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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The man who has overseen the long, complicated job of paying out billions of dollars to the victims of the BP oil spill was relieved of his duties Thursday when a federal court took over the claims process in the aftermath of a historic settlement agreement.
U.S District Judge Carl Barbier’s order calls for a court-appointed administrator to take over from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility led by Kenneth Feinberg, who previously oversaw a compensation fund for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The move is part of a proposed multibillion-dollar settlement between BP and plaintiffs’ attorneys representing more than 100,000 individuals and businesses.
Feinberg said he was honored to oversee the claims process that BP created after its blown-out Macondo well triggered a deadly rig explosion in April 2010 and spawned the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.
“It was a difficult assignment, but I think we fulfilled our mandate,” Feinberg told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Thursday. “I think we did the job and we did it right.”
BP agreed to pay up to $20 billion to compensate commercial fishermen, charter captains, property owners, hotels and others who claim they suffered economic losses after the spill. The GCCF has processed about 221,300 claims and paid out more than $6 billion from the fund.
The judge appointed Lynn Greer, a Richmond, Va.-based attorney, to fill in for Feinberg and serve as transition coordinator. Patrick Juneau, a Lafayette-based attorney, will take over for Greer and serve as the court-appointed administrator for economic loss claims if Barbier gives preliminary approval to the settlement announced last Friday.
BP said it expects to pay out $7.8 billion in the settlement, but plaintiffs’ attorneys say the deal is uncapped. Plaintiffs’ attorneys who brokered the settlement have maintained that the court-supervised claims process is a better vehicle for resolving claims than the GCCF has been.
“I think that’s wonderful if they can make it more generous and broaden the eligibility criteria,” Feinberg said.
The fund paid out the most to businesses and individuals who lost wages and earnings because of the spill, or about $5.9 billion. But the fund also covered other claims and paid about $250,000 to fishermen and communities — such as American Indians — that depend on seafood in their daily lives, $198 million to cover death and injury claims stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, $6.4 million for property damage and $2.6 million for cleanup.
The fund paid out emergency claims right after the spill, and then moved to get claimants to accept a final offer or take interim payments.
In a statement on Friday’s settlement announcement, BP Group CEO Bob Dudley thanked Feinberg and his team for their “dedication and professionalism” since the GCCF began operating in August 2010.
Feinberg’s critics complained that the GCCF, at least in its early days, processed claims too slowly and overlooked certain types of claims, including those by people who blamed ailments on exposure to oil and dispersants. Others questioned his independence.
“He was not independent. He was hand-picked by BP. He was paid by BP,” said Miami-based attorney Ervin Gonzalez, a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
Gonzalez said the court-supervised settlement process offers “fair and full compensation without the administrative and bureaucratic burdens that were created by BP’s GCCF.”
Feinberg didn’t shy away from his critics. He frequently attended town hall meetings across the Gulf Coast, fielding questions from angry fishermen and others whose lives were disrupted by the spill.
“You have to be willing to confront your critics,” Feinberg said.
During the transition, individuals and businesses with pending settlement offers from the GCCF will be able receive 60 percent of the existing offer while they consider whether to participate in the court settlement. If they opt out, they must sign a release to get the remaining 40 percent. If they opt in, the court-supervised process will decide if they are entitled to more than what the GCCF offered.
Associated Press writer Cain Burdeau in New Orleans contributed to this report.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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