July 05, 2012

 

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Naomi Campbell and a perfume company have settled a sour dispute that started over a fragrance line and became part of the backdrop of former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial.

 

Dueling lawsuits be­tween the supermodel and an entity called Moodform Mission were closed Thursday, Manhattan court records show. Moodform Mission’s lawyer, Daniel R. Bright, said Friday his clients “are happy with the settlement,” but he wouldn’t disclose details. Campbell’s lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

 

The dispute involves Campbell's longtime former modeling agent, Carole White, who joined with a Miami Beach, Florida-based cosmetics company to form Moodform Mission in the 1990s.

 

Her New York court fight with the model was mentioned at Taylor’s 2010 war crimes trial, at which White contradicted the model’s testimony about some alleged blood diamonds — gems used to finance wars — she received from the former Liberian president. Taylor was convicted of arming and supporting murderous rebels in Sierra Leone in return for blood diamonds; he was sentenced in May to 50 years in prison. He plans to appeal his conviction.

 

At his trial in the Netherlands, Campbell said she didn’t know the source of the stones presented to her after a dinner at former South African President Nelson Mandela’s mansion in 1997, or even that they were diamonds. She gave them to a friend to donate to charity.

 

When White took the stand and insisted that Campbell knew Taylor had provided the stones, Taylor’s lawyer accused White of lying to further her lawsuit over the perfume fallout. White denied it.

 

In the perfume suit, Moodform Mission said it was unfairly squeezed out of its share of millions of dollars in profits from such scents as Naomi Campbell, Cat Deluxe and Seductive Elixir after working for years to line up a 1998 fragrance deal for Campbell.

 

The agreement called for regular payments to Moodform Mission once the scents went on the market in 2001, netting Campbell millions of dollars over the years, according to the company’s lawsuit. It said Campbell violated the contract by inking a new fragrance-licensing agreement in 2008.

 

The new deal “was a fraudulent scheme arranged by (Campbell) for the purpose of avoiding her obligation to pay Moodform Mission the money required to be paid to it,” said the suit, filed in 2009.

 

Campbell, meanwhile, said she wasn't given full information before signing her deal with Moodform Mission. She said she didn’t know for years that White — her chief agent from 1993 until about 2006 — had a stake in the perfume partnership.

 

“If White had told me that she was a principal in (Moodform Mission), I would not have blindly trusted her advice to sign the documents that she brought to me,” Campbell said in a sworn statement last year. “... White held a position of trust and confidence in my life, and I expected her to act in my best interests (and never to benefit if this would be detrimental to my interests).”

 

Campbell, now 41, became one of the world’s highest-paid models after being discovered at age 15. She is British.

 

She has also been known for her feisty temper. At various points, she pleaded guilty to cursing and kicking at police officers in a rage over missing luggage at London’s Heathrow Airport, hurling a cellphone at her maid in New York because of a vanished pair of jeans and beating an assistant who said the model whacked her on the head with a phone in Toronto.

 

She was released without punishment in the Toronto case and sentenced to community service in the others.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 05, 2012

By MESFIN FEKADU |

Associated Press

 

With all the star power at the BET Awards — Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few — the most stirring moment came not from a superstar, but from the mother of one.

Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy, provided the emotional highlight of Sunday’s ceremony as she sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in tribute to her late daughter, leaving audience members like Beyonce and Soulja Boy in tears.

Mariah Carey opened the tribute, and her voice wavered as she told stories about Houston. She recalled the last time she saw Houston last year, and how the two laughed and gossiped together.

“I miss my friend,” Carey said. “I miss hearing her voice and laughter.”

R&B singer Monica was vocally top-notch as she sang “I Love the Lord,” a gospel song once sang by Houston; Brandy sang two upbeat Houston hits, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Chaka Khan blazed the stage with “I’m Every Woman,” which Houston remade. Gary Houston, Whitney’s brother, also performed; and Houston’s “Waiting to Exhale” castmates — Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon and Loretta Devine — also honored the singer.

But it was Cissy Houston’s soaring performance that brought the audience to their feet, and had many dabbing their eyes. The tribute came five months after Houston’s death: She died the night before the Grammy Awards of an accidental drowning complicated by heart disease and cocaine use.

As compelling as that moment was, the show was also defined by its low points: Entire segments of performances, from Nicki Minaj to Rick Ross, were muted out due to foul language and obscenities, though several vulgarities were heard on air.

It started during the opening number by West’s G.O.O.D. music group, which included Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. There were long moments of censored silence when the rappers performed “Mercy,” though not all the offending words were bleeped out. Moments later, Jackson, the show’s host, was joined by Spike Lee as they did a comedic version of Jay-Z and West’s hit song “... In Paris,” to laughs.

“Two distinguished Morehouse men,” Lee joked after the performance, referencing the alma mater of the two.

The censor police also worked overtime when Rick Ross performed with his Maybach Music Group and during Minaj’s performance and acceptance speech for best female hip-hop artist. Minaj’s win was her third consecutive time taking the prize.

“I really, really appreciate BET for keeping this category alive, and I appreciate all the female rappers doing their thing, past, present and future,” she said, before uttering an obscenity.

Best gospel winner Yolanda Adams, who also performed, gently took some of her peers to task, urging them to act mature and use their fame wisely.

“We need all of y’all,” she said onstage. “I’m saying the world needs everyone in this room. Please make sure that you use your gift responsibly, ‘cause we’re watching. Our babies are watching, and they want to be like us.”

West, the most nominated act of the night with seven, and Jay-Z won the ceremony’s top prize, earning video of the year for “Otis.” They also won best group.

Beyonce was the second most nominated act with six. She won video director of the year (along with Alan Ferguson) and best female R&B artist and thanked the genre and her female influences.

“I fell in love with music by listening to R&B. It’s the core of who I am,” she said, giving special thanks to Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and “Whitney Houston, my angel.”

When she lost video of the year to Jay-Z and West, she playfully hit her husband and laughed. The joking continued: Moments later, as West was giving his acceptance speech, Jay-Z interrupted him and said: “Excuse me Kanye, I’m gonna let you continue, but ...,” and the audience erupted with laughter, recalling West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift’s MTV Video Music Awards speech a few years back.

Chris Brown was also a double winner, picking up his second consecutive win for best male R&B artist, and the “Fandemonium” award for a third time.

Brown also performed in his first televised appearance since the New York City nightclub brawl between his entourage and Drake’s. Brown, his girlfriend, his bodyguard and NBA star Tony Parker were among those injured in the June 14 encounter, where bottles were thrown.

Drake didn’t show, though he was named best male hip-hop artist.

The tone of night fluctuated frequently, as the show shifted from hotly anticipated performances to solemn moments to irreverence. Usher performed his groove “Climax,” and Minaj sported a blond wig with pink tips as she performed the songs “Champion” and “Beez in the Trap,” which featured 2 Chainz.

D’Angelo returned to the television spotlight with his first performance in years as he attempts a comeback.

The night also featured some tributes to deceased greats: Chante Moore performed a medley of Donna Summer’s hits and Valerie Simpson sang a song in honor of her husband and writing partner Nick Ashford. Don Cornelius, Dick Clark and Hal Jackson were remembered. Even West offered tributes: after his performance, he name-dropped Rodney King and Whitney Houston in a verse that got cheers from the crowd, including his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.

Presenters included Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx, who wore a T-shirt that had a picture of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Frankie Beverly featuring Maze were honored with the lifetime achievement award, and they were serenaded with performances by Tyrese, Faith Evans and Joe. The Rev. Al Sharpton received the humanitarian award, and urged the crowd to vote this November.

“This election is not just about Obama, this is about your momma,” he said.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 05, 2012

By DAVID PORTER |

Associated Press

 

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Eight-time Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty Friday to not paying federal taxes on more than $1.5 million earned over three years.

Appearing in U.S. District Court in Newark, Hill admitted failing to file tax returns from 2005 to 2007. She faces a maximum one-year sentence on each of the three counts. She was charged three weeks ago.

Dressed in a dark jacket, white button-up shirt and a long reddish-orange skirt, Hill declined to comment after Friday’s hearing. During the hearing, attorney Nathan Hochman indicated that Hill planned to pay back the taxes she owes.

U.S. Magistrate Michael Shipp initially scheduled sentencing for early October but agreed to delay it until late November to give Hill time to make repayment.

Hill admitted she didn’t pay taxes on about $818,000 earned in 2005, $222,000 in 2006 and $761,000 in 2007. The money was earned by four corporations she owned.

The 37-year-old South Orange resident got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley.

After the charges were brought, Hill posted a long statement on her Tumblr page that decried pop culture’s “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism.” She explained that she hasn’t paid taxes since she withdrew from society to guarantee the safety and well-being of herself and her family.

Hill hinted Friday that she might expand on those comments at her sentencing. When Shipp asked her if anyone had directly or indirectly influenced her decision to plead guilty, she replied, “Indirectly, I’ve been advised my ability to speak out directly is for another time, at sentencing.” 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 05, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court decided Friday not to consider reinstating the government’s $550,000 fine on CBS for Janet Jackson's infamous breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl.

The high court refused to hear an appeal from the Federal Communications Commission over the penalty.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice had thrown out the fine. The second time came after the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's policy threatening fines against even one-time uses of curse words on live television.

The appeals court said FCC’s policy of excusing fleeting instances of indecent words and images appeared to change without notice in March 2004, a month after Jackson’s halftime act. The judges said that made the agency’s action against CBS “arbitrary and capricious.”

But now, the FCC clearly has abandoned its exception for fleeting expletives, Chief Justice John Roberts said.

“It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast — be it word or image — cannot immunize it from FCC censure,” he said. “Any future ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ will not be protected on the ground relied on by the court below.”

In addition, Roberts said that calling it a “wardrobe malfunction” when Justin Timberlake ripped away part of Jackson’s bustier “strained the credulity of the public.”

CBS said it was grateful for the court’s decision.

“At every major turn of this process, the lower courts have sided with us,” the network said in a statement. “And now that the Supreme Court has brought this matter to a close, we look forward to the FCC heeding the call for the very balanced enforcement which was the hallmark of the commission for many, many years.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

July 05, 2012

By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER | Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two Los Angeles police officers won't face criminal charges alleging they leaked a photo of pop star Rihanna’s bruised and beaten face after she was assaulted by singer Chris Brown, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

An internal report by prosecutors says that after a three-year investigation, they didn’t have enough evidence to show celebrity news website TMZ paid the accused officers for the photo, and that became an obstacle in charging them.

The Associated Press report obtained a copy of the March 28 report on Thursday after its contents were first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Officers Blanca Lopez and Rebecca Reyes may still get fired. They are slated to appear before disciplinary panels in August.

Brown, who was Rihanna’s boyfriend at the time, was arrested on suspicion of beating the Grammy winner on Feb. 8, 2009, leaving her bloody and bruised.

The “Umbrella” and “Only Girl (In The World)” songstress, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, canceled her Grammy performance that year after the incident.

Brown pleaded guilty to attacking Rihanna and was ordered to serve five years on supervised probation and to complete six months of community service including roadside cleanup, graffiti removal and manual labor.

Prosecutors allege the photo was leaked after a stack of photographs of Rihanna’s injuries was left lying on a desk at the Wilshire police station and Reyes took a picture of the top photo with her phone.

Prosecutors say Reyes later emailed the image from her LAPD email address to her personal email address.

Reyes and Lopez were roommates at the time, and phone records showed that they made multiple phone calls to Fox Television and TMZ in February.

The photo shocked fans and prompted a national conversation about domestic violence after it spread through the media.

But despite a search of Reyes’ and Lopez's bank accounts, a money trail was not discovered tying the leak to them, prosecutors said.

In order to prove the officers broke the law, prosecutors said in the report they “must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Reyes and Lopez disclosed the image of Robyn F. (Rihanna) to TMZ and obtained money in exchange for this disclosure.”

The prosecutors’ report noted that other LAPD personnel had access to the photos.

“As such, although both Reyes and Lopez’s actions are suspicious, they are insufficient to support a criminal prosecution,” the report says.

Rihanna’s attorney Donald Etra said Thursday he does not know at this time whether the singer wants to pursue any further legal action.

“Apparently this was an internal decision by the district attorney. A victim’s privacy should be protected,” Etra said.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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