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New Millennium Files for Chapter 11

Michael Viner seeks to protect the assets of his publishing firm from a court award.

September 12, 2003|Melinda Fulmer | Times Staff Writer

Michael Viner's publishing concern New Millennium Entertainment has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The petition, filed last Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, is an attempt to protect the Beverly Hills company's assets from a recent court judgment, New Millennium's attorney, David Golubchik, said.

In August, a federal jury in Los Angeles ordered New Millennium and its owner Viner to pay $2.8 million in damages for breach of contract in a book deal. Viner plans to file an appeal.

Viner is best known for publishing celebrity books. Two days ago he signed former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair to a book deal worth about $500,000. Blair, whose plagiarism and fabrications brought down two top editors at the Times, will write a memoir tentatively titled, "Burning Down My Master's House: My Life at the New York Times."

New Millennium posted revenue of $7 million last year. Its catalog includes an audio book of producer Robert Evans' Hollywood memoir, "The Kid Stays in the Picture."

Viner declined to comment on the bankruptcy filing.

In the recent court case New York bookstore owner Otto Penzler sued Viner, claiming breach of contract in a series of mystery anthologies dealing with sports.

Penzler helped to recruit big-name authors such as David Baldacci to write stories for the series.

Among Penzler's complaints are charges that Viner attempted to put Baldacci's name on the cover of an upcoming football anthology, leading readers to think it was a new novel being released by the author.

Penzler also said Viner did not give him an opportunity to review the book before it was published and damaged his reputation in the industry.

Before starting New Millennium, Viner and his wife, actress Deborah Raffin Viner, ran Dove Entertainment Inc.

Dove's bestsellers include a memoir of Nicole Brown Simpson, penned by Faye D. Resnick, and "You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again," the joint memoir of several of Heidi Fleiss' call girls.

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