ICM vice chairmanGuy McElwaine said he never advised Kim Basinger not to star in the movie “Boxing Helena” and that while he had major problems with the script, he never went so far as to tell the actress that he believed it would be bad for her career.
That was the testimony of McElwaine yesterday during the fourth week of trial in Main Line’s suit against Basinger and ICM.
Main Line’s suit contends that Basinger breached an agreement to star in the film and that McElwaine induced her to do so. But Basinger’s attorney Howard Weitzman has all along contended that there was no final agreement ever reached for the star to perform in the film written and directed by Jennifer Lynch.
Yesterday’s day in court started at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills as the jury got a chance to see the final filmed product starring Sherilyn Fenn and Julian Sands. Before viewing the film, Judge Judith Chirlin admonished jurors to have no verbal reactions and to make no comments about whether they liked the film.
“The reason why you’re seeing this film is because it is to be considered as evidence regarding Guy McElwaine’s state of mind with regard to his giving advice to Kim Basinger,” Chirlin told jurors.
During the second half of the day, McElwaine took the stand and proceeded to outline the events surrounding “Boxing Helena” from the time that he took over Basinger’s representation.
He told jurors that he first became aware of Kim’s interest in the film in late April 1991.
After reading the script, McElwaine said he “threw it on the floor” and immediately called Basinger.
“I wanted to find what in her mind was going on with this screenplay,” he said. “I was concerned if Kim had any thoughts of doing this film.” McElwaine said that he told Basinger he didn’t like the script and that audiences, after seeing the film, would “throw tomatoes at the screen.”
“Not only did I find parts of it offensive, I felt that the movie was predicated on a cheat, in that three quarters of it is a nightmare sequence,” McElwaine testified. “It’s not until the end that the audience finds out that this whole degradation of the Helena character wasn’t real. I felt audiences weren’t going to buy that.
“After reading the script, I felt that the audience would begin to root for what was happening to Helena because she was such a vicious person,” McElwaine said.
He told jurors that when he called Basinger to express his concerns that she assured him that she did not have an agreement to star in the film.
“She (Kim) told me that she liked Jennifer Lynch very much and that she and Jennifer were going to work on the script until they got it right,” McElwaine said.
McElwaine said that he called Basinger’s attorney Julie Philips to further ascertain where the negotiations stood on the project. “Julie told me that Kim did not yet have a deal but that she (Julie) was being pushed to close one,” he said.
“I mentioned to Julie that Kim had brought up the issue of nudity and Julie said that was still a major outstanding point to be settled,” he said.
Within days McElwaine said that he talked to Main Line president Carl Mazzocone and with Lynch to discuss changes that Basinger wanted in the script.
Specifically, Basinger wanted to see the Helena character softened, according to McElwaine. When he asked Mazzocone and Lynch to make such changes he said that they agreed.
Yet the changes that they provided were “minimal” and not the changes that the actress had requested, he testified. “While I felt that they had made an honest effort to improve the Helena character, it still fell short of what it would take in my opinion to make it work,” he said. “Kim’s reaction was much stronger. She said Jennifer had turned Helena into a supplicant. As much as we all cared for Jennifer, she obviously did not want to make the changes Kim had suggested.”
McElwaine said at that point Basinger instructed him to tell Mazzocone that the screenplay was not acceptable. When all sides met in McElwaine’s office, he told jurors that he offered an entirely new approach to the film that Basinger herself had thought of — the story of an older man’s obsession with a younger woman that lasts over several years — and if they were willing to execute the changes that she would do their movie.
“I thought Kim’s idea was terrific but Carl and Jennifer were unwilling to make the changes,” he said.
He said when he advised the actress of this she made the decision to leave the project.
Defense attorney Weitzman said he expects to wrap up his case on Friday with final arguments on Monday.