My latest cover story for the ABA Journal:
Welcome to (Legal) Career Killers — a series that looks at how the law, lawyers or lawsuits killed a band’s or artist’s careers. In other words: They fought the law and the law won.
I wrote an ABA Journal cover story in 2019 looking at songs that changed the law. The issue of sampling has become an important one when it comes to copyright law. A major reason why was because of two 1991 cases. I spotlighted the first: a lawsuit filed by members of 60s era band The Turtles against hip hop group De La Soul. I decided to take a look at the second one, which involves the recently deceased rapper Biz Markie.
When the Diabolical Biz Markie died in July 2021, many publications made sure to emphasize that he was more than just a one hit wonder. Widely known for his big personality and sense of humor, the “Clown Prince of Hip Hop” (he once recorded a song about picking his nose called “Pickin’ Boogers” – either that or “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Gotta Boogie,” is the best song ever written about nose doo-doo) was a highly influential rapper who was beloved in hip hop circles and by his fans.
But the fact remains that most people only knew him by his big hit, 1989’s “Just a Friend.” A major reason why he never had another was because of a lawsuit that helped set a precedent in the then-grey area of sampling.(more…)
My latest feature examines sleazy, incompetent, and ethically-challenged lawyers in pop culture and how they are shaped by, and affect, public perception of the legal profession. This one was a lot of fun to write and report. I had a blast speaking to some of the creative minds behind Liar Liar, L.A. Law and Presumed Innocent.
Plus, we got some good timing, since the issue went to press the same month that Better Call Saul wrapped up its run on AMC. As such, it was a no-brainer to feature Saul Goodman on the cover and throughout the spread. With quotes like “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once convinced a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked, because I believed it!” and scenes like this one where he effortlessly explains money laundering in a way that could be used in law enforcement training videos, he really is the perfect cover-boy for a story about bad lawyers.
Unless you count this guy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fit my favorite bad lawyer into the story (it wasn’t for lack of trying, though). Maybe next time…
Late last month, NBC announced it was reviving the original Law & Order as a prime-time series.
The news came a month after my feature examining the show’s legacy in shaping our understanding of the criminal justice system hit the stands. Surely the folks at NBC and Wolf Entertainment read it and decided they had no choice but to bring it back, right?
So, you’re welcome! Now, if I only can get NBC to bring Ed back.
I’m not going to lie. This routine helped inspire the lede for my latest feature examining the impact of Law & Order and its various spinoffs on the criminal justice system. Maybe I’ll do another focusing just on SVU and how Ice-T always needs things explained to him.
At the ABA Journal, our most popular web post of all time is our “Top 25 Greatest Legal Movies” feature from 2008. I haven’t seen the stats, but apparently, it’s number one by a country mile. Kind of like how The Matrix is, far and away, the best movie in its trilogy or how Alec Baldwin is, without question, the most talented actor in his family.
So, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our most popular feature of all time, the lead feature of this month’s issue is an updated look at the list of greatest legal movies. Some movies from the last decade to be included are Spotlight, The Post and Marshall, while movies like Legally Blonde, Primal Fear and Michael Clayton made the cut this time after missing out on the original list. Also, some movies from the original list dropped out, including Philadelphia, Presumed Innocent, Chicago, In the Name of the Father, and the Al Pacino tour-de-force And Justice for All.
All of this got me thinking about a different Pacino legal drama. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) may not be remembered as his greatest film (if we’re being honest, it’s probably not even in the top half of his filmography), but it’s a fun, creative take on lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.(more…)
My latest cover story for the ABA Journal: The 50-year story of the Miranda warning has the twists and turns of a cop show.
Harry Potter, Hawaii Five-0
Alito teased Biden, Joe.
John Fogerty, CCR,
That suit went very far.
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page
Sued over “Stairway,” despite its age.
Robin Thicke and “Blurred Lines.”
Did Harrison copy “He’s So Fine?”
They had lawyers, they had fight
Accused of violating copyright.
Matrix, Seinfeld, New Girl too.
Don’t forget the 2 Live Crew.
Plaintiffs filing lots of suits,
Defendants argue they are moot
Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it,
Yeah. That lede got rejected. Oh well. I thought it was clever.
Now she’s got bad blood! And it’s not with Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj…
Containing not one but two references to “Insane in the Brain!” I couldn’t be prouder of myself. (subscription required)
This is it (mostly). The plaintiffs, Allgood Entertainment were wanna be starting something by suing Jackson’s estate and AEG. Both sides were getting ready for a thriller in court, but the judge handed down a decision that plaintiffs considered to be bad. Okay, I’ll stop since I’ve had enough.
From The American Lawyer: IP Supplement. My first feature. This one looks better in print, but it’s not a bad read online, either.
- Former Lawyer.
- Current Journalist/Writer/Editor.
- Author of "Nixon in New York: How Wall Street Helped Richard Nixon Win the White House," published in 2018.
- Husband, father and dog-lover.
- Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Manchester United supporter.
- Chicago via Pittsburgh, New York City and several others.
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