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'Martin's' Wife Leaves Fox Series

Television: Tisha Campbell sues producers, citing 'intolerable' conditions and claiming Lawrence sexually harassed her. Show execs decline comment.

January 07, 1997|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tisha Campbell, co-star of Fox's "Martin," has left the show, claiming that series star Martin Lawrence sexually harassed her and that conditions on the set were "intolerable." She has filed suit against Lawrence and the show's producers.

Campbell departed the show last November after a series of disagreements with Lawrence. Her last appearance on the air as Lawrence's wife was Dec. 19. Two episodes have been filmed without her; her absence is explained on a romantic voyage story line in which her character misses the boat.

The actress reported to associates that the atmosphere on the set was too tense, volatile and unpredictable for her to continue working there.

Representatives for Lawrence and Fox declined comment.

Campbell also declined comment, but her attorney, Kurt Peterson, said Monday that her departure has resulted in legal action.

Peterson said that HBO Independent Productions, the company that makes the series for Fox, filed a temporary restraining order against Campbell to try to force her to return to work pending arbitration on her claim of sexual harassment by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a performers' union. He said U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins denied HBO's request last month.

Campbell has since countered with a lawsuit of her own, seeking damages against several parties, including HBO, Lawrence and his production company for numerous claims, including sexual harassment and sexual battery, Peterson said.

HBO Independent Productions declined comment.

"Martin," which is now in its fifth season, revolves around the characters of Martin (Lawrence) and Gina (Campbell), who have endured ups and downs during their relationship but clearly love each other. The couple married last season.

In addition to starring on the comedy, Lawrence is one of its two executive producers.

The controversy is the latest in a swirl of reports surrounding Lawrence, considered one of the country's top comics. He starred in 1995's hit film "Bad Boys," hosted HBO's "Def Comedy Jam" for several years and has appeared in several other films.

The actor was arrested last August when he carried a loaded gun in a suitcase at Burbank Airport. In May, he was detained by Los Angeles police after he had wandered screaming into a Sherman Oaks intersection. In the aftermath of that incident, Lawrence's physicians said the actor was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration.

Lawrence also filed for divorce from his wife last year, just a few months after she gave birth to their first child. In recent months, he failed to show up for several announced appearances at the Comedy Store.

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