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They say time heals everything and in the case of award-winning author Alisa Valdes-Rodríguez, her 2011 holiday season will be much more pleasant than 2010. A year after going through a very public battle for the film rights of the popular THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB, Valdes-Rodriguez announced this week on her blog that Encanto Productions, the company headed up by  Ann Lopez (George Lopez’s ex-wife), did not renew the novel’s rights.

Alisa Valdes-Rodríguez

As Valdes-Rodríguez writes:

Two weeks ago, the option expired. The production company had the choice to buy the rights forever, for next to nothing. To my great surprise, considering the bad blood among all the people involved, they did not. I’d half expected to get a check at midnight, just to put me “in my place” for objecting to what they’d done to my work. But they did not.

They gave me back the rights.

This was huge.

People close to me know that I had all but given up on ever seeing the rights again. But now, here I am, in full possession of them again, and much better prepared to move forward.

Happily, the story is still in great demand for the big and small screen. I’m fielding calls from big names on it. This time, I’m taking my time. This time, I’m doing all the homework that needs to be done before moving forward with anyone.

This time, we’ll be doing this my way, and it will be beautiful, and it will succeed.

I am grateful for the hardships and conflicts of the past year. I would never have learned so much without them. I am also grateful to the production company for doing the right thing and giving me my book back. It was a grand and gorgeous gesture, and one that won’t be forgotten. I suspect this year hasn’t been hard just for me, but also for the head of that company, who has gone through hell for her own reasons. I wish her well, and sincerely hope for blessings and happiness to come to her.

Things are moving quickly. I’ll keep you all updated. We’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen. Eight long years. But this time, it will.

Watch.

xo Alisa Valdes

 

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While covering the social media saga of author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, several of our readers had emailed us to see if we could find more information about famed Hollywood attorney Marty Singer, who was hired by Encanto Productions’ Ann Lopez to ensure that Valdes-Rodriguez cease from posting her opinions and thoughts on social media about the TV adaptation of her book, THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB.

According to its website, Singer’s firm, Lavely & Singer, is “one of the world’s premier talent-side entertainment litigation firms.” The profile on its website continues with this quote:

First, we represent clients against the tabloids and other media and internet outlets in disputes which arise prior to, as well as after, the publication of articles which defame the clients or invade their privacy. We also police the manner in which the names and likenesses of our clients are commercially exploited throughout the world. Second, we represent clients in the resolution and litigation of a broad range of entertainment industry disputes including copyright and other intellectual property disputes, contract breaches, and business torts.

It is clear that Brooklyn native Singer, nicknamed “The Mad Dog,” knows his stuff and understands that in the entertainment business, you got to be tough. His actions in representing Ann Lopez resulted in a rather detailed retraction and correction by Valdes-Rodriguez regarding her social media fight with Lopez. Occasionally, Valdes-Rodriguez has tweeted and posted some updates about her situation, but it is no longer as detailed or frequent, when compared to the period between December 23, 2010 until January 6, 2011.

Singer’s web page also includes a section called RAGING BULLS, where the following excerpts and quotes a 2000 Los Angeles Magazine article are included:

  • “What these lawyers possess is the proven ability to go all the way, to a jury trial if necessary, and play by whatever rules are laid down to save their client’s freedom or fortune in a civil or criminal matter. On the other hand, when one of them makes a phone call or sends a demand letter, arguments are often settled quickly … and quietly.”
  • “I’ll make one call to a publicist to check out a tip,” growls New York Post Page Six editor Richard Johnson, “and pretty soon I get a hand-delivered letter from Singer threatening all sorts of disasters and financial damages.”
  • “Marty is a heavy hitter, but he’s reasonable,” claims [National Enquirer Editor Steve] Coz in a careful tone. “He’s one of the few that ‘gets it’–his clients need the press every bit as much as the press needs his clients.”

As with any lawyer, Singer has his web critics, and some of his letters have been publicly shared online. Here are some of those links.

Yes, Singer is the real deal when it comes to a lawyer who will fight for a client. Which leads us to this question: What about the countless of social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook who shared their unfiltered opinions about Valdes-Rodriguez and Lopez? We saw tweets that used profanity to insult Lopez, Encanto and NBC from social media accounts who expressed their anger and passion about the story. Will Singer go after them as well? And if so, what recourse does he have to tell other social media accounts to stop their expression of opinion and free speech? We are in interesting times, when news and opinion flows as quick as a WIFI connection. Will printed hard copy legal letters still have its effect?

As you know, we declared Valdes-Rodriguez a “social media winner,” which is quite different from saying that she won her battle with Lopez. Valdes-Rodriguez was savvy and understood that if her message got out in social media, it would take a life of its own. We also believe that Lopez could have used social media to answer the allegations instead of doing business the old-fashioned Hollywood way. Sure, Singer has very likely won the legal war, but the little mini-battles that happened in the social media space were all won by Valdes-Rodriguez.

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The frenzy around the social media saga of author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and her fight with NBC and Encanto Productions has died down considerably, but it still hasn’t stopped Valdes-Rodrigiez from posting about the situation. Valdes-Rodriguez, who is now finding initial success with her self-published e-book, ALL THAT GLITTERS, recently posted the following on her public Facebook site:

As Valdes-Rodriguez states on her post: “NBC is launching some very good shows and ordering seemingly innovative pilots so far this season. This is comforting to me. Perhaps they will demand that Encanto make the draft pilot script I read Must Less Sucky and Way Less Full of Stereotypes and Generally Smarter and Funnier with Sexy Not The Same As Slutty-n-Dumb. That would be nice. Fingers crossed.”

Valdes-Rodriguez is referring the TV pilot adaptation of her best-selling book THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB that was optioned to Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions and was being pitched to NBC. Her social media actions from December 23, 2010 until January 8, 2011 resulted in a rather lengthy public apology that retracted most of her statements directed at Lopez, producer Lynette Ramirez, writer Luisa Leschin, Encanto, NBC, and Creative Artists Agency.

During this time period, the majority of comments in Twitter, Facebook, this blog and other outlets were generally supportive of Valdes-Rodriguez. However, critics predicted that her social media antics were unprofessional and would spell doom for the author’s career. Apparently, signs of career suicide aren’t evident at all as Valdes-Rodriguez indicates in this Facebook post:

Frank Weinmann founded The Literary Group International in 1986 and is considered by many to be one of the top agencies in the world. In the meantime, Valdes-Rodriguez continues to self-publish her latest works, including ALL THAT GLITTERS. Her fourth installment of THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB is scheduled for weekly installments e-chapters starting in February.

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UPDATE, January 13: 6:15 PM EST: Valdes-Rodriguez just posted the following on her Facebook site: “Uhm…okay. Just got an email from my publicist saying CNN is postponing again because of the shootings. I’ll let you know more soon.” and tweeted this: My publicist just emailed to say my CNN interview is postponed again because of AZ shootings. I will update as I know more.

Twitter news moves fast.

Here is the ORIGINAL story we posted at 5pm EST on January 13:

Best-selling Latina author, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, who has become a case study about the pros and cons of social media, announced today on her Twitter and Facebook sites that she will appear on CNN on January 14 at 1:30 MST (3:30 EST) to discuss “the dangers of optioning your book to TV producers without reading the fine print, and the role of social media in reaching readers directly.”

Valdes-Rodriguez, whose issues with Ann Lopez a nd Encanto Productions have been chronicled consistently on this blog since December 23, confirmed to us this afternoon that CNN anchor Brook Baldwin will interview her. The author of The Dirty Girls Social Club also said that she will be the only guest to discuss this topic with Baldwin.

So, looks like this story that was going away is now getting national media attention.

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For the last few weeks, we have received several comments from our readers about the ongoing social media saga of Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. One of the major issues some of our readers kept mentioning was that the story would never gain traction with the national press. Tonight, however, The New York Daily News, one of  Top 200 websites in the United States and one of the world’s top 700 sites, published a piece by Latina playwright Dolores Prida entitled “Hollywood goes bananas for stereotypes.”

 

 

In the piece, Prida recounts the many times movie and TV producers approached her to see if they could option her works. As she says: “[I] even received money for rights, but nothing ever came of it because I was unwilling to change characters and plot to fit a pre-determined idea of what Latinas are supposed to be.”

Prida then goes on to specifically use Valdes-Rodriguez’s recent battle with Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions about the TV script adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club. It is pretty clear from Prida’s comments that she fully supports Valdes-Rodriguez. Here is how she closes the piece:

 

The blogosphere and social media has been abuzz in the last few days with another case of the disappearing real Latina character.

Alisa Valdés-Rodríguez, author of the 2003 best-selling novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” translated into some 10 languages, fulminated in her blog about the changes made to her characters and story for a television series pilot script.

Valdés-Rodríguez says she dislikes the script “because it is woven through with stereotypes and because it erased every single one of my African-diaspora characters, erased my Cuban-Jewish character, erased my only Dominican character, erased my main Puerto Rican character and erased my only lesbian character for no justifiable reason, changing them all into stereotypical characters more in keeping with persistent Hollywood cliches.”

The twist here is that the draft Valdés-Rodríguez read was written by three Latinas. Through their production company, they presented it to a major television network which shall remain unnamed, since this small-screen gran escándalo is now in the hands of lawyers and getting more convoluted by the day.

The unfathomable aspect of all this is that production companies or studios buy the rights to a property because of the success it has achieved as is, and then proceed to change the plot and characters into something unrecognizable.

Why not just commission scripts from scratch to fit their marketing vision? We writers would love to make some real money, and since the only other Hollywood Latina character is the ever-present Mexican nanny or undocumented maid, we should seriously consider channeling Carmen Miranda under the cover of pseudonyms.

After all, she was a lot more fun and had more talent, maturity and integrity than the bunch of tight-assed, sex-crazed, twentysomething generic Latina characters producers seem to prefer.

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After issuing a lengthy statement and public apology about her recent legal struggle regarding the TV script adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club, award-winning Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has been active today on her Twitter stream. Here is a timeline of what she tweeted last night:

She started a series of tweets with the following post, where she offers the best of wishes to Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions, the company which owns the option to adapt the Dirty Girls script for television. In the tweet, Valdes-Rodriguez makes reference to her other books, especially her latest book, Three Kings.

Valdes-Rodriguez then tweeted the following and says, “To save my sanity, I am letting it go. Mourning.”

What follows is a reply to one Twitter profile who reacted to the news. Valdes-Rodriguez’s clear: legal fees are expensive and Lopez’s lawyer, high-powered attorney Marty Singer.

Valdes-Rodriguez then tweets about money, hinting that Singer’s efforts have been effective, even though she makes no direct reference to him.

Valdes-Rodriguez closes her series of tweets with one that explains her emotional ordeal.

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Today, author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, who used social media to express her passionate disappointment with the TV script adaptation of her book The Dirty Girls Social Club, issued an apology on her blog to producer Ann Lopez, Lynette Ramirez, and writer Luisa Leschin.

In a rather lengthy blog post of 3,700 words that describes her perspective on the entire social media saga and discloses information about the legal battle being waged with Lopez’s attorney, Valdes-Rodriguez says the following around the middle of the post:

As a person and as a woman, I understand that it is probably horrifying for Lopez, Ramirez and Leschin to learn of my discontent with the script through social media. I am sorry for any pain this has caused them.

The post begins with a summary of her objections to the script, and then shares the following information:

I will also continue to object to the misleading manner in which Encanto obtained the rights to my work. More about that below, but rest assured that my lawyers are now looking at Encanto’s conduct very closely and determining whether or not Encanto even legally have any rights to my book, as contracts when induced by misrepresentations can be deemed unenforceable.

She continues:

No surprise, then, that Lopez, Ramirez and Leschin have remained quiet in the public sphere but have silently unleashed famed Hollywood litigation attorney Marty Singer upon me. To date, Mr. Singer has sent me two lengthy and fascinatingly colorful and threatening letters accusing me of having defamed his clients in blog posts and in updates on social media sites. Singer has hinted he might use wikipedia and other unreliable sources to question my mental health should I refuse to obey his demands for retractions.

Ann Lopez

Before she gets to the apology, she states:

The demands Singer has outlined require me in some instances to flat-out lie to protect the reputations of his clients. How sad. Perhaps they should have thought about all of this before twisting my work into something that is not only unrecognizable as my book, but contrary to many of my core values as a writer and human being.

After stating the apology, she says:

I admit that I fired off some perhaps emotionally generated and ill-advised Facebook updates and tweets, and inadvertently made potentially disparaging statements in my blog in the early days of having read the script in question. I felt incredibly betrayed, and cornered, and threatened. I could hardly breathe, I was so stunned and wounded by the script.

Later in the post she states:

I do very much regret lashing out the way I did, not because of Marty Singer’s letters, but rather because I honestly don’t want to be abusive or appear thoughtless and irresponsible. I am impulsive and expressive at times, passionate and wordy as might be expected in a prolific creative writer. Impulsivity and expressiveness are both my best qualities and my worst. But in my haste to release the crippling anxiety and severe emotional distress caused by the betrayal the script committed against me and my novel, I wrote several things that were either hyperbole, inadvertent mistakes, or unwise, juvenile and unfounded judgments of character and intention.

The post goes into more lengthy detail about her challenges at the Los Angeles Times, where her letter of resignation was published on the Internet, and recounts other details about the struggle she had over the last three weeks. She then writes this:

When and if we get there, I want it on the record that I am absolutely sorry for any and all of the posts and updates I unleashed that contained genuine factual errors or personal attacks or judgments about Lopez, Ramirez and Leschin. It was my own emotional devastation and terror of a potentially ruined literary career at these people’s hands talking. I was betrayed that no one so much as asked for my opinion on any of it, even though they’d promised to do exactly that. I felt used, disrespected. I was humiliated to think of the Encanto vision of my novel ever being aired. It hurt in the same way it hurts to find out someone you love is cheating on you. And in the heat of that passion, I lashed out. That was wrong.

She also stated the following:

I am linking this retraction, correction and apology on my Facebook pages, twitter account and everywhere else that I can find where bloggers or media have linked to my situation, because I understand and respect that all retractions, corrections and apologies must be as widely available and disseminated as the original statements were. I cannot, however, control how blogs and sites and accounts other than my own will be handled.

She continues:

Now, Mr. Litigation Counsel Singer and Encanto, this single Mom, just trying to get by and eek out a living here, has done everything you have asked. I have retracted all allegedly defamatory statements in the broadest possible manner I can and indeed, I have truly and honestly from my heart of hearts apologized. If you read what I have written, you’ll see all of that. I really do feel sorry for anything I may have done which is hurtful. So please leave me alone.

She closes with this:

And please Mr. Singer and Encanto, stop trying to quell my First Amendment Rights by threatening to defame me. Your harassing and truly abusive letters which have also been published to third parties, and can be tantamount to defamation themselves, are also being watched and analyzed just as closely as you monitor my posts and indeed any actionable defamatory statements made by you about me will also subject you to substantial liability and be dealt with in the courts of law as well as the courts of public opinion. All of my rights are hereby reserved as well, Mr. Singer.Peace out.

It has indeed been a wild couple of weeks for Valdes-Rodriguez. This story has come full circle. The question now remains: will this ever come to a resolution?

UPDATE: The online MediaBistro outlet, FishbowlLA, just posted an article adding more details about attorney Singer and his claims that Valdes-Rodriguez used a poster of David Duke on in her social media posts regarding this issue. Valdes-Rodriguez denied these claims. As the one blog that actively monitored all of Valdes-Rodriguez’s posts, we did not discover any evidence that she indeed had posted that image.

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