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Stallone Named in $50-Million Lawsuit


The former stepfather and business manager of Sylvester Stallone has filed a $50-million defamation lawsuit against the action star and two top executives of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.

In his Los Angeles County Superior Court complaint, Anthony Filiti, 70, who is divorced from the actor's mother, Jackie Stallone, alleges the "Rambo" star last year terminated his business dealings with Filiti after the latter had increased the actor's net worth from zero to about $80 million.

The suit accuses Robert Earl and David Rosenberg, executives of the Planet Hollywood chain in which Stallone and other top stars have invested, of exerting undue influence over the actor's personal affairs and engaging in unspecified "conflicts of interest" and "self-dealing" that were "to the detriment of Planet Hollywood and its shareholders."

Stallone, in a brief statement read by his publicist, said that "the lawsuit that has been implemented by my ex-business manager is personal and frivolous and has no credence whatsoever. It is unfortunate that Planet Hollywood and other neutral parties had to be involved in this affair."

Planet Hollywood executives did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Filiti retained Bertram Fields, a heavy-hitting entertainment attorney whose clients have included the Beatles, David Geffen and Michael Jackson.

Reached Thursday at his Century City office, Fields said Stallone had many of the records relevant to the case, but he declined to elaborate further. "Usually I'm more forthcoming, but in this kind of case I don't want to go beyond what's in the complaint," Fields said.

According to the suit, Filiti raised Stallone in his home from the time the actor was 12 and helped pay for his education. The suit says the actor in 1991 begged Filiti to take over his business affairs after a previous manager had left him in "an extremely precarious financial position."

Filiti said he increased the "Rocky" star's net worth from zero to about $80 million, "without counting Stallone's motion picture earnings." But the suit says their relationship soured after Filiti pointed out various conflicts of interest involving Earl and Rosenberg.

The suit says first Earl and Rosenberg, then Stallone, campaigned to destroy Filiti's reputation and that the actor's "pattern and practice over the years has been to display extreme anger toward persons with whom he had, or imagined he had, disputes or problems and to vilify or blacken the reputation of such persons."

Stallone and his attorneys face a formidable opponent in Fields, a celebrated lawyer considered so powerful that Michael Ovitz once half-jokingly sent him a $5 retainer to deter him from bringing litigation against Creative Artists Agency.

Fields' firm in 1992 represented restaurateur Peter Morton in his $1-billion lawsuit against Planet Hollywood. Morton argued that Planet Hollywood had stolen its concept from his Hard Rock Cafe chain. The case was later settled, Fields said.

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