series of personal issues that played out publicly for Britney back in 2008, her father and attorney Andrew Wallet became conservator’s of her estate and personal life. In 2019 Wallet resigned giving Jamie total control over the singer and her $60 million estate. Ingham initially filed to remove him as sole conservator back in August 2020. 

Jamie Spears claimed he has not talked to his daughter since Inghams filing, and back in December told the media that he loves Britney and missed her very much. “When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect, and continue to love Britney unconditionally. I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family. 

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Jamie Spears’ attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, told CNN last month that “Jamie would love nothing more than to see Britney not need a conservatorship. Whether or not there is an end to the conservatorship really depends on Britney. If she wants to end her conservatorship, she can file a petition to end it.”

The New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears” caused interest in Britney’s career and conservatorship case to skyrocket within the past year, leading to a massive increase in the #FreeBritney movement.

Britney has not commented once publicly regarding the ongoing conservatorship battle, and instead responded to recent speculation that she wouldn’t ever perform again. 

“I’ll always love being on stage. But I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ….. I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life !!!! Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives. Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens,” she wrote on Instagram in February. 

The next court hearing is currently scheduled for April 27th.

Michelle Obama’s “Waffles + Mochi” Teaches Kids The Importance Of Healthy Eating

Former first lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with Netflix and some puppet friends to educate children about food and healthy ingredients.

Elliot Page Becomes First Trans Man To Appear On Time Magazine Cover

Elliot Page made history this week as the first transgender man to ever appear on the cover of Time magazine. The Canadian actor also opened up in an interview about his decision to come out last year and the overwhelming responses he’s received. 

The 34-year-old’s cover is projected to be for the magazine’s forthcoming issue under the headline “I’m fully who I am,” and that’s the exact energy Elliot gave off in his interview. This also marks Page’s first ever major media interview since disclosing his gender identity on his social media last year. 

He made the announcement back in December on his Instagram and Twitter by posting the same note on both platforms. He revealed to the world that his pronouns were “he/they” and that they finally felt like they were living their true authentic life. 

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“What I was anticipating was a lot of support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia. That’s essentially what happened.”

The actor has earned past Oscar nominations for their role in 2008’s Juno and is also known for his roles in Inception and X-Men. In the interview, Page claimed that he felt like a boy from a young age, and recalled a “feeling of triumph” when they were allowed to cut their hair short at the age of 9. 

Page previously came out as gay back in 2014, and discussed the process of coming out then versus now. He also described his decision to undergo top surgery, a decision he claimed “completely transformed” his life for the better. He then transitioned into breaking down the struggle that trans people face in terms of equality, specifically within the entertainment industry as well. 

Page describes Hollywood’s “crushing standards and pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity” that would confuse anyone who’s unsure of their gender identity. 

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“Extremely influential people are spreading these myths and damaging rhetoric — every day you’re seeing our existence debated. Transgender people are so very real.”

Additionally, the cover was shot by transgender photographer Wynne Neill, who posted the cover shot to their Instagram this week, describing the project as a “dream assignment.” 

“I’ve been wanting this and working towards this for so many years. I’m so proud of Elliot and I’m so grateful to the trans elders who risked everything to make this moment happen.”

Page also posted the cover to Instagram with a heartfelt caption that read: “With deep respect for those who came before me, gratitude for those who have supported me and great concern for the generation of trans youth we must all protect, please join me and decry anti-trans legislation, hate and discrimination in all its forms.”

Royal Family Faces Pressure To Respond To Harry And Meghan Interview

Buckingham Palace is currently under pressure to respond to the heavy allegations of racism following an interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Harry and Meghan. The most shocking revelation of the interview was that the couple revealed a member of the family asked about how dark the skin tone of their child would be while Meghan was still pregnant.

Prince Harry made Oprah, who was running the interview, clarify that neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh made the remark regarding Archie’s skin tone, however, they also refused to clarify who actually said it, leaving the other royal family members open to suspicion. Meghan told Winfrey that concerns over Archie being “too brown was a pretty safe assumption,” but her and Harry refused to identify who said it, claiming it would be “very damaging” if they did.

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Meghan also suggested that her son’s mixed-race status is what led to him being denied the title of prince; something that is automatically given to any grandchild of a sovereign, which is what Archie is. The couple claimed that racism in general was a “large part” of their decision to leave Britain, and while the UK was not bigoted, the UK press and tabloids were.

Keir Starmer is the labor leader within the palace who claimed the “race and mental health issues raised by Meghan were bigger than the royal family, and should not be put to one side. There is no place for racism in our society.”

Meghan also made shocking claims that during her short time in the palace, she became extremely depressed and suicidal. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more.” Asked whether she had contemplated suicide, she replied: “Yes, this was very, very clear, and very scary. Though I begged for help, and asked to go somewhere to seek help, I was told I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

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Harry then went on to criticize his own father, who stopped taking calls from his son after the couple announced their departure as working royals, which also led to the couple being cut off financially. When asked about if the royal family had apologized at all for any of what the couple has endured within the past few years, Harry claimed they hadn’t, because they felt unsupported.

Harry also clarified that the two of them never “blindsided” the Queen as the media heavily suggested, and instead informed her last year of their intent to quit. He claimed to have too much respect for his grandmother to ever just leave without a warning.

Royal author and historian Robert Lacey claims the repercussions from this interview “would reverberate for a long time because this is more than just a criticism of someone’s personality. This is a first-hand testimony to a dysfunctional family. It’s probably the most damning condemnation of the royal family and how they operate I’ve ever heard.”

So far, the palace and royal family members have yet to respond to the interview beyond seeing what the tabloids have said of it, which has so far been fairly split down the middle, surprisingly.

U.K. Wants To Delay Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Oprah Interview From Airing

Commentators in the UK are calling on CBS to postpone airing the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in which it’s expected that the two will expose and attack the abuse within the royal family that Markle, and Harry’s mother Diana, endured within their time in the palace. UK residents are also claiming the interview should be postponed out of respect for Prince Philip who is currently hospitalized with an infection. 

Philip is 99 and recently was moved to a specialist heart hospital to help beat the infection. Sources close to the royal family claim that they are “pretty appalled at the idea of the interview.” Oprah herself has claimed that Meghan says some “pretty shocking things” throughout the interview. 

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Penny Junor is the author of the novel Prince Harry, Brother, Soldier, Son, who spoke with the media recently about how although she supports Harry and Meghan and wants the interview to air, they should consider postponing airing it while Prince Philip is in the hospital because it will give the media the perfect opportunity to spin the interview onto Meghan and Harry. 

“Anything could hijack this interview. Philip is ill, he is 99 and could die at any time. They were not to know he would get ill but it could be seen to be the wrong time.”

Junot went on to explain that she doubts they’ll “postpone the interview, after all the control is in the hands of CBS and Oprah.” Robbery Lacey is the historical consultant for The Crown who also spoke with the media expressing the opposite viewpoint about the interview: “I think it would be a marvelous turnaround for Harry’s image if he took the brave step of cancelling the whole thing this weekend, or if that’s not practical, postponing it at least.” 

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Critics responded to Lacey’s claims and explained that it really is out of Harry’s control, mentioning that Harry’s image among his family is obviously one of the last things he’s concerned about now. Richard Fitzwilliams is a royal commentator who also expressed that he believed the interview should be postponed. 

“Oprah is their friend and neighbor and would undoubtedly comply if asked and the gesture would I am sure be appreciated by the royal family. If an interview has been extended, as this recently has, it can also be postponed, as this undoubtedly should be.” 

A TV industry insider working for CBS recently claimed that “CBS has already sold millions of dollars worth of advertising around this interview, but the bosses are aware of the delicacy of the Duke’s health. They have no loyalty to the royal family, although some feel as though they do to Harry and Meghan. For it to run if Philip’s condition worsened would be like setting off a diplomatic bomb.”

The interview is currently projected to air on CBS this Sunday, March 7th at 8 p.m. PT/ET.