Judge tosses part of George Zimmerman case against NBC

DAN STEINBERG / ASSOCIATED PRESS Chelsea Handler is taking her act to Netflix.
DAN STEINBERG / ASSOCIATED PRESS Chelsea Handler is taking her act to Netflix.
Posted: June 20, 2014

PART OF A LAWSUIT against NBC Universal that claims the television network defamed gun-toting neighborhood-watch vigilante George Zimmerman in a 2012 broadcast was thrown out by a Florida judge yesterday, putting the entire litigation in jeopardy.

Zimmerman's lawyers waited too long under Florida statute to ask NBC to retract what they claimed were libelous statements in a March 19, 2012, broadcast that they said made their client sound like a racist, Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled. Zimmerman was not at the hearing.

The statute requires five days' written notice identifying potentially libelous statements. A letter claiming the network edited Zimmerman's 9-1-1 call to police to make it sound like he was a racist was sent to network executives on Dec. 4, 2012.

Three other NBC broadcasts from March 20, 22 and 27 that included the reference are still in question, but the judge said she had to do more homework before making a final decision.

The defamation case had been postponed pending the conclusion of Zimmerman's murder trial last July. In that case, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's February 2012 death.

Zimmerman's lawyer, Philadelphia-based James Beasley Jr., identified not just negligent reporting by NBC, but apologies it made acknowledging problems in the four broadcasts. The editing made it sound as if Zimmerman voluntarily told an operator that Martin was black. He was actually responding to a dispatcher's question about the Miami teen's race. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

NBC apologized on April 3, 2012, for "an error in the production process" and fired a reporter and a producer afterward.

Netflix has new Handler

Chelsea Handler is bringing her raunchy gabfest to Netflix.

In 2016.

Netflix said yesterday that Chelsea's new show will update the format of her current E! talk show, "Chelsea Lately," which will end Aug. 26, but retain the comedic focus on entertainment and cultural issues, Netflix said. No other details were provided.

Her deal with Netflix begins with a stand-up performance premiering Oct. 10. Based on her tour, "Uganda Be Kidding Me," the special will be taped today in Chicago.

In 2015, she will create four docu-comedy specials on subjects including NASCAR, politics, Silicon Valley and the NBA draft.

Given the Netflix model, Chelsea should use 2015 to tape 150 nightly episodes of her talk show, which Netflix subscribers will later be able to download and binge-watch.

TATTBITS

Harrison Ford is recuperating after surgery to heal a broken leg suffered during production on "Star Wars: Episode VII."

The actor's publicist said yesterday that Ford is doing well after surgery and will soon begin rehab. Ford was injured a week ago during filming of the much-anticipated sequel at Pinewood Studios outside of London.

The accident involved a Millennium Falcon spacecraft door falling on the 71-year-old actor's leg.

Disney has said that shooting is continuing while Ford recuperates. He is expected to be sidelined up to two months.

* HBO announced yesterday that it will air four 10-minute segments of Beyonce concerts ahead of "True Blood." Dubbed "Beyonce: X10," the segments will air Sundays at 8:55 p.m. EST starting June 29.

The final season of "True Blood" premieres Sunday.

The footage is from Beyonce's Mrs. Carter World Tour, which wrapped in March. She launches a co-headlining tour with Jay Z next week.

* New Yorker Jesse Friedman, who pleaded guilty in a notorious 1980s sex-abuse case, alleges prosecutors defamed him to make him look like a "bad guy."

Friedman sued Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice yesterday.

Friedman and his father pleaded guilty in 1988 to abusing 13 children at their Long Island home. He has, however, maintained he was coerced into confessing. A court in 2010 refused to overturn his conviction but encouraged Rice to review the case. She concluded it was handled properly.

Friedman's suit says prosecutors created new allegations against him "seemingly out of whole cloth" during the review.

Rice, who's now running for Congress, had no comment.

Friedman was released from prison in 2001. The Friedmans' story was the subject of a 2003 Oscar-nominated documentary, "Capturing the Friedmans."

* Police say a couple who appeared on the reality TV series "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" face charges after a real-life wedding in which the rings disappeared.

Police in High Point, N.C., say Elvis Boswell, 24, and Eden Boswell, 22, of Princeton, W.Va., were arrested this week and charged with felony larceny. Eden Boswell was maid of honor at a wedding where, according to a police report, the bride realized her purse with the wedding rings and $1,000 was missing.

Police say they think Eden, more accurately a maid without honor, took the purse while her husband waited in their truck. Police say the couple locked themselves out of the truck and officers found the purse, rings and some of the cash.

And thus we have a nominee for the Stupid Criminal Awards.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.


Email: gensleh@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle

 

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