Nutella phases out Bryant as endorser

From Wire Reports

The maker of Nutella chocolate spread said yesterday that it is phasing out endorsements from Kobe Bryant, in part because of the sexual assault charge against the NBA superstar.

Ferrero, an Italian company with U.S. headquarters in Somerset, N.J., said its contract with the Los Angeles Lakers guard expires in January.

"Marketing plans established earlier this year did not contemplate a contract renewal," the company said in a statement. "In keeping with this decision, and considering the recent developments, Kobe's image on Nutella labels and promotional material is being phased out."

A call to Bryant's agent, Arn Tellem, was not immediately returned.

Bryant, 24, is charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman on June 30 at a mountain resort in Edwards, Colo. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex. His initial court appearance is tomorrow.

Yesterday, the judge in the case rejected Bryant's request to keep cameras out of the courtroom during his first court appearance.

Bryant's attorneys argued against allowing cameras during the hearing scheduled tomorrow, saying they could jeopardize Bryant's right to a fair trial.

Eagle County Judge Frederick Gannett ruled that was unlikely.

"Defendant's objections are general in nature and do not allege any specific prejudice which may result from expanded media coverage," the judge wrote.

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