Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 1, 2006
World renowned Mexican dog psychologist, Cesar Millan, may utilize “whispering” as a technique when handling canines, but his original publicist, Makeda Smith, of Jazzmyne Public Relations and her partner, Foster Corder, of Daughters 2 Feed Films, are screaming right about now. The two have filed a lawsuit against Millan (Case No. CV 06-2611 RSWL (RcX)), requesting compensation for damages in excess of five million dollars for alleged copyright infringement, breach of contract and breach of confidential relationship. The National Geographic Channel, MPH Entertainment, Inc and Emery/Sumner Productions, LLC are also defendants named in the complaint.
Smith originally met Millan in1999 when she was introduced to him via her personal assistant, Love Barnett, at the time. A well respected industry veteran, she took Millan under her wing, imaging and branding him as the “Dog Whisperer” up until 2004. Within a month of introduction to Millan, she recruited business associate, Foster Corder, who conceived, produced and directed the original pilot for a show they named, “The Dog Whisperer.” Actress and NAACP Image Award winner, Tichina Arnold, (“Everybody Hates Chris”) starred in the pilot, which dates back to 2001.
A photography and film pioneer since 1977, Corder’s credits include being recognized as the first African American animal photographer, and he also served as the first Black director of film and video production in the record industry for Capital Records, overseeing videos for MC Hammer, Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney and Great White. Corder’s Blackbird Films was the first African American owned commercial production company creating television commercials for McDonald’s starring Sinbad and B.B. King, and some of the first California Lotto spots, and many others. In addition, Corder served as media advisor to Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain for 17 years.
Smith’s agency, Jazzmyne Public Relations (http://www.jazzmynepr.com/) is recognized as a specialty firm in the field of urban entertainment, with clients that have included Kevin Eubanks ( “The Tonight Show”), actor/comedian/singer Jamie Foxx, comedian Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite, actor Dorien Wilson (“The Parkers”), J. Anthony Brown (“The Tom Joyner Morning Show”), and gangsta’ rap music industry pioneer, Jerry Heller.
Smith and Corder, both natives of Chicago, now seek a jury trial claiming Millan abandoned them and negotiated the terms of the show without them. Defendants proceeded to produce their own television series entitled, “The Dog Whisperer”, which is alleged to be substantially similar to and in violation of the copyright owned by Corder and Smith in the pilot. “The Dog Whisperer” now in its second season, has become the flagship for the National Geographic Channel, having been extended from a one-half hour show to a full one hour show, airing in prime time.
Furthermore, Millan has increased his celebrity status, and is now heralded as “Oprah’s Own” after appearing on her show. He is also the subject of merchandising and sponsor deals, publishing contracts, lecture tours, etc. Smith also alleges that Millan has completely forsaken her after several years of utilizing her expertise to introduce and position him within industry, professional and media circles, nationally and internationally, without any compensation.
“As a single mother of two, my company, Jazzmyne Public Relations is known for making inroads within the media for personalities that would never have access to such outlets. Millan endeared himself to me. He snuck across the Mexican border with nothing but a dream. Corder and I invested our time and resources to mold him into the personality he is today. We have the files and the footage to prove it. As an African American woman, I took him under my wing, and embraced his dream, making ‘The American Dream” a reality for him and his family. I now feel as if I have been spit on and left in the dog house!” cites Smith. “I’m simply in shock and awe,” adds Corder.
Smith and Corder are represented by Glen Kulik of Kulik, Gottesman, Mouton & Seigel, LLP in Sherman Oaks, CA in Foster Corder and Makeda Smith v. National Geographic Channel; Cesar Millan, an individual, MPH Entertainment, Inc, a California corporations; and Emery, Sumner Productions, LLC; a California limited liability company, Case No. CV 06-2611 RSWL (RcX).
NOTE TO MEDIA: Glen Kulik, Makeda Smith, Foster Corder and are available for interview. Topics for possible discussion include:
-the unheralded teams behind Hollywood’s stars;
-the industry’s real image makers;
-the importance of branding and imaging for success;
-protecting your rights in Hollywood, i.e. copyright infringement, breach of contract, etc.