Sunday, October 16, 2005

MTV Lawyers Defend Real World Show

The battle between MTV and the Swifts, a wealthy and powerful Key West family, will resume this week in county court. The Swifts complain that the filming of The Real World is ruining the tranquility and enjoyableness of their fiefdom, er neighborhood. Ironically, the Swifts have made a massive business of doing just that: invading the tranquility of a residential neighborhood with a stream of tour vehicles. Many have complained, with no sympathy from the tourism tycoon.
MTV is learning just how influential and powerful this family is, and has found itself in a fierce battle to save the upcoming season's production in a country court. MTV has already invested millions into the project, and was quoted as saying they would leave Key West entirely if forced from the present filming location.
All I can say is, be careful what you wish for Mr. Swift. Couldn't the argument you are making against MTV be then used to shut down your commercial operation in the residential neighborhoods? Wouldn't that be the ultimate payback. Maybe MTV should buy a house in the historic district, and file a lawsuit against the Swifts for ruining the tranquility of their neighborhood.
Of course, I think this is nonsense. Goodness know why the Swifts have their shorts so much in a bunch. The production is within their rights, as far as I can see. I mean, the show has usually been filmed in a residential neighborhood. And MTV went out of it's way to get feedback from the neighbors & officials, and just about everyone thought this was o.k, including the county attorney and mayor. Supposedly, the Swifts were against it from the start, and just couldn't be satisfied.
In a tourist town that many have complained is favoring the Swifts' businesses, this slap at free publicity is being met with incredulous responses. He's about the last person that people will accept a "not in my backyard" from.
What's MTV's defense?
Below is an abbreviated and edited part of the Defendants' (Bunim-Murray/MTV producers) Response to Plaintiffs Request for Injunctive Relief, part of the public filings for the case:

I. Introduction and Factual Background

A. The Real World

"The Real World" is a television program that is produced by
Bunim-Murray and broadcast on the Music Television Network (MTV)...The concept
of the program is that seven people who have never previously met are brought
together to line in a single house, and cameras continuously film them and
document their transition from strangers to roommates...In the upcoming season of
The Real World, seven people will work in Key West, Florida, and reside at a
house Bunim-Murray has leased in Key Haven (Monroe County), Florida.
Bunim-Murray has also leased the grounds adjoining the house. Filming at the
house and grounds in Key Haven is scheduled to end in December 2005.

B. Bunim-Murray Is a Conscientious And Good Neighbor.

Bunim-Murray has leased a house and adjoining ground in Key Haven...Renovated and remodeled the house and grounds to suit its film the seven people while they are living in the house, as is its right.
Bunim-Murray wants to be a good neighbor and, as good neighbors are supposed to do, it complies with all applicable laws and continually strives to peacefully co-exist with its neighbors. To that end, Bunim-Murray met with high ranking government officials of the City of Key West and Monroe County for the purpose of (a) informing the government officials that Bunim-Murray planned to do in Key West and Monroe County, and (b) providing the government officials with an opportunity to educate Bunim-Murray about what needed to be done, from a legal and logistics standpoint, for Bunim-Murray to lawfully conduct those activities...Bunim -Murray also met with its neighbors to explain what it planned to do on the property, and to address and resolve any concerns the neighbors might have...Bunim-Murray stressed to the neighbors that if they ever had any problems with anything going on at the property, then they should bring those concerns to Bunim-Murray's attention and - working together - the neighbors would be able to solve any problems that might arise.An Assistant County Attorney attended the neighborhood meeting and...Research the issues of restrictions on the proposed activity at this location...The Assistant County Attorney issued a written opinion that no conditional use permit is required, no occupational license is required, no home occupational special use permit is required, and their is no "single family" designation or other restriction against unrelated people living in the same house...(and) did not indicate that there was anything unlawful about the proposed activity...For three days...Bunim -Murray canvassed the neighborhood, again asking the neighbors...if they had any questions or concerns about The Real World...The neighbors who were at home during these visits overwhelmingly indicated that they had no objection to Bunim-Murray's presence in the neighborhood, and those neighbors signed forms saying so.

C. The Neighbor Who Is Impossible To Please

The are some neighbors who will never like you no matter how hard you try to please them or how accommodating you are. Plaintiffs Ed and Nancy Swift are those kind of neighbors. From the moment they learned that Bunim-Murray was moving into the neighborhood, the Swifts decided that they did not want Bunim-Murray there and were determined not to let anything change their minds.Indeed, instead of discussing their concerns with Bunim-Murray and trying to reach some sort of accommodation - as neighbors are supposed to do - the Swifts raced to the courthouse and filed their Amended Verified Complaint, asking the Court to enjoin Bunim-Murray from using and enjoying the property that Bunim-Murray has lawfully leased.Plantiffs' Amended Verified Complaint is noteworthy because for all of Plaintiffs' bluster they fail to identify any conduct capable of supporting the drastic injunctive relief they seek. The reason for Plaintiffs' inability
to identify any actionable conduct is simple: there is none.

D. The Nature of Plaintiffs' Amended Verified Complaint

Although Plaintiffs' Amended Verified Complain contains only one count, it nonetheless appears to assert multiple theories. Specifically, Plaintiffs mention both "private nuisance" and alleged violations of the Monroe County Code, but it is unclear whether Plaintiffs are traveling under a single theory or, if they are traveling under multiple theories, where one theory ends and the next begins.Regardless of how many theories Plaintiffs are proceeding under, they seem to be complaining about five things: (1) Bunim-Murray will be conducting allegedly commercial activities that are not permitted...(2)on three consecutive days in August more than twenty cars were allegedly parked on two vacant lots Bunim-Murray has leased...(3) too many exterior lights have been installed...and some of those lights allegedly shone into Plaintiffs' home...(4) Bunim-Murray has installed exterior cameras on its property, some of which allegedly are directed at Plaintiffs' home...and (5) on August 21 Plaintiff Ed Swift heard people performing nighttime exterior carpentry work...and, in the future, unidentified noise may come Bunim-Murray's house...As discussed below, none of these complaints, individually or collectively, are capable of supporting the injunctive relief Plaintiffs seek. E. The Relief Plaintiffs SeekPlaintiffs seek and injunction that, if issued, would completely stop the filming of The Real World at the property
Bunim-Murray has leased. The relief Plaintiffs seek is breathtakingly overbroad,
with absolutely no attempt having been made to tailor the requested remedy to
Plaintiffs five specific complaints, as the law requires.For instance,
Plaintiffs allege that on one occasion lights shone into their home, but instead
of asking that those lights be turned down or off, they ask the Court to
completely stop...filming The Real World. Plaintiffs allege that on three
occasions too many cars were parked...but instead of asking that the number of
parked cars be limited, they ask the Court to completely stop Bunim-Murray from
filming The Real World....Plaintiffs allege that some cameras are pointed at
their house...they heard exterior carpentry work......completely stopping
Bunim-Murray from filming The Real World - is fatally overbroad in light of what
Plaintiffs are complaining about.

The case resumes on Tuesday of this week. I just hope that MTV doesn't cave in and somehow benefit the Swifts or their businesses. Otherwise, it may appear that the powerful and wealthy Swifts have blackmailed their way into a sweet deal.

Like this post? Let us know:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great update. The NIMBY just doesn't do it for me. For God's sake...they're going to be gone in 8 weeks anyway. A lot of money spent on lawyers and time and money wasted in the courts...and we pay for that!