Monday, June 22, 2009

News America CEO Admits Making Mafia References -- Valassis v. News America Trial

BNET reported today that News America Marketing CEO Paul Carlucci's video deposition was played in the Valassis v. News America trial in Michigan state court, which included Valassis' efforts to portray Carlucci as a mob-like boss.

Carlucci admitted showing a scene from The Untouchables as a motivational tool at a sales meeting (previously described in a 2005 Forbes article), which Forbes and other sources suggest was the scene in which Al Capone kills a man at a sit-down black-tie dinner with a baseball bat. Carlucci also admitted to using several mafia references, such as "Capo di Tuto Capo," or boss of all bosses, and stating that "the mafia would refer to our General Sales managers as 'good earners.'"

But according to another source, Carlucci denied during the video testimony that the scene he showed was the baseball bat scene:

Question: It is accurate that you showed a clip from the film the Untouchables to a sales meeting?
Answer: That aspect is accurate.
Question: And it is the portion of the film in which Robert Deniro playing Al Capone gives a speech about baseball and then kills a man with a baseball bat?
Answer: I did not show that portion of the video clip.
Question: Which portion did you show?
Answer: I showed the speech that was based on -- and it was done, along with several other movie clips that were discussing attributes that we were presenting to the sales staff. I believe the Capone's speech had a title -- and it was-- it probably was in 1992 or 1993 or 1991 that had a title of loyalty. And it was shown just in jest as something of loyalty. We also showed films from Mary Poppins and we showed Daddy Long Legs with Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling at the same -- at the same sales function, if my memory serves me correctly.
At the Floorgraphics trial, it was alleged that Carlucci made a threat to "destroy" Floorgraphics at a meeting with Floorgraphics executives in New York. In the video testimony, Carlucci reportedly denied making that threat.

But a knowledgeable (but unconfirmed) source informed me that Valassis is in a very strong position in their case, with the last several days of testimony going well for Valassis. He stated that the testimony from consumer packaged goods manufacturers ("CPGs") has been extensive and convincing.

He also told me that News America made strenuous objections to the introduction of testimony from Robert Emmel, including an accusation that some of the money that was being paid by Floorgraphics and Insignia for his attorneys fees was being paid directly to Mr. Emmel in return for his testimony. The Court rejected the argument, agreeing to admit the deposition testimony.

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Revised June 29, 2009.


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