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Say it aint so! We all have fond memories as children of LeVar Burton as the host of Reading Rainbow, programming for children promoting reading and literacy.  The famous  (and catchy) song is seared in many of our brains.

Well, another well know line from the show was when LeVar said “But, you don’t have to take MY word for it” and then the show would feature several children talking about their favorite books.

It’s the “don’t take my word for it” line that is now the subject of a new legal battle according to The Hollywood Reporter.

LeVar currently hosts his own podcast aimed at adults called LeVar Burton Reads. Burton had announced 8 years ago his intention to revive Reading Rainbow and created a company called RRkidz.

According The Hollywood Reporter, RRKidz obtained a license from WNED to use intellectual property related to Reading Rainbow, which ran on PBS between 1983 and 2006.

To save you all from the legal mumbo jumbo, essentially Burton got legal permission to bring Reading Rainbow on the internet, while WNED retained the rights to television and further episodes. When WNED saw that Burton was having success, and possible a Reading Rainbow spinoff on Netflix, WNED didnt like it and began a lawsuit back in 2011 attempting to terminate their agreement.  Burton and his company RRkidz have challenged saying that they have adhered to all of the rules of the agreement and should therefore be able to continue.

WNED has come on even stronger since Burton released his podcast in June of 2017 narrating short stories aimed at adults. Burton acknowledges that fans of the show do call it the “Reading Rainbow for Adults” but that there is nothing that he can do to stop them from doing that. Burton also uses the tagline “But you don’t have to take MY word for it” frequently on his podcast.

WNED claims that the use of this phrase is “immutably associated with Reading Rainbow” and that Burton’s use in a manner not authorized by WNED causes confusion, mistake or deception as to the origins. WNED not only wants an injunction, but also profits from Burton’s podcast.

Burton and RRKidz are now being sued for copyright infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, violations of the Lanham Act, breach of contract and interference with customer relations.

Its all very sad considering the public has shown that they would love for Burton to continue with the Reading Rainbow brand, which they made clear  when Burton raised $6.5 million on Kickstarter to bring back the series.

Here’s a guy has brought literacy and joy to millions, attempted to legally gain the rights to use the Reading Rainbow name, and the owners don’t want to play ball.  In the end we all suffer.

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Exclusive: The Bullet Scars That Will Forever Haunt Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Son, Etienne Maurice



Sheryl Lee Ralph shared a graphic photo on Instagram earlier this week of her son, Etienne Maurice, laying in a hospital bed bandaged up from bullet wounds. The purpose of the image was to be yet another voice calling to end gun violence.

On Wednesday, students across the country walked out of class to protest against gun violence, something that hit home for Ralph four years ago. “This mother wants #gunreform now! #guncontrol now,” she wrote.

It was during a night out in West Philadelphia that Ralph’s then 22-year-old child was robbed at gunpoint and shot three times; twice in the leg and one which grazed his forehead.

So as Ralph joined Wednesday’s national conversation about gun laws, HipHollywood talked exclusively with Etienne who shared exactly what went down the night a gun could have taken his life for good.

“I was shot four years ago, November 9 … I was black out drunk. The next thing I know I remember I woke up in the hospital, doctor said I had two bullet holes in my leg and a grazed bullet hole above my eyebrow.”

Maurice, who was robbed for his iPhone and his wallet, went on to tell us that this is something that he is reminded of constantly. “Having been shot is something that I carry with me every day. I still have numbness at the bottom of my leg from the nerve damage.”

And while he will always remember how he felt knowing his life almost ended, Etienne had a hard time fathoming how his famous mother felt. “We had the conversation about it last week and she said she peed on herself,” he told us.

For Maurice, he’s proud to see young children use their voices to make change. “There’s so many angles where we can talk about gun violence and how it’s effecting different communities,” he said. “Gun reform needs to take place now.”

Since that night, he hasn’t picked up a drink and has been now sober for four years. As for the suspects, a father-son duo, they are behind bars for attempted man slaughter.

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