Business and Entertainment in The Golden State
$9 mil in damages awarded to Main Line for breach of contract
By DONNA PARKER
LOS ANGELES — March 25, 1993 — The Hollywood Reporter –In a stunning unanimous verdict, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled Wednesday that Kim Basinger must pay more than $8.92 million in compensatory damages to Main Line Pictures for breaching an oral contract to perform in the motion picture “Boxing Helena.”
The shocking finale to the monthlong trial came in the early afternoon, with the jury finding that not only did the actress breach her oral contract to perform in Main Line’s movie, but also acted in bad faith in denying a contract ever existed between the two parties.
Basinger and her boyfriend, Alec Baldwin, showed no reaction as a crowded courtroom gasped in unison as the jury found in favor of the jubilant first-time producer and Main line president Carl Mazzocone.
“I’m speechless,” said Mazzocone. “Everything about making a movie is an uphill battle and today I was vindicated for all the pain I was caused. I’m a little guy and I stood up for my rights and for the rights of other independent producers.”
Mazzocone, accompanied in court through the duration fo the trial by his father, Carl Mazzocone Sr., and “Boxing Helena” screenwriter Jennifer Lynch, beamed as the court clerk read the jury’s findings, including $7, 421,694 in actual damages to the production company and $1.5 million in damages caused by Basinger’s bad-faith denial against Main Line.
Mazzocone, who mortgaged his home and sold his cars in order to finance “Boxing Helenda,” said he wasn’t’ going to just take it after both Madonna and then Basinger walked off the project.
“I learned a half-a-million-dollar lesson when Madonna left,” said Mazzocone, of the entertainer who was originally set to play the Helena character. “After than I swore it wouldn’t happen to me again.”
“What this does is it really shows that the jury saw that a handshake still still means something even if you’re a sttar,” said Main Line attorney Eric Landau of Chistensen, White, Miller Fink & Jacobs. “It shows it doesn’t matter if you’re a star, no matter if you’re the most powerful talent agency in the world. It shows that juries see through this and treat everybody as being equal.”
Punitive daagse will be determined when court reconvenes today. At that time, the jury will determine Basinger’s net worth.
“It’s like I said, I feel like I just woke up from a nightmare I’ve been having since the day Kim Basinger left the picture,” said first-time director Jennifer Lynch, adding she was finally free to pursue other work and to pen a novel. “It’s been two and a half years of pressure and it’s been horrible having negative feelings surrounding my first movie before I even made it.”
Both sides aground that it was the jury’s ability to related to the battle of “the little guy” agains the power of Hollywood that played a major role in the outcome.
“The finding leads me to believe the jury had bias against Kim,” said Basinger’s attorney Howard Weitzman of Katten Muchin Zavis & Weitzman. “Kim was shocked. To this day she believed she didn’t enter into an agreement with Main Line Pictures. It was ‘the star vs. the little guy’ and the jury didn’t like the star. She was too pretty, she makes too much money, her boyfriend was too handsome, or something.”
Weitzman said he plans to appeal the ruling against his client.
Last Friday, Weitzman had withdrawn his cross-complaint of fraudulent inducement against Main Line. On Saturday, ICM was dismissed as a defendant in the case on the grounds that there was no proof the agency induced the actress to breach a contract to perform in the picture.
Basinger’s defense was that she had never signed a contract with Main Line Pictures.