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Taylor Swift Donates to Tennessee LGBT Group

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  • Taylor Swift donated $113,000 to an LGBT rights group in Tennessee.
  • The group is specifically fighting several bills that are currently floating in various stages of the state’s government and that will impact the rights of the LGBT community.

Taylor’s Donation

Pop star Taylor Swift donated $113,000 dollars on Monday to an LGBT rights group in Tennesse.

Swift’s donation was given to the Tennessee Equality Project, which fights to stop anti-LGBT legislation from passing within the state, and aims to educate the community on equality.

TEP’s Executive Director, Chris Sanders, posted news of Swift’s charitable contribution to Facebook. He thanked her for being a long-time ally and said, “she sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people.”

With his post, he also shared a hand-written letter Swift addressed to him, where she said she was “inspired” by TEP’s work, specifically noting their stance against the “Slate of Hate.”

Anti-LGBT Bills in Tennessee

The “Slate of Hate” Swift mentions in her letter refers to a series of bills proposed in Tennessee’s General Assembly that could negatively impact the LGBT community. TEP created “The People’s Petition Against the Slate of Hate” to fight against them.

These bills include HB1152 and HB836, which both aim to allow adoption agencies to deny services based on religious beliefs, which TEP called “state-sanctioned discrimination.”

The slate also includes HB1369, which is known as “The Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.” This act defines natural marriage as between a man and a woman and allows courts to void the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage.

There are also two pieces of legislation that TEP specifically believes will target the transgender community. The first being HB1151, which is an amendment to the state’s indecent exposure rules that expand it to specifically include incidents in restrooms, fitting rooms, and locker rooms. The TEP called this bill a “devious attempt to criminalize transgender and gender nonconforming people” in these settings.

Then there is also HB1274, which some refer to as the “bathroom bill.” This would require the state’s Attorney General to defend schools that mandate that students and faculty use the bathroom of their “biological sex.” This bill also just passed through Tennesee’s House on Monday.

TEP released a statement on these bills, that was also backed by over 100 religious leaders in the state, ranging from pastors to rabbis.

“As residents of Tennessee, we oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly,” the statement reads. “They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state.  We call on people of good will to join us in speaking out for basic fairness.”

Reactions to Swift’s Donation

The “Shake it Off” singer’s donation trended online, and was met with positivity.

Ellen Degeneres tweeted her praise.

The Human Rights Campaign thanked her for supporting their “incredible partners.”

Taylor’s Past Political Actions

This hefty donation is not Swift’s first jump into Tennessee politics. Back in October, she made a long post on Instagram about her choice to use her voice for politics and endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen.

Photo via Instagram, @taylorswift

She also encouraged her followers to head to Vote.org to register before the upcoming midterms, which lead to a surge of registrations. The site said they received 65,000 new registrations in the 24 hours after she posted, which is more than they received throughout the whole month of August.

See what others are saying: (Tennessean) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Jezebel)

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Hollywood Writers Sue Their Agents Over Pay and Competition Issues

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  • The Writer’s Guild of America is suing four major talent agencies alleging unfair competition practices and pay issues.
  • The WGA claims that the packaging fees that agents take as part of representing writers are illegal under California and federal law.
  • In some cases, the WGA says agents take 80 percent of packaging fees that are paid by the studios, rather than the standard 10 percent of a writers’ income.
  • The lawsuit was dropped after the agencies refused to sign the WGA’s code of conduct, which banned packaging fees.

Lawsuit Filed

The Writers Guild of America filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against four major talent agencies in a fight over writers’ wages and unfair competition practices.

The Guild and eight other writers, including The Wire creator David Simon, filed the complaint in a California superior court against William Morris Endeavor, Creative Artists Agency, United Talent Agency, and ICM Partners.

The main issue at hand focuses on “packing fees.” These are deals that allow agents to be paid directly by studios for bringing clients together on a project, instead of having agents receive a standard 10 percent of a writers’ income.

According to the WGA, the Big Four agencies currently receive about 80 percent of the packaging fees that are paid by studios.

One plaintiff, Meredith Stiehm, who created the CBS police drama Cold Case, said that after about six years with CAA, she learned that the agency made 94 cents for each dollar she made from the show.

That is indefensible,” she during a press conference. “An agency should make 10% of what their client makes—not 20, not 50, not like in my case, 94%. 10% is enough.”

The Claims

Along with issues about pay, the writers are also concerned about other ways the industry operates. For instance, they take issue with the trend of agents becoming producers themselves, which creates conflicts of interests.

In the lawsuit, WGA makes two legal claims: that packaging fees violate state fiduciary duty laws, and that those fees violate federal unfair competition laws.

First, under California state law, talent agents are considered fiduciaries. This means they are bound to represent writers, without conflicts of interest. Second, the Guild says that packaging fees constitute illegal “kickbacks” to agents, which would be a violation of both state and federal law.

The lawsuit cites the Taft-Hartley Act, a federal law passed in 1947. The anti-kickback section of the act prohibits “any employer or association of employers to pay, lend, or deliver, or agree to pay, lend, or deliver, any money or other thing of value … to any representative of any of his employees who are employed in an industry affecting commerce.”

Lawyers for the WGA argue that agency packaging fees fall under this ban.

“The plaintiffs will seek a judicial declaration that packaging fees are unlawful and an injunction prohibiting talent agencies from entering into future packaging deals,” Tony Segall, general counsel for the Writers Guild of America West, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

“The suit will also seek damages and repayment of illegal profits on behalf of writers who have been harmed by these unlawful practices in the past,” he added.

How We Got Here

The WGA has been trying to address this issue in recent days. The writers and agents have been without an agreement to govern their relationship with each other since one expired last weekend.

In fact, the WGA had even drafted a code of conduct for agencies that calls for the banning of packaging fees. Around 95 percent of the Guild’s members voted in favor of implementing it and the Guild then asked agencies to sign it. The Big Four agencies refused.

At one point during negotiations, Talent Agencies offered writers a 1 percent cut of their production fee money, but the Guild says that proposal was unacceptable.

On Saturday, the WGA told writers to fire agents who refuse to sign the union’s code of conduct. Some writers complied and have posted images of the letters they had sent to their agents. The letters say that under union rules, they can’t be represented by the agency until a negotiation is reached.

WGA West President David Goodman said the lawsuit shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. “We always had this as part of our strategy,” he said.

“The lawsuit is really at attempt to try and address the situation and make agencies realize this has to be fixed. It wasn’t a matter of the negotiations falling apart and then there was a lawsuit. It’s all part of the same thing.”

Defense

The Association of Talent Agents stands by the packaging fees. In its FAQ sections, the ATA writes, “Packaging agencies help assemble a show’s creative elements before the show is pitched to potential buyers and continue to service the show during its lifecycle.”

If packaging fees were to be eliminated, the ATA says “those packaging fees likely would not be redistributed in any way to talent.

The ATA also noted that United Talent Agency’s analysis found that its writers earn more money on shows that the agency packed and less on shows that it didn’t.

They issued a response to the lawsuit late Wednesday saying, “This development is ironic given that the guild itself has agreed to the legitimacy of packaging for more than 43 years. Even more ironic is the fact that the statute the WGA is suing under prevents abuses of power and authority by labor union leaders, even as the guild has intimidated its own members and repeatedly misled them about their lack of good faith in the negotiating room.”

What now?

Neither side appears to be willing to budge on the issue. The WGA says negotiations can continue as the lawsuit moves forward, with Goodman saying the WGA is waiting for the ATA to make contact with his team.

Without a deal soon, Hollywood productions could be stuck in limbo, leaving thousands of writers without work and hundreds of studio projects on hold.

“The agencies are the ones who’ve made it clear that they’re not taking it seriously. If they’re ready to do that, we’re here,” Goodman said.

The WGA has released a list of agencies that have agreed to their code of conduct and can represent its members. However, the Big Four agencies dominate much of the industry.

The tension unfolding between both parties is unprecedented and a meaningful agreement could change the industry practices for years to come.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Washington Post)

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Amanda Seyfried’s Fans Defend Her After Nude Photos Resurface

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  • Old explicit images of actress Amanda Seyfried have resurfaced online.
  • The photos were stolen from the star and released in 2017 during the second wave of celebrity nude photo leaks.
  • Fans have defended Seyfried in recent days, calling for social media users to stop sharing the photos.

Photos Resurface

Explicit nude photos of actress Amanda Seyfried resurfaced on social media over the weekend, prompting fans to speak out in her defense and condemn the invasion of privacy.

Seyfried is one of several stars who had personal photos stolen and released without consent in 2017. The leak was dubbed “The Fappening 2.0” which is a reference to the first major celebrity nude photo leak that happened in 2014.

Along with Seyfried, the second wave of leaks affected stars like Emma Watson and Jillian Murray. The leaked photos of Seyfried reportedly show the actress performing a sex act on her then-boyfriend, Justin Long.

Seyfried and others have taken legal action to fight back against the invasion of privacy, but the images have been lingering on the internet for years.

Fans React

Many Twitter users make jokes about the photos, calling the actress “goals” and “iconic.”

However, the jokes outraged fans who reminded users that this is a huge invasion of privacy.

See what others are saying: (Hollywood Life) (Celebrity Insider) (The Inquisitor)  

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Suspect in Nipsey Hussle Shooting Identified; Vigil Ends in Chaos

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  • At least 19 people were injured Monday night after a stampede broke out at a vigil for the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
  • Later that evening, Los Angeles Police identified the suspect in the killing as 29-year-old Eric Holder.
  • Police are now asking the public for help locating the suspect.

Vigil Turns Into Madness

At least 19 people were injured in a stampede Monday night when a candlelight vigil for the late rapper Nipsey Hussle turned into chaos.

Around 300 fans gathered to mourn the loss of the rapper outside his Marathon Clothing shop in South Los Angeles, the same area where he was gunned down Sunday afternoon.

The memorial ended abruptly when multiple people were trampled and local authorities began forming containment lines.

According to Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore, it’s not immediately clear what caused the panic at the memorial. Initial reports suggested that gunfire had broken out, however, police later confirmed that no shots had been fired.

Musician DeAndre Harvey, who was at the memorial, to the LA Times that the event was initially peaceful, with fans and friends passing around a megaphone and sharing stories about Hussle.

Harvey said that things changed after a fight broke out. The fight caused liquor bottles and candles to break, which then caused some in the crowd to think there was a shooting.

“I didn’t hear gunshots,” he said. “I just saw everyone running for their lives.”

Injuries

The Los Angeles Fire Department said that 19 patients were transported to local hospitals. The department said the majority of the patients had non-life threatening “trample injuries.” However, at least two people had critical injuries and two others had serious injuries.

One person was injured after being struck by a vehicle, while another suffered a penetrating wound of an unknown cause.

Police spokeswoman Meghan Aguilar said that one police officer was also injured. She said rocks and bottles were thrown at officers clearing the area and at least one person was detained for disorderly conduct.

Suspect Indentified

Late Monday night, Los Angeles police also released the name of the suspect who they believe shot and killed Hussle and injured two others.

The alleged gunman was identified as 29-year old Eric Holder. According to police, he walked up to the men and fired serval shots at them. He then fled into an alley where a sedan was waiting. The sedan was driven by a woman who has not been identified.

Holder was last seen in a white, four-door, 2016 Chevy Cruze, with the California license plate 7RJD742, the police department said on Twitter.

“Anyone with information related to his whereabouts or this deadly shooting is urged to contact South Bureau Homicide at 323-786-5100.”

See what others are saying: (CNN) (Fox News)(The New York Times)  

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