Lucasfilm: The Force Is Not With You
The ever-vigilant "Star Wars" team has taken aim at a medical instruments maker for calling its new laser-guided surgical device a "Light Saber"--the sword-like beam of energy that, as any self-respecting fan knows, is the Jedi weapon of choice.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims that the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Minrad Inc. infringed on Lucasfilm's exclusive copyright. It contends that use of the name would dilute the value of the trademark, potentially cost Lucasfilm millions of dollars and, more important, dupe consumers into thinking producer-director George Lucas had endorsed the gadgets.
"'Light Sabers' is one of our signature trademarks--like R2D2 and C3PO--a term that represents 'Star Wars' to our fans," Gordon Radley, president of Lucasfilm, told The Times on Monday. "Minrad refused to work out an amicable agreement. It became clear that they're doing this for the considerable benefit of having the 'Star Wars' imprimatur on their new product. We had no alternative but to sue."
The company wants the courts to issue a cease-and-desist order preventing Minrad's use of the moniker, which Lucas coined in 1977 and has used to sell toy versions of the blade. Minrad could not be reached for comment.
* No Fairy Tale Ending for Keiko the Whale
Say it ain't so. Keiko, the killer whale who co-starred in the 1992 film "Free Willy," may never be free, his caretakers said Sunday. After years in captivity, Keiko was moved to Iceland in 1998 in an effort to reintroduce him to the seas. But after 60 trips out of his pen, Keiko is apparently reluctant to rejoin wild whales. Ocean Futures, an organization that cares for him, says time and money are running out. With a salmon farm set to be built next to his current home, Keiko probably will be moved to a site in Europe.
PEOPLE / Setting of Poundstone's Hearing Date Postponed
Paula Poundstone made an appearance at the Santa Monica courthouse Monday for a hearing on lewd conduct and child endangerment charges filed against her. At the request of Poundstone's attorney, Steven Cron, the hearing--which is to set a preliminary hearing date--was postponed until Aug. 27.
The 41-year-old comedian is charged with three counts of lewd conduct upon a child and one count of child endangerment involving four other children. She remains free on $200,000 bail, which was posted shortly after her June 27 arrest by Santa Monica police.
TELEVISION / Teenage First-Timer Snags ABC Sitcom Role
It's a true Hollywood tale. A teenager from Brooklyn with no professional acting experience has been cast to star with Jason Alexander in a sitcom for ABC, the network said Monday.
Seventeen-year-old James Guidice will play Alexander's son in the comedy series "Bob Patterson." Alexander plays a motivational speaker whose skills don't translate to getting his offspring off the couch.
Guidice, a senior at Bensonhurst's Edward R. Murrow High School, won the role by auditioning, along with 200 other hopefuls, at an open casting call July 10 in New York. A follow-up screen test in Los Angeles proved the occasion for his first plane trip, ABC said. His only previous acting experience came in school plays--including a stint as the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz."
"Bob Patterson," which will also star Robert Klein and Chandra Wilson, premieres this fall on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Tarot Card Reader Gets Taken to Court
Missouri state authorities have filed two lawsuits against a Florida-based company responsible for TV segments featuring the Caribbean-voiced tarot card reader Miss Cleo, who has become a household name with commercials for a phone-in fortune telling service in which she preaches about love, power and money. ("That guy's cheating on you? Dump him, girl!")
The state's attorney general, Jay Nixon, says Access Resources Services Inc., the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, and Cleo have committed 94 violations of the state's new No Call Law, which permits residents to put their names on a list to shoo away telemarketers. The suits, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, also claim that Access is misrepresenting Miss Cleo's services by offering the first three minutes free, putting customers on hold and charging them once they pass the three-minute mark.
Access Resources faces fines of up to $5,000 per violation if found liable for the No Call charges. "It's nonsense," Sean Moynihan, the attorney for Access, told Eonline. "I think it would have been much more prudent for [Missouri authorities] to make at least one phone call to us prior to filing the lawsuit so we could explain our business practices."
Fox Sets Encores of '24,' 'Choice' on Cable
As expected, the Fox network has struck a deal in which two new series, the drama "24" and sitcom "Nathan's Choice," will repeat within a week of their initial prime-time telecasts on the Fox-owned FX cable channel.
The second airing of "24," a serialized drama starring Kiefer Sutherland scheduled to premiere Oct. 30, will offer viewers a way to stay abreast of events in the show if they miss an episode. "Nathan's Choice," meanwhile, a midseason comedy from "Dharma & Greg" co-creator Chuck Lorre, will actually shoot two endings for each episode, with viewers to select the outcome each week via the Internet and telephone. The alternate ending will then be shown on FX and when the program repeats on the network.
Fox officials have indicated FX will pay about $150,000 to rerun each episode of "24," helping defray production costs on the show. The arrangement is similar to second-run cable deals on ABC's "Once and Again" and NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which repeat on Lifetime and USA, respectively.
"Riverdance" founder Michael Flatley, who introduced much of the world to the intricate footwork of Irish dancing, says he is retiring. A spokeswoman said his performance on Sunday in Dallas would be the last time he danced in public .... Three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will appear on "The Late Show With David Letterman" Wednesday.... The Los Angeles Opera is making two additions to next season. "Renee Fleming in Recital" will be presented on Feb. 24 and "A Night of Zarzuela and Operetta with Placido Domingo and Friends"--replacing the previously announced "La Viuda Alegre," the Spanish "Merry Widow") will take place on Jan. 8. Tickets go on sale Aug. 6 .... "The Sopranos: The Complete Second Season" will hit video stores on Nov. 6.