AFTRA Retirement Fund Reaches Pension and Health Settlement. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $150 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists Retirement Fund and other investors over losses incurred in the midst of the global financial crisis.
The settlement was disclosed in recent filings with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The settlement allows the parties to "avoid the risks and costs associated with trial, as well as potential years of continued litigation on appeal," the plaintiffs said in court documents.
If approved by the court, the settlement would end litigation that began in 2009, when AFTRA's pension fund sued JPMorgan, alleging the firm improperly handled the fund's investments in a securites loan program operated by Sigma Finance Corp., an investment fund created by Gordian Knot Ltd. in London, which collapsed in October 2008. The suit alleged that JPMorgan Chase lost a "substantial portion" in cash collateral in medium-term notes issued by Sigma Finance.
Creditors seized more than $25 billion of Sigma's $27 billion in assets in September and October 2008, leaving about $1.9 billion as security for about $6.2 billion of outstanding medium-term notes.
JPMorgan "buried its head in the sand and refused to heed warnings signs" that the company would not be able to repay its notes, according to the complaint. AFTRA was joined in the suit by pension plans for the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority and the Imperial County Employees Retirement System.
A preliminary hearing on the settelment has been scheduled for June 4.
Representatives of the AFTRA Retirement Fund declined to comment on the settlement or how much of the $150 million it would receive. AFTRA represents about 70,000 actors, dancers, singers and other performers. The unions members are voting this month on whether to merge with the larger Screen Actors Guild.
Photo: Michael Lynton and wife Jamie. Credit: Stefanie Keenan
Sony shake up puts Linton atop all entertainment. Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton will be promoted to chief executive of Sony Corp. of America in a management shuffle that gives him oversight of the entertainment and electronics giant's music businesses, people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly have confirmed.
The change, expected to be announced shortly, comes amid changes at the top of Sony Corp.'s headquarters in Tokyo, where Kaz Hirai will succeed Howard Stringer as chief executive on April 1. Stringer also had the title that Lynton will assume as head of Sony Corp. of America.
Lynton's ascension signals that he will be Hirai's top lieutenant in the U.S. overseeing all of the company's entertainment businesses, except for video games. That unit, as well as Sony's U.S. electronics operations, will continue to report directly to Tokyo. Hirai started his career in music and spent the past 17 years in top roles at Sony's video game unit.
Lynton will continue to be based at Sony Pictures' Culver City lot, even though Sony Corp. of America is headquartered in New York. He has run the movie and television studio since 2004, alongside co-chairwoman Amy Pascal, after previously working elsewhere in the film, Internet and publishing businesses. He has no experience in music.
Under the new structure, Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, which sells recorded music to consumers, and Martin Bandier, CEO of the Sony/ATV music publishing division, will report to Lynton.
Nicole Seligman, who is currently executive vice president and general counsel of Sony Corp. of America, will be named president of SCA and run its business operations under Lynton, the people close to the matter confirmed.
Rob Wiesenthal, SCA's chief financial officer, may transition to a new role at Sony/ATV rather than staying in his current position and working with Lynton.
The corporate changes were first reported by the New York Post and Financial Times.
The Skinny: Apparently I'm not the only one who keeps track of how many times the word "vagina" is used on the CBS sitcom "Two Broke Girls." A media watchdog group has also been keeping tabs. Wednesday's headlines also include how North Carolina is looking to capitalize on "The Hunger Games" and how reruns of "The Big Bang Theory" are paying off big time for TBS.
Photo: "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate.
Hungry for more. With "The Hunger Games" expected to do huge business when it opens this weekend, North Carolina, the state where the movie was shot, is hoping to benefit as well. “It shows the industry that North Carolina can handle these large films and that we have the talent and resources to make it work," said Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office. Before "The Hunger Games," North Carolina's biggest movie credits included "Dirty Dancing" and "The Last of the Mohicans." Currently, Showtime's "Homeland" shoots there and later this year "Iron Man 3" will film there as well. More on North Carolina's plans to woo Hollywood from the Los Angeles Times.
Daily Dose: Eagle-eyed watchers of the television spots for the upcoming "American Pie" sequel "American Reunion" have noticed that a bikini bottom in one of the commercials is actually a "green screen," which is Hollywood lingo for fake. Look closely at the girl with the red string top and green bottom that looks more like a piece of green cardboard hung over her backside. Now I'll have to see the movie just to find out what she was really wearing. Yes, it's a slow morning.
Even an iPad has its limits.
Brandon Wells got the new iPad last Friday, started wirelessly streaming March Madness games the next day and by Saturday night was out of gas. Two hours of college basketball—which he viewed mounted to his car dashboard and live at tournament games—had burned through his monthly wireless data allotment of two gigabytes.
Now, to keep surfing the Web or watch more NCAA hoops over Verizon Wireless's 4G network, Mr. Wells will have to pay an extra $10 for every gigabyte above his current $30 subscription.
It has been only five days since users of Apple Inc.'s AAPL -0.57% newest iPad first took the device out of the box. Some are now finding just how quickly the promise of superfast wireless connections collides with the reality of what those services cost.
The new version of Apple's iPad apparently has a a big appetite when it comes to eating through wireless data. The Wall Street Journal said consumers may have to pay more to get larger data plans to watch a lot of video. The opening anecdote is about a guy named Brandon Wells who used up his monthly data plan after watching just two hours of the NCAA basketball tournament. That may sound disturbing to new iPad owners but even more disturbing was that Wells apparently attached the iPad to his car's dashboard to watch the games. Yeah, that sounds safe.
'Big Bang' getting big results. When TBS shelled out $1.5 million per episode for reruns of the CBS comedy "The Big Bang Theory," some were shaking their heads. But now "The Big Bang Theory" is helping to boost TBS' ratings and has turned into a valuable promotional platform for the network's other shows including Conan O'Brien's late night program. Vulture looks at the amazing success of "The Big Bang Theory."
Telling tales. Hollywood is embracing fairy tales. Besides the ABC series "Once Upon a Time" and NBC's "Grimm," new movies "Mirror, Mirror" and “Snow White and the Huntsman" are also looking to children's classics for material. More on the trend from the New York Times.
Yahoo lands big fish. Internet web portal Yahoo continues to make splashy deals in its efforts to build a programming powerhouse. Anthony Zuiker, creator of CBS' "CSI" franchise, has signed on with Yahoo to create a crime drama called "Cybergeddon." Previously, Yahoo landed Tom Hanks to produce an animated series called "Electric City." More on the deal from Variety.
Ellen vs. JLo. Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Lopez have more in common than being judges on "American Idol." Both are featured in ad campaigns getting lots of play. DeGeneres is shilling for JCPenney while Lopez has been hawking Fiats and more recently a clothing line from Kohl's. Ad Age compares the two women's marketing prowess and decides that while Lopez may be better on "American Idol," DeGeneres is stronger on Madison Avenue.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: You're not imagining things; the words penis and vagina are popping up more and more in prime time television.
-- Joe Flint
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