Published September 11, 2003
The inevitable has happened: The Beatles have sued Steve Jobs over Apple iTunes and the Apple iPod -- at least the band's company, Apple Corps., has sued Apple Computers.
The case was apparently filed a short time ago in London's High Court of Justice, but was just served on Apple Computers in California in the last couple of days. Although details from the court papers aren't yet available, the gist of the breach of contract suit is as follows.
When Apple Computers first came into existence, the Beatles' lawyers sued -- and won -- over the use of the corporate name. The Fab Four, it was widely known, already had their own company called Apple Corps. (Ironically, Jobs admitted to naming his company as a tribute to the Beatles.) The result of the suit was a huge cash settlement and a promise that the Apple logo and name would only be used for computers -- and never for a music company.
Several years later, when computers starting having music come through attachable speakers, the Beatles again sued and won, this time over breach of a trademark agreement since Apple Computers had agreed to steer clear of the music business. Their winnings against Apple Computers have come to an estimated $50 million so far.
When Jobs announced the iPod portable music player and companion music site iTunes, this column was the first to mention that the computer company could be in serious violation of its agreement with the Beatles. Now it appears that the Beatles' lawyers, Eversheds of London, are in agreement.
"When it first happened with the iPod, we said, "What could they be thinking?" said a Beatles legal insider, who agreed that posters announcing the iPod from "AppleMusic" were among the most egregious violations. "They knew we had the agreement, and that we'd won a lot of money from them already."
A call by this column to Apple Computers' legal counsel, Nancy Heinen, was refused this afternoon. But my Beatles source said, "It's OK with us if they want to go this route. It's just more money for us."
The rumors are rampant: They got married on Monday. They'll never get married at all. Two weeks ago, Ben's friends staged an "intervention" to convince him not to marry J-Lo.
Yes. It's the second anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, and all people can talk about is the impending marriage of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. We've learned a lot, haven't we?
And the rumors keep coming. Now I'm told that they were married on Sept. 7 and we'll be hearing about it shortly. Ben even wore what looked like a wedding band when he threw a ball out at Fenway Park last week. We'll tuck that one away.
This much I do know of America's most-fixated-upon celebrity couple: Last night they had dinner at The Ivy in West Hollywood, specifically to allay rumors that they had broken up. It was on advice of their advisers. Pictures should already be running of this monumental event, and "Access Hollywood's" Pat O'Brien will no doubt have the breathless "exclusive" spoon-fed by publicists.
And: the couple asked Miramax for a print of Stephen Frears' movie "Dirty Pretty Things" to screen at home.
The word about this ill-fated couple is that Affleck's friends and family have been trying to talk him out of this wedding circus for a couple of weeks. Adding to the strain has been the absence of Affleck's best pal Matt Damon, who's in Prague making a movie.
"He was just getting ready to leave for California when he got the call," another friend told me yesterday.
Even though all of Damon's family from the Boston area were invited as well, it still seems a bit strange that Matt has been absent from the preparations. Ben's brother, Casey, the nominal best man, has been busy with the wedding details.
So now what? If the couple isn't already married, as some conspiracy theorists posit, they will be shortly. One friend says the plan now is "an elopement followed by a party. Listen, they couldn't even secure the church in Santa Barbara things were so bad."
The couple is said to be mystified by the intense tabloid press scrutiny of their relationship, too. "When they saw the countdown in USA Today, they knew it was bad," this friend, who was invited and then uninvited along with everyone else, reports.
And yes, Usama bin Laden is still at large, the weapons of mass destruction have not been found and everyone's still fighting over plans for Ground Zero, lest we forget all the pronouncements from two years ago about how "serious" everyone was going to be from now on.
Wasn't it only yesterday that the legendary Hollywood star Lauren Bacall was giving Cate Blanchett advice on how to play Katharine Hepburn?
Now she's whispering in Nicole Kidman's ear. Bacall was Kidman's "date" last night for the star-studded premiere of Robert Benton's "The Human Stain." Co-star Anthony Hopkins was absent, however. Why?
"He has a problem with his house in Los Angeles," said a rep.
What kind of problem? Well, you know, the kind that happens when your house is built on stilts or in the path of an annual disaster. It's a California thing.
But back to Bacall and Kidman, who became pals when they shot the movie "Dogville" last year in Denmark with director Lars von Trier. Neither one of them has gotten over that one; they lived with rest of the cast in a dormitory.
Now Kidman has returned, and made first a film called "Birth" and then "Stepford Wives," which is still shooting. How's it going?
"It's better," Kidman said, alluding to set problems previously reported. "I think I'm funny in it. I hope I am."
She is not funny in "The Human Stain." Indeed, Kidman pulls off another tricky piece of tour de force dramatic acting. The better-than-average film is extremely moving and well done -- not the best movie of the year, but extraordinarily well done.
It's a relief to see Hopkins return to his "Remains of the Day" self, eschewing Hannibalisms. The secondary players Anna Deavere Smith and Gary Sinise are spot on, and newcomers Wentworth Miller and Jacinda Barrett are getting all kinds of good buzz.
"The Human Stain," which is based on a Philip Roth novel, is not easy. But director Robert Benton, who is one of Hollywood's great artists, has made an engrossing, intelligent film that will have theatergoers in post-screening debates for weeks to come.
Roth, who hasn't been adapted to film very much since the early days of "Goodbye Columbus" and "Portnoy's Complaint," now has two more of his novels on the way as well. As for Benton, he's preparing to direct one of the best novels of all time, John O'Hara's "Appointment in Samarra."