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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Cardi B performs on day 1 of Music Midtown at Piedmont Park on September 14, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Cardi B's Latest Freestyle Fuels Anticipation For Sophomore Album

Cardi B is sparking more anticipation for her next album thanks to her latest freestyle. On Monday (Nov. 19), the rapper dropped some bars on Instagram to hold fans over until the release of her sophomore project.

"Just a little something something... hair on healthy," she captioned the freestyle over Cam'ron's classic track, "357." Keeping it natural and raw, the Bronx native posts up in front of Cap'n Crunch and a Costco box full of Vienna sausages to drop her freestyle about the wins and losses she's taken this year.

"I be in the mansion, you be in my mentions / I came right out the trenches to the top of the charts / Lost friends on the way / This s***t is breaking my heart / 'Bout 30 seconds in I'm like where do I start / I don't act I'm a hustler just playing my part,"  she spits.

If anything, this can be a hint to fans that she's gravitating back towards her hip-hop roots, an element heavily heard on her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. In a recent interview with Billboard, Cardi talked about her new album and curiosities about its direction.

"There's certain music that I want to do, but I feel like, [are] people interested in that? I feel like things have changed. It's more like a twerk sound going on right now," she said. "It's just like, 'Should I just do my music around that?' But I cannot just go with what's hot. I still gotta go with what I want to do."

Cardi has no problem adapting to popular music. She's worked with the likes of Selena Gomez on DJ's Snake's "Taki Taki" with Ozuna in 2018 and took her guest spots to another level in 2019 by working with Ed Sheeran ("South of The Border"), Lil Nas X ("Rodeo") and French Montana ("Writings On The Wall"). She also dropped a show-stopping video for "Press" over the summer.

But at the end of the day, Cardi's new music is coming first. "My album is on my mind 24/7,"she said. "It's practically all I'm focusing on."

Enjoy her freestyle (and sleek blowout) below.


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Just alittle something something ......hair on healthy.

A post shared by Iamcardib (@iamcardib) on Nov 18, 2019 at 6:55pm PST

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Roc Nation Denies Jay Z's "Disappointment" In Colin Kaepernick's NFL Workout

Everyone has an opinion on Colin Kaepernick's current strife with the NFL but Jay Z isn't one of them.

Several reports over the weekend indicated how the mogul felt "disappointed" in Kaepernick, whose audition for the NFL turned into a very messy sideshow. Kapernick changed the location of his workout in Atlanta, which was oddly scheduled 24 hours before Sunday Night Football. “I’m a little bit pessimistic because I’ve talked to all 32 teams,” Kaepernick’s agent Jeff Nalley told CBS. “I’ve reached out to them recently, and none of them have had any interest. I’ll tell you this: No team asked for this workout. The league office asked for this workout.”

The workout was scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. but was moved from the Falcons' practice facility to Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale by Kaepernick. It's not known when the workout was initially planned but it has happened just a few weeks after the NFL and Jay Z suffered backlash and criticism for their philanthropic partnership. The workout was reportedly intended to showcase Kapernick's abilities to showcase his skills to teams, showing he has the skills and mindset to play again.

Despite no one asking for the workout, it still happened with the presence of a waiver that included murky language that reportedly blocks the activist from taking legal action against the league in regard to his claims of collusion. Kaepernick previously filed an NFL Players Association grievance, calling out the league's collusion against him for protesting during the National Anthem. NBC Sports Mike Florio and Chris Simms discussed the ins and outs of the waiver which was also given Kaepernick's team just days before the workout.

All of this leads to Sunday's reports that Kaepernick supporter and Roc Nation honcho Jay Z was "disappointed with Colin's actions and believes he turned a legitimate workout into a publicity stunt." Oddly enough, the same quote was reported by Sports Illustrated, TMZ and XXL as original reporting (which is a mystery in itself). Nearly 24 hours later, Roc Nation released a statement by way of Twitter that said, "A source at Roc Nation tells us JAY-Z (@S_C_) hasn’t spoken to any sources."

A source at Roc Nation tells us JAY-Z (@S_C_) hasn’t spoken to any sources.

— Roc Nation (@RocNation) November 18, 2019

In somewhat positive news, Kaepernick's workout tape was sent to all 32 teams despite him refusing to sign the mystery waiver. In a matter of days, the narrative quickly shifted from the NFL and Kaepernick to the Jay Z and Kaepernick, allowing the league to slide away from the nightmare they seemingly created.

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You can read the waiver below.

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Love To See It: DaniLeigh Choreographed DaBaby's Extraordinary "BOP" Video

Nearly reaching 10 million views in a matter of days, DaBaby's "BOP" music video teaser has A-1 editing, hilarious characters (recorder guy) and perfect choreography. As it turns out, we have DaniLeigh to thank for the rapper's smooth dance moves.

The singer-songwriter teamed up with choreographer Coach Cherry to share her eclectic dance style with the buzzing rapper. "BOP" dropped Friday (Nov. 15) as "BOP on Broadway" with a bevy of dancers taking part in the one-shot style video. Directed by Reel Goats, the teaser feels like the full music video for the single thanks to the three different dance flows including a surprising set by the iconic Jabbawockeez.

DaniLeigh's influence can be felt throughout the video thanks to her signature moves. With her own video reaching 100 million views on YouTube, the singer continued her winning streak with the remix for "Easy" featuring Chris Brown.

The video earned her a Soul Train Music Award nomination for "Best Dance Video" and inspiration for lovers of dance challenges. The Dominican-American might look familiar to many thanks to her contribution to the infamous #InMyFeelings challenge where she managed to hop and bop out of moving car. Ironically, the "Lil Bebe" singer started her career as a backup dancer for the likes of Nelly Furtado and Pharrell. She also choreographed and wrote the treatment for Prince's visuals for "Breakfast Can Wait."

"He wanted it really big in the dance industry so from there, I held auditions and did this video on my own," an 18-year-old Dani told VIBE in 2013. "It's crazy and hard to believe but it was great."

Dani recently released "Cravin" featuring G-Eazy and dropped her debut project The Plan late last year.

Check out the visuals to "BOP" below.

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