Entertainment Weekly - Michael C. Donaldson, Disney, Escape From Tomrrow
A Horror Flick Sneaks Into Disney ''Escape From Tomorrow'' was secretly filmed inside theme parks, but why isn't Disney suing? BY CLARK COLLIS
What if your family vacation at the Magic Kingdom turned into a phantasmagorical nightmare? That’s the premise of Escape From Tomorrow, an indie secretly shot at Disney World and Disneyland. Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Randy Moore, Escape suggests that the theme parks’ princesses moonlight as prostitutes and the animatronic puppets on the It’s a Small World ride are really fanged devil dolls. Given Disney’s protectiveness of its family-friendly brand, how is this movie breezing into theaters and onto VOD on Oct. 11 instead of drowning in lawsuits? Because the film falls under parody, according to Michael C. Donaldson, the lawyer who vetted the movie. “This film is a parody of Disney, Disney parks, everything Disney,” he says. “Disney presents itself as ‘the happiest place on earth,’ and this film is saying that that ain’t always true.” Disney’s silence on the issue (which includes not responding to EW’s request for comment) has robbed the film of the publicity a legal tussle would attract. But Moore says he’s happy not to have heard a squeak from Mickey. “People think we wanted to be sued,” he says. “But the prospect of spending years in court is not something that interests me.”
The New York Times, Stacy Littlejohn
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Entertainment Tonight, Michelle Stafford, Kelly Preston
Spontaneity for Hire: Flash Mobs Go Corporate Companies Hire Dancers to Break Out in Public; Shimmying for Shoes, Chicken
Flash Mob America, which stages events at corporate conferences and trade shows, began in 2009 after a group of friends put on a flash-mob tribute to Michael Jackson, which went viral. Requests to stage more mobs flooded in, says Staci Lawrence, co-founder of Flash Mob America. "We never intended to set up a business, but we weren't going to deny the demand for it," she says.
Commercialization is a part of the movement's evolution, says Ms. Lawrence, who says the company hires hundreds of dancers a year to participate in corporate flash mobs. "We feel fortunate to be in the position to create jobs."
At a gathering of pharmaceutical-marketing executives in Las Vegas last year, attendees saw Flash Mob America in action. The keynote speaker, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was running late, someone announced. A replacement speaker took the stage, but he dropped his notes and hit his face on the microphone, drawing audio feedback.
"My stomach sunk," says Jeffrey Neil, a conference attendee. Suddenly, music started blasting and the speaker, along with dancers who had been disguised as conference goers, all started dancing. It was 8 a.m.
"It was a full on disco," says Cris Andreson, another attendee.
The flash mob was a way "to get our clients excited so that they would tweet or discuss it on LinkedIn," says Elizabeth Marshall, vice president of marketing for Decision Resources Group, which organized the conference. The company paid Flash Mob America $35,000 for the production, she says.
After the hoopla, Mr. Giuliani came to the stage. "That's a flash mob?" he asked the crowd, stressing the word mob. "I thought I put them in jail," he said, according to a YouTube video of the affair. Mr. Giuliani didn't respond to a request for comment.
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Law Firms Specializing in Independent Film Will Team Up as Affiliates
Two law firms specializing in independent filmmaking, Donaldson & Callif and Gray Krauss Stratford Sandler Des Rochers, are teaming up as affiliates.
Gray Krauss, a 12-lawyer firm based in New York that worked on projects such as “Black Swan” and “Precious,” will join with Donaldson & Callif, which has five attorneys in Beverly Hills and has represented projects from such directors as Oliver Stone, Davis Guggenheim and Lawrence Bender.
The two firms already have collaborated on projects such as “The Crash Reel” and “The Short Game,” which was Netflix first original documentary.
Each firm will retain its name but will share services.
The two firms’ clients have 25 films in this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Gray Krauss founding partner Jonathan Gray and Donaldson & Callif’s Michael Donaldson said that they affiliation will give them a presence on both coasts.
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Jennifer Freeman’s Daughter Isabella Turns Two
Happy birthday Isabella Amour Watson! Jennifer Freeman‘s daughter turned two with a party at The Coop, held Saturday in Studio City, Calif. The My Wife and Kids star, 26, planned a princesses and pirate theme for the bash, which featured a ball pit with slide, bouncer, dance floor, as well as an appearance by Cinderella, who painted the children’s faces.
Guests — including Lauren London, Khadijah McCray, Cara Mia Wayans, Brooklyn Sudano and Melanie Hervey — nibbled on salads from Charlie’s Pantry while the kids enjoyed pizza. Capping off the party, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” before Isabella blew out the candles on her princess cake and enjoyed a cupcake cone from The Sugar Fairy Bake Shop.
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Michael Donaldson Donaldson & Callif One of the fiercest advocates for documentary filmmakers and an expert on fair use law, Donaldson knows as well as anyone how much of a copyrighted work can be used without paying a license (although the answer, as he'll tell you, is that no one knows for sure). He handled this year's best documentary Oscar winner Inside Job as well as eight docs at Sundance. And he published the American Bar Association's legal guide for independent filmmakers. He's now helping British directors Richard Finney and Anthony Baxter make a documentary about Donald Trump's efforts to build a golf complex in Scotland that many believe is negatively impacting the locals. "I'm helping them through the insurance process and dealing with claims," he says. "It's the old David vs. Goliath situation. I'm always up for that, if David is right and speaking the truth."
The Huffington Post, Daphne Wayans, mother, MWPR
Shape Magazine, Staci Lawrence
Rolling Stone, India, Aditya Kalyanpur, Larry Coryell, MWPR