Actor Fails to Shoot Down Gun Lawsuit
Plus, death to “Lawyers” . . . No contest . . . John Doe’s lawsuit.
Did actor Christian Slater cause a rookie police officer severe emotional distress by reaching for the officer’s gun last year during that infamous biting brouhaha? A judge in Santa Monica has left it up to a jury to decide.
Superior Court Judge Robert A. Letteau recently turned down the actor’s request that he dismiss a lawsuit filed by LAPD Officer Julio Cesar Flores. Slater, who spent 59 days in jail after pleading no contest to battery and drug offenses, had argued that scuffles with suspects are part of a police officer’s lot.
But the judge found that Flores “may have suffered severe emotional distress during the few moments in which the parties were scuffling, and specifically at the moment when [Slater] touched [Flores’] holstered firearm.” Flores, who underwent surgery to repair a hernia after the scuffle, is seeking unspecified damages. The trial is set for Jan. 26.
The civil court documents say Flores and his partner responded to a 911 call Aug. 11, 1997, and found Slater staggering, screaming, “Germans are going to kill us!” and pounding on the walls of an upscale Westside high-rise.
The 2 to 8 seconds during which Flores tried to handcuff Slater lie at the heart of the case. With one wrist cuffed, the lawsuit alleges, the actor spun free and began “kicking, hitting, screaming and flailing his hands, arms and legs about.” The officer was “sent flying toward a stairwell.”
No one involved disputes that Slater reached for the officer’s holstered gun, but witness accounts vary about the extent of the actor’s contact with the weapon. Slater says he “momentarily” placed his hand on the gun. But it was enough to scare bystander Jose Castro into stepping on the actor to keep him from reaching the gun. “I thought he was gonna kill us all,” Castro later said.
LIFE IMITATES ART IMITATES LIFE: “Ally McBeal” could have had some competition if things had turned out different at CBS, according to a lawsuit filed by the creator of “Murphy Brown.” Shukovsky English Entertainment is seeking $25 million in damages from the eye network, claiming it broke a promise to air a pilot and six episodes of a new show called “Lawyers,” featuring a single woman working in a law firm as its central character.
Sound familiar, anyone? “Lawyers” was the creation of Diane English, who gave the world curmudgeonette news hound Murphy Brown. The Superior Court suit says English struck a production deal in 1996 with CBS for a pilot, which she wrote and revised, and six episodes of “Lawyers.”
But, the suit claims, CBS was interested only in enticing English to try to rescue the ill-fated Ted Danson stinker “Ink” and to serve as a consultant, at Candice Bergen’s insistence, during the 10th and final season of “Murphy Brown.” Even though English held up her end of the bargain, the suit alleges, CBS “had no intention” of broadcasting her lawyer show. Had English known that from the outset, the suit states, she never would have agreed to work on “Ink” and would have taken her fledgling legal drama to another network.
The suit, filed by attorney Patricia L. Glaser, alleges fraud and breach of contract. “The allegations have no merit,” said CBS spokesman Chris Ender.
NO SMALL MATTER: A case heading toward Superior Court Judge Judith Chirlin’s courtroom Nov. 2 pits the founders of the Miss Petite USA pageant against a scion of old Hollywood. There’s even an Aaron Spelling connection.
Ann Lauren and Stephen Douglas, who are also known as Ann Marie Randazzo and Stephen Edminster, are the founders of the now-defunct Miss Petite USA pageant, which was based in Orange County and meant to promote modeling careers for women under 5-foot-5. They are seeking $8 million in damages from producer Anthony M. Shepherd, whom they accuse of fraud and breach of contract.
The pageant founders claim that in 1994 Shepherd padded his resume to impress them, promised to use his connections at Spelling Entertainment to televise the pageant, then pulled out of the production at the last minute. Lauren says she suffered a nervous breakdown after being left at the mercy of dozens of angry contestants who had paid to participate in the canceled pageant.
Court papers also say Shepherd employed unqualified assistants, one of whom allegedly enjoyed a brief fling with a contestant, and crew members who referred to the contestants as “shorties.”
Shepherd is great-grandson of MGM founder Louis B. Mayer, son of Richard Shepherd, executive producer of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and godson of Spelling, who employed him for more than a decade as a casting executive. Shepherd could not be reached for comment, but in a countersuit, he accuses the pageant founders of breach of contract and says he pulled out of the production only after they failed to pay him on time.
FRASIER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: Somebody calling himself John Doe recently filed suit in Van Nuys against the Internet Entertainment Group, the folks who enriched so many lawyers while bringing smut fans that sex tape featuring Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
John Doe, according to the firm and our courthouse spies in Van Nuys, really is Kelsey Grammer, beloved star of “Frasier.” Although the suit initially was filed under a pseudonym, sources say Grammer is listed as the plaintiff on an amended complaint that has been sealed. Now, Internet Entertainment says, Grammer has given notice that he intends to drop the legal action.
Not so fast. The firm is represented by 1st Amendment champion Alan Isaacman, made famous by his battles on behalf of Hustler publishing king Larry Flynt. Isaacman moved the case to U.S. District Court, where, dismissed or not, he plans to ask a judge to unseal the lawsuit. And, for the record, the firm says it has no Kelsey Grammer tapes and can’t figure out what all the fuss is about.
Times staff writer Evelyn Larrubia contributed to this column.