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Kevin Spacey Trial Opens As Harvey Weinstein, Danny Masterson, & Paul Haggis’ Sex Crimes Cases Head To Court

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(2:10 PM PT, updated with Spacey trial opening statements & new Haggis trial start date) Opening statements have begun in Kevin Spacey’s trial over sex abuse claims by Star Trek Discovery’s Anthony Rapp. The proceedings in a New York federal courtroom come as Harvey Weinstein, Danny Masterson and Paul Haggis all face sex crimes trials of their own starting over the next week or so.

After an extremely brisk jury selection this morning in District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s Manhattan courtroom, Keller Anderle lawyers for Spacey, and Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigma attorneys for Rapp will present the starting salvos of their case to the six men and six women chosen to serve. First filed by Rapp in 2020 over claims he made public in October 2017, the $40 million civil case alleges that back in 1986 Spacey fondled and trapped the then 14-year-old on the defendant’s bed without his consent at a theatre party. Quickly pink-slipped from his starring role in Netflix’s acclaimed House of Cards when further sexual misconduct allegations emerged on the political thriller, Oscar winner Spacey denied Rapp’s claims and clumsily used the occasion to reveal he was gay in what was widely seen as a failed attempt at distraction.

The trial is centered on Rapp’s claims of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Already facing a sexual assault trial in the UK set for June 2023, and under duress to pay up $31 million awarded to HoC producers MRC back in late 2020 because his behavior constituted a material breach of his acting and executive producing agreements, Spacey is expected to testify in his own defense in the NYC trial.

Rapp will also likely take the stand.

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(Opening statements: Remarkably the opening statements Thursdays presented not just two different perspectives on what occurred in Spacey’s NYC apartment over 35 years ago, but basically two different realities.

For Rapp’s attorney Peter Saghir, the matter was pretty cut and dry. “What happened to Anthony is something that never should have happened,” the lawyer told the judge and jury. “The conduct here involved a 14-year-old boy and a 26-year-old man,” Saghir added, showing a photo of Rapp back in 1986 to emphasis how young the actor looked and was. After detailing the incident and drawing from an earlier deposition of Rapp’s, Saghir exclaimed that as his client tried to get out of Spacey’s pad, the old actor leaned over the doorway and asked, “are you sure you want to go?”

On the other side of the courtroom, as Spacey himself looked on, the American Beauty actor’s attorney Jennifer Keller derided Rapp as jealous, untruthful and unreliable. “He never became the international star that Kevin Spacey did,” Keller said, outlining her position that the incident was not only made up but parts of it were lifted from Precious Sons, the Broadway production he was featured in back in 1986. “He has been simmering and simmering with resentment all this time,” the attorney said of Rapp, mockingly claiming he peaked in 2000 when the actor stared in Rent. Keller also went after Rapp for allegedly spreading the story about Spacy for years but never going to the authorities or mentioning it publicly. The attorney additionally went on to claim that the apartment Spacey lived in where the alleged misconduct occurred was so small that Rapp’s depiction of events could not have happened.

“This is a case of objective facts refuting the tale that Mr. Rapp tells,” Keller told the jurors in a trial that looks like it could be wrapped up in a week at this pace.)

Also now facing sexual assault claims in Europe, Crash director Haggis was set to start a trial of his own in New York City on October 11. Film publicist Haleigh Breest claimed in 2017 that Haggis assaulted her in 2013 after the two attended the premiere of the film Side Effects. After various efforts by Haggis to have the matter tossed out, NYC judge ruled in mid-2018 that the case could proceed, but the Covid-19 pandemic saw the matter put on hold until next week.

The trial start date has now been pushed slightly to October 17, after a series of motions from Haggis’ side were denied at a pre-trial hearing today.

Taking place not far from the federal courthouse where Spacey’s trial is, the much-delayed proceeding for fellow Oscar winner Haggis will be based in Judge Sabrina Kraus’ courtroom in the Manhattan Civil Courthouse. Out of house arrest in Italy for the alleged repeated sexual abuse of an unnamed woman he supposedly met in April at the Monte Carlo Film Festival, Haggis has always insisted that the interaction with Breest was consensual. The former Scientologist has also floated the idea that the accusations are part of a harassment campaign by his ex-Church. Judge Krause has agreed to let Haggis and his lawyers develop their notion in the trial.

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Over on the West Coast, the Weinstein and Masterson trials will be before separate juries in downtown L.A. at separate ends of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center’s ninth floor next week.

Stewing behind bars for over a year since being extradited from a state prison outside Buffalo in the summer of 2021, the already East Coast convicted Pulp Fiction producer is up against grand jury indictments of four counts of rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, one count of sexual penetration by use of force, plus one count of sexual battery by restraint and sexual battery in incidents involving five women in L.A. County over a nine-year period. Sentenced to 23-years in prison by a Manhattan jury in March 2020 for multiple sex crimes, Weinstein faces 140 years imprisonment if found guilty in the L.A. trial – which is literally starting close to the fifth anniversary of the New York Times exposé on Weinstein that is widely credited with beginning the #MeToo movement.

However, this being the real world and not Law & Order, jury selection in the Weinstein L.A. trial is sure to be contentious. Sources among both the defense and prosecutors anticipate it could take well over a week before a jury acceptable to both sides is seated in Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench’s courtroom.

Having failed over and over to get the West Coast case dismissed or halted, the 70-year-old Weinstein has seen a ray of hope emerge back in New York in recent months. In August, Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, granted Weinstein the right to appeal his New York case. Oral arguments on whether the producer received a fair trial in 2020 will commence in early 2023, the judge said.  There is, in fact, a slim chance that Weinstein could be released from his East Coast sentence while the NYC appeal moves forward and matters in L.A. continue.

Unlike the Weinstein case, Masterson’s DTLA October 11 starting trial will more than likely seat a jury relatively expediently.

Still, in a process that could run close to Christmas, the former That ‘70s’ Show star’s trial could have consequences far outside the courtroom.

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Masterson, a longtime Scientologist, was arrested in June 2020 on three counts of forcible rape that allegedly occurred in 2001 and 2003 at his Hollywood Hills home. Out on $3.3 million bail, the Tom Mesereau-defended Masterson is looking at a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison if found guilty. Masterson, who was subsequently dropped from Netflix’s Ashton Kutcher co-starring comedy The Ranch at the end of 2017 as claims became known, has always denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

In many ways the Church of Scientology is an unnamed co-defendant in the Masterson case.

The David Miscavige-led organization was unsuccessful earlier this week in having the Supreme Court wade into the group’s desire to stop several former members of the church and alleged Masterson victims from taking them to court on claims of surveillance, harassment and the killing of pets. The now revived lawsuit from four women who have claimed they were targeted by Scientology after going to the LAPD with their claims against the actor is on hold pending Masterson’s criminal case. Yet, with the behind closed doors “religious arbitration” effort shot down by SCOTUS, and former Scientologists among the victims in Masterson’s trial, the methods and potential complicity of the celebrity rich Church will now be under the judicial and media spotlight almost as much as the actor himself.

Whatever the outcomes of the respective Spacey, Haggis, Weinstein, and Masterson cases, this will not end with these trials. Regardless of the verdicts, expect appeals, a lot of them.



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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