Kim Basinger has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, declaring that she does not have the financial assets to collateralize a multimillion-dollar breach of contract judgment that she’s been ordered to pay Main Line Pictures.
The actress, currently in the midst of filming “The Getaway,” would have had to post a bond by 1 p.m. Wednesday in order to secure a $ 7.4 million award in the “Boxing Helena” breach-of-contract trial (Daily Variety, May 20).
The judgment was handed down by a Los Angeles jury last March after it found that the actress had breached an oral agreement with Main Line Pictures to star in “Boxing Helena.”
Bonding companies usually request that people be able to show collateral for one and a half to two times the actual judgment, which in Basinger’s case would have amounted to between $ 11 million and $ 14.8 million, approximately.
Instead, Basinger — listed on the bankruptcy petition as Kimila Ann Basinger — paid $ 600 this week to file for Chapter 11.
Staving off payment
By filing for bankruptcy, she has effectively stayed paying any monies to Main Line, at least for the time being. Now her attorneys will have to petition the bankruptcy court to pursue an appeal.
“She just didn’t have the assets to satisfy this kind of outrageous award,” said her lawyer, Howard Weitzman, of Katten, Muchin, Zavis & Weitzman. “As of today (Wednesday), her estate is now frozen.”
Last March, on the final day of trial, it was disclosed by Basinger’s attorneys that the actress’ net worth was $ 5,387,382.19.
“What’s going to happen now is that we have to find out if this is an appropriate matter for the bankruptcy courts,” noted Main Line attorney Patricia Glaser, of Christensen, White, Miller, Fink & Jacobs.
In other words, Basinger’s financial assets will be thoroughly combed over during the next several weeks.
‘Admission of defeat’
“I would say from Kim’s standpoint, this move is sort of a shame. The whole bankruptcy proceeding is such an invasive process. You open yourself to every possible financial inquest,” Glaser said. “It’s an admission of defeat.”
The bankruptcy filing is not good news for Main Line prexy Carl Mazzocone, either. Now he will have to hire bankruptcy attorneys to pursue his award.
“Obviously it means more expenditure of money for Mr. Mazzocone,” Glaser said. “But he will be vindicated. It’s just going to take a little longer.”
Glaser said if it’s determined that the actress wrongfully filed for bankruptcy, the next legal step would be to move to have the bankruptcy dismissed.
Another option, if the bankruptcy is appropriate, would be to negotiate a settlement.
Meanwhile, Weitzman reiterated that Basinger was pushed to this move because the “Boxing Helena” jury was allowed to run amok.
“We believe Judge Judith Chirlin is directly responsible for what took place because she did not reduce the award to a potential net profit of the film,” he said. “You can only recover net profits, not gross.”
It has been Weitzman’s contention that the jury’s award, which was originally $ 8.92 million and later reduced to $ 7.4 million (not including $ 713,522 in legal fees for Mazzocone’s attorneys) was based on the possible gross potential for “Boxing Helena.”
Now it will be up to a bankruptcy judge to decide how Basinger’s assets are to be divided up, pending the outcome of an appeal.
The first bankruptcy hearing will take place within 30 to 50 days. An appeal will probably take another year and a half to two years.
As for “Boxing Helena,” written and directed by Jennifer Lynch, Orion recently picked up North American distribution rights. It’s tentatively skedded for a Sept. 3 release.