English Edition

The $ 1.2 trillion case: Oprah wins, the media loses

Yesterday Perez Hilton and the news agency WENN both reported that talk show queen Oprah Winfrey was sued by an unknown author named Damon Lloyd Goffe.

Mr. Goffe claims that Oprah stole material from him and published it under the name “Pieces of My Soul”. According to Goffe Oprah sold 650 million copies of the book for $20 a time, by which he concludes that he is owed $1.2 trillion.

But Perez Hilton and WENN weren’t the first to break the news: On Wednesday the “National Enquirer” reported about the case, using the prefix “Bombshell ENQUIRER.com WORLD EXCLUSIVE”.

Even though neither the “National Enquirer” nor Perez Hilton qualify as reliable sources, there is nothing wrong about the fact that Oprah got sued by Mr. Goffe. But there are a few striking details in his plaint and the reports about it.

The obvious one: If you multiply 650 million by 20, you end up with 13 billion. At least examiner.com realized this part.

The almost obvious one: 650 million copies?! There are only few books which sold more than 500 million copies, three in fact: The Bible, “Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong” by Mao Zedong and the Qur’an.

The strange one: The Internet holds no evidence about a book called “Pieces of My Soul” by Oprah Winfrey. Neither on oprah.com nor anywhere else. In fact, there’s literally no mention of the alleged bestseller before the Goffe v. Winfrey case got public.

And by the way: It looks like this case first got public on Monday when legal affairs blogger Michael Doyle wrote that the copyright infringement case had already been dismissed by Judge Lamberth. You can actually download the Memorandum Opinion as a PDF file.

To sum it up: The book doesn’t exist, the claims are ridiculous, and the case is already dismissed.

Damon Lloyd Goffe had already sued Oprah Winfrey in vain last year, demanding only $ 9.9 million back then. As Mr. Doyle points out in his blog, Mr. Goffe might be a bit … let’s say: special. In similar cases the plaintiff had claimed things like:

“My life is been recorded and broadcasted since 2003 via satellite/cable network Bravo/Bravo 2, whose parent company is NBC/Universal, as well as the internet under the title ‘the will smith show’ and previously ‘real world.'”

Now Mr. Goffe can truthfully declare that he was the subject of intense media coverage, for instance at the “Cleveland Leader”, msn.com, starpulse.com, NBC Chicago and the “Times of India”.

This article is based on the research I did for another article at BILDblog.de.

English Edition

An open letter to Jack White

The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” has become the number one anthem to be sung bei drunk people in Germany. Something needs to be done:

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English Edition

A hunger for unhealthy merchandise

I haven’t managed to see “High School Musical 3” yet (but I promise, I will).

Nevertheless I want to call your attention to an interview NPR conducted with Kenny Ortega, director of the “High School Musical” movies.

Confronted with the question what he’s thinking about all this “High School Musical” franchise (backpacks, bedclothes, key fobs, underwear, you name it …), he replied with a long, thoughtful sigh before he said:

Well, you know, that’s a tough one for me, you know. Those are the folks that give us the money to make the movies. And I would just say that it’s, you know, the parents just have to like … be the ones in charge. Disney’s gonna put out whatever they can put out. There’s a hunger for the merchandise, but I also think that, you know, at a certain point, it would be unhealthy to allow too much of it into an individual’s life.

I think his approach might have annoyed Disney as well as many parents, who have to explain to their children why they can’t have the HSM lunch box as well. But his approach seems pretty honest to me.

English Edition

National Public Radiohead

I really like NPR’s “All Songs Considered” and their “Live In Concert” podcast.

Right now you can listen to (and if you subscribe to the podcast: download) the show Radiohead gave at the end of their US tour on August 28th in Santa Barbara, CA.

Bob Boilen, who chose Radiohead over Barack Obama on that day, writes:

When I think of the best concerts I’ve seen, I always flash back to Pink Floyd in early 1972. […]

Radiohead’s show at the Santa Barbara Bowl came as close for musicianship and creativity as any show I’ve seen in 37 years. I’ve seen a lot of shows.

Even though I didn’t like Radiohead’s latest album “In Rainbows” that much, I’m already impressed by what was (amongst others) on the set list: “There There”, “Talk Show Host”, “Morning Bell”, “No Surprises”, “The Bends”, “Karma Police”, “Paranoid Android”, “Everything in Its Right Place”, “Lucky” and – the grand finale after more than two hours of songs – “Idioteque”.

Click here to listen to Radiohead, live at Santa Barbara Bowl.

[via twitter]

English Edition

I hope that it got into you

This is a story about a song.

In 2001, one year after my favourite band Ben Folds Five had disbanded, I found the final three new songs they had ever presented live on the Internet: “The Secret Life Of Morgan Davis”, a swinging pop-tune, reappeared as a b-side to Folds’ first solo single “Rockin’ The Suburbs” later that year. “Prince Charming”, written and sung by bass-player Robert Sledge, was included on the first (and only) EP his follow-up-band International Orange released in 2004. The third one which I had always liked the most, stayed missing: “Amelia Bright”, written by Darren Jessee who had been the drummer of Ben Folds Five (the amazing ballad “Magic” on the band’s final record was also his tune).

Darren Jessee (photo by Debora Francis)In 2004 I found out there was Hotel Lights, Darren’s new band where he now writes the songs, plays the guitar and the piano and sings. I listened to a few of their songs that were available online and wrote an email to Darren. I wrote him that I loved the music of Hotel Lights, but asked him what had happened to “Amelia Bright”. Darren replied that a lot of people had asked him that question and we stayed in touch. He sent me a copy of Hotel Lights’ self-titled debut album, CT das radio, the college radio station I was working for back then in Bochum, Germany probably became the first European radio station to ever play the band and whenever I met someone who was working for the music industry I told him about Hotel Lights (I’ve only done this twice, the other band being Kilians who had more luck in achieving a record deal in Germany.) In 2006, Hotel Lights released an EP called “Goodnightgoodmorning” which came up with beautiful folk-based pop songs once more. You might have listened to their song “A.M. Slow Golden Hit” on “Grey’s Anatomy” without knowing it.

A few weeks ago I learned that Hotel Lights would release a new album called “Firecracker People” – and on their MySpace site I stumbled across their version of “Amelia Bright” at last. I don’t know whether it’s because I had already loved the song for seven years, but it’s beauty literally struck me. It was even better than the version Ben Folds Five had done – probably because this time the singer was the man who had written the song: Darren Jessee.

Even though “Amelia Bright” sticks out of “Firecracker People” (and was used as a trigger for this article by me so inelegantly), the other songs are by no means worse. The music of Hotel Lights reminds me of artists like Ron Sexsmith, Josh Rouse and Sparklehorse (Alan Weatherhead of Sparklehorse co-produced the record and played the guitar). It sounds autumnally, melancholic and peaceful to me and I imagine driving through small American towns and into deserted landscapes – images Darren Jessee says he’s okay with.

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HOTEL LIGHTS “Blue Always Finds Me” from Firecracker People on Vimeo.

Click here to read a full-length interview with Darren Jessee of Hotel Lights.

Hotel Lights - Firecracker People (Album cover)
Hotel Lights – Firecracker People

Release date: August 19, 2008
Label: Bar/None