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DON’T MESS WITH UMA: Could Uma Thurman be headed back to court? The actress on Friday filed a $15 million lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against Lancôme for allegedly continuing to use her image in advertising even though her contract had expired. According to Thurman’s lawyer, Bert Fields, her contract with Lancôme ended in 2004, but the brand has continued to use her image to sell products all around the world during the past four years. But Lancôme, a subsidiary of L’Oréal, is fighting back — the company filed a suit of its own last week in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying it did not violate the contract and does not owe Thurman money. The beauty company is said to have paid Thurman $5.8 million for the first two years of the contract, with the option to renew for another 24 months at a price of $3.1 million for each additional year. A spokeswoman for L’Oréal said: “The use of Ms. Thurman’s image after her contract expired, however minor, was neither deliberate nor intentional. As this matter is currently in litigation, it is Lancôme’s policy not to comment on legal matters while they are in progress.”
The suit against Lancôme came three days following the end of another court ordeal for Thurman — a former psychiatric patient, Jack Jordon, 35, was convicted of fourth-degree stalking and second-degree harassment after following the actress and sending her notes. — Amy Wicks
This story first appeared in the May 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
THE FUTURE IS NOW, AND THEN: Sooner or later, marketers’ liaisons to youth culture outgrow youth themselves, so when The New Yorker’s Kelefah Sanneh asked Steve Stoute, brand consultant and ad agency partner with Jay-Z, how he protects himself from the next Steve Stoute, he had a quick answer: “By not moving to Jersey.” (He was clearly unaware New Yorker editor David Remnick hails from the Garden State — although he now lives in Manhattan.) At The New Yorker’s second annual conference, “Stories From the Near Future,” Stoute remarked on how the entrepreneurial instinct in hip-hop had made authenticity and marketing compatible. “I don’t know why Madonna didn’t sell the jacket back in 1984,” he said. “But 15 years later, an artist like Jay-Z can,” without a threat to his credibility. Sanneh imagined a world in which two teenagers scuffled over a copy of The New Yorker — “that’s when you’ll know that David Remnick would have hired Steve Stoute,” to which Remnick replied, sotto voce, “I can’t afford him.”
Segments came in 20-minute bites; apparently, the future is pithy. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, caught between a Clinton administration past and a hometown connection to Barack Obama, did his best to avoid making news (The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza: “Hasn’t Hillary [Clinton] lost this race?” Emanuel: “Next question.”). But by midday, a Huffington Post report on his referring to Obama as the “presumptive nominee” rippled through political media, followed by his spokeswoman hastily minimizing the phrase, pointing out Emanuel had also said Clinton could still win.
Two law professors, moderated by the magazine’s financial columnist, James Surowiecki, argued from opposite sides on the merits of copyright protection on fashion design, and whether low-cost copies of designs resulted in an “induced obsolescence” that stimulated both innovation and the marketplace. Surowiecki pointed out that pushes for more copyright protection on luxury goods faced a hurdle: “You’d be hard-pressed to look at luxury and fashion companies and say, ‘They’re in trouble,’ unlike in the case of the music industry. What is the economic harm? The profits aren’t as massive?” — Irin Carmon