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THE COURT FILES

He May Have Played a Lawyer on TV, but Nanny Produced the Brief

September 24, 2000|ANN W. O'NEILL

Sad, sad tales of men (allegedly) behaving badly . . .

Actor Corbin Bernsen, who played playboy divorce lawyer Arnie Becker on the long-running television series "L.A. Law," now has a real-life courtroom drama on his hands.

Bernsen is being sued in Superior Court by Karla Sanchez, his former nanny. Sanchez alleges in papers filed in Van Nuys that Bernsen, in "an angry and agitated state," tossed a child at her chest when she arrived at his home a few minutes late. On another occasion, more than a year later, the actor allegedly fondled the nanny's fanny, court papers say.

"The acts and conduct of the defendant as hereinabove alleged were willful and malicious, and were intended to oppress and cause injury to plaintiff," court papers say. Sounds like something that would come out of Arnie Becker's mouth. Sanchez seeks unspecified punitive damages. Bernsen couldn't be reached for comment.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Red flags should go up any time someone in Hollywood asks to see that labor of love you've been pouring your heart and soul into since school days. When they say, "Don't worry, I won't do anything with it," the alarms should sound: Ah-ooo-gah! Danger! Danger!

Film writer John Mattson learned this lesson the hard way. According to his suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mattson lent a copy of his work in progress, "Me," to Mark Protosevich in 1992. The story line, according to court papers, "involved a fantasy movie plot about a young female therapist who, through a medical procedure, enters the mind of a comatose man."

Mattson charges that he gave Protosevich, a film development executive with a now-defunct Canadian production company, the copy as a writing sample. He was hoping to be hired. Alas, he wasn't. Instead, the suit says, Protosevich stole the idea after "Me" received kudos as one of Hollywood's hottest unproduced scripts.

Eight years later, Mattson alleges, his idea resurfaced--as Protosevich's script, "Film,"--which hit the big screen this summer for New Line Cinema as the Jennifer Lopez vehicle "The Cell." Protosevich is credited as the writer and screenwriter for the movie, which also features Vince Vaughn and Vincent D'Onofrio.

Mattson, whose screen credits include "Milk Money," "Free Willy II" and "Free Willy III," seeks damages in excess of $25,000 and a court order turning the film's profits over to him.

Protosevich could not be reached and a New Line spokesman had no comment.

AND SO ON: From our Never Say Die file comes the most recent spurt of litigation over attention-seeking comedian Scott Kerman and his gate-crashing antics at the 1997 Academy Awards ceremony.

Kerman, you might recall, publicized his gate-crashing shtick, was arrested hours before Oscar time and was thrown in the pokey overnight, dressed in a tux. A misdemeanor charge was dropped and Kerman, author of the book "No Ticket? No Problem!" sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for $1 million, alleging false arrest and a laundry list of other charges. He lost.

So much for the back story.

Now the academy and its lawyers at the white shoe firm Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, Oliver & Hedges are suing Kerman and his lawyers for malicious prosecution.

"From the outset, the record was clear that [Kerman's] factual allegations lacked any evidentiary support," says Quinn Emanuel's suit. "The legal claims asserted were untenable and a reasonable lawyer would have recognized them as such. . . . No torts had been committed as to Kerman."

The suit further charges that Kerman's allegations against the academy, the firm and attorney David W. Quinto "were shocking" and unfounded.

The suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, and payment of attorney's fees. Kerman's lawyers at the Long Beach offices of La Torraca & Goettsch had no comment.

C'MON DOWN: Say buh-bye to "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker's libel suit against former model Holly Hallstrom, who accused him of firing her from the show for being a little too zaftig.

He finally dropped his suit after five years. She'd already dropped half the weight by the time the dispute began.

Barker sued Hallstrom in 1995 over comments she made on national TV about being dumped from the show after 19 years.

Hallstrom countersued, saying she was improperly fired. Court papers said she had been taking steroids to correct a hormone imbalance and gained 14 pounds. She lost eight of those pounds shortly before she left the show.

Hallstrom's suit was dismissed in August for insufficient evidence.

"It is time for us all to move on," the veteran game show host told reporters.

We already have.

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