Rebel Wilson loses bid to keep most of $3.4 million defamation payout

Australian actress Rebel Wilson sued Woman’s Day magazine last year over a series of articles in 2015. (Invision/AP)
Updated 16 November 2018

Rebel Wilson loses bid to keep most of $3.4 million defamation payout

  • The actress had sued Woman’s Day magazine last year over a series of articles in 2015
  • ‘The whole reason for bringing this case is that I wanted to stand up to a bully, which is Bauer Media’

SYDNEY: Rebel Wilson said she was glad she’d stood up to “a bully” despite losing her bid Friday to keep most of the record payout awarded to her in her defamation case against an Australian magazine.
The actress had sued Woman’s Day magazine last year over a series of articles in 2015 that she said had painted her as someone who’d lied about her real name, age and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.
The Supreme Court of Victoria state awarded her an Australian-record payout of $3.4 million (A$4.7 million) after a jury concluded she’d missed out on film roles because of the articles. Wilson had sought $5 million in damages.
But this June the amount was reduced by 90 percent after the magazine’s publishers, Bauer Media, appealed. Victoria’s Court of Appeal said Wilson could not prove economic loss, or that she’d missed out on film contracts as a result of the articles. The court ordered the actress to pay back almost $3 million, and 80 percent of Bauer’s legal costs.
Wilson’s lawyers on Friday sought leave to appeal against the reduction in the High Court — Australia’s highest judicial body — but the application was refused.
“In our opinion there are insufficient prospects that an appeal will succeed,” Justice Virginia Bell said at the court in the national capital, Canberra.
The magazine publisher welcomed the decision. “Bauer Media is invested in its Australian business now more than ever,” Bauer chief executive Paul Dykzeul said in a statement. “Our audience trust our content and our writers and they love our iconic brands like Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly.”
Wilson, who sat in the front row of the public gallery during the brief hearing, said outside the court she was glad the process had been brought to an end.
“This has been a long fight and a long journey in the courts, but the great thing about today is that it brings it to a definitive end,” she told reporters.
“The whole reason for bringing this case is that I wanted to stand up to a bully, which is Bauer Media.”
Wilson said she was proud of herself for “seeing it out right to the bitter end,” and that she was glad the initial jury had “restored my reputation.”
“Today was just about a small point of special damages and for me it was never about the money, it was about standing up to a bully and I’ve done that.”
Wilson is a native Australian best known for her Hollywood roles in the “Pitch Perfect” films and “Bridesmaids.”


High-end rebrand makes life sweet for Japan’s ‘ice farmers’

Updated 49 min 6 sec ago

High-end rebrand makes life sweet for Japan’s ‘ice farmers’

  • Reinventing natural-made ice as a high-end artisanal product has helped revive the ice-farming trade
  • The blocks are sold to some of Tokyo’s high-end shaved ice shops as well as department stores

NIKKO, Japan: In a mountainous area north of Tokyo, a priest blows a conch shell as Yuichiro Yamamoto bows and thanks the nature gods for this year’s “good harvest”: natural ice.
Yamamoto is one of Japan’s few remaining “ice farmers,” eschewing the ease of refrigeration for open-air pools to create a product that is sold to high-end shaved ice shops in trendy Tokyo districts.
His trade had all but disappeared in recent decades, and the shaved ice or kakigori that is popular throughout Japan in summer had been produced with cheap machine-made ice.
But reinventing natural-made ice as a high-end artisanal product has helped revive the sector and save his firm.
“When I started making natural ice, I wondered how I should market it. I thought I needed to transform kakigori,” Yamamoto says at his ice-making field in the town of Nikko, north of Tokyo.
Yamamoto took over a traditional ice-making business 13 years ago in Nikko, where he also runs a leisure park.
At the time, shaved ice cost just ¥200 ($2) in the local area and Yamamoto, who was fascinated by traditional ice-making, knew he couldn’t make ends meet.
“My predecessor used to sell ice at the same price as the fridge-made one, which can be manufactured easily anytime throughout the year,” the 68-year-old says.
The situation made it “impossible” to compete he explains, as producing natural ice is labor intensive.
Instead he decided to transform cheap kakigori into a luxury dessert, made with his natural ice and high-grade fruit puree rather than artificially flavored syrup.
After months of research, he began producing his own small batches of artisanal kakigori.
“I put the price tag at ¥800 for a bowl of kakigori. I also priced the ice at ¥9,000 per case, which is six times more than my predecessor,” he says.
At first, there were days he threw away tons of ice because he could not find clients.
But one day buyers from the prestigious Mitsukoshi department store discovered his product, and began stocking it, turning around his fortunes.
Kakigori dates back to the Heian Period (794-1185) when aristocratic court culture flourished in the then-capital of Kyoto.
It was a rare delicacy reserved for the rich, with the ice naturally made and stored in mountainside holes covered with silver sheets.
It was only after 1883, when the first ice-making factory was built in Tokyo, that ordinary people could taste the dessert.
With the development of ice-making machines, the number of traditional ice makers dropped to fewer than 10 nationwide.
The story is one familiar to many traditional Japanese crafts and foodstuffs — with expensive and labor-intensive products losing ground as cheaper, machine-driven versions become available.
And making ice naturally is a grueling task.
The season begins in the autumn when workers prepare a swimming-pool-like pit by cultivating the soil and pouring in spring water.
Thin frozen initial layers are scraped away along with dirt and fallen leaves.
The ice-making begins in earnest in the winter, when water is poured in to freeze solid, but it must be carefully protected. Producers regularly scrape off snow that can slow the freezing process.
“I once spent 16 hours non-stop removing snow,” Yamamoto recalls.
And rain too can ruin the product, causing cracks that mean the whole batch has to be discarded.
“I check the weather forecast 10 times a day,” Yamamoto laughs.
Once the ice is 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) thick, which takes at least two weeks, workers begin cutting out rectangular blocks.
Each block, which weighs about 40 kilograms (88 pounds), is glided into an ice room filled with sawdust on a long bamboo slide.
The blocks are sold to some of Tokyo’s high-end shaved ice shops as well as department stores.
In the Yanaka district, more than 1,000 people queue up every day for a taste of kakigori made with natural ice produced by another ice-maker from Nikko.
Owner Koji Morinishi says the naturally made ice has a texture that is different from machine-made products.
“It feels very different when you shave it. It’s harder because it’s frozen over a long period of time,” explains Morinishi.
“It’s easier to shave really thin if the ice is hard. If not hard, it dissolves too quickly.”
Morinishi himself struggled when he first opened the kakigori shop, but has gradually built a cult following for his desserts topped with purees of mango, watermelon, peach or other fruit.
And Yamamoto’s firm has seen demand soar — he now harvests 160 tons a year and knows two new producers who have entered the market.
He says: “This business has become attractive and the ice makers are all busy.”