Entertainment Firm Owes Fees in Spat With Client

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge ordered a company offering services to aspiring television creators to pay $50,000 in attorney fees in its ongoing case against a disgruntled customer.
     In early 2014, New Show Studios of Pittsburgh sued former employee Jimm Needle and New Show client Greg Howe in Federal Court claiming, among other things, that Howe had falsely accused New Show president Anthony Valkanas of a double homicide.
     Less gravely, Howe had asked Needle to help him “sabotage” the company by stealing its client list and trade secrets to divert customers to another company called Television Writer’s Vault, the company alleged.
     In a June 30 order, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder dismissed all counts against Howe and Needle except a claim for trade secret misappropriation. The following month, Howe and Needle refiled a motion to strike parts of New Show Studio’s amended complaint on free speech grounds.
     Snyder granted in part the anti-SLAPP special motion to strike late last year. In a March 20 order, the judge awarded Howe and Needle $49,696 in fees and costs.
     On its website, New Show Studios says it partners with an “exclusive licensing agent” called SFM Entertainment which has supposedly worked with ABC, CBS, Fox, HBO and MTV.
     Though the website includes testimonials from satisfied customers, the company does not specify if it has secured any deals for its clients.
     New Show Studios charges $495 for its service, plus a 10 percent commission on any sale, according to the website, and typically charges $8,000 to $12,000 for the reel, which includes a DVD, brochure and packaging.
     Howe took umbrage with the company after it asked him to make a reel for his project, New Show alleged in its February 19, 2014 court filing.
     He wrote “hostile” emails to the studio, it claims, and posted defamatory comments on the websites scambook.com, complaintsboard.com and YouTube, accusing New Show of defrauding clients and running a Ponzi scheme.
     New Show also claimed Howe had accused Valkanas of committing a double homicide.
     In court filings New Show says the claim false.
     “Years ago, Valkanas was present in a ski-resort condominium when a fire broke out in the condominium above him. He awoke the other persons staying in the condominium and exited to safety. Two other persons were caught in the fire and perished,” the lawsuit states. “Family members of the deceased sued the building owners, the persons in the condominium above, the builder, Valkanas, and others. Valkanas was never investigated for murder or homicide by anyone, and the negligence lawsuit against him was eventually dismissed.”
     Last month, New Show Studios filed a third amended complaint for false light invasion of privacy, trade secret misappropriation, defamation per se, copyright infringement, and trademark infringement.

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