In a ruling which could limit the scope of influence managers have in committing their clients to projects, an L.A. Superior Court judge ruled a valid contract did not exist when actress Pamela Anderson Lee backed out of a telefilm that required her to appear nude and perform simulated sex acts.
In a 16-page decision, Judge David Horowitz ruled Tuesday that plaintiff Private Movie Co. was not entitled to damages for Lee’s failure to perform. The film company had sued Lee for $5 million in damages claiming she bailed from the Showtime telefilm “Hello, She Lied” when she got a better offer to appear in “Barb Wire.”
Private Movie’s lawsuit was rejected on every count, and in a lengthy summary of testimony at the recent trial, Horowitz said it was clear from the beginning that the actress objected to nudity and the sexual focus of the script submitted to her.
“The judge ruled right down the line for us and that there was no oral contract,” Major Langer, Lee’s attorney told Daily Variety. “And he went out of his way in making his ruling bulletproof for an appeal.”
Langer said the court’s ruling suggests that “personal managers who are not licensed to do business have no business making deals. Forget about not having a written contract, there wasn’t even a deal (penned) on a napkin.”
The court agreed, stating that “the plaintiff has presented no evidence that Lee personally agreed to perform in the film,” Horowitz said, noting that most of the negotiations were conducted by Lee’s agent, lawyer and manager.
Horowitz also found that Lee’s former attorney, Michael Blaha, and her manager never had legal authority to make the commitment for her. He further ruled that Blaha had a conflict of interest because he represented both Lee and the film company.
Blaha testified the commitment was so solid they were already talking about what type of trailer the actress would use during production and who would do her makeup.
But Horowitz said Lee testified she asked that the sexual content and simulated sex be deleted after her first look at the script and told her representatives they were to arrange this before she would consent to do the movie.
During the trial, Lee testified, “I don’t want to be touched by people I don’t know. … I have that right.”
Langer also argued that the actress never signed the contract because the script included explicit lovemaking scenes in a shower and on a pool table.
Horowitz also said the film company never gave a documented estimate of losses caused by Lee’s failure to perform in the film, which was later made with model Kathy Ireland and was released by the cabler under the title “Miami Hustler.”
“Plaintiff’s evidence of damages concerning the value of the film, if Lee had performed in the film, lacks a sensible foundation and is based on speculation and conjecture,” Horowitz wrote.
Private Movie’s attorney, Adam Miller, said his client “would probably appeal” the judge’s ruling.