Heavyweight Hollywood attorney Marty Singer’s infamous blistering letters on behalf of his clients won’t be changing their tune or tone anytime soon thanks to a trio of judges on a California Court of Appeal. Yesterday the Second District overturned a trial court’s ruling over a 2011 letter from Singer to former Big Brother contestant Mike Malin accusing him of embezzlement over $1 million from a client and promising to reveal the money was spent on sexual dalliances. “Singer’s demand letter is a protected speech or petitioning activity under the anti-SLAPP statute,” wrote Justice Steven C. Suzukawa for the panel Tuesday (read it here). The Second District panel consisted of Justices Nora M. Manella, Thomas L. Willhite Jr. and Suzukawa. Malin, who coutersued over the litigator’s letter, appeared on Season 2 of the reality show. He was accused by Singer’s client Shereene Arazam of stealing funds from her restaurant. “The order denying the special motion to strike Malin’s complaint is reversed in part as to the first cause of action for extortion, and affirmed in part as to the second cause of action for invasion of privacy and the third and fourth causes of action for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The matter is remanded with directions to the superior court to grant the special motion to strike the first …
The No Country For Old Men actor today filed an appeal (read it here) of the state Labor Commissioner’s recent ruling in favor of his former agency William Morris Endeavor. On October 1, the California State Labor Commissioner rejected Tommy Lee Jones’ request to bar the agency’s recovery of $1.95 million in commissions from his role as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in the 2007 film. The recent ruling also said the agency did support the actor in his multi-million-dollar battle with Paramount over his NCFOM back-end compensation. Jones was awarded $15 million in that action. This case arises from WME seeking 10% of that award. The October 1 ruling also found that subsequent actions by WME did not prevent Jones from getting a role in the 2010 remake of True Grit (although the role eventually went to Jeff Bridges). “Everyone did their job here, including WME albeit with a few bumps along the way. And in the end, Jones received every dollar he was entitled to,” said the ruling from commissioner Julie A. Su. Jones first filed his petition in January 2010, with an amendment in February 2011.
Keeping it classy, Charlie. Sheen made a ‘surprise’ appearance tonight as the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Entertainment Law Section honored Marty Singer as its Entertainment Lawyer Of The Year. Singer, of course, represented Sheen during the legal war with Warner Bros and executive producer Chuck Lorre over the actor’s messy exit from the hit CBS TV series Two And A Half Men. Alluding to that battle, Sheen claimed onstage, “I never screwed any hooker as hard as Marty screwed Warner Brothers. I got a 100 million reasons to say thank you to Marty.” Sheen then stopped and assured the Lavely & Singer litigator, “Marty, I didn’t write this shit.” Longtime Singer client Tom Arnold emceed the dinner, whose celeb guests included Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Dog The Bounty Hunter in person at the Beverly Hills Hotel. William Friedkin and Sharon Stone were guest speakers, as were last year’s honoree Ken Kleinberg and Singer’s daughter Jacqueline. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Scarlett Johannson, Priscilla Presley, Don Rickles, Paula Abdul and publicists Stan Rosenfield and Paul Bloch appeared in a tribute video to Singer. Earlier in the evening, Jeff Goldblum narrated a video about the history of the BHBA. “Here, tonight, I recognize some of the people I sued,” Singer joked.
That legendary 90-year-old movie producer Saul Zaentz is litigious is nothing new. Today he’s suing Miramax and Disney for breach of contract alleging he hasn’t seen enough profit from the 15-year-old Best Picture Oscar-winner The English Patient. He’s accusing the studios of blatant self-dealing and manipulation and misstating the movie’s revenue by millions in order to enrich itself — but not Zaentz — as well as deceptive and unfair accounting practices in connection with the movie. The lawsuit was filed today by Lavely & Singer’s Marty Singer in Los Angeles Superior Court. But here’s the thing: This isn’t the first time Zaentz has done this. He sued Miramax and Disney over pretty much the same stuff in the same court over the same pic back in 2006. And it was Lavely & Singer who filed that lawsuit, too. (Did they just Xerox today’s complaint?) That first scuffle was dismissed in 2008. In this latest legal battle, Zaentz also is seeking $20 million in damages — same as before. Of course, the Weinsteins owned Miramax when the film was released, but now it’s Disney’s problem because Zaentz claims the Mouse House promised to be good for the dough. Of course, Disney doesn’t own Miramax anymore. What a mess.
LA Superior Court Judge Alan Goodman just issued a ruling in both Charlie Sheen vs. Warner Bros TV and Sheen vs. Two And A Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre lawsuits: they will have to be settled in arbitration and won’t go to trial. The studio had argued that Sheen’s $100 million lawsuit over his firing from the hit CBS/WBTV comedy had to be handled through arbitration per the actor’s contract, and that Lorre’s own arbitration clause requires that part of the litigation to also go though a mediator. Sheen’s attorney Marty Singer had been demanding a public trial. “We’re very gratified by the court’s ruling enforcing the parties’ arbitration agreement,” WBTV said in a statement after the ruling. There’s no doubt the lawsuit would have been a circus since there already was a ruling to let a video camera team film in the Santa Monica Superior Courtroom. Team Sheen and the media wanted it, Team WB/Lorre didn’t. Charlie won that round. So now JAMS-appointed arbitrator Richard Neal will oversee the dispute. He can technically send the case back to Judge Goodman if he deems the arbitration clause unenforceable, but that is considered highly unlikely.
2ND UPDATE: The judge took it under advisement.
UPDATE 2:15 PM: Wow, this hearing took all morning, broke for lunch, and resumes any minute this afternoon. So far the only decision made is that the judge is letting a lone video camera film in the courtroom. Team Sheen and the media wanted it, Team WB/Lorre didn’t. Charlie won.
8:30 AM: This morning, attorneys for Charlie Sheen, Chuck Lorre, and Warner Bros return to Santa Monica Superior Court where Sheen’s counsel, Marty Singer, will again try to avoid arbitration for his client in the dispute against WB and Lorre, this time in front of the original Judge Allan Goodman. It’s unclear whether Goodman (who is also presiding over Sheen’s $100M state court litigation and had been on vacation) will rule at once or take the matter under advisement. In any event, legal observers consider Singer’s efforts to be a long shot, as LA County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor already denied Marty’s request to stop arbitration from proceeding. If Judge Goodman rules in WB’s favor, JAMS-appointed arbitrator Richard Neal will oversee the dispute. If Judge Goodman rules in favor of Sheen, WB will have the right to immediately appeal the ruling, which would automatically stay Sheen’s lawsuit for at least two years. Basically, public trial v. private trial.
As we told you back on March 10, it was unlikely that Charlie Sheen would ever get his day in court against Warner Bros and/or Chuck Lorre. This is even more true today. The latest development is that Lorre’s lawyer Howard Weitzman has succeeded in wrapping Lorre into Warner Bros’ arbitration over Sheen’s contract. Deadline previously reported that Weitzman was trying for this just hours after Charlie’s juicy lawsuit was filed against the studio and the executive producer of Two And A Half Men. That’s also when the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services accepted the Warner Bros vs Sheen dispute for arbitration. Now JAMS will include Chuck vs Charlie, too. The contract, like most in Hollywood, calls for private arbitration to settle all disputes, thus thwarting Team Charlie’s attempt to draw the studio and Lorre into a messy public court fight. Insiders tell us that pretty much the only way Team Charlie could face Lorre in court now would be if Sheen’s lawyer Marty Singer wins an injunction against JAMS, and that’s considered extremely unlikely. Right now, no such injunction has been filed.
NO DAY IN COURT? Warner Bros Succeeds In Putting Charlie Sheen Dispute Into Arbitration; May Include Chuck Lorre, Too
EXCLUSIVE: Just hours after the international media feasted on Charlie Sheen’s juicy lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre comes news that it may not go any further. We’ve learned that Warner Bros. has succeeded in officially putting the contract dispute into arbitration. “It’s been commenced and approved by JAMS,” an insider tells us, referring to Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services. “It’s a definite go.” The Warner Bros./Charlie Sheen contract, like most in Hollywood, calls for private arbitration to settle all disputes. But with its lawsuit filed today, Team Charlie is trying to draw the studio and its executive producer Chuck Lorre into a messy public court battle. Both Warner Bros.’ legal eagles and Lorre’s attorney Howard Weitzman now will try to include Lorre in the arbitration, too. (Aw, but where’s the fun in that?) As for Sheen’s $100 million lawsuit filed by litigator Marty Singer today, a studio insider derided it as “rambling, as if Charlie was helping dictate it.”
Here is the latest hourly Charlie Sheen update: the troubled actor is following on his repeated threats that he would sue Two and a Half Men producer Warner Bros. TV and network CBS.
Warner Bros. TV confirmed a TMZ report that top litigator Marty Singer has sent a letter to the studio demanding that Sheen is paid in full for the 8 unproduced episodes of the show’s current eighth season. Sheen retained Singer a couple of months ago in an effort to prevent Warner Bros. and CBS from shutting down production on the show amidst his personal problems. The legal letter reportedly claims that Sheen had been ready and willing to return to work for weeks but Men showrunner Chuck Lorre and the studio had been keeping him sidelined, thus breaching his contract. Such letters threatening legal action are a Singer specialty. For now, he and Sheen are stopping short of filing a lawsuit against Warner Bros.
Steve McPherson’s Lawyer Marty Singer Faxes Letter To The Hollywood Reporter Demanding “Apology And Retraction”
EXCLUSIVE: Last night, at 9:13 PM, outgoing ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson’s pit bull litigator Marty Singer faxed the following letter to The Hollywood Reporter. It accuses THR of becoming an “outrageous scandal sheet” now that former US magazine editor Janice Min and new publisher Lori Burgess are in charge. “It appears that with a new editor and publisher, THR is adopting tabloid-like behavior”. According to my own reporting, McPherson worked at Disney/ABC without any sexual harrassment-related complaints brought to the company’s attention until 2010. This year, however, one sexual harassment complaint was made by a woman against McPherson, and HR conducted an investigation. My sourcing indicates that McPherson’s resignation was voluntary and unrelated to the probe:
I hear that Steve McPherson, who resigned as ABC Entertainment Group president this week, has asked pit bull litigator Marty Singer to specifically target The Hollywood Reporter. If you haven’t noticed, the front page of THR is increasingly resembling TMZ as a Hollywood scandal sheet now that former US magazine editor Janice Min has taken over. Today, Singer issued this statement; “Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false & defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC. He has retained Martin Singer and Lavely & Singer to deal with these defamatory stories.”