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Main Line suit puts Basinger in spotlight

Main Line’s suit against Kim Basinger got under way yesterday in L.A. Superior Court, with the opposing sides painting two widely varying pictures of the actress: A benevolent star looking to help a woman in her helming debut, vs. a star with an “ego run amuck.”

Main Line has sued Basinger for breach of contract, claiming she agreed to star in Jennifer Lynch’s film “Boxing Helena” and then backed out. The young independent production company contends the actress let things go so far as to allow final drafts of contracts to be drawn up before she withdrew.

The suit also names ICM, claiming her agent there, Guy McElwaine, interfered in the actress’ commitment to star in the film.

Basinger was in court yesterday, accompanied by Alec Baldwin. Lynch, the daughter of David Lynch, is skedded as the first witness today as testimony gets under way.

Main Line is seeking more than $ 6.3 million in damages, alleging the film’s foreign pre-sales and potential domestic sales fell through when Basinger dropped out.

“The evidence will show that on Feb. 28, 1991, an agreement was reached with Kim Basinger and that a deal memo was drawn up,” said Patricia Glaser, of Christensen, White, Miller, Fink & Jacobs, the firm representing Main Line. “They had an oral agreement at that point.”

Lynch and Basinger had their first meeting on Jan. 11, 1991, at which time the actress told the writer-director that she “loves” the script, according to Glaser.

Both women met again on Jan. 18 to discuss the nudity in the story of an accident victim who has her legs amputated by an obsessed doctor. He eventually amputates her arms and puts her in a box.

“At that second meeting, the nudity issue was totally resolved,” Glaser said. “Kim Basinger tells Jennifer (Lynch) at this meeting that she’s prepared to do this script.”

However, Basinger’s attorney, Howard Weitzman of Katten, Muchin, Zavis & Weitzman, told jurors that crucial issues including the nude scenes had never been resolved.

“Ms. Basinger will tell you that she felt the nudity in the sex scenes were unnecessary, that they were gratuitous,” Weitzman said. “And she never got any satisfactoryanswers from Jennifer Lynch.”

Weitzman said that while Basinger found Lynch to be “charming, bright and intelligent,” she nevertheless was “a young lady who had never directed a film before.”

Basinger “started out thinking that this might be an opportunity to help this young lady, but she nonetheless had reservations,” Weitzman said. “She never agreed to act in the film, no contract was signed. The decision she had to make was: If she were to do an offbeat film and if it wasn’t done correctly, it could ruin her career.”

While Glaser contended that Basinger “is no stranger to nudity” in films, Weitzman said the actress had reached a point in her career where she didn’t have to do nude scenes “unless she felt they were necessary to the story.”

“Ms. Basinger will tell you that the films she did in 1984 and 1985 were what most women had to do to get ahead in this business,” Weitzman said.

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