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Hackers Who Hit Celebrity Law Firm Demand $42 Million in Ransom, Threaten to Release Dirt on Trump

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  • Hackers that stole data from a high-profile entertainment law firm are demanding a $42 million ransom, doubling their previous figure of $21 million.
  • The group behind the attack is known as REvil. They claim to have “dirty laundry” on President Donald Trump, and are threatening to release it if they do not get the money.
  • The firm, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks does not represent Trump, though they do have an A-list roster, including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and others.
  • The firm told the New York Post that they do not intend to negotiate with the hackers and have experts working around the clock to address the situation.

Hackers Demand Ransom

Hackers who took data from a high-profile entertainment law firm are doubling their ransom to a hefty $42 million after previously demanding $21 million.

News that Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks was hacked first came last week. The initial ransom was set on Wednesday, and the hackers are threatening to share data if they do not receive the money. In a Thursday message shared by the New York Post and The Daily Beast, the hackers announced their raised ransom and claimed to have information about President Donald Trump.

“The next person we’ll be publishing is Donald Trump,” the message read. “There’s an election going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry.”

“Grubman, we will destroy your company down to the ground if we don’t see the money,” it added, addressing the firm’s founder, Allen Grubman, directly.

What information the hackers have on Trump is unclear as the president is not one of their clients. Their roster does hold A-list names though, including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Priyanka Chopra, Christina Aguilera, Bruce Springsteen, and Mariah Carey. The hackers have allegedly stolen data from past and present clients, including contracts, NDAs, phone numbers, email addresses, and private correspondence.

Grubman Responds

Grubman is considered one of the most powerful lawyers in the music industry. In a statement to Variety, his firm said they were working to handle the situation.

“We have notified our clients and our staff [of the cyberattack],” the statement read. “We have hired the world’s experts who specialize in this area, and we are working around the clock to address these matters.”

The group behind the attack is known as REvil. They have already shared an excerpt from one of Madonna’s tour contracts as proof of the hack. According to Variety, they tried to share a large document dump on the upload-hosting service Mega on Wednesday but were unable to do so after servers denied them access.

Reports indicate that Grubman does not want to negotiate with REvil.

“We have been informed by the experts and the FBI that negotiating with or paying ransom to terrorists is a violation of federal criminal law,” the firm said in a statement to the Post. “Even when enormous ransoms have been paid, the criminals often leak the documents anyway.”

“Our elections, our government and our personal information are under escalating attacks by foreign cybercriminals,” the statement added. “Law firms are not immune from this malicious activity.”

REvil has targeted other prominent groups in the past. They previously received $2.3 million in bitcoin after demanding ransom from Travelex, a U.K.-based foreign-exchange company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

See what others are saying: (New York Post) (Daily Beast) (Variety)

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“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press

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Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.


Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling” 

Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million. 

Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.

Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.

Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.

“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it. 

Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired. 

The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation. 

A Film Riddled With Rumors 

Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday. 

Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings. 

Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.

In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)

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Senators Introduce Legislation Requiring Radios to Pay Royalties to Artists

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Sen. Padilla argued the bill is necessary to give artists the “dignity and respect they deserve.”


The American Music Fairness Act

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act to the Senate on Thursday, a bill that would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers and rights holders. 

The bill was previously introduced to the House last year. According to a release, the United States is the only democratic country where artists are not compensated for their music’s use on AM or FM radio. While songwriters and publishers receive payment, these stations have never been required to give a slice of the pie to performers and copyright holders. 

On streaming and satellite radio, however, both groups receive royalty payments. 

In a statement, Padilla said it is time the country starts treating “our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”

“California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene,” he added. “That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important.”

“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark,” Blackburn echoed. “Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming.”

The American Music Fairness Act would require terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to music creators when their songs are played. It would also protect smaller stations that either make less than $1.5 million in annual revenue or who have a parent company that makes less than $10 million in annual revenue by letting them play unlimited music for under $500 a year. 

The bill would also require other countries to pay American artists for the use of their work.

Support From Major Music Groups

The legislation is endorsed by a number of groups, including the Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, and the American Federation of Musicians. 

If passed, the bill could move a lot of money into the pockets of performers. According to the Recording Academy, when American music gets international airplay, other countries collect royalties for American artists, amounting to around $200 million every year. However, they “never pay those royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right.”

Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, argues that the money belongs to the artists. 

“Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now,” Drescher said in a statement. “The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair NOW!”

Last year, Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bill with essentially the opposite agenda. It aims to reserve radio’s royalty-free status. The American Music Fairness Act is being viewed as a counter-response to this bill.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Billboard)

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Kanye West Says Catalog Is Potentially Being Sold Without His Permission: “Just Like Taylor Swift”

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After Swift lost the rights to her life’s work, she took on the endeavor of re-recording her first six albums. 


Kanye’s Catalog Potentially Up For Grabs

Following reports that Kanye West was considering selling his catalog, the artist took to Instagram on Tuesday to claim his work is potentially being sold without his approval.

On Monday, Billboard reported that West had been “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.”

While the outlet’s sources did not reveal what price West was aiming for, Billboard estimated that West might be looking at a $175 million valuation for his discography. Some of Billboard’s sources seemingly suggested that West and his team were specifically behind the effort to sell his work, but others claimed the “catalog was never actively shopped” and instead, West had been receiving offers from potential buyers. 

Not long after, several news outlets picked the story up and reported that West was gearing up to sell his catalog. West responded by writing on his Instagram story that this was not the case. 

“Not For Sale”

“Just like Taylor Swift,” he said, referencing music mogul Scooter Braun purchasing Swift’s masters with Big Machine Records without her approval. “My publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”

Swift referred to the sale of her masters to Braun as her “worst case scenario.” In order to regain ownership of her work, she is in the process of re-recording her first six albums, all of which she originally made under Big Machine. Two have already been released and proved to be wildly commercially successful. 

According to Forbes, it is unclear which of his albums West owns the masters to, if he owns any at all. Because of this, it is unknown what kind of position he would be put in if his catalog, which is currently managed by Sony, was sold.

The status of any potential for his work to be sold became foggier later on Tuesday when West shared screenshots of a text exchange he had. He asked an unidentified person what was happening with the catalog sale, and that person responded by calling it “fake news.”

“Of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest buy, smh,” the text continued. 

West did not further indicate if those texts were meant to clarify that his catalog was, in fact, not up for sale, or just further distance himself from any potential acquisition.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Forbes) (Complex)

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