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Universal Wants To Cancel Its $31 Million Agreement With Prince Estate

The issue stems from an agreement announced in February by then-estate entertainment advisors.

Universal Music Group has demanded that its $31 million deal with the Prince estate involving the late icon's recorded-music catalog be canceled and the money returned, according to court documents filed on behalf of the estate’s administrator and reviewed by Billboard.

In a partly-redacted letter sent to the Carver County District Court in Minnesota on behalf of estate administrator Comerica Bank, a representative wrote that UMG has accused former estate entertainment advisor L. Londell McMillan of fraudulent inducement in connection with the deal, and is calling for the court to rescind the agreement.

The issue stems from an agreement announced in February by then-estate entertainment advisors McMillan and Charles Koppelman between the Prince estate and UMG that would grant the major label exclusive licensing rights to Prince's post-1996 catalog released under NPG Records globally, as well as unreleased material and the U.S. rights to "certain renowned albums" from his 1979-1996 height that were released while he was under contract with Warner Bros. Records. Those latter albums were set to be licensed to UMG at a later date; a press release sent by Universal at the time said that date could arrive as early as 2018.

But UMG ran into problems as it tried to move forward on the deal and ahead of the one-year anniversary of Prince's sudden death on April 21, 2016, questions began to emerge about whether the estate’s camp had misrepresented the licensing rights it sold to the record company. While the estate agreed to give UMG the rights to some of the Warner Bros. albums as soon as 2018, for example, Warner’s rights on those albums aren’t set to expire until 2021, sources said.

The timing is key as UMG’s separate merchandise and music-publishing deals with the estate aren’t guaranteed beyond the next five years, according to sources.

McMillan denied any misrepresentation at the time, and Koppelman declined to comment; both have since been replaced by Spotify's global head of creative services Troy Carter, who said in a statement released to Billboard on April 17 that the estate would be "assessing all rights relating to Prince's recorded music."

Sources tell Billboard there is a hearing scheduled later this month regarding UMG's demand that the deal be rescinded.

The court documents were related to the potential release of a new concert film recorded in 1983 during which Prince debuted several songs from his then-upcoming epic Purple Rain, including the title track and the No. 1 Hot 100 single "Let's Go Crazy." (Sources told Billboard that the Prince estate is shopping the concert film to streaming services and other distributors including Apple Music and Spotify.) When Comerica learned of the proposed transaction involving the concert footage, the bank notified counsel to Prince's potential heirs, stressing the proposal's confidential nature.

But three of the non-excluded heirs -- Prince's half-sisters Sharon and Norrine Nelson and half-brother John Nelson -- have retained McMillan as a business advisor, and requested a non-disclosure agreement be drawn up in order to share the proposal with McMillan as well. That request prompted Comerica's letter this week, which argued that because McMillan has been accused of fraudulent inducement, the estate is now adverse to McMillan, with the UMG rescission hearing still to take place. The letter also notes that $3.1 million of the $31 million agreement was paid to McMillan and Koppelman as commission for negotiating the deal.

Prince's younger sister and five half-siblings are still waiting for a judge to make an official ruling on their heirship to the estate, said to be worth $200 million. Once a judge makes that determination, any further potential claimants would have one year to come forward and claim heirship. Dozens have done so thus far, though none successfully.

McMillan did not return a request for comment; representatives for both Carter and Universal Music Group declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Hannah Karp.

This article was originally published on Billboard.

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A First Look At Will Smith's Genie In 'Aladdin' Live-Action Receives Mixed Reactions

As fans anxiously await the arrival of Disney's live-action film of Aladdin, Entertainment Weekly graciously revealed the first look of Will Smith as the beloved Genie. While Smith the actor may be a perfect fit for the comedic role, some fans aren't exactly sure about his costume and makeup.

Entertainment Weekly shared the first photos on the cover of their latest issue. Smith appears alongside Aladdin and Jasmine, played by Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott. But Smith isn't blue like the original character famously voiced by Robin Williams in 1992. He doesn't even appear to be altered by CGI technology.

Due to the drastic alterations from the original, Smith's look seemed to garner mixed reactions on Twitter. Some users weren't impressed, while others are still willing to give the movie a chance.

Not to worry though, Smith shared a photo from the EW shoot on Instagram and noted that he will be blue in the film. Even so, director Guy Ritchie hinted that he would be taking Genie and the live-action film in a different direction.

"The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is, so it’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on," Ritchie told EW.

We can show you the world... of Disney’s live-action #Aladdin! Get a shining, shimmering, splendid first look at the reimagined classic in our magical First Look issue: https://t.co/Kwkcdfen5v pic.twitter.com/7NbyiRRcLH

— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) December 19, 2018

Okay, everyone can shut up now #Aladdin pic.twitter.com/Rxep7l5RLV

— 🍃 (@sheilaslalaland) December 19, 2018

Smith also stated that he had a tough time figuring out how to bring new energy to his character, especially after it had already been flawlessly executed by Robin Williams. "Whenever you’re doing things that are iconic, it’s always terrifying," Smith said. "The question is always: Where was there meat left on the bone? Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character.[Williams] infused the character with a timeless version of himself."

The award-winning actor added: "I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete."

Smith later suggested that his portrayal of Genie will be just as memorable and will come with a little "hip-hop flavor." "I think it'll stand out as unique even in the Disney world," he continued. "There hasn't been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history."

Disney's Aladdin hits theaters on May 24, 2019.Check out the first-look of the Genie above.

As a big fan of Disney animated movie I totally disapprove not having a blue, magical Genie, that's a shame! 😐

Will Smith is an actor I like but the movie shouldn't be about stardom!#Aladdin https://t.co/kgkAivprCf

— Ezereal 🌍 (@So_Ethereal) December 19, 2018

I'm not usually one to advocate for blueing people up (cough, Avatar, cough cough), but really Disney, you could have kept Will Smith as himself (live action) and gave him the hue of Robin Williams #Genie smh #Aladdin

— Tiffany Alice (@itsTiffanyAlice) December 19, 2018

will Smith’s genie isn’t blue and that hair....girl....2019 really isn’t gonna be any better will it

— Peter Williamson (@ptpwilliamson) December 19, 2018

I’m sorry but they need to make Will Smith’s genie a blue cloud dude this ain’t right

— DENNIS DEPRIMO (@DENNISDEPRIMO) December 19, 2018

Seeing the first look at Will Smith’s genie for the live action #Aladdin pic.twitter.com/uD30rt8yjd

— Joseph Estadt (@JosephEstadt) December 19, 2018

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First-Ever Feature Film About Rosa Parks In The Works

A new biopic about Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks is reportedly in the works, Deadline reports. The first-ever feature film is tentatively entitled Rosa and will begin shooting in 2019.

The film will reportedly focus on the aftermath of Park's 1955 arrest, where she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on the Montgomery bus. Parks' actions launched the Montgomery bus boycott, which ultimately aided in the progression of the Civil Rights Movement.

Film executives are reportedly consulting with Jeanne Theoharis, author of the 2013 biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. Theoharis stated that she intends to show different facets of Parks that aren't taught in school.

"While most Americans have heard of Rosa Parks, the details of what happened that on the night she was arrested, and her lifetime of political courage and activism, are largely unknown," Theoharis told Deadline. "The real story of Rosa Parks is far different, and even more inspiring and relevant for our times than the tale most children learn in school."

Charlie Kessler will reportedly write the screenplay. "We are honored to be working alongside Professor Theoharis. Rosa Parks is an inspiration, and our goal is to be able to use this project to raise awareness for the Rosa and Raymond Park Institute for Self Development," Kessler said. "Ms. Parks did not have any children, so her institute is her legacy."

As previously stated, this is the first feature film chronicling Rosa Parks. CBS previously aired a TV movie entitled The Rosa Parks Story about the activist in 2002, starring Angela Bassett as Parks and Cicely Tyson as her mother.

Proceeds from the upcoming Rosa biopic will be donated to The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.

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T-Pain Accused Of Plagiarizing Popular Bollywood Song

T-Pain wanted to gift fans with a final tune before the year's end, but instead of praises, the singer was reportedly hit with allegations of plagiarism. According to various claims made on Twitter, T-Pain has been accused of copying a popular Bollywood song.

T-Pain reportedly shared his new single "That's Yo Money" on social media on Dec. 15. Shortly after the music dropped, fans began pointing out the similarities between his song and "Tum Hi Ho," a track that was originally featured in the 2013 Bollywood picture Aashiqui 2.

Dunno why but this seems familiar 🙈🙈🙈 #aashiqui2 #tumhiho @TPAIN https://t.co/69NJvAujsT . It’s a melody from Mithun’s song buddy @Mithoon11 @raiisonai @itsBhushanKumar

— Mohit Suri (@mohit11481) December 15, 2018

Sir, the melody that you have used in your new song is my original work for a previously released Hindi film..The Label is looking into this.#tumhiho #Aashiqui2 https://t.co/5fnDf4sfg7

— Mithoon (@Mithoon11) December 15, 2018

The allegations only grew stronger after the song's creator Mithoon called out the artist on Twitter. "Sir, the melody that you have used in your new song is my original work for a previously released Hindi film..The Label is looking into this. #tumhiho #Aashiqui2," Mithoon reacted.

Filmmaker Mohit Suri also joined the discussion, tweeting, "dunno why but this seems familiar," Suri reacted.

T-Pain has not explicitly commented on the incident, but the song has been taken down from his Twitter and YouTube account with the unavailable song link citing "a copyright claim by a third party" as the reason for its disappearance. You can still hear a snippet on Pain's Instagram account below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

One more surprise before the year’s over 🙂 #ThatsYoMoney out now 💰 Still looking for 20 fans to #1UP and help out this holiday season..tag who you’re spending the holidays with and what’s on your wish list for a chance to win..picking winners by next Wednesday. Link in bio

A post shared by T-Pain (@tpain) on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:10pm PST

READ MORE: T-Pain's 'Everything Must Go Vol. 1' Mixtape: Stream Now

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