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Basinger vs. 'Helena': The Verdicts Are In

January 16, 1994

Regarding "Is She the Villain--or a Victim," by Judy Brennan (Jan. 2):

It is unfortunate that after receiving a unanimous jury verdict in Superior Court we are now compelled to defend ourselves in the media against Kim Basinger's attempt to justify her irresponsible and unprofessional conduct.

Basinger did not just "consider taking the role" of Helena, as your article states. She committed herself legally and morally both orally and in writing, according to a jury of her peers. Her breach and subsequent denial of this agreement are what landed her in her current situation.

Stardom in Hollywood carries numerous benefits, including wealth and power--the power to command a cover story in the Sunday Calendar section, one that is no more than slick PR. With that power many stars forget that they must abide by the same rules that govern all people. Although they are seldom called to task for their transgressions, in this case one was.

Are we to sympathize with Basinger as a victim? How about the producers of "Boxing Helena," who have devoted years of their lives and are now being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stand up for their rights? After winning a hard-fought battle in court, we continue to be denied the amends Basinger should make--an apology and a check.

To respond to all of the calculated, one-sided inaccuracies in the article would require more space than the article itself, and frankly few people, we expect, would have the patience to revisit them point by point.

Suffice it to say that Main Line Pictures has no desire to interfere with Basinger's family plans. We simply seek to be paid what we are owed. Basinger and her attorneys are distorting the truth to sensationalize, to create unwarranted sympathy for Basinger and to attempt to avoid her obligation to pay her debts to not only Main Line Pictures but all of her other legitimate creditors.

JAMES R. SCHAEFFER

CARL MAZZOCONE

Los Angeles

Schaeffer is chairman and Mazzocone president of Main Line Pictures Inc.

*

Having been the presiding juror for the Kim Basinger-Main Line Pictures case, I feel obligated to point out some misconceptions in your article.

First of all, Basinger's self-proclaimed innocence was, quite simply, contrary to the evidence presented, which ultimately resulted in the verdict of the jury. The decision was unanimous. Furthermore, you mention that Basinger never signed a long-form acting agreement, but what you neglected to mention is that she never signed seven of the long-form agreements (contracts) for her previous nine movies!

Secondly, the assertion that the jury ignored the court's instruction regarding damages is simply not true. The difficulty of estimating damages lies in the believability of "expert" witnesses. Not surprisingly, the experts were on opposite sides of the spectrum when estimating the possible net profits from the film.

The statement attributed to juror Chawn Sanders--that she didn't understand how the jurors could be invited to the premiere of a movie that the producer didn't have enough money to complete--is absurd. The jury viewed the movie as evidence!

The assertion that the judge did not allow Basinger's attorneys to provide evidence with respect to industry practices is hogwash. Both sides spent a great deal of time explaining how Hollywood operates. I learned enough about the business to know that I chose the right career path.

In closing, I would like to comment on the actions of the court clerk. In my opinion, her actions, however inappropriate they may have been, simply have no bearing on the case. Her actions happened long after the trial was over. The jury never had any knowledge of the clerk's actions.

I still believe that the jury's decision was correct, and that the judgment for damages was fair.

KEVIN S. ANDERSEN

Los Angeles

*

If Hollywood has a blacklist, this so-called producer Carl Mazzocone should top it. Basinger has been done a great injustice by some greedy wanna-be, who didn't have the guts to sue Madonna (she has so many millions she would've chewed him up and spit him out).

As a writer-producer, you learn rather quickly in this town that a so-called deal isn't a deal until it's signed, sealed and delivered. One day you have a major star, production company and major studio interested in your film, and the next week or month, you're back to square one. A gamble you take, and pay for, just by being in this business. When things fall through, you pick up and start over again.

What this guy has done to screenwriters and producers is make it harder than hell to get a star to commit to your project. He's not only robbed Basinger of millions, but he's robbed other up-and-coming writers and producers of their opportunities. It's a shame. And it's a shame that our judicial system is so star-struck that it can't deal in the realities of filmmaking and how the deal is really made.

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