The Hollyweird Legal Round-Up is our weekly guide to entertainment industry lawsuits and lawyerly mud-slinging, written by our legal correspondent, real-life Hollywood super lawyer “Buttockus Finch.” (Probably not his real name). This week he takes on Tom Cruise’s defamation suit, Alec Baldwin’s stalker, and the Ashley Madison employee who created so many fake profiles she gave herself carpal tunnel (ALLEGEDLY).
Shamrocks and Shenanigans everybody!
Ordinarily I might be peeved that I got dickstepped by Edna St. Vincent Mancini on the legal story of the week. But any time a 17 year-old mentions Megan Fox to his father, is told “you wouldn’t know what to do with that” and then shoots the father in the face, it’s a time-sensitive story that readers of this site need to know about posthaste. Incidentally, the news said that the kid is “accused of fatally shooting Jay Beckman, a South Miami city commissioner, as he showered inside their house in April 2009.” I assume they mean as the victim showered, because the alternative is hard to visualize. The real tragedy, of course, is that the father’s last act on the planet (aside, presumably, from loofaing) was paraphrasing a line from a lesser Judd Apatow film. That probably doesn’t justify the shooting, but if it scares people into shutting up about Freaks and Geeks, I approve.
1. Who ahffended the ahmy? Nawt Cruise!
Erstwhile whack MC and budding restaurateur Mark Wahlberg recently stood up for the US military and defended it against a callous insult made by Tom Cruise. Or, more to the point, not made.
Let me back up.
Cruise is suing the owner of Life & Style and In Touch, Bauer Publishing, for defamation. Specifically, because when he went several months without seeing his daughter Suri while he was on location for whatever movie, they said he had “abandoned” her.
That ain’t right.
No, it ain’t.
“His perma-smiling eyes might indicate otherwise, but Tom Cruise is not happy about Life & Style and In Touch‘s allegations in 2012 that he abandoned his daughter in favor of Xenu after Joey Potter—sorry, Katie Holmes—filed for divorce.”
I feel pretty gross quoting Defamer here. “Perma-smiling eyes”? If you need me to explain how many things are wrong with just that phrase, to say nothing of the entire sentence, you are a Faulknerian idiot man-child who would be better served by stopping here and trying to parse the latest gif dump on Buzzfeed.
I mean, the hyphen alone.
The Defamer piece was written by Beejoli Shah, who first came (phrasing) to national attention through her affiliation with the Coke Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Disgusting story short, Shah encountered Quentin Tarantino in 2011 and later sent an email providing specific details about the encounter; inter alia, QT having sucked her toes while unchaining his Django. This may have been what Tyler Perry meant when he said that God would make your enemy your footstool.
The thing behind the thing.
Right. Wahlberg righteously outraged against something Cruise supposedly said during his deposition in this suit about how being on location for a movie is comparable to serving in Afghanistan. The actual Q&A shows that Cruise didn’t compare being away from his daughter to being in Afghanistan, he basically said that being away from your daughter is difficult and being in Afghanistan, while considerably more difficult, is also difficult, so let’s get back to the part where I’m suing you.
Cruise seems to be doing the right thing here. Saying you abandoned your kid is a tad harsh, particularly when you hadn’t “gone out for cigarettes” but were doing a job that paid you enough money to purchase said child a mansion in which she can one day store the stuff that won’t fit in her other mansions.
He is suing for $50 million. Most find it hard to cheer for a guy to win that much money when they know he will, in all likelihood, spend it on motorcycle jackets and Crest Whitestrips. Still, the point of a suit like this isn’t that Cruise needs, or even wants, the money, but is to dissuade tabloids from running headlines like this. If the process might require that he pocket millions of dollars, then that’s the more-harrowing-than-the-Tet-Offensive risk Cruise is willing to take.
TC should win this one, but he occasionally makes you want him not to. On page 81 of the deposition transcript attached to the Defamer article, Cruise says, three times in rapid succession, “I’m not a lawyer.” True, but don’t sound so proud of it, you Suri-abandoning homunculus. It must have been really tempting for the opposing attorney to quote that dumb Aaron Sorkin movie about the good men.
2. Dumb Alec.
Being a Hollywood attorney of Mephistophelian power isn’t as glamorous as I make it seem. Or, considering that you just read about lawyers who had to sit through a multi-hour deposition wherein their client explained his goofy “religion” at length for the bajillionth time, it’s exactly as glamorous as it seems. Sure, you get 5% of whatever ludicrous deal you negotiate for the hideously overcompensated people you represent, which, best case, involves a Brinks truck full of pure heroin and impure female immigrants being backed up to the doorstep of your lavish yet tasteful estate. Then again, you also have to extricate actors from whatever sticky (yikes) situations they find themselves in on the regular.
In a BustedNutshell:
“A woman accused of stalking Alec Baldwin took the witness stand on Wednesday to tell her story, saying Mr. Baldwin seduced her on a romantic New York date.”
I actually prefer Baldwin’s version of events, but by “prefer” I do not mean “believe”:
“He testified that he had met Ms. Sabourin only once, to advise her about her acting career; he denied having a sexual tryst with her.”
I truly hope that “advise her about her acting career” is a euphemism; like, he taught her to say “Yes and” every time he told her to do something in the back of his limo. I also object to the use of the word “tryst” by anyone not traveling on a velocipede (term of art).
No hung jury here, and not just because I wasn’t on it (call me ladies!).
“Judge Robert Mandelbaum said that the woman, Genevieve Sabourin, 41, had demonstrated ‘a complete lack of respect for the legal system’ and had waged a ‘relentless and escalating campaign’ to annoy and harass Mr. Baldwin and his wife. . . He sentenced her to six months in jail, the maximum allowed, on top of a month he gave her earlier this week for contempt of court.”
Your worries are over, AB. I’m sure 7 months in lockdown is going to chill baby girl right the f*ck out.
P.S. Oh Shut Up.
“Mr. Baldwin, 55, described his relationship with Ms. Sabourin as ‘nightmarish’ and compared it to a Hitchcock film.”
Even when justifiably outraged, Baldwin has to get his buffoon on. But which Hitchcock film? Psycho is little on the nose. How about Rear Window? Two entendres for the price of one!
Baldwin does a great job of making wealth, looks and talent seem like a sh*tty deal. Dude tries to exercise his constitutional right to a one-night stand and the woman ends up clinging to him like a dong barnacle. Plus, he immediately followed his legal victory with a confrontation wherein he allegedly called a photographer a “c*cksucking f*g”–Baldwin claims he said “fathead,” which is the kind of word popular only in the tryst community [you can listen to the audio for yourself on the TMZ site, to which I am not linking]–and this led to MSNBC suspending him from his low-rated new show. Dzokhar is having a better year than my man.
One last thing.
Beshemoth-headed harpy Nancy Grace epitomizes the ideals of the legal profession, despite the fact that, between her and Lionel Hutz, it’s still hard to believe that she’s the one who exists. But they need to construct a special place in hell for whoever comes up with her Twitter hashtags:
3. L’Affaire Affairs.
If Alec Baldwin wanted his eggs with a side of cooter, he should have had the sense to visit “the most famous name in infidelity,” Ashleymadison.com. A website that helps people cheat on their spouses can be trusted, no?
“Ashley Madison employee says she created over 1,000 fake profiles for the dating site”
This lawsuit was filed against the Canadian company by a woman hired to help set up the Portuguese version of the site. Incidentally, there apparently is no “Ashley Madison”; the site’s address was chosen by combining two of the most popular names for girls. Apparently, CEO Noel Biderman didn’t think he could bring lackluster human beings together at noelbiderman.com, and he didn’t think of the name Trystin’ and Isolde because he isn’t as crazy literate a I am.
The Fun Part.
Why this suit is getting attention–mine, anyway–is that the plaintiff alleges that the site had her create 1,000 fake profiles of nonexistent women. But that’s not the cause of action behind the suit, which, by the way, is for $20 million. Canadian dollars, but still. No, this is essentially a workman’s comp case, in that the woman claims that she has suffered “debilitating repetitive stress injuries” as a result of having typed in so much fake information in so short a time. Maybe that’s the fun part. If every case of Internet-related wrist injury caused by repetitive motion went to court, a judge would currently be telling each of you to stop looking at your phones and pay attention.
Should she win?
I give none f*cks.
Caveat. There is the question of whether there is something illegal or unethical about the site misleading its users by creating adulterybots. The suit alleges that the profiles “do not belong to any genuine members of Ashley Madison — or any real human beings at all”; however, if I were to describe Ashley Madison subscribers, my preferred adjective would not be “genuine.” Besides, the practice was only misleading if the fictional women didn’t have fictional spouses upon whom to cheat. We have a theme here, people.
The article is OK, but I particularly appreciated this visual:
Not sure what you’re looking at? Merry Christmas, there’s a caption: “A woman types on a computer keyboard in a Dec. 19, 2012 file photo.” This is the kind of thorough coverage you can expect from a news provider like CityNews Toronto that’s been in business since 1972, as opposed to these “blogs” that “assume you know what typing is.” Or at least, what it was last December.
In any event, the legal significance of the faux hos is that, as the defendant alleges–correctly, I think–the fake profiles have nothing to do with the substance of a suit that, again, seeks recompense for the plaintiff’s jacked-up wrists. The company says that all of these salacious details were included only as a way to extort a settlement from AssMad so as to prevent damning information from becoming public. Two courts disagreed, saying that the content of what she typed was part of the factual basis for the suit, so she was justified in including it in her complaint. True, the defendant has brought even more attention to the case and these lurid allegations by fighting this particular battle, so, shrewd. But then, the woman’s strategy is predicated on embarrassing ashleymadison.com, an organization that would not seem to be burdened by a plethora of shame.
Two more entendres.
The first section of Ashley Madison’s FAQ is called “Member Initiated Contact.” Phrasing.
4. Settling scores.
This is the part of the festivities where I ordinarily throw some invective ad the hominem of some meat puppet who has dumbf*ckedly disparaged my prose. A few days ago, a commenter on the Filmdrunk Facebook page said the following in response to last week’s musings: “I think the idea for Legal Round-up is good but as I read them I find myself scanning through the text trying to find the next interesting bit.” What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Rationally consider your legitimate observations? You articulate prick—f*ck your cogent and reasonable constructive criticism. This the Internet. Come for the porn, stay for the nonsensical rantings of lunatic minds, come on the porn. I might have to write a Wahlberg-only column to draw out Underball.
So that leaves those among my acolytes who have actually requested abuse. This puts me in an awkward position, not just because I’d have to insult people upon whom I don’t genuinely wish that is both horrible and soon, but also because I think it makes me a Dom in a BDSM situation. I will do neither for free.
Therefore, the9 and OhMyBalls (of the Philadelphia MyBallses, presumably), I cannot indulge your self-nullifying fantasies. You’ll just have to find someone else to call you a dingleberry Dyson and perineum Zamboni, respectively. Someone close to you–a friend, a loved one, the next vagrant you taunt for sport–will have to supply you with the Viagra your dildos need to keep from going limp when they near your fetid orifices. The next time you gentlemen roofie yourselves so you can get a piece of hand, just remember: when I won’t honor your requests, it’s not because I care too little, but because I care too much.
Sex and eggs, citizens. Sex and eggs. #comelettes
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