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Court backs Ray Charles' children

Published as part of the February 13, 2013 edition.


Antracia Merrill-Moorings

Fighting Back: The Ray Charles Foundation said that it will appeal a federal judge's ruling that threw out its claims against children of the late performer, as they are recapturing the copyrights to dozens of his most popular compositions. Warner/ Chappell Music has paid royalties to the foundation for the use of the songs, but seven of Charles' 12 children have been reclaiming the copyrights to the music under a provision of the Copyright Act that grants authors and their heirs the ability to recover ownership of works some 56 years after they were originally published. U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins threw out the foundation's suit, which claimed that the children violated agreements they made with Charles in which they would each receive a $500,000 trust but not contend the estate. Collins said the children's filing of copyright-termination notices did not violate the terms of their agreements with their father. Charles died in 2004, and left the rights he held to his works to the foundation. But Valerie Ervin, president of the foundation, said in a statement that "the very clear and unmistakable intention of both Ray Charles and all his children was that, in exchange for a substantial payment, the children were not to raise any claims against their father's estate."

Return of the Divas: TV One has renewed "R&B Divas" for a second season, adding a Los Angeles spin-off to the franchise. "R&B Divas" follows chanteuses Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert- Daniels, Monifah Carter, Syleena Johnson and Keke Wyatt as they work on producing a compilation album. Unscripted skein proved to be one of the strongest performing series for TV One, averaging 426,000 homes during the first season for the niche cable net. Cabler ordered eight episodes of "Divas" in the renewal, and will debut season two in spring.TV One also ordered eight episodes of "R&B Divas: LA," slating the spin-off for third quarter. It will feature five Los Angeles-based R&B performers, who have yet to be named.

Oprah's OWN Sued: Oprah Winfrey's network is being sued by former employee Carolyn Hommel, who is accusing OWN of sex discrimination. Hommel was hired in 2010 as senior director of scheduling and acquisitions and says that she was on track to become a vice president before she became pregnant. But, while on medical leave to have her baby, she was replaced by a temporary employee. After she returned to work, Hommel says her duties were gradually given over to this employee and she began to be excluded from meetings. In her suit, she claims her supervisor, Michael Garner, fabricated a review that made her appear "less 'senior' and therefore not a candidate for the new vice president position." And then it happened. Just a month after giving birth, Hommel was fired in March 2012.

Briefly, Terry Crews has been cast opposite Andy Samberg in FOX's untitled Mike Schur/Dan Goor comedy pilot. The singlecamera project revolves around a diverse group of detectives in a precinct at the very edge of New York City. Crews will play Terry Jeffords, the Sergeant who runs the detective squad...Prince has released a new song called "Screwdriver" on Prince's website http://20pr1nc3.com/indexie.html.Minnesota Public Radio's The Current has the details on the Purple One's new band-guitarist Donna Grantis, drummer Hannah Ford, and bassist Ida Nielsen.

Finally, Beyonc? announced a world tour with a name clearly inspired by loving hubby Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. She will launch the "Mrs. Carter Show" tour in Eastern Europe, including dates in Serbia and Slovakia, before burning up Europe and then North America.

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