Harvey Weinstein Seeks Dismissal of Ashley Judd Blacklist Suit
Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers urged a judge on Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit that accuses him of blackballing actress Ashley Judd after she refused a sexual advance.
Judd sued Weinstein in April, alleging that he harmed her career by dissuading director Peter Jackson from casting her in “The Lord of the Rings” in 1998. She alleges that Weinstein was retaliating for her rebuff during a meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.
In the motion to dismiss, Weinstein’s attorneys argue that his alleged conduct did not amount to sexual harassment, and that Judd’s allegations are barred by the statute of limitations.
Judd has said she only became aware of Weinstein’s actions after Jackson gave an interview in December, in which he claimed that Miramax had engaged in a “smear campaign” against Judd and actress Mira Sorvino. Jackson recalled being told that both women were a “nightmare to work with,” and said that he then dropped them from consideration for the film.
Weinstein’s attorneys, Phyllis Kupferstein and Cynthia L. Zedalis, argue that even if Weinstein did say that Judd was a “nightmare,” it was an opinion and is therefore not defamatory.
“Plaintiff may dispute she was difficult to work with but, like beauty, the experience is in the eye of the beholder,” the attorneys write, adding references in a footnote to other stories of Judd being difficult. “Unlike statements that a particular actor could not remember his or her lines, would be late to set, or required many takes — all of which are susceptible to proof — describing Plaintiff as a ‘nightmare’ and cautioning others to ‘avoid’ her does not support a defamation claim.”
The attorneys also contend that Weinstein’s alleged sexual conduct was not harassment because it was not “severe or pervasive.”
“Weinstein’s alleged unwanted sexual advances occurred on a single day and consisted of him asking to give Plaintiff a massage, asking her to help him pick out clothes, and asking her to watch him shower,” the attorneys write. “These allegations fall far short of meeting the ‘pervasive or severe’ required element.”
Judd has said she deflected Weinstein’s advance by saying she would let him touch her only if he got her an Academy Award. Weinstein’s attorneys argue that his subsequent efforts to live up to the “bargain” by trying to cast her in Oscar-worthy roles shows that he was not trying to sabotage her career.