Posts Tagged ‘suit’

ShopNBC’s Suzanne Somers And HSN’s Lauren Hutton Figure Prominently In New York Times Story On Big Pharma And Menopause Drugs

December 13, 2009

Illustration from New York Times story on controversy over Big Pharma and menopausal drugs

Former HSN vendor Suzanne Somers, who is now on ShopNBC, and current HSN beauty vendor Lauren Hutton are both featured Sunday in a New York Times story on menopausal hormone drugs.

The business story is headlined “Menopause, As Brought To You By Big Pharma,” and it chronicles the history and litigation revolving around drugs such as Prempro, a hormone drug made by pharm giant Wyeth.

According to The Times, more than 13,000 poeple have filed suit against Wyeth charging that its menopause drugs caused breast cancer and other medical problems.

Hutton, a former model who now sells a makeup line for women over 40 on HSN, appeared in commercials for Prempro.

According to The Times, in one spot Hutton said, “My doctor said if you don’t replace estrogen that you lose at menopause, your risk for certain age-related diseases could increase.”

The very end of the lengthy story talks about actress-best-selling-author Somers’ and her advocacy of so-called “bio-identical hormones” in her books “The Sexy Years” and “Ageless.”

“With sales of more than 2 million books, Ms. Somers has become a menopause guru to millions,” The Times writes.

But newspaper also quotes Dr. Lynne Shuster, director of the women’s health clinic at the Mayo Clinic, who argues that bio-identical hormones haven’t been studied in depth and don’t have approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Formerly Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty Suzanne Somers

In an interview with The Times, 63-year-old Somers defended the hormones as safe, and provided the newspaper with stories from medical journals in support of her position.

Somers also takes credit in The Times story for “making the word ‘menopause’ mentionable.”

The blonde Somers, who moved her line of jewelry, clothes and nutritional items to ShopNBC after 17 years at HSN, also has described in detail what menopause without hormone replacement meant for her.

According to The Times, Somers says that she suffered “The Seven Dwarves of Menopause,” namely “Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful, All Dried Up.”

Too much information, girlfriend. Too much information.

Somers’ books often spark controversy and put her at odds with the medical establishment. Her latest tome, “Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer, And How To Prevent Getting It In The First Place,” created a firestorm and drew criticism from the American Cancer Society.

But “Knockout” is “a No. 1 NY Times bestseller,” according to Somers’ Web site.

Former ShopNBC CEO Rene Aiu Scores $1.5 Settlement Of Breach-Of-Contract Suit Against The Network, Parent ValueVision

December 8, 2009

Former ShopNBC CEO Rene Aiu Has Reason To Be Smiling

We spent seven years covering courts in Jersey, and we just love writing about lawsuits. We’re getting our chance to do that today, because former ShopNBC president and CEO Rene Aiu has settled her litigation against the home shopping network for a tidy $1.5 million. Sweet.

ShopNBC’s parent company, ValueVision Media, filed a 10-Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday disclosing the Dec. 1 settlement of the breach-of-contract lawsuit that Aiu filed back in Nov. 21 last year. ShopNBC will record a charge of $1,505,000 in the third quarter to pay the settlement.

According to the filing, Aiu will get gross cash payments of $875,000 for severance-pay claims; $250,000 relating to the sale of her residence; and $360,000 in attorneys’ fees. That adds up to $1,485,00 to us, not $1,505,000, but we can’t explain the small discrepancy. Maybe we did the math wrong.

Whatever. It looks like Aiu, who was hired by ShopNBC March 3, 2008, made out quite nicely. She was a veteran of HSN and something called Jupiter Shop Channel Japan when she came to ShopNBC, assigned to try to turnaround the troubled channel. That March and April, she recruited three other senior executives to create her management team. Cost for those four execs in fiscal 2008: $1.1 million.

But ShopNBC didn’t give Aiu much time to do her thing. Six months after she was hired, on Aug. 22, ShopNBC management “terminated” her and the other three new company officials. The board named chairman John Buck CEO, and hired QVC veteran Keith Stewart as president and chief operating officer.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart

We were working at Multichannel News and covered ShopNBC’s second-quarter conference call in August 2008, when investors ripped Buck a new one (we couldn’t write that at Multi) for firing Aiu so quickly, without giving her a chance to do her thing. In all our years of reporting, we have never heard a more hostile and bitter conference call between investors and a company.

About four months later, Aiu sued ValueVision, i.e. ShopNBC. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Aiu alleged in the suit that Buck had given the OK to her turnaround plan, and to her hiring the three new execs. But Aiu charged that Buck was not a very happy camper when she suggested that compensation to ShopNBC officers and its directors be cut, “as a a sign of solidarity with long-suffering shareholders,” according to the Star Tribune.

The paper also reported that Aiu claimed that she and her new team learned that ShopNBC’s business among its best repeat customers had been eroding for years, and that the board was unaware of this looming problem.

The lawsuit alleged that when Aiu presented her findings and suggestions to Buck, her told her to can the new management team. A couple of days later, Aiu and the three senior execs she brought in were “terminated,” as they tend to say in lawsuits.

The Star Tribune said that Aiu’s suit alleged that Buck intimidated employees who disagreed with His Highness. The litigation also alleged that Buck hit vendors up for discounts.

In a nutshell, Aiu charged that she was shitcanned without good cause and that she was — how shall we say it — stiffed out of $2.1 million in severance pay, the Star Tribune reported.

Stewart was promoted to the CEO position on Jan. 27 — the day after Multichannel News pinkslipped us — and Buck went back to his old sole title of chairman.

Stewart brought in a group of fellowQVC alum, and they are actually doing a great job of mounting a turnaround at ShopNBC. The network is not out of the woods by a long shot, but Stewart has managed to diminish the flow of red ink from a river to a trickle.

Why There’s No More Heidi Klum Clover Jewelry On QVC

October 5, 2009

Some posters on QVC’s online jewely forum this weekend were wondering what happened to supermodel and “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum’s clover-design jewelry line, which used to be sold on the home shopping network. 

FYI — Klum pulled the plug on her Heidi Klum Collection, which was very popular on QVC, after she was sued by high-end jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels. It charged that her clover-motif wares too closely resembled their trademarked design.

Rather than battle it out in court this summer, Klum closed down her jewelry line. None of the pieces can be found on

Perhaps Klum didn’t have the stomach for more lawsuits, after being involved in nasty, lengthy litigation over “Project Runway’s” move from Bravo to Lifetime Television.  That mess was eventually resolved, and the hit reality show began airing on the women’s network.