Zola Mashariki
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Viacom Moves To Dismiss Ex-BET Exec's "Shotgun Pleading" In Discrimination Lawsuit

Zola Mashariki's departure is at the center of a dispute in California federal court.

Not enough facts to support a legal claim. Too many facts to provide a concise and clear summary of wrongdoing. Those are the two argumentative strategies that defendants generally use in attempting to dismiss a complaint at the outset of a lawsuit when judges are beholden to accept the truth of a plaintiff's allegations. In moving to reject claims made by Zola Mashariki, formerly the head of originals at Black Entertainment Television, her ex-employer has opted to contend she's asserting too much without direction in what is being described as a "shotgun pleading."

Mashariki filed suit earlier this month, alleging that BET "fosters a good old boys’ club atmosphere" where the "misogynistic culture ... begins at the top," and that her employment was terminated unfairly while she was on leave for breast cancer. In her suit, she raises concerns about pay disparity, mistreatment of women in meetings, advancement decisions and a lack of credit. She also describes the alleged derogatory comments and intimidation she faced from former president of programming Stephen Hill and accuses BET of not treating it seriously enough and later, tarnishing her reputation in comments to the press.

The lawsuit asserts causes of action for gender discrimination, hostile workplace, violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, Violation of the Equal Pay Act, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, defamation and more.

READ: : Former Top BET Exec Claims "Misogynistic Culture" in Discrimination Lawsuit

To which BET responds in a motion to dismiss filed on Tuesday that "it is unclear from her Complaint which allegation(s) is/are intended to support which claim(s) for relief."

"No one should have to guess," the defendant continues. "Indeed, due process compels that Mashariki provide sufficient notice of what facts she contends support her claims as to each of the named Defendants."

BET also is aiming to defeat certain claims with prejudice, meaning Mashariki wouldn't be allowed to amend those. Among them, the cable network disputes the legal viability of Mashariki's claim of defamation.

Mashariki's departure from BET was met with a great deal of confusion. When word got out in late March that she was exiting the network, it appears to have caused some surprise. Mashariki's lawyer insisted then that her client "was not terminated prior to taking medical leave," with network insiders telling the press she was indeed let go because of performance issues that predated her claims of discrimination and retaliation.

According to BET's filing, she was informed on February 28 — the day before she was scheduled to return — that her employment was being terminated, but that out of "compassion and empathy," the network agreed to make the effective date of her termination April 11 after a newly extended leave.

READ: : Stephen Hill, BET President of Programming, Exits Amidst Viacom Restructuring

There appears to be some factual dispute here, something the judge probably won't take up at the moment, but what is drawing attention in the short term are those statements to the press about Mashariki's performance and departure.

BET says some of the statements are "too vague to be actionable." This includes a senior BET executive telling employees she was "faking" her condition. It also includes how the company had described Mashariki as "misrepresent[ing] the facts" in her own communications with colleagues.

Some of the comments rising to alleged defamation appear to have been given to the press "on background," meaning quotes allowed, but no attribution. Now, BET's lawyer is arguing that Mashariki has failed "to plead sufficient (critical) facts such as who the purported speaker was, and to whom, in what context, or when the statement was purportedly made."

BET is also arguing that a couple of the comments aren't actionable because they aren't untrue.

"Here, Mashariki admits she was told on February 28, 2017, that her employment was being terminated," the motion states. "Thus, BET’s CEO’s statement that Mashariki would be 'departing the network' and, later, [BET senior vp communications Tracy] McGraw’s alleged 'confirmation' that Ms. Mashariki was 'no longer with the network' were both true statements."

It's also argued that Mashariki has failed to plead malice in her defamation claim, which could prime a side dispute over whether the former TV executive qualifies as a "public figure."

Here's the full dismissal motion.

Separately, Viacom is asking for an exit from the lawsuit on the basis that Mashariki has failed to show how Viacom could be considered her employer or liable as BET's corporate parent.

Nevertheless, both Viacom and BET are employing the same lawyer in this battle — Elena Baca at Paul Hastings.

This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter

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'Selena: The Series' Is Headed To Netflix

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"Selena will always have a lasting place in music history and we feel great responsibility to do justice to her memory. With this series, viewers will finally get the full history of Selena, our family, and the impact she has had on all of our lives, Selena's sister Suzette Quintanilla said in a statement. "We are excited to partner with Campanario and Netflix to give fans a never-before-seen glimpse at our story and highlight why Selena will remain a legend for generations to come."

Selena began her musical career in the 1980s often performing at festivals in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. She quickly rose to fame and earned a Grammy in 1994 for best Mexican/American album, becoming the first female Tejano singer to do so.

In 1995, Selena was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar who managed her fan club after it had been discovered she was embezzling money. Saldivar was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The singer's life then made it to the big screen in 1997, with Jennifer Lopez starring in the principal role.

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P. Diddy Weighs In On All This "King Of R&B" Talk

Atlanta singer-songwriter Jacquees had the Internet in shambles over the weekend when he declared himself the king of R&B for this generation. The Cash Money artist did earn praise for his debut album 4275, but many felt the boast was premature at best. Tyrese, Tank, Eric Bellinger, and Usher all responded with who they think the true king of rhythm and blues is, but for the rest of the Internet, they pulled up for the laughs.

Sean P.Diddy Combs has maintained a relatively low profile since Kim Porter's death, however on Tuesday (Dec. 11), Diddy interjected to offer a bit of perspective on what it takes to be a king, and more specifically, a king of rhythm and blues.

"Heard we talking about some king sh*t and y'all know I usually mind my business, but R&B is the foundation of my life," Diddy began. "And to be a king, that's some other sh*t. The word king is too loosely thrown around.  Now, I understand the concept that we are all kings, I understand that....but cats giveaway the king thing too early."

Just to backtrack, Mr. Combs has produced some of the 90s most beloved tracks and has earned the right to offer his two cents. Diddy then explained the R&B is also about feeling, not just lyrical small talk.

"Let's get to the topic of R&B: we talking about rhythm and blues, we talking about sharing your soul, and making love through your music. We're talking about adoring a woman. Not just putting it down or talking about how you just want to smash her, I'm talking about adoring her. So in order to be the king of R&B you first gotta start making some R&B, you have to be vulnerable, you have to be speaking about love, you have to be able to affect women in a positive way and your ass has to be able to sing."

In the video, it appears as if Mr. Combs is about to sign off as he's grown tired of the long talk only for him to remember that in order to be the king, you have to be number one and if you're the king of R&B a number one record is...expected.

"Man, and then you have to write a number one record. You've gotta have a whole bunch, a whole bunch of number one records," he concluded.

Watch the full video below.

King of R&B pic.twitter.com/DCUCDFjCOY

— Diddy (@Diddy) December 11, 2018

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Attempting to coerce the mother-of-one into staying with the 26-year-old, Power's 50 Cent seemingly hopped in the "Bodak Yellow" emcee's comment section, begging her to take the "Bad And Bougie" rapper back.

Lil Duval also left his two cents on Twitter with a follow-up post Instagram. "Life is too short to be leaving ni**as just because they cheated," he wrote. The "Smile" artist playfully tagged the 25-year-old in his next moment of offering unsolicited advice.

T.I. wrote in agreement with comedians comments tagging the "Money" musician in his comment beneath the same Baller Alert repost. Though the brotherhood expressed during Offsets hour in need is surprisingly supportive, Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, known profession by her stage name seems to have made up her mind.

Recently the five-time Grammy Award nominee had to defend her marital status after headlines swirled around claiming her divorce was a sham. “I wouldn’t put my family in a bad name for no f**king publicity, ‘cause at the end of the day, ten years from now, my daughter, she’s gonna be looking at these type of things and she’s gonna be asking me about these type of things,” Almanzar said.

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