‘Rebecca’ yields new lawsuit

Press agent is sued as writer of anonymous emails

The producers of tanked Broadway musical “Rebecca” have sued press agent Marc Thibodeau, fingering Thibodeau as the writer of the anonymous emails that scared off a potential major investor in the tuner that made headlines last fall when its planned staging fell through amid accusations of fraud and manufactured identities.

Thibodeau, the veteran praiser (“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Scandalous,” “Seminar”) who is the head of legit PR firm Publicity Office, was the press agent hired to work on “Rebecca.” According to Ron Russo, the lawyer for the producers, the identity of the emails’ writer was uncovered through subpoenaed records from Google and Verizon.

While Russo painted Thibodeau as the source of malicious gossip that eighty-sixed a $12 million-$14 million Broadway show, Jeffrey Lichtman, Thibodeau’s attorney, depicted the press agent as a whistleblower whose cursory investigation of shady investors yielded signs that prompted him to warn away an innocent funder who was, according to the lawsuit, ready to chip in $2.25 million to the ailing musical.

The identity of the writer of those phantom emails was one of the major questions lingering in the fallout from the scuttled production and subsequent legal actions. In the fall, legiters were gripped by the revelation of a behind-the-scenes con involving invented investors and forged documents, all allegedly perpetrated by Mark Hotton, who had been enlisted by “Rebecca” producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza to drum up additional funding. In October Hotton was arrested by federal authorities on charges that included bilking the “Rebecca” producing team.

The current filing, naming Thibodeau, reps something of an updated amendment to the $100 million lawsuit filed by the “Rebecca” producers in October against Hotton and his wife Sherri. Thibodeau is now named alongside the Hottons in the suit, as are “John/Jane Does 1-3,” slots left open, Russo said, for the collaborators the attorney intends to prove Thibodeau had.

The most recent legal action, dated Jan. 29 in court papers, is the latest development in the long, troubled saga of “Rebecca.” Earlier in 2012, a spring berth for the show was nixed just before the start of rehearsals because a chunk of the money wasn’t yet in place, and then the fall bow was delayed temporarily in the wake of what was then said to be the death of major investor, now believed to be entirely invented. Even after the definitive cancellation of that fall bow, however, Sprecher remains adamant he’ll get “Rebecca” on the boards in 2013.

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