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Coming Up Tort: 8 Crazy Pop Culture Lawsuits

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Swimming pools, fancy cars, and a lawyer on speed dial—they're all the trappings of fame. These eight pop culture lawsuits prove that sometimes when notable people fight the law, we all win.

1. Bill Cosby v. CosbySweaters.com

Don't bandy about Bill Cosby's name. The comedian just might come after you, and it won't be with a bowl of Jell-O. Cosby's legal team recently sued blogger Kiley Kmiec over the website CosbySweaters.com, aimed at "sports fans who love music, tech, pop culture, and dumb Internet videos." Kmiec had to change the name of the site, despite the fact that no one owns the trademark for the term "Cosby sweater." To play it safe, I'm going to start calling them "variegated sweaters as worn by TV dad Cliff Huxtable."

2. Chubby Checker v. Hewlett Packard and Palm Inc.

Chubby Checker's most famous for his 1960 hit cover of "The Twist." And Mr. Checker would like to keep it that way! That's why he's suing Hewlett Packard and Palm Inc. for a half-billion dollars in damages over a 99-cent mobile app called The Chubby Checker. The now-disabled app helped users predict the size of male genitalia by entering shoe sizes. (Yep, there was an app for that. With fewer than 100 downloads, turns out.) You know what they say about big celebrities... Big lawsuits!

3. John Waters v. Rugrats

Suing the Rugrats might seem like stealing candy from an animated baby, but John Waters said he'd do just that in 2003. The big stink: Nickelodeon's use of the idea and term "Odorama," which involved giving Rugrats Go Wild ticket holders scratch-and-sniff cards to be smelled during key movie scenes. The idea wasn't new: Waters employed the same idea—under the same trademarked name—in screenings of his 1982 film Polyester. Nickelodeon claimed the idea was an homage to Waters, not theft. But for legal reasons, it made scents to change the name of their concept to Aroma-Scope.

4. Mark Durante v. Kevin Durant

Most of us don't get to choose our nicknames. No one knows who first started calling NBA star Kevin Durant "Durantula," but the name caught on and has been used all over the press. Now Mark Durante, a 1980s hair metal guitarist from obscure bands including the Slammin' Watusis and The Next Big Thing (it wasn't), is suing the Oklahoma City Thunder forward. Durante claims he owns the trademark to "Durantula." It's even his URL. Durant's camp takes no responsibility for the nickname. There's only one way to fairly resolve this: in the courts ... without a basketball.

5. Clint Eastwood v. Palliser Furniture

Sometimes Clint Eastwood likes talking to chairs. But now he's in a big argument about one with Palliser Furniture. Eastwood sued the company for trademark infringement when they named one of their plush, leather theater chairs "The Eastwood." And this won't be Palliser's first time in court. They were recently sued for another chair named "The Brando" and sell other Hollywood-inspired models, including "The Connery" and "The Bronson." If Palliser's not careful, it could end up The Bankrupt.

6. Rosa Parks v. OutKast

"Rosa Parks" was the most successful single on OutKast's 1998 album Aquemini. It's also the only one that got the hip hop duo sued by the civil rights activist. In addition to using Parks' name without permission, her legal reprsentative felt the song was disrespectful to her legacy. Some offending lyrics: "Ah ha, hush that fuss / Everybody move to the back of the bus / Do you want to bump and slump with us / We the type of people make the club get crunk." The case was dismissed and appealed a few times before being privately settled for an undisclosed sum in 2005.

7. Aza v. Carly Rae Jepsen

Whether you've listened to it 374,829 times or not, "Call Me Maybe" is a catchy tune. But a Russian singer named Aza alleges that Carly Rae Jepsen doesn't deserve the credit. The Ukrainian chanteuse claims that Jepsen's hit is just a slightly altered version of her Christmas song "Hunky Santa." We're including the video below, so you can be the judge. I'm no lawyer, but I'm thinking, "Hey, she just sued her for publicity. And this is crazy. But this lawsuit really exists, so throw it out maybe?"

8. Mr. T v. Best Buy

We pity the fool who uses Mr. T's likeness without permission. In 2003, Best Buy did just that in a print ad which made it look like Mr. T was fighting a salesman. Naturally, Mr. T punched them in the face ... with a lawsuit. A lack of online information (web-idence?) suggests that the electronics retailer "quit its jibba jabba" and the matter was settled out of court.

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Art
Get Crazy With the Official Bob Ross Coloring Book
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If you watched Bob Ross's classic series The Joy of Painting for hours on end but didn’t come away a terribly capable artist, you can still enjoy replicating the amazing public television personality’s work. You can now pretend you’re painting along with the late, great PBS star using a brand-new adult coloring book based on his art.

The Bob Ross Coloring Book (Universe) is the first authorized coloring book based on Ross’s artistic archive. Ross, who would have turned 75 later this year, was all about giving his fans the confidence to pursue art even without extensive training. “There’s an artist hidden at the bottom of every single one of us,” the gentle genius said. So what better way to honor his memory than to relax with his coloring book?

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Ross landscapes you can recreate, all while flipping through some of his best quotes and timeless tidbits of wisdom.

An black-and-white outline of a Bob ross painting of a mountain valley

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a house nestled among trees.

A black-and-white outline of a Bob Ross painting shows a farm scene.

And remember, even if you color outside the lines, it’s still a work of art. As Ross said, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.”

You can find The Bob Ross Coloring Book for about $14 on Amazon. Oh, and if you need even more Ross in your life, there’s now a Bob Ross wall calendar, too.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli.

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entertainment
8 Movies That Almost Starred Keanu Reeves
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He may not have the natural ease of Al Pacino, the classical training of Anthony Hopkins, the timeless cool of Jack Nicholson, or the raw versatility of Gary Oldman, but Keanu Reeves has been around long enough to have worked alongside each of those actors. Yet instead of Oscar nods, the actor whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian has a handful of Razzie nominations.

While critical acclaim has mostly eluded Reeves during his 30-plus years in Hollywood, his movies have made nearly $2 billion at the box office. Whether because of his own choosiness or the decisions of studio powers-that-be, that tally could be much, much higher. To celebrate The Chosen One’s 53rd birthday, here are eight movies that almost starred Keanu Reeves.

1. X-MEN (2000)

In Hollywood’s version of the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine. But Jackman himself was a last-minute replacement (for Dougray Scott) and other, bigger (in 2000) names were considered for the hirsute superhero—including Reeves. Ultimately, it was the studio that decided to go in a different direction, much to Reeves’ disappointment. “I always wanted to play Wolverine,” the actor told Moviefone in 2014. “But I didn't get that. And they have a great Wolverine now. I always wanted to play The Dark Knight. But I didn't get that one. They've had some great Batmans. So now I'm just enjoying them as an audience.”

2. PLATOON (1986)

For an action star, Reeves isn’t a huge fan of violence, which is why he passed on playing the lead in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Vietnam classic. “Keanu turned it down because of the violence,” Stone told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. “He didn’t want to do violence.”

3. THE FLY II (1989)

Few people would likely mistake Reeves for the son of Jeff Goldblum, but producers were anxious to see him play the next generation of Goldblum’s insectile role in the sequel to The Fly. But Reeves wasn’t having any of it. Why? Simple: “I didn't like the script,” he told Movieline in 1990.

4. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)

Speaking of sequels (and bad scripts): Reeves was ready to reprise his role as Jack Traven in Jan de Bont’s second go at the series … then he read it. “When I was offered Speed 2, Jan came to Chicago and so did Sandra, and they said, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Reeves recalled to The Telegraph. “And I said, 'I read the script and I can’t. It’s called Speed, and it’s on a cruise ship.” (He's got a point.)

Even when the studio dangled a $12 million paycheck in front of him, Reeves said no. “I told [William Mechanic, then-head of Fox], ‘If I do this film, I will not come back up. You guys will send me to the bottom of the ocean and I will not make it back up again.’ I really felt like I was fighting for my life.”

5. HEAT (1995)

Reeves’ refusal to cave on Speed 2 didn’t sit well in Hollywood circles. And it didn't help that he also passed on playing Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer’s role) in Michael Mann’s Heat in order to spend a month playing Hamlet at Canada’s Manitoba Theatre Centre. From that point on, Reeves told The Telegraph that it’s been a struggle for him to book any studio movies. “That’s a good old Hollywood story! That was a whole, 'Hey, kid, this is what happens in Hollywood: I said no to the number two and I never worked with the studio again!’”

6. BOWFINGER (1999)

By the time Frank Oz’s Bowfinger rolled around, Eddie Murphy was pretty much the go-to guy for any dual role part, but the movie wasn’t always intended to play that way. Steve Martin, who both starred in and wrote the movie, had actually penned the part of Kit Ramsey for Reeves (whom he had worked with a decade earlier in Parenthood).

“When Steve gave me the script for Bowfinger, it wasn't written for Eddie Murphy,” producer Brian Grazer explained. “It was written for a white action star. It was written for Keanu Reeves, literally. I said, 'Why does it have to be an action star?' He said, 'That's the joke.' I said: 'What if it were Eddie Murphy, and Eddie Murphy played two characters? That could be really funny.' He said: 'You know, that'd be great—that'd be brilliant. Let's do that.' He processed it in about a minute, and he made a creative sea change.”

7. WATCHMEN (2009)

A year before Zack Snyder’s Watchmen hit theaters, Reeves confirmed to MTV what many had speculated: that he had turned down the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in the highly anticipated adaptation. But it wasn’t because of lack of interest on Reeves’ part; it just “didn't work out.” Still, he made it as far as a set visit: “They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming so I went over to the set to say, 'hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can’t wait. It’s going to be so killer, man!”

8. TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

By the time Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder made its way into theaters in the summer of 2008, the meta-comedy had been more than a decade in the making. So it’s understandable that the final product veered from Stiller’s original plan for the film, which included Reeves playing the role of Tugg Speedman (Stiller’s eventual part). Initially, Stiller had planned to cast himself as smarmy agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey picked up the slack).

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