Let’s all raise our chardonnay tonight to ?Manhattan Supreme ?Court Judge Gerald Lebovits tonight, because he’s the reason we were able to tune into the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New York.
The episode was challenged in a last-minute lawsuit from a woman who tried to block it from going on the air. Barbara Kavovit, a former contractor who invented a line of female-targeted tools called DIYVA, claimed she was illegally recorded by a cast member, and that Bravo had no right to air her voice or likeness on RHONY.
Kavovit was at a charity event in December in lower Manhattan, where she admits she knew crews were filming for RHONY. But in her lawsuit, she says she pulled RHONY cast member Carole Radziwill aside to have a private conversation — or so she thought. Later, Kavovit learned that Radziwill had been wearing a microphone at the time, but, um, of course she was, because she was filming for RHONY at that event.
Anyway, Kavovit’s lawyer sent a letter to Bravo saying they didn’t have her permission to air her “voice or likeness,” and when no one responded, she filed an emergency lawsuit, in which her lawyer argued that New York City statutes say the network needs Kavovit’s permission to use the recording for “commercial use.” Attorneys for Bravo, on the other hand, argued that the show is a creative endeavor, and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
“How can I stop the millions of adoring fans from learning about this,” Judge Lebovits joked before agreeing with Bravo’s lawyers, saying, “There’s a heavy, heavy burden for a petitioner to overcome on First Amendment grounds”
He further defended his decision by adding, “If the court … prevents the TV show from airing tonight there will be irreparable injury to NBC Universal and possibly to millions of people who might be interested in watching.”
The judge, however, won’t be tuning in despite his decision in favor of the show. When asked whether he’d check it out, he said he has “a prior engagement.”