Sunday, March 26, 2006

Do you have to be Paul Newman to get any attention for your cause or proposed legislation?

Actors Give Face Time To Cause
March 25, 2006 By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Hartford Courant Capitol Bureau Chief

It wasn't your typical legislative hearing.

Spectators filled nearly every seat and lined the walls as a half-dozen television cameras panned the witnesses as they testified.

But these weren't your ordinary witnesses:

Three movie stars, led by state icon Paul Newman, came to push for a bill that would protect celebrities from having their images digitally exploited without their consent.

Friday afternoons are sometimes slow at the state Capitol as legislators and their aides ease into the weekend. But the presence of Newman, along with actor Christopher Plummer and actor and former cable talk-show host Charles Grodin, brought out the crowd.

Newman, in particular, was concerned about the huge advances in technology that could steal his image, which has been burnished nationally in high-profile movies and placed on Newman's Own food products.

The judiciary committee discussed the technology that burst into the public consciousness in the "Forrest Gump" movie, which placed actor Tom Hanks in scenes that only could have occurred decades earlier, such as meeting the late President Lyndon Johnson. The technology, however, has improved vastly since that 1994 movie.

"They could make a whole movie that looked like me, acted like me, sounded like me, but wasn't me," Newman told lawmakers Friday.

"Now that I think about it, they could do a porno flick."

The crowd burst into laughter.

"Technology is out there," Newman continued.

"The time to protect yourself is now."

The six-page bill would prohibit the commercial use of anyone's "name, voice, signature, photograph, image, likeness, distinctive appearance, gestures or mannerisms" without their permission.

Recognizing the First Amendment, the bill does not seek to stop political satire or stop look-alikes from impersonating well-known public figures such as President Bush. Saying he had no problem with impersonation, Grodin noted that actor Dana Carvey had impersonated him on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

"We're not talking about satirists and imitators," said Grodin, who was a guest host on the late-night show in 1977.

There is no federal law that would protect public figures whose images and photographs are misused. Instead, 19 states - including New York, California, and Florida - have adopted their own laws.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the problem could be addressed more simply with a federal law that would be uniform and nationwide in scope.

"There's no significant move at the federal level to do it," Blumenthal said.

Aside from the movie restrictions, for example, the bill would also cover anyone who tried to use Newman's likeness on a competing salad dressing that might be named Newman's Best instead of Newman's Own, Blumenthal said.

"In such cases of abuse, Connecticut statutory law fails to provide a clear basis to take legal action or collect damages," Blumenthal said.

"Under present law, Newman could sue, but all he could get would be some speculative damage."

The new law, if passed, would allow Newman to recover all the money that was made improperly through the unauthorized use of his image, Blumenthal said.

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* * * *

Do Legislators knowingly confirm judges that harm children?

Why should you care if a judicial nominee to a criminal and family court system never tried a criminal case and also has no family court experience is confirmed as a Judge by a Judicial Committee, that is more about back slapping and favors, than in actually serving and protecting the public?

The Italian and Jewish Mafia

Niggers and Second Class Citizens

With the Dream of Pediatric Prisons dancing in their heads

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