By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jared Kushner, who was a senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump, plans to write a book about his White House experiences, including his role in negotiating normalization deals between Israel and Arab states, a source familiar with his plans said on Wednesday. The book will focus heavily on the Middle East and the Israeli deals he helped to negotiate with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, known collectively as the Abraham Accords, the source said. It will also address prison reform, trade deals, the U.S. relationship with China ...
Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's bid to have two charges of sexual assault against a woman thrown out was rejected by a Los Angeles judge Thursday.
Weinstein, already convicted of rape in New York, was extradited last week to the California city where he once towered over the movie industry, but now stands accused of the rape and sexual assault of a total of five women.
Judge Lisa Lench dismissed the defense's claim that an alleged rape and oral copulation by force of a woman in a hotel room between 2004 and 2005 fell outside the statute of limitations.
But the judge sustained a similar defense argument involving an allegation of sexual battery against another woman in 2010, ordering prosecutors to amend their charge for it to proceed.
Weinstein's attorney Mark Werksman told journalists outside the court following Thursday's hearing that "one-fifth of the prosecution's case has been gutted."
A pretrial hearing in the case is set for September 13.
"Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love" producer Weinstein, 69, is already serving 23 years in jail in New York.
He has denied 11 Los Angeles charges that, if convicted, could see him jailed for an additional 140 years.
Widespread sexual abuse and harassment allegations against Weinstein exploded in 2017, triggering the global #MeToo movement. In total, nearly 90 women including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek have accused Weinstein of harassment or assault.
Weinstein has said all his sexual encounters were consensual.
His lawyers attempted to block the extradition to Los Angeles on medical grounds, and a judge has granted a new medical examination.
Werksman last week told reporters that Weinstein -- who attended both Los Angeles hearings in a wheelchair -- is unable to walk due to a spinal condition.
The family of Henrietta Lacks -- a Black woman whose cells, harvested without her knowledge, were used for several medical breakthroughs -- announced plans Thursday to sue the big pharmaceutical giants that profited from those discoveries.
In 1951, the 31-year-old Lacks, a mother of five, died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
During attempts to treat her, cells from her tumor had been taken and transmitted to a researcher without her knowledge -- and used for decades without her family's knowledge.
"For far too long, the Lacks family has been exploited, the Lacks family has been taken advantage of. And we say no, no longer. No more," her grandson Alfred Carter said.
"So pharmaceutical companies: you are on notice."
The Lacks family has retained prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the relatives of many African Americans killed in incidents with police, including the loved ones of George Floyd.
"Black life must be valued in America," Crump said, announcing he would file a complaint on October 4 to mark the 70th anniversary of the disputed samples.
Lacks' cells, dubbed HeLa cells, have enabled laboratories around the world to develop vaccines -- especially against polio -- as well as cancer treatments and certain cloning techniques, an industry worth billions of dollars.
Her family first discovered how Lacks had helped medical science in the 1970s, and only understood her legacy thanks to Rebecca Skloot, who wrote the 2010 best-seller "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."
"They treated her like a specimen, like a lab rat," her granddaughter Kimberly Lacks said.
Crump's colleague Christopher Seeger said the complaint would target any company that had "profited from the use" of the cells and had not reached an agreement to compensate the family.
Neither Crump nor Seeger named specific companies expected to figure in the legal action.
In 2013, Lacks' descendants did reach a deal with Johns Hopkins University for two family members to sit on a committee responsible for authorizing future uses of HeLa cells. But the agreement did not include compensation.
Johns Hopkins Hospital says that it has never sold or benefited from the discovery or distribution of HeLa cells, and does not own the rights to them.
Scarlett Johansson is suing Disney over its decision to release superhero movie "Black Widow" on streaming at the same time as in theaters, alleging a breach of contract which cost the star millions of dollars.
Johansson, one of Hollywood's biggest and top-paid stars, was entitled to a percentage of box office receipts from the much-anticipated Marvel film, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday at Los Angeles Superior Court.
The film was originally due for a big-screen release last year, but was delayed multiple times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was eventually released this month simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+.
Box office analysts have cited the film's streaming debut as a major factor in a lackluster -- by Marvel film standards -- release for a film that has grossed just over $150 million in domestic theaters in three weeks.
"It's no secret that Disney is releasing films like Black Widow directly onto Disney+ to increase subscribers and thereby boost the company's stock price -- and that it's hiding behind Covid-19 as a pretext to do so," said Johansson's attorney John Berlinski in a statement to AFP.
"This will surely not be the last case where Hollywood talent stands up to Disney and makes it clear that, whatever the company may pretend, it has a legal obligation to honor its contracts," he added.
A spokesperson for Disney -- which owns superhero movie powerhouse Marvel Studios -- dismissed the lawsuit, telling AFP in a statement that Disney had not breached any contract and that "there is no merit whatsoever to this filing."
"The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic," it said.
'Keep the revenues'
Like many Hollywood studios, Disney is increasingly prioritizing streaming as a source of future revenue -- a process accelerated by the closure of movie theaters upon the arrival of the pandemic in spring 2020.
Following the film's opening weekend, Disney issued a press release claiming "Black Widow" had earned "over $60M" on Disney+ alone, where it was available to subscribers at an additional $30 cost.
Johansson's lawsuit says that to "protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the Picture would be a 'theatrical release,'" which she understood to mean it would not appear on streaming until a traditional "window" of time had elapsed.
But "Disney wanted to lure the Picture's audience away from movie theatres and towards its owned streaming service, where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney's stock price," it alleges.
"Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson's agreement and thereby enrich itself," it adds.
The Disney spokesperson said the company "has fully complied with Ms. Johansson's contract" and that the Disney+ streaming release "has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date."
The issue of compensation linked to box office receipts is a growing concern in streaming-focused Hollywood, where such deals for top A-listers are common.
Rival studio Warner Bros was slammed last year for a similar decision to release all of its 2021 movies simultaneously in theaters and on its HBO Max platform.
Warner renegotiated many of its deals with stars and filmmakers, reportedly paying out $200 million to compensate for the loss of box office earnings.
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