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.”

Embed from Getty Images

“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.

Embed from Getty Images

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.” 

Embed from Getty Images

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.”

Embed from Getty Images

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.

And the Oscar goes to

Academy Expecting 2021 Oscars To Have Lowest Ratings In History 

Based on the audience figures from this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas ceremonies the Academy is gearing up to potentially present one of the least watched Oscar ceremonies in history. The Oscars are currently expected to air on April 25th.

Steven Gaydos is the executive vice president of content for Variety, a film industry magazine, who recently spoke to the press about this year’s ceremony. “Before Covid hit the audience numbers were declining rapidly, year on year, for all awards shows. The Academy is essentially funded by the TV show, and they are about to open a big expensive museum. They have taken on a half-billion-dollar enterprise at a time when their primary source of income is declining. There could be an iceberg ahead for the Academy.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences typically receives around $75 million every year from ABC thanks to a contract that the two groups signed that will last until 2028. ABC makes a majority of their revenue from advertising, last year they brought in around $120 million, but last year’s figures were the lowest in history, which stunts how much profit is made. 

Embed from Getty Images

“Further, the telecast itself has struggled to retain audience approval, with frustrations over its lengthy running time, choice of hosts (if any) and the quality of the spectacle on offer. The problems have been compounded by long-running complaints over the lack of diversity in nominees and winners, triggered in 2015 by the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag campaign,” according to film editor Andrew Pulver.

“I personally don’t think a host makes much impact. It’s more about whether the show as a whole entertains and feels fresh. The Oscars remain meaningful to the film industry, but to succeed as a mainstream TV special you’ve got to entertain,” said Jeremy Kay, Americas editor of Screen International magazine.

“The Covid delays have enabled smaller movies to go farther than they might have done had there been the usual barrage of studio heavyweights. It’s not been a banner year, but the quality across the board has been high. These movies, the film-makers behind them and the stories they tell have had more visibility than they might have expected in any other year, and we’re all the better for it,” Kay explained. 

Embed from Getty Images

Gaydos, on the other hand, thinks that there’s a systemic issue between the way the Academy connects audiences with certain contemporary Hollywood films: “For some time the movies nominated for best picture represent only a tiny fraction of the tickets sold – there is chasm between the Oscars and the moviegoing public. The Marvel and DC films are hardly ever up for best picture, or Star Wars, while the Pixar movies are relegated to the animated category, so the pictures that constitute 90% of moviegoing just aren’t there.”

“At the point that the Oscars become all spinach and no dessert, they put themselves up quite a tree.”

Gaydos went on to explain how “the decline of ‘movie-star culture’ also plays a part, as most franchise films are not really star-driven. Part of the awards show fun is seeing these stars being themselves – nervous, emotional, passionate about their work – and you are effectively spending an evening with some very beautiful people at an important night in their lives. The more that is diminished the less of an event the Oscars is. If the franchise is the star, it doesn’t make you want to tune into an awards show. I love the Academy, I love movies, I love the Oscars, so this current concern gives me a lot of heartache.”

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.” 

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Movie & Popcorn

Cineworld Signs Multi-Year Deal With HBO, Plans To Reopen Regal Cinema Theaters In April

Cineworld and Warner Brothers are the parent company of Regal Cinema, one of the most popular movie theater chains in the country. The company recently announced that they are projected to reopen all Regal Cinema theaters in the beginning of April to line up with the theatrical release of Godzilla Vs Kong on April 2nd. 

More Regal locations are set to open on April 16th in order to line up with the release of Mortal Kombat. Both Cineworld and Warner Bros have also reached a multi-year deal with HBO Max that would give subscribers same day access to all movies as they’re released in theaters. Warner Bros has already been releasing their new movies on HBO Max for one month as a means of gaining viewership during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Embed from Getty Images

Beginning in 2022, Warner Bros theatrical films will all have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity at Regal Cinema theaters as well. Theaters in New York and Los Angeles have already begun reopening with limited capacity. Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger claims that Regal’s reopenings will be great news for the industry overall. 

“This is a great moment for us, the US market represents 75% of our business, and soon will be followed with all our marklets. We are great believers in the theatrical experience, which only one year ago generated $43 billion worldwide.”

The UK is Cineworld’s second largest market, and Greidinger claimed that the company reached a deal to show Warner Bros movies in Regal Cinemas 31 days prior to general release. “We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros. This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100 year relationship with Warner Bros,” Greidinger explained. 

Embed from Getty Images

Cineworld announced last year that it was temporarily closing 536 Regal locations in the US and 127 in the UK. 11 locations have since been able to reopen in New York. In late November of last year Cineworld secured an additional liquidity that helped ensure it would be able to survive the pandemic. 

Greidinger told the media last year that “reopening Cineworld’s theaters would hinge upon a clear picture of the lineup of the studios… It cannot be one movie only. We have long awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theaters and restore our essential role within the communities we serve.”

“With the health and safety of our customers, staff, and communities as our top priority, we continue to take all the necessary precautions and abide by our CinemaSafe guidelines to confidently provide a safe and comfortable experience.”

Greidinger went on to explain that with health and safety procedures, including capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, the company will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets. We will also be monitoring developments closely in the UK and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance.”

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

“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. 

Embed from Getty Images

“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.”