Television

You don’t have to be a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars to have predicted that Warner Bros. — the company that produces Two and a Half Angry Men and, not un-coincidentally, Looney Tunes — would fire Charlie Sheen from the show. And on Monday, that’s exactly what happened. Writing on behalf of Warner Bros., Munger Tolles (specifically, partner John Spiegel) fired off an 11-page letter immediately axing Charlie from Two and a Half Laughs, Ever Men.

But even if someone wields a machete from a roof or requests a battle in the Octagon, you can’t necessarily fire him for cause just because he’s crazy. For instance, Tom Cruise jumps on couches and he has gone on to not be fired from several lackluster movies, most notably Valkyrie. Warner Bros. needs cause to fire Charlie under his $1.8 million per episode contract, and in the letter, they offer up a kitchen sink of it.

A lot rides on the outcome here: if Charlie prevails in arbitration and proves that Warner Bros did not have cause to fire him, he stands to get paid for the ten remaining episodes in the show’s ninth (!!) season. And if the reports are accurate, he also has a “Michael J. Fox” clause in his contract, which specifically permits a washed-up 80s actor to continue to draw paychecks from humorless sitcoms that remain in production after the actor has left the show to fade into obscurity – a hold over from the days when Sheen replaced Fox in Spin City and Fox continued to get paid. If Warner Bros. prevails, they may seek 10 episodes worth of lost revenue from Charlie, though admittedly it will be difficult to convince an arbitrator that anybody watches the show, must less pays to advertise on it.

In any event, down to brass tacks. Here are the various allegations Warner Bros. makes in the termination letter to assert that they have cause to fire Charlie under his contract, along with my evaluation of their merits….

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Were you disappointed by James Franco and Anne Hathaway as Oscars hosts? If so, you weren’t alone. PopEater described their hosting efforts, especially Franco’s, as “a disaster.” The New York Times declared the proceedings to be “downright painful” at points.

Next year, the Academy Awards should go in a different direction. Enough pandering to the youth. For 2012, the Oscars host should be a certain hilarious, older Jewish gentleman, who has been celebrated over the years for his brilliance and wit, and who knows a great deal about movies.

Bring back Billy Crystal? Not a bad idea — but here’s a better one. Bring on Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit!

In addition to his incredible intellect and superb sense of humor, Chief Judge Kozinski has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Recall his famous ruling in the movie-industry case of United States v. Syufy Enterprises, featuring over 200 film titles woven artfully into the text of his opinion.

Chief Judge Kozinski knows movies, and he loves movies. He goes to the cinema every chance he gets. In fact, His Honor recently sent a movie recommendation my way — and it’s PG-13, in case you’re wondering….

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The cutting-edge information and security practice of Hunton & Williams is getting the firm lots of media attention these days — but not of the positive variety. The firm’s lawyers are getting coverage due to their information becoming insecure after a hacktivist group leaked emails they exchanged with security firm HBGary.

Last night, the firm’s logo was flashed several times on the Colbert Report, as Stephen Colbert named the firm as the link between the DOJ, HBGary, and Bank of America, in coming up with questionable tactics for undermining liberal activists. (See our prior post, Hunton & Williams Gets WikiLeaked.)

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, who we know isn’t a fan of the firm, was a guest on last night’s show, telling Colbert:

What is most significant here is that you have these plans that are clearly crossing a legal line, with very serious players involved. Law firms like Hunton & Williams are the most powerful in D.C. And no one at any point said, “Maybe this goes a little too far, maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.” So willing to cavalierly to put a plan like this that clearly proposes illegal steps down on paper. It clearly shows that this sort of stuff in this world of corporate and government consortium of power is pretty normal, is par for the course.

Moral of the show: BigLaw + BigGov = Evil. Check out Colbert’s telling of the “techno thriller” tale (after the jump). Think Star Wars, with Bank of America as Darth Vader, HBGary and Hunton & Williams as commanders of the Imperial Forces, WikiLeaks as Princess Leia, and Anonymous as Han Solo….

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This would not be happening if Leo McGarry were still alive.

When Charlie Sheen heard the news that Charlie Sheen was found naked and coked out of his mind in a trashed suite at the Plaza with a porn star hooker locked in the bathroom, Charlie Sheen knew he had to do something drastic – something epic – to top himself. 

Last week, the Two and a Half Men whacktor reasoned that the best way to supercharge the party was simply to multiply the coke, hookers and party duration by a factor of three. Here are the allegations, from TMZ:

Charlie Sheen had a “briefcase full of cocaine” delivered to his home — and was using large amounts of the drug during the 36-hour bender that landed him in the hospital … this according to a source inside the house….

We’re told Sheen had several people inside his home during the 36-hour span that started Tuesday night — including 2 porn stars, a business associate, and several other women….

Sheen was eventually hospitalized early Thursday morning for “severe abdominal pain.”

Charlie was released from celebrity hospital Ceders-Sinai last Thursday and is now spending his time rehabbing… his job, by writing public apologies to CBS and Warner Bros, and promising them he’ll be healed and back to work by the end of February. A number of sites have wondered how the 16 million blind and deaf fans who rely on Charlie, a fat, zitty teenager and some other talentless hack to make them laugh every week are going to survive while the show is on production hiatus. But I have an idea. Kill yourself…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Martin Sheen to Seek Conservatorship Over Charlie? (Or: Not Another Charlie Sheen Post)”

In the blogosphere the people are divided into two seperate yet equally important groups: the producers who research new content, and the commentators who analyze and talk about it. This is a story of what happens when it all comes together.

[ding ding]

DET. GREEN: We’ve got a man here, a single man, who has endeavored to watch every single episode of the now canceled Law & Order. He’s taking copious notes about conviction rates, plea bargains, and other outcomes, on a season-by-season basis.

Now this other guy is crunching all of that data, cross-referencing it against real New York City crime rates, and making some intelligent conclusions based on the comparisons. It all comes together at Overthinking It. It’s pretty sick stuff.

DET. BRISCOE: I liked TV better when only boobs watched it…

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By now you’ve probably watched or seen an ad for MTV Skins, a fictional show about, well… I’ll let MTV explain this gem:

Skins is a wild ride through the lives of a group of high school friends stumbling through the mine field of adolescence… and stepping on most of the mines as they go….

Be it sex, drugs, the breadth of friendships or the depth of heartbreaks, Skins is an emotional mosh-pit that slams through the insanity of teenage years.

Picture My So-Called Life with seedier plots, despicable characters  and more drugs, alcohol and indiscriminate sex than you can shake an H&M blazer at.

Doesn’t sound that bad, right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Is MTV’s ‘Skins’ Child Porn?”

Ted Cruz

A new year, a new job. That seems to be the thinking of many within the legal profession, based on the proliferation of professional moves we have to report (and not just out of Howrey).

We’ll start with one move that’s aspirational rather than actual. Legal and political superstar Ted Cruz — the Morgan Lewis partner who heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and who was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years — will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the good senatrix Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Check out the announcement on his website, or read this BLT post.

Like many lawyers turned politicians, including our current president, the 40-year-old Cruz is a Harvard Law grad (and one of The Elect — Rehnquist / OT 1996). Graduates of HLS’s rival to the south, Yale Law School, tend to take more quirky paths.

Yul Kwon

That brings us to the second move of the day. YLS grad Yul Kwon — a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor, and one of People’s “sexiest men alive” (in 2006) — has left the Federal Communications Commission. Kwon served as deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the Commission.

Instead of working at the FCC, Kwon, 35, will be regulated by it: he’s going to be the host of a new television series on PBS, America Revealed (which sounds pretty cool). Read more from the FCC (press release), Bloomberg, and the Washington Post.

More moves — a Cravath partner’s jump over to Wall Street, and the defection of many McDermott energy lawyers to Cadwalader — after the jump.

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(Including the energy lawyers going from MWE to CWT.)

The costuming department has put Kate in clothing so tight and heels so high, they make Ally McBeal’s notorious miniskirt suits seem like something you would expect to find on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

— New York Times television critic Ginia Bellafante, referring to Kate Reed, the protagonist of the new legal drama Fairly Legal (in a review of Fairly Legal, which premieres on Thursday at 10 p.m. on USA, and Harry’s Law, a second legal drama, which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC).

(But don’t forget that the fine-boned Justice Ginsburg was a beauty in her youth — she was even a high school cheerleader.)

We want to hear about your firm’s bonus news, even if it’s old. If we haven’t reported on it yet, we want to know about it. (Use our site search box in the upper-right-hand corner, or scroll through our Associate Bonus Watch archives, to see which announcements we’ve already covered.)

Here’s some old bonus news (literally “last year’s” news). A few weeks ago, Shearman & Sterling announced its bonuses. They essentially matched the Cravath scale, but with the caveat (also issued last year) that they are at least partly “merit-based” — i.e., adjusted up or down based on performance. The S&S bonuses are being paid out on January 14.

Some Shearman associates might be upset by the lack of upward movement on bonuses. But at least one of them probably doesn’t care that much, since he enjoyed other income in 2010.

I’ll take “Lawyers Who Have Appeared on Jeopardy” for $1000, Alex….

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(And… Jeopardy!)

Brandy Kuentzel, laid-off K&E lawyer turned reality TV star.

Apologies for this very belated coverage of the season finale of The Apprentice, which aired last week. Alas, no member of Team ATL — not even Marin, our resident reality TV addict — actually watched the show. The final episode was a bit like the proverbial tree falling in the forest without anyone around to hear it.

But it seems numerous ATL readers tuned in, even though ratings for the show are down 75 percent since the premiere season. So here’s a post, triggered by your many email pleas for coverage.

We extend warm congratulations to Brandy Kuentzel, the Chicago Law alumna and laid-off Kirkland & Ellis associate who emerged victorious in the reality TV competition. In the finale, Kuentzel defeated a fellow lawyer, Clint — a 40-year-old SMU Law grad described in his NBC bio as “living off of credit” — for the opportunity to work for Donald Trump.

One Brandy fan gave us some background on her: “She went to University of Chicago, started at Kirkland SF as transactional associate. After she got laid off, she started a mobile truck cupcake business.” (Digression: Why is driving a cupcake truck such a popular fallback option for lawyers? See also Kate Carrara, of Philadelphia, and Lev Ekster, of New York.)

Continued our tipster: “Brandy has an insane background story. She’s from Alaska, and moved out at an early age to self-finance her education, after graduating as valedictorian of her high school. Oh, and she is insanely hot. Google her.”

As you can see from her photo, Brandy is most definitely a hottie. But, interestingly enough, Brandy Kuentzel wasn’t quite as smoking hot back in her law firm days….

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