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Julie Garber

Strike a Pose, There's Nothing To It, Except Thousands of Dollars - Madonna and Marlon Brando's Estate Reach Agreement Over 'Vogue' Lawsuits

By February 5, 2013

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When's the last time you "vogued?" Probably in the 1990's, when Madonna released her dance song, "Vogue," although you may have gotten back into the grove when Madonna performed the hit at the Super Bowl last year. After that performance the singer headed off on a world tour and included "Vogue" in the song lineup along with its "set dressing" - flashing pictures of the dead celebrities mentioned in the song including Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, and Marlon Brando. Each time Madonna performed the song, including at the Super Bowl, she was obligated to pay the estates of the dead celebrities mentioned in the song a fixed sum of money. For the Super Bowl performance it was $3,750 per dead celebrity, and for the tour it was supposed to be $5,000 per dead celebrity for each performance, or so that's what Madonna's reps thought. It turns out that Marlon Brando's estate demanded $20,000 per performance, which meant that all of the other estates would receive this amount due to a "most favored nation" contractual clause. This upped the ante for each performance of "Vogue" from $40,000 to $200,000, making Madonna's reps cringe.

All of this led to several lawsuits being filed by Madonna and Brando's estate in the fall of 2012, with each side accusing the other of a multitude of wrongful actions. But last week it was announced that the two sides had reached a settlement, the terms of which have not been publicly disclosed, but most likely a win for Marlon Brando's estate which is known for its aggressiveness in protecting the dead actor's likeness and intellectual property rights, including filing lawsuits against Ashley Furniture for a sofa named the "Brando" and Harley-Davidson for their "Brando" motorcycle boots.

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