As part of the proposed settlement, which awaits a judge’s approval, Franco did not admit any wrongdoing.
All Parties Agree to Proposed Settlement
Actor James Franco has agreed to a $2.2 million proposed settlement to end a pair of lawsuits against him, his production company, and business partners.
One suit was filed by two former students of his acting school who said Franco subjected them to sexually exploitative auditions and film shoots that went far beyond what was acceptable on set.
The second class-action suit was brought on by students at the acting school who said they were defrauded with claims of more opportunities while being sexually objectified and intimidated.
The proposed settlement still awaits a judge’s approval, though the terms were agreed to by various parties in February, and the paperwork was filed in court last week.
Court documents showed that the total amount of the proposed settlement is $2,235,000. Of that, $894,000 would go to settle the two sexual exploitation claims.
One plaintiff, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, would receive $670,500, minus $223,000 that would cover her lawyer fees, according to court records. Another plaintiff, Toni Gaal, would receive $223,500, minus $74,500 that would go to her lawyers.
The remaining $1,341,000 of the settlement would address the fraud claims from about 1,500 students.
As part of the proposed settlement, Franco did not admit any wrongdoing. Instead, the documents includes a joint statement from all parties involved.
“While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood,” the statement reads.
“All agree on the need to make sure that no-one in the entertainment industry – regardless of sex, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation – faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times)(The New York Times)(AP News)
Former “Real Housewives” Star Bethenny Frankel Sues TikTok Over Ads Misusing Likeness
The reality star said social media has become “a breeding ground for scams.”
TikTok Hit With Class Action Suit
Businesswoman and reality star Bethenny Frankel filed a class action lawsuit against TikTok on Thursday, accusing the social media app of platforming fraudulent ads that misuse the identities of influencers.
According to the lawsuit, several videos “purloined the images, voices, and content” of Frankel and others in an effort “to sell counterfeit items.”
Frankel claims that one advertisement used footage of her to make it appear as though she was endorsing a knockoff cardigan, even though she never authorized the use of her image. According to the lawsuit, Frankel attempted to warn her followers that the ad was misusing her persona, but TikTok allegedly removed that video for being “abusive.”
“Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions,” the lawsuit claims. “Aside from not being compensated, the reputation and brand of Ms. Frankel and Class Members are being damaged and tarnished through unauthorized associations with counterfeit goods and other products that they do not support.”
It further alleged that TikTok is “unlawfully” allowing the use of Frankel’s “persona, voice, content, and likeness” in a manner that “constitutes unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.”
In addition to previously starring on “The Real Housewives of New York,” Frankel is also the founder of lifestyle and food brand Skinnygirl, and disaster relief initiative BStrong.
The Wild West of Social Media
In a TikTok video last month, the former Real Housewife told her followers she was considering taking legal action against the video app. As for why she took her complaints up with TikTok as opposed to the brands behind the sham ads, she said that the bigger issue is “the wild wild west of social media.”
“This is something that has to be addressed because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said.
After the fake ads appeared to show Frankel giving the knockoff cardigan a thumbs up, many of her followers thought she “sold out” by “hocking” the product. According to Frankel, TikTok offers little help in repairing the issue.
“There’s nobody to call at TikTok,” she said. “You know, calling China, you’re reporting something, it’s like small potatoes.”
After news broke that she filed the class action complaint, Frankel posted a statement to Instagram saying her demands “for creators and consumers is correct and just.”
“Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves,” Frankel wrote. “That ends now.”
“Social media, and its impact as the most powerful medium on the planet, cannot be a reckless marketplace where people risk their rights and privacy being violated without protection.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Insider) (Reuters)
Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023
Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”
The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled.
Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film.
The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A Tribute to Hutchins
Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.
For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any.
Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set.
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.